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2016 Reading Challenge Update: September & October

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 September and October and, in parentheses, the reading challenge category they fulfill. Below that is the complete list of categories I need to cover. As you can see, I did not finish many books over the past couple of months, something that is not unusual as my reading ebbs and flows over the course of the year.

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

  1. Sexual Morality in a Christless World by Matthew Rueger. This is a brilliant work that discusses sexual morality and immorality in this world with a view to the sexual immorality in which Christianity was birthed. Highly recommended!
  2. Jesus Always by Sarah Young. Sarah Young’s long-awaited follow-up to Jesus Calling is every bit as concerning as its predecessor.
  3. Discerning Your Call to Ministry by Jason Allen (A book about preaching). Allen’s book is meant to help aspiring pastors to discern whether or not they are called to ministry.
  4. The Unfinished Reformation by Greg Allison & Chris Castaldo. With the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this is one of many books (and a very good one) that addresses the impact of the Reformation on today’s world.
  5. Good and Angry by David Powlison (A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title). You can be both good and angry and David Powlison proves it in this book.
  6. Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Henley Rubio (A book you have started but never finished). This was a very long but very interesting biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Disappointingly, though, the author showed a terrible ignorance of Christianity, and this despite Montgomery’s upbringing as a Presbyterian and marriage to a pastor.
  7. Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer (A book by Francis Schaeffer). This is a classic and one well worth reading.

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 (Good and Angry)
  • ☐ 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 (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
  • ☒ 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 (Art and the Bible)
  • ☒ 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 (Discerning Your Call to Ministry)
  • ☒ 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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