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Waiting in Anticipation
On Reading Well pt.VI - How I go about choosing future books for my reading list
I could have easily spat them out.
I’d taken a chance on the latest variation on a popular cereal, and from the first mouthful, I’d regretted my decision. Ordinarily, I would have just ploughed on and eaten what was left in my bowl but the taste was just too offensive.
That’s the risk you take when you try new things.
On the other hand, recently I had the opportunity to visit a distillery nearby—notably not in Scotland—and from my first taste to my last, I was profoundly impressed. I’ve since encouraged friends and strangers alike to take a trip for themselves and I’m sitting with a glass of that same Whisky right now.
I’m not sure the Parable of the Coco Pops and the Cotswolds Whisky is gonna win any awards, but it does help to illustrate my first point; the supermarket recommended the cereal, a friend recommended the Whisky.
In other words, popular isn’t the same as good, good isn’t necessarily popular, and personal and detailed recommendations trump advertising any day.
I’m going to use five examples of books I’m excited about this year throughout this article, but I want to make clear that I’m not necessarily recommending these books to you. When I write reviews I tend to be quite specific in my recommendations as well as for whom I’m making the recommendations.
Here I’d like to focus on the reasons I’m keen on recommending the books to myself so to speak, even though the book is either new or is yet to be released.
My hope is that by doing so you’ll be able to think through your own reasons for choosing new books for your reading lists, rather than just filling up your shelves with the latest trends.
Memorising scripture is something I used to be able to do with some ease and I feel the absence of that skill. After being prescribed certain medications and due to health complications, my memory isn’t quite what it was and I’d love to mitigate that.
“Bible memory has fallen on hard times. It can feel unnecessary since we have Scripture at our fingertips. Or it just feels daunting and unattainable--you know it's important, but you're just not good at it.”
Perhaps you feel the same?
For all of those reasons I’m quite drawn to this book, but to be really honest, the reason this on my list is because Marshall and I are part of the same writing community.
I’ve been able to see her faith, her heart, and her commitment to helping others.
I trust her.
This isn’t going to be transferable for everyone, I know, but I’ve spoken to many writers who would say that no writer is accepted in his hometown. By that I mean that often those with a writer in their midst neglect to draw upon that gift—a gift given to their church by God—for reasons I simply can’t understand.
I love to read the work of those I love, trust, and admire.
That’s the first reason I chose to read new books.
For those unfamiliar with Justin Brierley, I suspect you’re a part of the large contingent of my readers from outside of the UK. Brierley is a radio presenter and apologist who has recently started a new ministry focussing on cultural apologetics—particularly from a British point of view.
As a Brit, I’m always thrilled to read other British authors speaking into a British context. I was at an event a few weeks ago and I asked the speaker—who hailed from the USA—a question about discipleship which he answered in a way that I’m sure would have been very relevant where he lived, but was as far from helpful as it could have been because it wouldn’t work here.
Intercultural evangelism, as well as writing is usually very helpful, but when it comes to subjects like apologetics, a local voice is a wonderful source of wisdom. Brierley has talked with people from across the globe, but has always kept his eye on the UK. While I don’t agree with him on everything, I’m always encouraged when I listen to his work, the questions he asks, and the answers he gives.
I’m looking forward to reading this book because of his proven track record, and because I’m sure that I’ll learn tonnes from his unique perspective.
The subject matter, the person it is based on, or even the locality of that man could all have been good reasons to pick this book up, but I might have still been hesitant had it not been for the series this book is a part of.
Lexham’s Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is one of the best series I’ve come across in recent years and I’ve never been disappointed by any of the volumes I’ve picked up. They’re usually quite heavy and academic and I wouldn’t recommend them to most people, but even the one I’ve disagreed with challenged me in significant ways.
These books are what I’ve referred to in the past as Waterfall books. Streams flow softly and are easy to drink from, rivers can take you places you never expected, but if you take the time to work with waterfalls you can harness some real power.
I’d quite happily buy every book in this series if I could, but this one I’m going to make time for.
What series do you love?
The NSBT? 9Marks? Fat Cat?
I’m not ready to divulge the details as of yet, but I’m hoping to endeavour on a new adventure in September, and Matthew Barrett is a large part of why I made my decision to do so. We’ve never met and probably never will, but had I not been recommended his books by Jeremy Writebol a few years back I would be a lesser man for it.
This book has been recommended by everyone who has read it but sometimes that’s not important, sometimes we read books because of the authors. Whether it’s Tolkien or Brandon Sanderson, Beeke or Beale, we all play favourites sometimes. In a book this big I’m bound to find differences of opinion, but I’ll learn by doing so, and I’ll be all the more prepared come September.
Finally, this is just a book I think I’ll probably love. I haven’t heard many people talking about it, I don’t know the author, and it might just be another example of those dreaded hazelnut flavoured Coco Pops, but on the other other hand it might go down like Cotswolds Whisky?
Sometimes a book is just interesting because it is, so who knows, why not give it a shot? This book is about the Lectio Divina—reading the Bible in the way that Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, and Bernard of Clairvaux taught.
It ticks all of my boxes. I’ll let you know how I get on with it.
What’s next on your reading list?
Grace and Peace,
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