Reading Analysis 2011-2012

16 07 2012

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.’ – A.C. Grayling

What you put into you matters. Or so nutritionists tell us. Balance is essential. Too much of one food group and you end up fat, lethargic, unwell… or dead.

If that’s true of our physical wellbeing, might it not be true for our intellectual wellbeing?

Each year I try to plan my reading in order to ensure that I have a balanced diet: reading widely, reading in areas that will strengthen the areas I need to be strong in immediately, and reading things that stretch me and strengthen me for the next 5-10 years.

It’s geeky I know, but I’ve found it helpful over the past few years to plan what types of books I need to read over a year, keep a list of all the books I have read, and then analyse how balanced my reading has been. Each July I’ve set goals for how I want to divide up my reading in the next 12 months. And the time has come to analyse my reading from 2011-2012.

This year I thought my reading would take a hit. Having started an MA, I’ve been reading more articles or chapters of books rather than whole books. I haven’t listed those here, since I’ve dipped into well over a hundred books that I’ve never had the inclination or intention to finish. These are just the books I’ve read in full.

As it happens though, the number of books I’ve completed has increased rather than decreased, which I’m pretty happy with, especially since a number of the books are pretty enormous (Beale’s commentary on Revelation for example, was something of a beast!)

In July 2011 to July 2012 I completed 50 books; that is 3 more than last year. Annoyingly I didn’t quite make it to 1 book a week. I was tempted to read a couple of Mr Men this morning to tip me over, but resisted the urge…

82% of books were Christian, 18% secular. This is a bit out from what I had hoped. I’d originally aimed for a 70/30 split, but reading for an MA in Theology skewed that quite considerably.

The following table shows my goals for the year, how my reading broke down into each category, and the variance between my goals and achievements.

My theological reading has been more than I’d aimed for this year, on account of the fact that I wasn’t planning to study for an MA when I originally set my goals. A change of focus means that I’ve read no plays this year, and have spent less time reading books on Leadership or Skill Development. However, I’ve made a concerted effort to develop my writing this year, and have consequently found it useful to read ‘well written books’ rather than ‘books on writing well’; hence more novels.

Again, I couldn’t quite bring myself to post it here, for fear of irrevocably labelling myself a geek… but if you would prefer to see it represented as a pie chart, your wish is my command.

All this has helped me to set goals for 2012-2013. I hope to apportion my reading roughly as follows:

And in case you’re curious, here’s a list of all the books I completed this year:

Barr, James – The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality
Barnes, Julian – The Sense of an Ending
Barton, John (ed.) – The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation
Bauckham, Richard – The Bible in Politics
Beale, G.K. – The Book of Revelation (NIGTC)
Carson, D.A. – The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Cook, Jeff – Everything New
Cooper, John – Body, Soul and Life Everlasting
Copan, Paul – Is God a Moral Monster?
Coupland, Douglas – Miss Wyoming
Coupland, Douglas – Life Without God
DeWiit, Patrick – The Sisters Brothers
Fergusson and Fergusson, Dave and Jon – Exponential
Fergusson and Fergusson, Dave and Jon – The Big idea
Giles, Kevin – Jesus and the Father
Guinness, Os – The Call
Guinness, Michele – The Genius of Guinness
Gunton, Colin – The Promise of Trinitarian Theology
Hosier, Matthew – Sex Talks
Hosier, John – The Lamb, the Beast and the Devil
Keller, Timothy – Counterfeit Gods
Koukl, Gregory – Tactics
Lawrence, D.H. – Apocalypse
Laws, Sophie – In the Light of the Lamb
Lloyd-Jones, Martin – From Fear to Faith
Mamet, David – Writing in Restaurants
Mansfield, Stephen – Searching for God and Guinness
McEwan, Ian – The Innocent
McLaren, Brian – The Secret Message of Jesus
Mitchell, David – Cloud Atlas
Moore, Phil – Straight to the Heart of Revelation
Moraine, Jack – Healing Ministry: A Training Manual for Believers
Ponsonby, Simon – More
Rahner, Karl – On the Theology of Death
Rahner, Karl – The Trinity
Reeves, Michael – The Good God
Rollins, Peter – How (Not) to Speak About God
Rollins, Peter – Insurrection
Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth – In Memory of Her
Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth – Discipleship of Equals
Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth – The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment
Smith, James K.A. – Desiring the Kingdom
Smith, James K.A. – Thinking in Tongues
Tyson, Jon – Rumours of God
Wilson, N.D. – Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl
Wilson, Andrew – If God Then What?
Wimber, John – Power Evangelism
Wodehouse, P.G. – Love Among the Chickens
Wright, Tom – Revelation for Everyone
Zacharias, Ravi – Recapture the Wonder

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12 responses

16 07 2012
Lorna

This is amazingly geeky! I used to have a list of books at the beginning of the year that I would have aimed to read by the end of the year. Do you plan to read any of these at the start of the year?

16 07 2012
liamthatcher

Kind of. I have a running list of things I would like to read, and I check it every now and then. But I don’t specifically plan my reading for the whole year.

16 07 2012
Phil Whittall

What did you think of the Jon Tyson book. I’m thinking of getting it…

16 07 2012
liamthatcher

Good. Not outstanding, in the sense that there was little that was new… but I enjoyed seeing how he communicates God in a ‘gently gently’ sort of way in a secular urban context. Worth a read, but a quick read I’d say.

16 07 2012
Phil Whittall

Thanks Liam, what were your top 5 books? Or is that a separate post?

17 07 2012
liamthatcher

Hmm… Good question. In no particular order:

Andrew Wilson – If God Then What?

Douglas Coupland – Life After God (A brilliant collection of short stories)

G.K. Beale – Revelation (An enormous, dense, but brilliant commentary!!)

Peter Rollins – How (Not) to Speak About God (Tonnes to disagree with, and not one I’d recommend to everyone, but really thought provoking. I’d read some of Rollins’ other books and struggled with them, but this unpacks a lot of his philosophical/theological foundations, which make sense of his other work. You may find it interesting…)

Also, another book which I didn’t complete, but has been great is The Christian Faith by Michael Horton – it’s his systematic theology and it’s really helpful, rigorous and helped me through some difficult systematics classes at uni!

17 07 2012
Phil Whittall

Thanks Liam, I’ll have a look at that Rollins one, he’s got a chapter in a book on missional church that’s near the top of my list.

17 07 2012
liamthatcher

He’s an interesting thinker. Definitely one of the most thought-through, provocative emergent guys. And he’s a great storyteller…

25 09 2012
Bola Mogaji

I’m reading this again having read last year’s list. Thanks for posting LT, I’m gradually picking my lazy self up, and your post encourages me even more.

17 11 2012
Tarnya Burge Wessels

Tried to comment on your post http://whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog/article/immortality-reconsidered
But had a frustrating time ! I wanted to give a link to http://www.afterlife.co.nz/2010/conditional-immortality-key-passages/tree-of-life/ and recommend the resources there as your look at the issue of the nature of the human person, the soul etc

20 11 2012
liamthatcher

Thanks Tarnya! Sorry the commenting didn’t work. I’ll check this out!

14 07 2013
My Reading: July 2012-2013 | Liam and Helen's Blog

[…] I shan’t bother to elaborate too much – feel free to read my previous attempts here, here and here – but I’ve personally found it helpful to plan roughly what I want to read each year, so that […]

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