5 Reasons to Read (and the associated books that I read this year)

Reason #1:  To enjoy, experience and learn from a compelling story.  A well told story, in print or on a screen, will grab me every time. 

Lewis on Books The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Cruelest Month, and A Beautiful Mystery, all Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny.  (Nothing like a good mystery.)

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy

The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman

Gone Girl by Gilllian FlynnFiction quote 2

The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Looking Good

Reason #2: To understand why a book has endured for centuries.  It must have something important to say.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Twain Quote

Reason #3:  In anticipation of a good story based on an author’s previous work.  This keeps me reading even when, after a couple hundred pages, I don’t really like the characters and I don’t care about the outcome.

That sums up my experience with J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy

Reason #4: To stretch the mind, the heart and the soul; to grow.   

Acting on a bookThe Reason for God by Tim Keller

To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter

 How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership a collection of essays

The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight.

The Grace Effect by Larry Taunton

On Writing by Steven King

Jesus Made in America by Stephen J. Nichols

When the Kings Come Marching In by Richard J. Mouw


Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee  (This little gem of a book might also qualify in the “classics” category.  If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it.)

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns

King’s Cross by Tim Keller

Reason #5: To know the heart of God, to recognize the truth of God, and to hear the voice of God.

The Bible

Each of the above reasons for reading applies to reading The Bible.

(1) It is packed with drama, mystery, complex characters, incredible plot twists, and it is a story beyond anything we could have ever imagined.  In fact, much of our fiction is inspired by truths found in the Bible.

(2) It has endured for millenia and holds profound messages of cosmic truth for those who persevere in its study.

(3) It can be a challenge to keep reading, for many passages are tedious and difficult.  (Sorry, but it’s true.)  My analogy breaks down a bit on this one, because the Bible does not ultimately disappoint us while many books do.

(4) Your perspectives will be challenged, your heart, mind and soul expanded as you read.  You will grow. 

Most importantly, (5) you will know and communicate with God as you read His story and understand his crazy love for you.

This is the one book on my list every year.

God's Word

What are your primary motivations for reading?  What books have you read this year?

Quotes are from Quote Garden and goodreads

20 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Read (and the associated books that I read this year)

Add yours

  1. Judy, I admire the volume and breadth of your reading! Delightful! Impressive! Inspiring!

    I can’t say I “enjoyed” “A Casual Vacancy” either. I suspect the author set for herself an ambitious intellectual exercise, inspired perhaps by Dante’s “Inferno.” The setting, right from the start, is “in the shadow of a ruined abbey.” The town church has morphed into a mere meeting space; the former vicarage is now the home of Hindus. Postmodern Britain. Post-Christian. The characters, (in the conspicuous absence of Fairbrother, who has died of heart failure and failed to rise, creating the obvious vacancy), run the gamut of sins: the seven deadly sins, personal sins, social sins; sins of omission and of intention; careless sins, ingrained sins. Private and public, hidden and only sometimes revealed. Plus the effects of generational sin, environmental blight, twisted intentions, materialistic and gnostic pretensions. It’s a dark book, set in that shadow. People take the absence of God quite “casually.” But at the very end a glimmer of light through the old stained glass vision of Michael the Archangel. A very ambitious book, destined to be unpopular.

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      Thank you for your astute analysis of “A Casual Vacancy.” It all makes perfect sense to me now:) I kept looking for elements of hope or goodness or growth in the characters and in the story, and was amazed that nothing of the sort ever materialized. Fairbrother, of course, had been the light in the town, and I was sure that someone would figure that out and start shining. I guess when the last light dies in a community, it is hopelessly and dangerously dark. That is a sobering message, and also makes for a bit of a depressing story. Thank you for helping me to better appreciate Rowling’s work, Kathleen.

  2. Judy, this was fun!
    This year, I read another of the books that had belonged to my Mother: Italian Days by Barbara Grizzuti-Harrison. Grizzuti-Harrison journeyed to Italy to discover family, family roots, and the Old (Precious) World. It is a long, beautiful book that convinced me of the truth of God’s Word, and of a Biblical worldview, in many ways. Non-fiction seems to appeal most to me now, though I read a charming sweet Amish love story novel: Christmas in Sugarcreek by Shelley Shepard Gray.
    You’ve done so much good reading – that’s wonderful, and it is enriching, and it does help with our own writing tremendously. My own favorite this year is God’s Poetry by Anne Hamilton.
    Happy New Year, dear Judy! You’re a fine teacher, a God-given thing.

  3. Thank you so much, Judy, for sharing your book list!!! Wishing you and your family a Blessed New Year, overflowing with His favor–love, sis Caddo

  4. I enjoyed reading your post, Judy! I loved how you described the Bible and encouraged us to read it! “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

  5. I love this list, Judy!! What a great list of books! Thank you for putting it all together. Blessings as the new year approaches!

  6. I haven’t been reading much outside of the Bible and blogs this year. But a dear friend sent me a whole box of her books . . .so hoping I figure out a way to start reading again. I think it just enriches my life, my imagination and my own writing. God bless you, Judy, as you read!

  7. Judy – thank you! One of my resolutions heading into 2013 is to read more…and to read more of a variety of books. Your blog has given me a great place to start! And, I cannot agree with you more… the Bible, always, is good reading every day of our lives as it reveals grace and truth for whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Blessings to you, dear friend : ).

  8. Mysteries are my favorite genre. I read “The Drop” and “Fifth Witness” by Michael Connelly, “Before the Poison” by Peter Robinson, and countless other mysteries. But the three books which changed my life this year were “The Pink Pagoda: One Man’s Quest to End Gendercide in China” by Dr. James Garrow, “I’ll Cross the River” by C. Hope Flinchbaugh, and “No Longer A Slumdog” by K.P. Yohannan.

    I have read two of the books on your list: “War and Peace” and “On Writing.” But as Woody Allen said, “I learned speed reading and read “War and Peace” in fifteen minutes. It’s about Russia.”

    1. Thanks for your recommendations Larry. I am intrigued by the books that changed your life. Books that powerful will be added to my ever-growing list! And I’m still chuckling over your synopsis of War and Peace:). Happy new year Larry!

  9. Thanks for the reminders, Judy, and for saving me from reading J.K. Rowling’s newest! I guess I’d add that reading, especially fiction, is oftentimes an escape. (You’ve suggested this in #1.) I can dive into a great story and come up only for a cup of tea, a phone call, or to let the dog out. For 30 minutes or more, or even if I only grab 5 minutes, I forget that I need to scrub the toilets or fold the laundry or write my own words. As a writer, I also read to study the craft. How did Dickens make me care so much about Scrooge?! (I just read The Christmas Carol again this season which was such fun!)

    You’ve given me a few to add to my 2013 wish list. I love a great mystery, so I’m going to check out Ms. Penny’s books. God’s Word is always on my list, too. I’m planning to try a new Bible reading plan this year, so I will really read and meditate on His Word every day. I admit that my past Bible reading plans haven’t always been realistic. Do you have suggestions for daily Bible reading plans that you’ve done? I use You Version which offers so many options, but I’m always curious about which ones others have used and liked.

    1. Hi Beth! Every night I “escape” from my day, and whatever is left on my mind, into the novel at my bedside. It’s my sleep aid:) The only potential problem is getting so caught up in a story that I can’t stop reading! As for Bible reading plans, I’ve tried a couple. For years I did the One Year Bible, which arranges one Psalm, a couple verses from Proverbs, OT and NT readings so that you cover it all in a year. It is a lot of reading, I must say. Lately, I’ve just been making my own plan. I read a Psalm every day, and a couple verses from Proverbs a la the OYB. If you read two chapters of the OT and one of the NT each day, you’ll finish in roughly a year, so that’s what I do. But I arrange them myself. I find it’s easier to mix the difficult books, like Leviticus and some of the prophets in with the more compelling stories. If you just read fthe OT from front to back, you end the year reading confusing prophet after prophet, which gets a little tough to muscle through. But that’s just me:) Plus, I like to read different combinations of books to see how they interconnect. Well, that’s probably more than you wanted to know! Thanks for adding your comments, Beth!

  10. The Bible is a daily reader for me too, yet I hardly find time to read anything else. Fortunately, with fabulous free downloads on Amazon, my Kindle has quite the lineup of waiting books for me to read. I am currently being sucked into the story – Walking on Broken Glass, by Christa Allan. Happy reading! 🙂

    1. Who said, “Too many books; too little time”? Whoever it was, I couldn’t agree more! My “to read” list always exceeds my time to read. But it’s wonderful to have a stack (physical or electronic) of books tantalizingly waiting to be read, isn’t it? Thanks for adding to the conversation, Shannon, and may you find many hours to read in 2013!

      1. I actually have a sweatshirt that says that. 🙂 Love this post. One of my favorite books this year was by Timothy Keller…Counterfeit Gods. I read it twice…the second time with my small group. We had great discussions on it.

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