Around the Interweb

Should You Read 100 Books in 2011?

Trevin Wax offers a challenge:

Last year, I challenged Kingdom People readers to set a reading goal in 2010 and I offered some tips for how to reach that goal. Because I chose a high number (100) in the post title, I received some pushback from readers who thought my challenge was unrealistic or unhelpful. I responded by affirming the benefit of setting a goal and clarified that the actual number is not what is important.

This year, I’m not asking the question “Can you read 100 books in 2011?” Instead, I’m asking a different question: “Should you read this many books?” Is it wise to set a high reading goal? Is it beneficial?

Read the rest.

Also worth reading

Trevin Wax: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Free stuff:’s free audiobook of the month is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.

Theology: Know Your Heretics – The Gnostics

Mark Altrogge: The Sure Sign of Self Sufficiency

Contest winners: The winners of the Slave contest are… A.W. Hall, Ricky Kirk, Nathan Harbottle, Ryan Higginbottom and Darrin Trammell. You’ll be receiving one copy of Slave for you, and another to give to someone else. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Slave by John MacArthur

John Piper: Will We Worship or Will We Curse?

A.W. Tozer: You Are What You Worship

Dear Song Leader…

J.C. Ryle: All About Doing, Never About Believing

An update on my Memory Moleskine: Memorizing Philippians 1:1-11

What’s on Your To-Read Pile?

Here’s a look at some of mine:

The Classics You Just Don’t Get

There are a lot of books that are, by and large, regarded as classics. They’re the ones you just have to read—and if you don’t, you’re depriving yourself of great literature.

But are you really depriving yourself?


I’ve read a number of books that are considered classics (whether modern or legit), and some, like Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, are absolutely worthy of being called classics. But then there are others that I just don’t get the appeal.

I have at least two examples.

I cannot stand Moby Dick. Cannot stand it. I know that Melville is supposed to be the greatest novelist that America has produced, but I really didn’t find it to be that engaging a read. I first read it in high school as part of an independent study project, and nearly every time I picked it up, I fell asleep.

A few years later, I did give it another shot. I didn’t want to assume that I didn’t like it simply because I had a bad experience with it in high school. The experience reading it as an adult was not unlike pushing a boulder up a steep hill.

In a snowstorm.

Without pants.

“Call me Ishmael.”

Next one: Some time ago, I attempted to read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. I say attempted, because, this devotional classic kept putting me to sleep. I think I managed to get 150 pages in before I put it on the de-read pile. I have not, as of yet, taken another stab at it. In fact, I think I finally purged it from my library.

Now I’m not saying these are bad books… they’re just books that I just could not get into, no matter how hard I try.

No doubt we all have them.

So what about you, dear reader?

What’s the classic you just couldn’t get into?

A Beautiful Woman…

…through the eyes of a literalist:

This is an important reminder of why similes and metaphors should always be read as such.

HT: Michael Krahn

What Are You Reading: Summer 2010

Summer’s coming up quick and that means—the possibility of vacations! (Maybe.)

My internet friend Ben Reed just put together a summer reading list and it got me thinking about what I hope to read this summer.

With a couple of trips coming up that include roughly 20 hours of air travel, plus some time off in Grand Bend and a cottage in the “Deep North” with my dad and the family, it seems I’m going to have an opportunity to do some reading when I’m not playing and having fun with Abigail, Hannah and Emily.

So, without further ado, here’s the list:

Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I’ve read parts but never the whole thing and a friend kindly brought a copy home for me from Together for the Gospel.

Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon. Again, another book I’ve read parts of, but haven’t finished.

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell. A friend highly recommended putting this book near the top of my to-read pile. I may have to purchase a copy.

C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography Volume One: The Early Years, 1834-1859 & Volume 2: The Full Harvest, 1860-1892 by Charles Spurgeon. My mother-in-law lovingly purchased these for me at Christmas and I’ve been trying to find an opportunity to read them.

Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. It’s been on my to-read pile for a really long time.

