18 January 2008

Top 5 Books for 2008

I have to confess… the writer’s strike is all my fault…. I was so excited about being in the US and seeing live TV with real commercials that the writers banded together to try and rain on my parade…

So since “24” is about to be renamed “12” and the plot line with be Chloe trying to break Jack out of LA county jail after a DUI… since LOST will have only 10 episodes to leave me even more lost than ever and Jin will have a flash forward to find himself is the cell next to Jack… I have decided to help you all prepare for the months of “nothing new on TV”…

So stop watching old Harrison Ford movies on USA… and Australian Rules Football on ESPN… here is Jeff’s Top 5 of 2008… otherwise known as the top 5 books I read in 2007…

5 / Inside the Kingdom / Carmen Bin Ladin

Carmen is the former wife of one of the Bin Ladin brothers and gives her account of life in the Saudi Arabia and the Bin Ladin clan. It was an easy read and didn’t get nominated for writing skill but it did satisfy my curiosity about Middle Eastern culture and family dynamic. It also gave me a sense of compassion for the innocent wives and non-extremist Muslims who are viewed in the same light as Osama and other radicals of the Middle Eastern world.

4 / The White Man’s Burden / William Easterly

I started reading this a few nights back and it a fair amount of what I rant and rave about but with real stats, figures and educated opinions. His basic premise is that the western world has sent 2.3 trillion dollars in aid to Africa over the last 5 decades and its done little good. He doesn’t give all the answers of how to fix Africa but does an excellent job of showing how previous methods have failed and how we need to stop mindlessly falling into the same traps as other well intentioned humanitarian have done before. There is a sister book called The Black Man’s Burden but due to my pigmentation handicap I decided to start here…

3 / The Last King of Scotland / Giles Foden

I saw the movie and liked it… I read the book and loved it… The movie misses out on so much and completely changes the ending… the raid on Entebbe was not the end or his escape. But what I appreciated best was how the book demonstrated how captivating Edi Amin was while at the same time showing his insanity, which struck fear in everyone around him.

2 / Vintage Jesus / Mark Driscoll

My running buddy Mark is coming out with this book in February 2008 but he sent me an early copy that I read the moment I received it. This is a theology book that non-theologians will love because its funny and entertaining while teaching you everything that that boring Christological books do. Mark actually isn’t a runner but I listen to him while I run on his podcast… and I’m such a lame groupie that I pre-ordered the book so I could have an electronic copy sent and an autographed copy when it comes out in February… thanks Mark you’re my hero!

1 / The Poisonwood Bible / Barbara Kingsolver

During my 4.5 years of seminary I got used to reading boring theology books and completely stopped reading fiction… Christine finally convinced me to read this book and it is now receiving my top honors for 2008. It is a secular fiction book that has taught me more about missions, entering a new culture and overseas family life than all my previous training combined… and for those who aren’t going to be missionaries or living overseas it was so entertaining and I was so drawn in by the characters that I got carpel tunnel from holding the 614 page book for hours on end while only stopping to blink…

Since its #1 it gets 2 paragraphs of review… the story is told by the wife and 4 daughters of a hardheaded fire and brimstone missionary out of Georgia as they move to Congo in 1960… although they only stay in Congo as a family for 17 months the story traces the impact those months overseas had on the members of the family… as you read it you might think that the father is an unbelievable character but sadly we have encountered many missionaries just like him… and I for one hope to never look in the mirror and be staring at him… it’s a must read!

Honorable Mention:

Velvet Elvis / Rob Bell; Sex God / Rob Bell; Blue Like Jazz / Donald Miller; The Ragamuffin Gospel / Brennan Manning; Confessions of a Reformational Reverend / Mark Driscoll; Soul Carvings / Erwin McManus

Most of these were not put in the top 5 because they are already ranked in the top 5 at your local Christian bookstore but I like them all.


Jen said...

Hey, glad to see Poisonwood as your number one! That's a great book. I read it while we were at Multnomah, and you're right it's a scary truth about some missionaries. Now go borrow The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns from Christine. I'm sure you'll have PLENTY of down-time to read on the plane!

Darren T. Rusco said...

I always enjoy recommended reading lists.

This may be the only list that has both Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll making an appearance... seeing as how they both accuse the other as teaching a false gospel. :)

Melinda said...

O.K., gotta comment on the Rob Bell books.......tell me it isn't so?

Rob Bell is an engaging and entertaining read, but his gospel is not The Gospel. It is a mixture of a social, environmental, and slightly universalist gospel. Be careful.

Jeff said...
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