Books I Keep Mentioning

Though I read roughly 100 books a year and write reviews for a couple dozen of those, there are relatively few that keep popping up in conversation--some repeatedly, and some for years after I read them. So I thought I would give a little thought to the books I keep mentioning over and over to others. Here are those that come quickly to mind:

From the Garden to the City (The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology) by John Dyer. I have recommended this book to many for its expert discussion of technology, philosophy, history, and theology in a thoroughly and constantly engaging way. His call to control technology instead of letting it control and shape our lives continues to speak to me.

I will also mention Leonard Sweet's Viral (How Social Networking is Poised to Ignite Revival) in the same breath as Dyer's book (or vice versa). With his usual flair for coining memorable terms, Sweet sketches the difference between one generation and the next, which he labels "Gutenbergers" (those born before 1973, the year the cell phone was invented) and "Googlers" (those born since). He demonstrates how differently--often better--Googlers think and relate, compared to Gutenberger ways, and how some of the "Googler" ways of doing things bode well for the Gospel in the twenty-first century.

N. T. Wright's book, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, is a portrait of Jesus that both confirms the central tenets of the historical faith and challenges the sloppy thinking, talking, praying, and practice of which many of us are guilty. Wright always challenges and deepens my thinking.

I frequently recommend Justin Lee's book, Torn (Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate)written by a young man who loves Jesus Christ and is also gay, in the hope that--whether or not it changes any minds on the "gay debate"--it will change Christians' and churches' hearts.

Jesus: A Theography, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, tells the story of Jesus, the God-man, as revealed not just in the Gospels but as told from the first lines of "the First Testament" in Genesis to the last words of "the Second Testament" in the Revelation. In doing so, they show compellingly, thoroughly, and engagingly how the whole Bible reveals Jesus. It is an astounding book, and one I frequently bring up in conversation.

In discussing the role of women in the church, family, and society, I will often mention the excellent book by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo, Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry. I generally find it futile to try to reason with someone on the biblical issues if they haven't at least tried to read that book (which, admittedly, can be intimidating and a little too scholarly for some folks). But then along came Rachel Held Evans's  A Year of Biblical Womanhood (How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master) which charts, with sincerity, authenticity, insight, and humor, the author's efforts over twelve months to experience all the Bible says (or seems to say) about womanhood. Seriously, this wonderful book should be read by anyone who cares, one way or the other, about Christian teaching on the place of women in the home, church, and society.

I mention Michael Hyatt's Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World--also subtitled "A Step-by-Step Guide for Anyone with Something to Say or Sell"--all the time these days to people who want to write and publish a book.

Still another Leonard Sweet book, I Am a Follower (The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus) comes up often in conversations about leadership. The book skewers the modern church's success-worshiping, corporate-obsessed "leadership" fixation, and contrasts it with the example and message of Jesus--what Sweet calls "followership culture." He says, "Leadership is an alien template that we have laid on the Bible." And then he goes about showing us the more excellent way of Jesus, in his typically colorful, thoughtful, biblical, and entertaining style.

Both the Henry Cloud classic, Boundaries, and Allison Bottke's book, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, are books I regularly recommend (and give away copies of) in recent years.

Finally (though I could go on, and often do, to mention many others) Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts (A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are) is a beautiful book that I have often recommended to others not only as a great read but also for its potential to change a person's perspective and introduce a deep and lasting "attitude of gratitude" into their lives.

These twelve just scratch the surface. On any given day, I may mention several of these, and several others I haven't listed. But these seem to be the ones that, in the last few years, at least, have had the most memorable impact on my thinking and living...and on my conversations with other people.

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