The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald. As I explained last week, it looks hilarious! I really want to find out who the militant conservative Christians are in Canada and why the rest of the country should fear them. Plus, I’ve got a hold request in at the library (I think).

So that’s the abbreviated list. I’m sure there will be a lot more that gets added as time goes on.

What about you?

What’s your summer reading look like?

What's Your Most Memorable Book?

What’s one of the most memorable books you’ve read?

Is it one that taught you something new or got you thinking about a subject from a different perspective?

Maybe it’s one that just made you laugh?

I tend to read multiple books concurrently on a variety of subjects. Right now, I’ve got What is Reformed Theology by R.C. Sproul, Leading with Love by Alexander Strauch, The Book on Leadership by John MacArthur, Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath and few others on the go. I’ve also got Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin waiting for me (the first fiction book I’ve read since January).

In case you haven’t guess, I don’t really do “light” reading.

Right through college, I never really cared much for non-fiction. I’d read the odd biography, like A Beautiful Mind and If Chins Could Kill, but I was a big fiction reader.

And what is still one of the most memorable I’ve read is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

It’s just one of those books that I really identified with… probably because I was (and sadly still am) something of a music snob, looking down on everyone else’s terrible taste in music because it doesn’t match mine. That said, my taste in music has never been all that interesting, so really, I was just a bit of a tool.

There’s just a certain charm to the story of Rob, a record shop owner trying to figure out why his life sucks is a disaster.

It’s not a pretty book filled with perfect people; it’s just real life, regular problems… It’s relatable.

There are other books that really stand out for me as well. Shooting at Midnight (and all of the Atticus Kodiak books) and Queen & Country by Greg Rucka (crime and spy/espionage stuff), Pornified by Pamela Paul, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson (this and Packer’s Knowing God are probably two of my favorites when it comes to theology)…

But what about you: What’s your most memorable book?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

If I Skip It Today…


Some days, it’s hard to get motivated to write. Today has been one of those days. (Incidentally, this can be especially frustrating when it’s what you do for a living.)

I really dislike it when I don’t feel inspired or motivated; days when I’m not really sure if I’ve got anything relevant to say (although I’m sure some would question whether I ever have anything relevant to say).

Days like these, it’s really tempting to just skip it and veg out (or catch up on my reading).

But it’s also these dry moments that help me develop discipline as a writer.

It’s easy to check out and do something else. But it’s harder to stick with it, sharpen your skills and increase your understanding of your craft.

In some ways, it’s like developing a regular habit of reading the Bible. Follow me down this rabbit trail, for a moment… [Read more…]

The 30 Minute Challenge: Redux


Last week, I issued a challenge to all of you: Set aside 30 minutes every day for the next week to read. What you read was entirely up to you—all you needed to do was give it a shot.

Well, it’s been a week… How did it go?

Were you successful in finding 30 minutes a day?

If so, how did you like it? What did you read?

If not, what did you find was the thing that got in the way?

This week, in some ways, was really challenging for me to get my time in. After Saturday and Sunday, I rarely got it in a full sitting, but rather read for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. I finished one book, Donald Miller’s new one, in a matter of hours (the review will be posted September 29—there may even be a contest involved). I started reading two other books, How Does a Good God Let Bad Things Happen by Mark Tabb and another one that I don’t want to mention right now. That gives you an indication of how much I’m enjoying it (it’s review deadline is more pressing than Tabb’s book, which is why I’m reading it).

But despite the challenges that came along this week and reading a book I’m not particularly enjoying right now (but I hope will not completely stink), I’ve still found my reading helpful. It’s still (mostly) relaxing. And that’s a great gift indeed.

So here’s my next question for you:

Will you try it again this week?

I hope you will. Looking forward to reading about your experience.

Happy Saturday!

The 30 Minute Challenge


When I was a kid, I always loved to read. In reading, I found some of my moments of greatest joy.

And honestly, I was, and continue to be a voracious reader.

This weekend while we were in Grand Bend with my in-laws, we were talking about books. Emily had mentioned that while I was away I had something like four or five show up in the mail from blogger review programs and contests. My mother-in-law, Mary, asked a great question:

How on earth do you actually find the time to read as much as you do?

