My Reading: July 2012-2013

14 07 2013

It’s that time of the year again when I display my geeky side and cast my mind over the books I’ve read in the past 12 months.

Each year I try to justify my nerdish tendencies. This year 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 I can ensure I’m getting a balanced diet; reading the kinds of books I might otherwise be tempted to avoid, and making sure I’m not just overdosing on one genre.

To be honest, this year I’ve not followed my plans as much as in previous years. Most of my reading has been dictated by necessity rather than choice. But with the M.A.’s completion fast approaching, I live with the hope that I may regain some sense of choice over my reading plans!

That said… a couple of observations.

  • For the first year ever I’ve reached (and exceeded) my goal of one book a week – 55 completed.
  • I’ve no idea how many books I started this year, since I’ve read copious poems, articles and chapters of books for various essays, and didn’t bother noting down the books I had neither inclination nor intention to finish.
  • A literature class bumped my fiction quota up considerably!
  • I soon realised I wasn’t going to read any drama this year, but needed to read a fair chunk of literary criticism for a class I was taking, so I switched the category title.
  • The Christian/Secular divide wasn’t easy to discern this year (how do you categorise the collected works of Gerard Manley Hopkins or T.S. Eliot for example?) so is a little arbitrary in places. It’s a division I don’t much like anyway! But it’s loosely helpful to make sure my head’s not stuck in religious literature the whole time.
  • I didn’t read any books on leadership (I find them rather boring, truth be told!) though I’ve read loads more articles and listened to podcasts on the subject this year.
  • I also didn’t complete any books on marriage, though I restarted Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. But again, I’ve read a number of articles and listened to podcasts – and spent time with my wife! And I resisted the urge to put all the books on divorce and remarriage into the ‘Marriage’ category! Skewing the stats to make the numbers look like I was a great husband, would only have provided a temporary ego boost, before you glanced down the list of books!

So here’s a rough breakdown of my how my reading faired this year, and also the list of books I read. I always intend to review books and never get round to it – but if you want my opinion on any, just ask:

Reading Breakdown

Category Aim (%) Achieved (%) Variance
Spiritual 16 10.30 -5.70
Theology 42 41.21 -0.79
Ethics/Politics/Apologetics 16 10.91 -5.09
Drama 1 8.48 7.48
Skill-Development 8 5.45 -2.55
Fiction 8 23.03 15.03
Marriage 3 0.00 -3.00
Biography 3 0.61 -2.39
Leadership 3 0.00 -3.00
Christian 75 63.64 -11.36
Secular 25 36.36 11.36

Reading List

  • Alldritt, Keith – Eliot’s Four Quartets
  • Beck (ed.), James – Two Views on Women in Ministry
  • Bell, Rob – What we Talk About When we Talk About God
  • Blenkinsopp, Joseph – Wisdom and Law in the Old Testament: The Ordering of Life in Israel and Early Judaism
  • Burke, Trevor – Adopted into God’s Family
  • Camp, Claudia – Wisdom and the Feminine in the Book of Proverbs
  • Chandler, Matt – The Explicit Gospel
  • Copan, Paul – Is God a Moral Monster?
  • Cornes, Andrew – Divorce and Remarriage
  • Crenshaw, James L. – Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction
  • Delillo, Don – White Noise
  • Delillo,  Don – The Angel Esmeralda
  • Dell, Katharine  – Get Wisdom, Get Insight
  • Donovan, Jeremey – How to Deliver a TED Talk
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor – Crime and Punishment
  • Duvall, J.Scott and Hays, J. Daniel – Grasping God’s Word
  • Eliot, T.S. – The Four Quartets
  • Erswine, Zach – Preaching to a Post-Everything World
  • Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas – How to Read the Bible for all its Worth
  • Foster Wallace, David – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
  • Gish, Nancy – Time in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot
  • Greene, Graham – The Heart of the Matter
  • Hybels, Bill – Just Walk Across the Room
  • Instone-Brewer, David – Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context
  • John of the Cross, St – Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • John of the Cross, St – The Dark Night of the Soul
  • Johnson, Adam  – The Orphan Master’s Son
  • Joyce, James – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Keener, Craig – …And Marries Another
  • Kramer, Kenneth – Redeeming Time: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets
  • Kreeft, Peter – Christianity for Modern Pagans
  • Manley Hopkins, Gerard – Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • Medearis, Carl – Speaking of Jesus: The art of not-evangelism
  • Miller, Donald – Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation
  • Murray, John – Divorce
  • Partridge, Alan  – I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan
  • Peers, E. Allison – St John of the Cross
  • Phillips, Caroline – The Religious Quest in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot
  • Rajan (ed), Balachandra – T.S. Eliot: A Study of his Writings by Several Hands
  • Rossiter, Joanna – The Sea Change
  • Sinnot, Alice – The Personification of Wisdom
  • Smith, Zadie – White Teeth
  • Sproul,  R.C. – Can I Have Joy in my Life?
  • Spufford, Francis – Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can make surprising emotional sense
  • Stibbe, Mark – I Am Your Father
  • Stott, John – The Cross of Christ
  • Thomas, Gary – Sacred Pathways
  • von Rad, Gerhard – Wisdom in Israel
  • Vonnegut, Kurt – God Bless You, Dr Kevorkian
  • Warren, Rick – God’s Power to Change your Life
  • Wenham/Heth/Keener – Remarriage After Divorce in Today’s Church: Three Views
  • Westermann, Claus – Roots of Wisdom
  • Witherington, Ben – Jesus the Sage
  • Zacharias, Ravi – Jesus Among Other Gods 

Note: there’s one book missing from my list because it’s not actually been published yet. But rest assured, it will be released soon and then I won’t stop recommending it!!

The Octopus

16 06 2011

A whimsical poem on octopus shoe-shopping…

Polvo Niquel Moedas

The Octopus (16/06/11)

An octopus I can excuse,
For owning quite so many shoes,
But still I cannot fathom why,
Some women act like octopi!

Samson and Delilah

9 03 2011

I haven’t inflicted a ridiculous poem on you for a couple of weeks. So here you go. It’s a monorhyme (meaning that each line ends with a near-identical rhyme) on Samson and Delilah:

Sam and Del (09/03/11)

Samson was uxorious
His hair was quite luxurious
Delilah was injurious
Her love for him was spurious
She acted kind of curious
And then she made him furious
When feeling proditorius
She turned a bit coiffurious!!


Glossary of terms:

Uxorious – Being excessively submissive to one’s wife
Injurious – Malicious. Likely to cause harm.
Spurious – Not being what it purports to be. Fake.
Proditorius – Treacherous, traitorous
Coiffurious – Ok, I made that one up… I seem to make up a new word every time I write a new poem. But hey! We. needed a word in the English language for ‘hairdresser-esque’


12 01 2011

About as much wisdom as I can muster so early in the New Year – a couplet on the perils of greed:

Greed (12/01/11)

If you’re lickerish with liquorice,
You’ll likely end up sickerish.


Lickerish – adjective. Greedy.
Sickerish – Ok, so I made up that one up, but hey… My creativity is still in hibernation and will emerge from its state of torpor some time around mid February. Until then you shall have to make do with made up words.


‘Elegy and Ivory’

15 09 2010

Today marks the 125th anniversary of the death of P.T. Barnum’s famous circus elephant, Jumbo. Born in 1861 in the French Sudan, Jumbo spent much of his early life in France and London, before being sold to P.T. Barnam in 1882. He grew to an enormous 13.1ft, his daily diet consisting of 200 pounds of hay, 1 barrel of potatoes, 2 bushels of oats, 15 loaves of bread and a slew of onions. People flocked from far and wide to see him until his untimely death on 15 September 1885, when he wandered onto railway tracks in St Thomas, Ontario, and was struck by an oncoming train.

To this day, Jumbo’s ashes are stored in a 14-ounce Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter jar in the Tufts University archives. Various taxidermied limbs and are still on display in institutions across America. But on this, the 1 ¼ th centenary of his passing, may I offer my own little tribute to the great beast, in the form of a heartfelt poem:

‘Elegy and Ivory’
(A lament on the 125th anniversary of Jumbo’s tragic demise)
15 September 2010

Barnum’s elephantine friend,
Did meet his elephantine end,
When Jumbo (for whatever motive)
Stepped before a locomotive.

Poor Barnum was left broken-hearted;
Scarce could cope now they were parted,
So treasured Jumbo’s ample hide,
In peanut butter, mummified.

How short his life, how brief, how brusque,
“This world is red in trunk and tusk!”
So let us, with one voice, affirm,
This honorific pachyderm.


For further reading on Jumbo, visit the Tufts Magazine Online.

You learn something new every day…

An ode to Eutychus

7 09 2010

I was feeling whimsical… so, an ode to Eutychus, based on Acts 20:7-12… With a glossary of terms!

An Ode to Eutychus (07/09/10)

Through the night St Paul orated.
Eutychus, he hibernated.
Thus he got defenestrated,
Hit the ground; absquatulated!

All the crowd vociferated.
Paul felt quite incriminated.
Earnestly he supplicated,
’til he was reanimated


Glossary of Terms:

Defenestrate – To be thrown from a window
Absquatulate – To depart in a hurry; to die
Vociferate – To exclaim vehemently
Supplicate – To earnestly pray