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2016 Reading Challenge Update: July & August

This year I have been participating in the 2016 Reading Challenge, a fun way to increase and diversify your reading through another year. I took the challenge and set this year’s goal at 104 books. However, because so much of my reading has to go toward reviewing books that are recently published and of interest to Christians (both for reviews published here and in WORLD magazine), I decided to pick from all over the list rather than working through it in order. What follows are the books I completed in July and August and, in parentheses, the reading challenge category they fulfill. Below that is the complete list of categories I need to cover.

You can see my previous updates for January, February, March-April, May, and June

  1. Married for God by Christopher Ash (A book by an Anglican). This is one of the top marriage books I’ve read (and I’ve read an awful lot of them). I highly recommend it.
  2. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (A book by or about a pastor’s wife). This is one of my favorite novels because Anne is one of my favorite fictional characters. I laugh out loud every time I read it.
  3. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (A play by William Shakespeare). I’m going to count watching a performance of The Taming of the Shrew as reading it. It’s my reading challenge so I play by my rules!
  4. Greater Than Gold by David Boudia. I enjoyed reading Boudia’s account of coming to faith and winning Olympic gold (and silver and bronze). He spends as much time talking about his faith as he does talking about his career.
  5. The Temple and the Tabernacle by J. Daniel Hays (A book about ancient history). This was a thoroughly enjoyable and readable biblical theology of the tabernacle and temples. Hays does a great job of making it all relevant and applicable to today.
  6. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (A novel set in a country that is not your own). I really enjoyed Ivey’s debut novel The Snow Child so was excited to read her next novel. Though it didn’t have all the magic of its predecessor it was still a compelling story and an excellent novel. She can write!
  7. Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll (A book about art). This is a very helpful introduction to photography using a DSLR camera. Carroll describes and illustrates how to use the equipment and how to make the most of it. Do note that a few of the example photos are a bit risqué.
  8. A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant. I really enjoyed Palpant’s collection of poetry so eagerly read his first book, an account of suffering through a strange and mysterious illness. I appreciated it, though preferred his poetry. Regardless, he is a very good writer and a pleasure to read.
  9. The War on Cops by Heather Mac Donald (A book by a female author). Perhaps the big lesson in this book, which I plucked off the New York Times list of bestsellers, is how two people can read the very same evidence and come to startlingly different conclusions.
  10. The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges (A book published in 2016). I have tried to read just about all of Jerry Bridges’ books. This one, publishing posthumously, may well be his last. It is well worth the read.
  11. The Apostle by John Charles Pollock (A book written in the twentieth century). I was long overdue to read a life of the Apostle Paul and very much enjoyed this one.
  12. Thy Kingdom Comics by Adam4d (A book of comics). I’ve enjoyed for some time now and was glad to see this anthology of his comics.
  13. Big Beliefs by David Helm (A book by a Presbyterian). This book is a series of short devotionals written for families and based on the Westminster Confession of Faith. We have been using it in our family devotions and finding it a solid resource.
  14. Church History 101 by Sinclair Ferguson (A book by or about the church fathers). This is a great idea for a miniature church history—a short synopsis of each century between the first and the twentieth.
  15. Eight Women of Faith by Michael Haykin. Dr. Haykin’s latest work is a series of eight character studies on eight women who played a significant (though often under-appreciated) role in church history.
  16. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (A book more than 100 years old). When I was in England this summer I watched a performance of Doctor Faustus. I went back and read it on my own afterwards. The final scene is absolutely chilling and well worth all that comes before it.
  17. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I enjoyed this book, though not quite as much as some of the people who are singing its praises. That may simply be the cultural distance between my context of suburban Toronto and the author’s context of Appalachia.
  18. Copywriting for Christians by Dominic Bnonn Tennant. Though I am not a copywriter by trade I enjoyed reading this book and was challenged by it.
  19. A forthcoming book on understanding and applying the New Testament. I was asked to read this book and provide feedback on it. I did so. It’s going to be a really good resource when it releases next year. That’s all I can say for now.
  20. A forthcoming book on marriage. This is another book I read at the request of the author so I could provide a level of theological editing for it. It looks at marriage through one of the biblical paradigms and does a great job of it.
  21. A forthcoming book for women (A book targeted at the other gender). This is still another book I read at the request of the author so I could provide a level of theological editing. It thoroughly examines some key biblical texts for and about biblical womanhood. It is also going to be a solid resource when it releases next year.

