The Best of Twelve Books in Twelve Weeks

I can read just about anywhere, but this corner is particularly nice on a sunny afternoon.
I can read just about anywhere, but this corner is particularly cozy on a sunny afternoon.

So far this year, to my delight, I’ve moved twelve books from my extensive list of “books to read” to my annual record of “books I’ve read.”

Here are some of the best of my eclectic selections.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

Fikkert and Corbett re-define “poor” to mean a poverty of being that we all experience and that is rooted in  “brokenness of the foundational relationships.”

Often poverty-alleviation effort “…exacerbates the poverty of being of the economically rich – their god-complexes – and the poverty of being of the economically poor – their feelings of inferiority and shame.”  Therefore, “until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.”

This is a must read for anyone interested in effectively fighting poverty.

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte

Most of us have experienced poorly constructed and/or delivered presentations.  They do not resonate.  Duarte’s book is an inspiring resource for communicators of all sorts.  Along with practical instruction for organizing, preparing and delivering material, she refers readers to some of the finest presentations ever given.

Under the heading of “Resonance Causes Change,” Duarte writes, “Resonance occurs when an object’s natural vibration frequency responds to an external stimulus of the same frequency.” P. 4.

“You are not the hero who will save the audience; the audience is your hero…You are the mentor.  You’re Yoda, not Luke Skywalker.”  P. 20  The presenter’s goal is to motivated people to move from “what is” to “what could be.”

A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good, by Miroslav Volf

Volf, of Yale University, presents a dense yet digestible vision of theology in action from the enlightened perspective of one who has lived a Christian life in non-Christian cultures (Croatia and Serbia.)

“Unlike those who think religion should stay out of politics, I will argue in this book that religious people ought to be free to bring their visions of the good life into the public sphere…” intro p. x

“Properly understood, the Christian faith is neither coercive nor idle.  As a prophetic religion, Christian faith will be an active faith… To be engaged in the world well, Christians will have to keep one thing at the forefront of their attention: the relationship between God and a vision of human flourishing.”  P. 54

And, since I love a good novel, I’ve read some of those too:  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin, The Queen and the Handyman by my blogging friend Maria Tatham, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachal Joyce, and When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin.

What have you read this year?

19 thoughts on “The Best of Twelve Books in Twelve Weeks

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  1. Hi Judy. I know we’ve discussed Mr. Corbett’s and Mr. Finkkert’s book a little as I also have read it and feel the same; anyone with interest in the problem of poverty should get their hands on this one. Some tops on my list this year: Transformational Discipleship, Center Church (Tim Keller), The Radical Disciple (John Stott), Disciplines of a Godly Man (Kent Hughes), Canon Revisited (Michael Kryger), The Grace of God (Andy Stanley), Grace (Max Lucado), and The Trellis and the Vine (Marshall and Payne), of which I recommend them all. 🙂 But my curiosity level is high regarding the S. King novel. I have read many of his writings, but in recent years have found myself disenchanted with some of his stuff. Thought a reccomendation might be profitable before purchasing… So, was this pretty good? Many blessings and thanks for the excellent input over our way.

    1. My husband and I both read the King novel on my brother’s recommendation. We both liked it as an interesting exploration of what it might look like to mess with human history. I have no idea if King intended to make any comment on the Sovereignty of God, but one could certainly be found. It’s the first King novel that I’ve read in years (the last one was The Stand), so I can’t really speak to how it compares to some of his others. It does have some off-color language and sexual situations, but mostly it is historical fiction as told by a time-traveler. Hope that helps! Your reading list sounds excellent, and it sounds like you have very similar interests to my husband and me based on our book lists. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. Thank you for not only sharing what your reading, but giving us a little look inside the books, Judy! This year I also read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, and Maria’s book – The Queen and the Handyman, Not A Fan by Kyle Ildeman, and a devotional, Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman, that I’ll be reading all year as it’s a 365 daily reading one. 🙂 God bless you as you read and are inspired!

