At the outset of 2016, I made a personal goal to read 116 books by the end of the year. I have gradually increased my reading load each year since the first year of my literary awakening in 2010. But by December 31, I will have read more books in one year than in the two (maybe three!) previous years combined. My goal at the beginning of the year was to read 10 books each month. So far, I have read at least 10 book during each month of 2016. But the month of April was unlike any other month in my life when it comes to reading. I have written and read more in April, 2016 than any other month in my life. From April 1-30, I read 21 books.
I don’t expect I can maintain this rapid rate of reading and writing, but after such a full month, I want to share the books I read and encourage you to read one more book in May than you did in April. Few things have fueled my personal holiness outside of the Bible, the sacraments, and the church more than reading. Even more than information intake, there is a particular sanctifying element to patiently walking through a book. Slowing down to read a book, non-fiction or fiction, is relaxing, even therapeutic. But, reading is also a reminder that the Christian life is a slow, progressing, and disciplined journey from one degree of glory to the next as we are being remade into the image of Christ. I would encourage every Christian to read at least one or two books outside of the Bible each month for both enjoyment and edification.
If you are looking for some books to jump into, here is my April reading list–21 books I read from cover to cover (though not necessarily every page between the covers!). Some books were read for a seminary class I am taking. Others were read for the purpose of reviews on this blog. Some were read for direct help with a particular lesson or series of lessons I taught to children. And the rest were for pure enjoyment or growth in areas of discipleship. Regardless, there is intentional balance in the content and style of each book I chose to read. I have yet to read much outside my theological and philosophical comfort zone this year, which I’m not happy about. But, it’s only April! I have eight months left to diversify my reading.
I hope this list gives you a place to begin more frequent reading in your own life.
- From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (T. Desmond Alexander)
- Understanding Baptism (Bobby Jamieson)
- A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day (Catherine Strode Parks & Linda Strode)
- The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (Edmund Clowney)
- Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines (David Mathis)
- Family Worship (Don Whitney)
- Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (Tim Challies)
- Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Mark Dever)
- Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story (Michael Horton)
- Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out (Phillip Nation)
- The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Andreas Kostenberger & Justin Taylor)
- The Two Towers (J.R.R. Tolkien)
- The Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
- Understanding the Great Commission (Mark Dever)
- The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry (Jason Helopoulos)
- The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
- Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation (Erwin Lutzer)
- Grace Works! (And Ways We Think it Doesn’t) [Douglas Bond]
- Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Kevin DeYoung)
- Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage (Rob Green)
- Church in Hard Places: How the Local Church Brings Life to the Poor and Needy (Mez McConnell & Mike McKinley)
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.