2011

Here is a list of my favorites books that I read in 2011.

NON-FICTION

Weird – Because Normal Isn’t Working – Craig Groeschel

Normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Many of their relationships are, at best, strained and, in most cases, just surviving. Even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth, normal is still living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead. In our oversexed world, lust, premarital sex, guilt, and shame are far more common than purity, virginity, and a healthy married sex life. And when it comes to God, the majority believe in him, but the teachings of scripture rarely make it into their everyday lives. Simply put, normal isn’t working. Groeschel’s WEIRD views will help you break free from the norm to lead a radically abnormal (and endlessly more fulfilling) life.

The End of Religion – Bruxy Cavey
In The End of Religion, Bruxy Cavey shares that relationship has no room for religion. Believers and seekers alike will discover anew the wondrous promise found in our savior. And Christ’s eternal call to walk in love and freedom will resonate with readers of all ages and denominations.

Un-Christian – David Kinnaman – Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, was inspired to write this book when Lyons (of the Fermi Project) commissioned him to do extensive research on what young Americans think about Christianity. Lyons had a gut-level sense that something was desperately wrong, and three years of research paints exactly that picture. Mosaics and Busters (the generations that include late teens to early 30-somethings) believe Christians are judgmental, antihomosexual, hypocritical, too political and sheltered. Rather than simply try to do a PR face-lift, Kinnaman looks at ways in which churches’ activities actually may have been unchristian and encourages a return to a more biblical Christianity, a faith that not only focuses on holiness but also loves, accepts and works to understand the world around it. It would be possible to get lost in the numbers, but the authors use numerous illustrations from their research and life experiences and include insights at the end of every chapter from Christian leaders like Charles Colson, John Stott, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis. This is a wonderful, thoughtful book that conveys difficult truths in a spirit of humility. Every Christian should read this, and it will likely influence churches for years to come.

The Orthodox Heretic – Peter Rollins – In this bold new book Peter Rollins presents a vision of faith that has little regard for the institutions of Christendom. His uncompromising critique of religion, while often unsettling, is infused with a deep and abiding love for what it means to genuinely follow Christ.

Love & Respect – Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – Based upon Ephesians 5:33 and extensive biblical and psychological research, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs reveals the power of unconditional love and unconditional respect and how husbands and wives can reap the benefits of marriage that God intended.

31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo – Bryan Allain – Hone your blogging voice, find your true audience, and develop the strong community of readers you’ve always hoped for.Each day’s chapter of 31 Days to Mojo gives you insight into the strategies and mindset that humorist Bryan Allain has used to develop a strong following for his own blog and provides you with an action item to work on for quick wins and long-term growth.

Blue Like Jazz – “I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. . . . I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.” In Donald Miller’s early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Christian life with great zeal. Within a few years he had a successful ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.

All By My Selves – All By My Selves is the story of one pretty ordinary guy, one interesting hobby, one very understanding set of parents, and a long and winding road to becoming America’s favorite comedian. With wit, honesty, and lots of great show business detail, Dunham shares all the major moments in his journey to worldwide fame and success.

FICTION

Second Son – Lee Child – Lee Child’s Reacher series (15 books in all) is a thundering force among modern thrillers. For the uninitiated, it follows the stoic, hulking, and streetwise Jack Reacher, a former military policeman who’s now a drifter with a vast capacity for protective and retributive violence. The short story “Second Son” is a snapshot of the life of Reacher and his family circa 1974, while they’re stationed on a military base in Okinawa. Upon arriving they immediately get into deep trouble that’s compounded by some bad news. For those new to Child’s writing, the action is interspersed with contemplative moments, such as when Jack’s grandfather, a prosthetic-limb maker in Paris, recounts that “… a great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” This tightly constructed story pulls readers right to the end and is sure to find new fans for the series. —Paul Diamond

Worth Dying For – Lee Child – In Child’s exciting 15th thriller featuring one-man army Jack Reacher (after 61 Hours), Reacher happens into a situation tailor-made for his blend of morality and against-the-odds heroics. While passing through an isolated Nebraska town, the ex-military cop persuades the alcoholic local doctor to treat Eleanor Duncan, who’s married to the abusive Seth, for a “nosebleed.” Reacher later breaking Seth’s nose prompts members of the Duncan clan, who are involved in an illegal trafficking scheme, to seek revenge. Reacher, who easily disposes of two hit men sent to get him, winds up trying to solve a decades-old case concerning a missing eight-year-old girl. While Child convincingly depicts his hero’s superhuman abilities, he throws in a few lucky breaks to enable the outnumbered Reacher to survive. Crisp, efficient prose and well-rounded characterizations (at least of the guys in the white hats) raise this beyond other attempts to translate the pulse-pounding feel of the Die Hard films into prose.

The Woods – Harlan Coben – Paul “Cope” Copeland, acting county prosecutor for Essex County, N.J., and Lucy Gold, his long-lost summer camp love, are still haunted by a fateful night, decades earlier, when their nighttime tryst allowed some younger campers, including Cope’s sister, to venture into the nearby forest, where they apparently fell victim to the Summer Slasher, a serial killer. Cope’s intense focus on a high-profile rape prosecution of some wealthy college students shifts after one of the Slasher’s victims, whose body was never found, turns up as a recent corpse in Manhattan, casting doubt on the official theory of the old case. Cope’s own actions on that night again come under scrutiny, even as the highly placed fathers of the men he’s prosecuting work to unearth as many skeletons as possible to pressure him into dropping the rape case. Less than compelling characters fail to compensate for a host of implausibilities.

Hold Tight – Harlan Coben – A sadistic killer is at play in suburban Glen Rock, N.J., outside New York City, but somehow he’s less frightening than the more mundane problems that send ordinary lives into chaos. How do you weigh a child’s privacy against a parent’s right to know? How do you differentiate normal teenage rebelliousness from out-of-control behavior? When and how do you intervene if suicidal signs appear? Other issues include single parenting; career versus family; marital honesty; and how much information you should share with a child at what age. Coben plucks each of these strings like a virtuoso as Mike and Tia Baye try to deal with the increasing withdrawal of their 16-year-old son, Adam, after a friend’s suicide. A pair of brutal, seemingly senseless killings, punctuate the unfolding domestic troubles that ratchet up the tension and engulf the Baye family, their friends and neighbors in a web of increasing tragedy. The this could be me factor lends poignancy to the thrills and chills

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