  3. My current entertaining book is Still Life by Louise Penny, thanks to your earlier suggestion, Judy. Loving it! I always appreciate hearing what others are reading. Opens doors and makes me think outside my little box — and that’s before I even begin reading something new! I’m also on a food adventure and just finished “Real Food” by Nina Planck, an engaging examination of industrial and processed foods, and “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” Okay, that one is really a cookbook, but each chapter has a fun introduction to a new kind of bread. And I love to read cookbooks anyway. (My first loaves have been delicious!) Like you, I always have a couple of books going at once, one for fun and the other for enlightenment.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying Still Life! I’ve read every one of Penny’s books in that series, and I enjoyed each one. Thanks Beth!

  4. Oooh, a Stephen King recommend? Really?? I’ll have to check that out, as I had to give him up years ago–the gratuitous bad language ruined the stories for me. Hope you’re having a dandy Palm Sunday weekend, Judy–I love your picture (I’ve reached that wonderful plane where I can see beautiful women and not feel a smidgen of envy and inferiority–yay for both of us!!!) God bless you BIG–love, sis Caddo

    1. Well, Caddo, I don’t necessarily endorse all of the activity and language in the King novel, or some of the others for that matter, but 11/22/63 is an interesting exploration of the implicationse of messing with history (as if we could!). And bless you for your kind words:) Have a wonderful weekend!

        1. I don’t know if King intended it, but his book makes a pretty good case for trusting the sovereignty of God in human history. Have a great day, Caddo!

  5. Judy, this was quite interesting!
    My recent reading has been minimal.
    Currently, I’m reading: The Lays of Beleriand, The New Concise History of the Crusades, and a volume of 17th century poetry.
    I just placed a hold at my library on Amy Carmichael’s bio by Elizabeth Elliot. (Finally did this as a result of heading over to Larry Who and reading his post “No Longer A Slumdog”. Thank you, Larry!)
    I’ve managed to finish: C.S. Lewis – Narrative Poems, King Lear, and a tiny book about friendship.
    Judy, thank you for the kind mention above! Your picture is great – God bless you!

  6. That is an impressive amount of reading! I have managed 11 books this year according to my Goodreads account. I do a combo of reading and listening via audible–a real blessing with my long commute. I recently finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, which I wrote about here, I have also re-read Purpose Driven Life in preparation for a new small group my husband and I are excited to be hosting beginning in April. Currently I am finishing up an audible book called China Road which is written and read by a journalist who lived in China for about 6 years and I am reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, also written by a journalist about the poor of India–its a difficult read for me!
    So what are you reading now? Are you a Goodreads member?

    1. I usually have both a novel, for escape and enjoyment, and a non-fiction book, for education, going at all times. Right now I’m reading The Paris Wife, a novel about Earnest Hemingway and his first wife, and am still finishing up When Helping Hurts. Next on my list is God, Feedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga. Gulp. My husband read it and warned me that I’ll have to read some of it several times to follow his philosophical and theoloical thinking. Keeps me sharp! I am not a member of Goodreads – one of these days! Thanks for sharing your recent reads – I’ve read The Hiding Place and Purpose…, but it’s been a while. The other two sound very interesting. Happy reading!

  7. Biography of Rees Howells; The Hidden Power of Prayer and Fasting by Mahesh Chavda; The Black Box by Michael Connelly; The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder; The Accidental Anarchist by Brian Kranzler; Pago Pago Tango by John Enright; Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin; Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson; The Last Dance by Ed McBain; More Twisted:2 by Jeffery Deaver; Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand; One Mississippi by Howard Littleson; Sara’s Game by Ernie Lindsey; The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam; Revolution by K.P. Yohannan.

    I read mostly mysteries with a few other books sprinkled in here and there. All of my books are on my Kindle except for two and many of them have been free or daily deals.

    1. Wow – you’ve been busy Larry! I find I’m reading more and more on my kindle too. Sometimes, though, I just like the sensation of a book in my hands. Thanks for your list Larry!

      1. I read the biography of Rees Howells online. It was a PDF. Sometime, in the future, I will write a book report on it as it has really affected my life. Not necessarily well written, but certainly for me, God ordained.

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