the 2008 book list

Or, “At least it’s not as big and scary as last year’s.”

This year was kind of funny, because I’d have months when I’d read two books, and then months when I’d read nine…school and general burnout, I think, contributed to that. There are times when you need to slow down a bit and savor a text, and do stuff besides sit around your house and read.

That being said, I still read more than about 98% of Americans. What can I say? Besides, I was forced to read some of these. *shrug*

Usual rule applies: These are all the books that I finished in 2008. I forgot to get the page count this year, alas, but I did get the date I finished each book on. I tend to have several going at a time, so don’t get too freaked out by the close proximity of some of those dates. An asterisk means I’ve read it before. Anyway, here we go:

January 2: Craig Dunham and Doug Serven, Twentysomeone
January 8: Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
January 15: Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
January 19: John Piper et al., The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
January 25: Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mystery
*January 28: Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God
*February 8: Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
February 15: Frederick Buechner, On the Road With the Archangel
February 18: J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind
*February 25: Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?
March 1: Michael Chabon, Summerland
March 7: Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird
*March 12: Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation
March 13: Ann Patchett, Run
March 25: Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
March 26: Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road
April 10: Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
April 21: N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope
*May 2: Donald Miller, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance
May 4: Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
May 11: Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
May 15: Tim Keller, The Reason for God
*May 25: C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
June 3: Walter Wangerin, Jr., Jesus
June 17: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
June 19: Jeffrey Yamaguchi, 52 Projects
*June 21: Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath
July 2: Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
July 13: Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
July 14: Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
August 12: Henry David Thoreau, Walden
*August 14: Donald Miller, Searching For God Knows What
August 19: Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
September 1: Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
September 4: David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous
September 7: Michael Ward, Planet Narnia
September 11: Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth
September 20: Elaine Lally, At Home With Computers
September 25: Maria Bakardijeva, Internet Society: The Internet in Everyday Life
September 27: Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
September 27: Robert Farrar Capon, Bed and Board
*October 12: Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
*October 17: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
November 9: Eric J. Hunter, Classification Made Easy
November 10: Maria Metzer Rose, Muscle Beach
November 12: David Brooks, On Paradise Drive
November 17: Lucy Suchman, Plans and Situated Actions
*November 17: Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey
November 20: John Battelle, The Search
November 21: Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
November 28: Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
*December 18: C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
December 19: John Irving, The Cider House Rules
*December 24: Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Book of God
December 31: Carolyn Custis James, When Life and Beliefs Collide

Total: 55
Read for class: 8
Fiction: 18
Non-fiction: 37 (which is rather surprising–I don’t usually read that much non-fiction)
Most read author: C.S. Lewis, with 3 (if you count the Chronicles as one book).
Re-reads: 13

Top 5:
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I first got familiarized with O’Brien’s work last year, reading Going After Cacciato for a class, so I had to check out his most famous work, and I don’t regret it at all. It’s a fascinating collection of short stories about the lives of Vietnam soldiers before, during, and after the war, and while it can seriously get rough at times, it’s still an interesting, multi-layered read.

The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon. How do you write a book on the theological implications of food? Start like Robert Capon does–start by meditating on the goodness of creation and matter, on the beauty of the mundane, and how food nourishes the body and the soul in one fell swoop. Throw in what look like really good recipes (the first 2/3 or so of the book is one recipe for lamb, thus the title), and you have yourself a great book.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It’s a day in the life of…well, who, really? Everyone, really–the title character, Septimus Smith, and, well, the whole city of London. What could’ve been really boring becomes really rich; sure, there are descriptions of the characters’ everyday actions, but what makes this a good book is the fact that we get to see what they’re thinking in the meantime, memories and musings and all. Woolf handled this one well.

Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. If you think the point of Christianity is simply to take us out of the world and into heaven…well. I think you need to read this book. N.T. Wright has some controversial views on the atonement (which I haven’t really ever gotten a clear explanation of…I need to read his book), but I think his thoughts on Christ’s resurrection and His second coming are pretty spot-on. He didn’t come only to save our souls, but our bodies and the physical world as well–but Tom Wright explains it a lot better than I can.

Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. On the surface, this doesn’t sound that fun: It’s an expansion of Ward’s doctoral dissertation on the role of medieval astrology in C.S. Lewis’s works, especially in the Narniad. But, weirdly enough, this was easily my favorite book this year–it fired my theological and literary imagination, it made me want to reread everything I’ve ever read by Lewis, and it gave me a deeper understanding of both who I am as a believer and what I am to do with that calling. Crazy, eh? But I recommend it, especially if you’re already a Lewis fan.

Honorable mentions: Summerland by Michael Chabon, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (if you don’t mind slogging through theological debates and semiotics), Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr., Twentysomeone by Craig Dunham and Doug Serven, When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James (seriously, this is required reading for every Christian)

Advertisements

For the Keeper of Our Days

When summer’s dawn upon us shines,
And rest and mirth both rule our days,
We sing Thee, Father, Love divine,
This joyful hymn of grateful praise.
Thy gracious hand hath sent us light–
For this, our God, be glorified;
In salty spray and child’s delight,
Be lifted up, be lifted high.

In autumn’s sunset colors, Thou
That painted skies with crimson stain
Did give Thyself and show us how
Thy strength is stronger in our pain.
Jesus, our Lord, who gives us life
And bids us come to Thee for bread–
Thy blood has healed us from our strife
And raised our spirits from the dead.

And blessed ever be Thy name
In midst of winter’s chilling death;
When all the world does coldness reign
And forests draw their fleeting breath,
Thou our great King did come to earth–
Emmanuel, yes, God with us–
And we, rejoicing at Thy birth,
Glad tidings and great grace confess.