The Light Reader (13 books)

  • ☒ A book about Christian living (Delighting in the Trinity)
  • ☒ A biography (Good Took Me By the Hand)
  • ☐ A classic novel
  • ☐ A book someone tells you “changed my life”
  • ☐ A commentary on a book of the Bible
  • ☒ A book about theology (The Deep Things of God)
  • ☒ A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle (How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home)
  • ☐ A book your pastor recommends
  • ☒ A book more than 100 years old (Doctor Faustus)
  • ☒ A book for children (Good Picture, Bad Picture)
  • ☐ A mystery or detective novel
  • ☒ A book published in 2016 (The Blessing of Humility)
  • ☒ A book about a current issue (Black Flags)

The Avid Reader (26 Books)

  • ☐ A book written by a Puritan
  • ☐ A book recommended by a family member
  • ☒ A book by or about a missionary (William Carey)
  • ☒ A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize (All the Light We Cannot See)
  • ☒ A book written by an Anglican (Married for God)
  • ☒ A book with at least 400 pages (Operation Thunderbolt)
  • ☒ A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)
  • ☐ A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title
  • ☐ A book with a great cover
  • ☒ A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers (Red Platoon)
  • ☒ A book about church history (A Great Blessing to Me)
  • ☒ A graphic novel (Essex County)
  • ☒ A book of poetry (Sojourner Songs)

The Committed Reader (52 Books)

  • ☒ A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with (Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife)
  • ☒ A book written by an author with initials in their name (Conscience)
  • ☐ A book that won a ECPA Christian Book Award
  • ☒ A book about worldview (The Faith of Christopher Hitchens)
  • ☒ A play by William Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew)
  • ☐ A humorous book
  • ☒ A book based on a true story (Hillbilly Elegy)
  • ☐ A book written by Jane Austen
  • ☐ A book by or about Martin Luther
  • ☒ A book with 100 pages or less (God and Politics)
  • ☒ A book with a one-word title (Dreamland)
  • ☒ A book about money or finance (Living in the Light)
  • ☒ A novel set in a country that is not your own (To the Bright Edge of the World)
  • ☒ A book about music (Unashamed)
  • ☒ A memoir (Skyfaring)
  • ☐ A book about joy or happiness
  • ☒ A book by a female author (The War on Cops)
  • ☒ A book whose title comes from a Bible verse (The Forgotten Fear)
  • ☐ A book you have started but never finished
  • ☒ A self-improvement book (Habits of Grace)
  • ☒ A book by David McCullough (Brave Companions)
  • ☐ A book you own but have never read
  • ☐ A book about abortion
  • ☒ A book targeted at the other gender (A forthcoming book for women)
  • ☒ A book by a speaker at a conference you have attended (The Whole Christ)
  • ☒ A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you (Black and Reformed)

The Obsessed Reader (104 Books)

  • ☒ A book published by The Banner of Truth (J.C. Ryle)
  • ☒ A book about the Reformation (Rescuing the Gospel)
  • ☒ A book written by a first-time author (Under Our Skin)
  • ☒ A biography of a world leader (Victoria: A Life)
  • ☐ A book used as a seminary textbook
  • ☐ A book about food
  • ☒ A book about productivity (Your Days Are Numbered)
  • ☒ A book about or relationships or friendship (The Lovers)
  • ☐ A book about parenting
  • ☐ A book about philosophy
  • ☒ A book about art (Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs)
  • ☒ A book with magic (The Snow Child)
  • ☒ A book about prayer (Moving Mountains)
  • ☒ A book about marriage (Tying the Knot)
  • ☒ A book about a hobby (Floodpath)
  • ☒ A book of comics (Thy Kingdom Comics)
  • ☒ A book about the Second World War (The Matthews Men)
  • ☒ A book about sports (For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton)
  • ☒ A book by or about a pastor’s wife (Anne of Green Gables)
  • ☒ A book about suffering (When Breath Becomes Air)
  • ☒ A book by your favorite author (What Is the Trinity?)
  • ☐ A book you have read before
  • ☒ A book about homosexuality (Messy Grace)
  • ☒ A Christian novel (Jump)
  • ☒ A book about psychology (Imagine Heaven)
  • ☒ A book about the natural world (Lab Girl)
  • ☐ A book by or about Charles Dickens
  • ☐ A novel longer than 400 pages
  • ☒ A historical book (The ISIS Apocalypse)
  • ☒ A book about the Bible (A Peculiar Glory)
  • ☒ A book about a country or city (One Child)
  • ☐ A book about astronomy
  • ☐ A book with an ugly cover
  • ☐ A book by or about a martyr
  • ☒ A book by a woman conference speaker (Hope Heals)
  • ☒ A book by or about the church fathers (Church History 101)
  • ☐ A book about language
  • ☐ A book by or about a Russian
  • ☒ A book about leadership (Zeal Without Burnout)
  • ☐ A book about public speaking
  • ☐ A book by Francis Schaeffer
  • ☐ A book by a Presbyterian (Big Beliefs by David Helm)
  • ☒ A book about science (The Sleep Revolution)
  • ☐ A book about revival
  • ☒ A book about writing (100 Ways To Improve Your Writing)
  • ☒ A book about evangelism (Reset)
  • ☐ A book about ancient history (The Temple and Tabernacle)
  • ☐ A book about preaching
  • ☒ A book about the church (Discipling)
  • ☐ A book about adoption
  • ☒ A photo essay book (Humans of New York)
  • ☒ A book written in the twentieth century (The Apostle)


  • Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith
  • Core Christianity by Michael Horton
  • Greater Than Gold by David Boudia
  • A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant
  • Eight Women of Faith by Michael Haykin
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • Copywriting for Christians by Dominic Bnonn Tennant
  • A forthcoming book on understanding and applying the New Testament
  • A forthcoming book on marriage
  • A forthcoming book for women

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