I love the questions my mother-in-law asks. They always get me to think, and I greatly appreciate that.

Here’s the answer: I try to set aside at least 30-45 minutes a day to read.

The average person reads between 250 and 300 words per minute (although figures vary), which works out to roughly 3/4 to one page each minute. That said, I don’t (usually) keep track of the number of pages read, just my time. I do have a lot of things on the go with family, work, writing, and study, that it can be overwhelming to try to add anything into my days. [Read more…]

Reviews, reviews and more reviews!

I received a package in the mail today, which is something I always love. This package contained copies of two books to review, courtesy of NavPress:

Trusting God
by Jerry Bridges

The Heart of Mentoring by David A. Stoddard

This brings the total of items to review to six. Along with these two, I’ve got the following to review:

The Noticer by Andy Andrew

Leading with Love by Alexander Strauch

Vintage Jesus
by Mark Driscoll (DVD curriculum)

Twisting the Truth
by Andy Stanley (DVD curriculum)

My, oh my, it’s going to be a fun summer.

The Mini-Holiday Begins!

We’re heading to Grand Bend for a couple of days today, which will be very exciting. I’m trying to learn how to Sabbath, because this is one of my great sins; I simply do not know how to just chill out.

So if the weather is good, I’ll be sitting near the beach in my jeans and sneakers and reading Don’t Waste Your Life and probably a couple other books (I’m a fast reader), and playing with Abigail while she joyfully screams, “Look at me, Daddy!”

No email to check. No phone to answer.

It should be awesome.

What shall I read?

Summer is now upon us (I understand it’s the greatest week and a half of our lives here in Canada), and that means three things:

  1. It’s going to be sticky and hot in my house for the next three months (it’s old and lacks air conditioning)
  2. I’m actually going to take some real time off this summer (three days next week and one week in August, I think)
  3. It’s time for a Summer reading list!

I really dig books, so much so that I have a backlog of things to read (I’ve got the pile down to 9 or so). I want to get through at least some of these.

Here’s what’s on the list:

  1. Lord, Change My Attitude by James MacDonald
  2. God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper
  3. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics by, obviously, C.S. Lewis (I’m partly through Mere Christianity now—note, this contains seven books)
  4. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis
  5. The Apostolic Fathers
  6. Leading with Love by Alexander Strauch
  7. The Confessions by Augustine
  8. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
  9. Selections from the Spurgeon Sermon Archives

My question for you, my friends out there, is which should I read first? Or is there a book that needs to be added to the list?

The Challenge

I am a guy who loves books. Anyone who knows me knows that there are fewer things in life that bring me more joy than books. So, when my friends Adam, John and I were talking and a challenge from our pastor came up, I wasn’t sure how to react initially: “Close all your books [specifically the theology ones], turn off all your podcasts, and only read your Bible for a while.”

I’ve always been a voracious reader—and generally speaking fairly broad in my selections. Fiction, sci-fi, mystery, history, humor, biography, theology… I read a LOT of books. Some good, too many not so good. But it’s always been one of my few hobbies, aside from writing this blog (which is much more recent, obviously). And there’s a question behind this challenge: Do I read a lot because I like to appear intelligent, or do I read a lot to grow in my knowledge and experience of God?

Are books an idol?

I’ve been wrestling with this idea for a few days, of putting down my books for a while, and seeing what’s rattling around my head that I’ve not fully processed yet. To see where my heart is and learn whether or not I study theology to the glory of God or for my own.

For the next 40 days, I am committing to turning off my few podcasts and reading my Bible, with perhaps the odd bit of fiction thrown in when my head is throbbing from a whole heap of the Prophets.

And I want you to join me. If you’re a podcast fiend, a book junkie, or whatever your poison: turn it off, put it down, stop doing it.

For 40 days.

Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be posting updates on my progress as I hope that God will reveal to me where my heart is at in this area of my life.

Feel like joining me?