In springtime’s gladness, Son of God,
Thou climbed up Calvary’s broken hill
And on the serpent’s head did trod
Through sacred blood which Thou has spilled!
You gave new life to those who trust,
You made us new in spring’s bright days,
And for Thy gracious love we must
Lift up our voice in grateful praise!

Oh Keeper of our pilgrim days,
Of seasons, weeks, and months, and years,
Thy mercy with us ever stays,
And Thy name only calms our fears!
And whether good or evil comes
To us, all for Thy glory flows,
And while the sand of time still runs
Our humble praise to Jesus goes.

For the Keeper of Our Days

When summer’s dawn upon us shines,

And rest and mirth both rule our days,
We sing Thee, Father, Love divine,
This joyful hymn of grateful praise.
Thy gracious hand hath sent us light–
For this, our God, be glorified;
In salty spray and child’s delight,
Be lifted up, be lifted high.
In autumn’s sunset colors, Thou
That painted skies with crimson stain
Did give Thyself and show us how
Thy strength is stronger in our pain.
Jesus, our Lord, who gives us life
And bids us come to Thee for bread–
Thy blood has healed us from our strife
And raised our spirits from the dead.
And blessed ever be Thy name
In midst of winter’s chilling death;
When all the world does coldness reign
And forests draw their fleeting breath,
Thou our great King did come to earth–
Emmanuel, yes, God with us–
And we, rejoicing at Thy birth,
Glad tidings and great grace confess.
In springtime’s gladness, Son of God,
Thou climbed up Calvary’s broken hill
And on the serpent’s head did trod
Through sacred blood which Thou has spilled!
You gave new life to those who trust,
You made us new in spring’s bright days,
And for Thy gracious love we must
Lift up our voice in grateful praise!
Oh Keeper of our pilgrim days,
Of seasons, weeks, and months, and years,
Thy mercy with us ever stays,
And Thy name only calms our fears!
And whether good or evil comes
To us, all for Thy glory flows,
And while the sand of time still runs
Our humble praise to Jesus goes.

Dream

I had a dream once, too, Dr. King, and you

Were in it–only, and here is the miracle,
That early morning, April 4, had never happened,
And you had lived on to a venerable old age,
A silver-tongued, silver-haired preacher of peace.
And here’s the thing: You walked into Cricket’s
With all those Southern gentlemen you wrote from your
Birmingham jail, just like the beginning of a bad joke
My subconscious was telling me (some preachers
And a rabbi walk into a bar, and…)
And even though you were all men of the cloth
I brought you a round of drinks and proposed
A toast unsolicited but welcomed: “Here’s to the
End of all thing’s not eternal.”
Then all you old men dreamed your dreams and
Saw them come to pass–every gesture of
Reconciliation, every brown-skinned boy with
A blue-eyed girl–no longer apathetic, no longer
Afraid of what was behind your fences.
So I brought around the bread and wine like you asked
And you feasted the feast of deliverance.
Then I woke up–winter morning, January 15,
and I remembered, and gave thanks.

Tongues of Angels

“I was in love with sound,” you told me, like 

A man speaking of his lover that he should never 

Have let go, like you nearly ached for her 

Embrace, to hear the whisper of her voice 

In your ear again, but you let her go, broke her heart 

And now it’s your heart that splinters as 

You remember her touch. 

 

You were in love with sound; you were in love with 

Language, speaking in tongues of angels 

With no need for an interpreter; 

You read her letters, shredded her phone bills, 

Kept the mix tape she made you the night you broke up. 

 

You let her go, and would pursue her once again 

But for the loss, for the fear that the space 

She left behind, a quiet so loud it makes you 

Scream, can never be filled by the memory of her. 

 

So in her wake I put pixel to screen 

And try to paint her picture for you in black and white— 

Not the same as her kiss, 

But enough to make you write her one more time.  

Jesus, I

Jesus, I my cross have taken

And sanded it down
And wiped off the blood
So I could wear it underneath my shirt
And not offend anyone
Jesus, I my cross have taken
And stripped it of its splinters
Made it a child’s plaything
Juice and cookies for body and blood
The stuff of puppets’ tongues
Jesus, I my cross have taken
And beaten the dignity of others
To a bloody, broken pulp
And then passed them by
Like a Levite, not Samaritan
Jesus, I my cross have taken
Up one to many times in the name
Of causes You never died for
And yet You died for them all the same
So all my fond ambitions might perish

Daylight Girl

Oh, my lovely, where’d you get those daylight eyes

Did you come down to the city in the arms of the sunrise
Don’t you know that all your tears can stay with me
And you know those glimmering gates swung wide
To show you all the angel trees dug deep inside
For your open arms to take and keep for free
And if I could give you anything
I’d want to give you everything
And the world would tell you that’s not enough
Daylight girl, won’t you shine on me
Oh, my lovely, where’d you get that raincloud smile
That could wash away all my stains for a while
Don’t you know that you have made me new again
And the angel trees dug deep did start to grow
Toward the sky blue sky and the fire below
And their voices started blooming into ten times ten
And if I could bloom like flowers do
I’d dig my roots down deep for you
Just to let you tell me that you knew the truth
Raincloud girl, won’t you fall on me
Oh, my lovely, where’d you get your rainbow arms
That embraced me with the prisms of your rainbow charm
Don’t you know that I’d come looking for your gold
Even if it cost me the rest of my days
Even if it cost me your mysterious ways
Just to hear you tell all those stories left untold
And if I could see your colors grow
Like flowers down beneath the snow
I’d die breathing a sigh of relief
Rainbow girl, won’t you shine on me