This has been a whirlwind year for me. With moving across the country, buying and renovating a house in rural NH, planting a church, and taking on the role of senior pastor, I did not read as much as I have in years prior. I’ve also started working out, watching the Celtics, and tackling more projects at our home. This year has also been one of continuing lament and grief as I try to make sense of life here in NH without Mom. I foresee my reading goals shifting in the years to come and will probably set a goal of 30 books instead of 60. I need to slow down, read bigger books, better books, prioritize my Bible reading, and overall, pursue a more balanced approach. I was playing catch up after seminary, but now I’m ready for a more ordinary and sustainable reading plan.
There are countless books out there on the topic of productivity—religious and secular. I have read many of them. They sit heavily marked up on my bookshelves. I have my favorites; and I refer to them often. Each one has its own distinct philosophy and presuppositions, its own unique set of values and goals, as well as its innovative purpose and plan. Whether the focus is on self-improvement, time-management, goal-setting, better efficiency, or guaranteed success, the push for productivity is most often driven by a self-focused and utilitarian ethos. But Redeeming Productivity is different.
Emily Dickinson once wrote, “I can wade grief, whole pools of it, I’m used to that.” On one hand, I can relate as I have been literally wading grief my entire life. I lost my birth mother at two years old and just lost my adoptive mom a year ago. It’s been a constant, lifelong journey—subconscious at times, palpable at others. Yet on the other hand, I can’t quite relate to the last part because grief is not something you get used to in this life. It is ever present—yes—but it is never normalized. Even in the ubiquity of tragedy, we wrestle and reckon with it, but never actually come to grips with it. The hurting and aching following loss will always remain in our hearts on this side of glory. Through the grieving process I’ve found comfort in Scripture and in songs, but I’ve also found it in great books.
Well, this year resembled last year in a lot of ways. It was definitely busier as ordinary life and ministry picked up pace, but there was still much quality reading time to savor. I’m glad I set a goal and stayed ahead because I have been bogged down by various trials these past two months and haven’t had much time or energy to read. Here are my top ten books that I read this past year—
This year was unlike any other and Zamyatin’s observation from 100 years ago rings true—”Revolution is everywhere, in everything. It is infinite.”2 I decided to take social distancing and quarantine as opportunities to read more. If anything—with the rise of propaganda, cancel culture, fact checking, revisionist history, conspiracy theories, and just too much information too fast—this year proved our need to read more. “Truth withers long before the roots are pulled.”1 I enjoy sharing those books which have most profoundly challenged and shaped my thinking about life and ministry. You can view my complete reading list from this year on Goodreads here. But these are my favorite books read in 2020 (not necessarily published this year).
This is the third year that I have committed to reading 50 books (you can view my completed books list on Goodreads here). With the perfect blend of curiosity, intentionality, and tenacity, you can join me in reading more. If you desire this, I have shared my personal tips and tricks on reading more. As I am continually shaped by what I read, I desire to share books worthy of your time and energy. These are my favorite books read in 2019 (not necessarily published this year). As you read through each section, I hope you will see the overlapping and recurring themes. This is one of the joys of reading more. Continue reading →
In my youth, I was intellectually lazy and therefore incredibly averse to reading. I avoided books, reading assignments, and libraries like I avoided traffic and broccoli and black coffee. I even made fun of book-loving, book-smart people who read books (just ask my brother-in-law who majored in English). But now I LOVE to read. You will rarely find me without a book. I am not writing this as an expert or a novice, but as someone who has made some progress in my consumption of books over the last decade. Like you I am daily scraping for quiet, unhurried moments in the midst of my chaotic life to finish that chapter, and eventually that book. Like you I am on a journey toward becoming a better reader. So wherever you are on your journey, I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful.