Reading and Reviews – 2011

This page is just a list of the books I read in 2011 with a brief description and a link to my longer review, if I’ve written one.

Also as a side note, for those of you curious how we afford to read 100 or so books between the two of us, we both read on the amazon kindle, and the VAST majority of our books we get for free (thanks to ereaderiq) or through the public library lending, and we purchase only books that we are seriously interested in.

50. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

An epic true story of the limits to which a man can be pushed and still retain his will to survive. This is a story of Louie Zamperini, someone who if you have not heard about you should, and this is the place to do it. From a world class athlete to a bombardier in the Pacific theater in WWII to a castaway  to a POW to a struggling Veteran Louie  – and others who shared his experiences – were pushed to unbelievable lengths. Many of them did not survive, for those who did none were the same. This is a great book and well deserving of the many accolades it has received.

49. So What?: How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience by Mark Magnacca

This book is largely about asking the right questions as you prepare to speak. It reemphasizes the fact that as the speaker you need to know what your listeners want to know. In sharing your ideas – whether it is a business meeting, sales pitch, conference lecture, or sermon – part of your job as a speaker is to make sure you’ve answered the “So what” question. It wasn’t a long book, well written, nothing particularly novel about it but one of the key points that separates good speakers from average speakers.

48. Extraordinary by John Bevere

This is a book about what life as a Christian should be like. Grace is not just for salvation but it is for life after salvation as well. This is a great reminder for those who are prone to ignore the transformative nature of grace. Not the most highly recommended because of an overall shallow treatment of scripture and some disagreements on application.

Read my full review here: Extraordinary by John Bevere←

47. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper

This is primarily a book about the benefits of reading and thinking deeply about scripture. It confronts two abuses that many have on this topic. One, the danger of anti-intellectualism, that rejects deep thinking. Two, the danger of intellectualism, that overly prizes deep thinking. Both should be avoided but not at the cost of thinking deeply to understand scripture.

46. God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (College Edition) (The Norton Series in World Politics) by Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Shah

Does religion matter in global politics? Don’t we live in the secular, modern world? Well then why are we talking about religion? This book argues and then responds to the fact that religion does matter in politics. Going beyond just if people are religious this book looks at how religion influences their actions in ways from terrorism and civil war to peace brokering and transitional justice. They look at two factors that largely help to explain why religious actors do what they do – 1)political theology 2)relation to the state structure. Really enjoyable and compelling book.

45.Turkey: A Modern History by Erik Zurcher

An in-depth history of Turkey with a particular focus on the end of the Ottoman Empire up through the mid-1950s. Written from an outsider scholar’s perspective it is more critical (critiques, not necessarily negative) in its treatment of history than some accounts have been. Written more on a scholarly text-book level than an easy read but good for digging into the details  that have led up to the modern era.

44. Monday Night Jihad by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn

An enjoyable read that combines football and counter-terrorism into one fun story. Not the most complex plot line but a fun read. It is Christian fiction and presents why the authors have put their trust in Jesus Christ and how that is a different way of living than what is taught in Islam.

Read my full review here: Monday Night Jihad by Jason Elam←

43.Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

The biography to read about one of the most interesting figures of the mid-1900s. Gives you a window into life leading up to and through World War 2 in Germany, not just the political realm but also the civil and religious events. Is also a great introduction to a Christian who truly strove to understand what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus, no matter the costs.

Read my full review here: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas←

42.Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation and the End of Poverty by Aaron Armstrong

A really good book on how Christians ought to think about and engage in serving the poor and needy both domestically and internationally. More than a practical “how-to” book this is a “how-to think” book that corrects two major errors that many Christians fall into when they think about poverty. It draws ought how “covenant faithfulness leads to ethical faithfulness.”

Read my full review here: Awaiting a Savior by Aaron Armstrong← 
41.The Millennials by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer

This book is analysis to a survey conducted of 1800+ of the “Millennial” generation (as the authors label those born in 1980-2000). It gives some really interesting statistics about who this generation is, what they are interested in, and what drives them. While I would not say it is the definitive study it is certainly enjoyable to read and will give you some insight into how this new and largest generation is made up.

40.The Calvary Road by Roy and Revel Hession

To be honest I am not too familiar with the background of this book, it is a collection of shorter articles written in the 1950s-60s I think. It is a challenge to personal revival that comes from a desire to every day and in every action live in obedience to the Bible and in fellowship with the God of the Bible that is possible through the grace of God. It really is a challenging and a rather short read.

39. The Queen (The Bowers Files) by Steven James

This series has fast become my favorite fiction series. I am anxiously awaiting the final book to be released next fall. I’ve really enjoyed his writing. The characters are well-developed in my opinion. The plot is well-constructed. It is just a really good read if you like fast-paced crime thrillers. There is the portrayal of violence and other potentially objectionable material, but the author does not glorify it and clearly deals with it as wrong – and this adds to the development of characters throughout the series.

38. Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity by R. Glenn Hubbard and Peter Navarro

So to be honest I have not read very many economics books. I’m interested in the subject and enjoy it ( is bookmarked and I have the app for my iPod) but just not as well versed on the topic as many others. This book, which is written by two conservative economists, one of whom served for a time under the George W. Bush administration (and is critical of some of the decisions made) offers analysis of many of the current trends in Washington and their effects on the U.S. economy. Their system is based on factors that drive GDP growth. They cover a wide range of topics and show why current plans are failing and then offer their blueprint for what should be changed.

37. Cloudburst by Ryne Douglas Pearson

A fine suspense/thriller type book with a Middle East based terrorist attack on the United States. Perhaps just because I have read a lot in this genre the plot seemed a little tired to me. The author does add in a few different twists. His characterization is fine. Not outstanding, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

36. One God One Message by P.D. Bramsen 

This is a journey that takes the reader from beginning to end through the story of the world’s all time best-selling book, the Bible. It is one part apologetics, one part biblical theology and one part story-telling. It is primarily aimed at monotheists who are interested in learning what the Bible itself really teaches. It is based on the author’s long experience in the Middle East and other Muslim majority countries and also from online interactions email correspondences.

Read my full review here: One God One Message by P.D. Bramsen←

35. Island of The World by Michael D. O’Brien

This is a book about one man’s life. It is a fascinating read that will open your eyes to the highs and lows that one can experience in life. It is all about his story and through that it offers plenty of food to consider your own story. It will draw you in – and draw your mind to think about this life – and the One who created this world.

Read my full review here: Island of the World by Michael D. O’Brien←

34. Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future by Stephen Kinzer

I really benefited from this book by Stephen Kinzer. He is a historian and political thinker who knows how to craft a story. He delves into the history of the region and shows how the United States shares common values and even interests with both Turkey and Iran. His goal is to provide a framework for “Resetting” American foreign policy in the region that makes sense today and is rid of the vestiges of the Cold War. Interesting Read!
Read my full review here: Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future by Stephen Kinzer←

33. Republic: A Novel of America’s Future by Charles Sheehan-Miles

A fictional portrayal of what America could look like in the future were policies to continue on a path that limits freedoms that were once considered fundamental rights as American citizens. While the story line seems a bit extreme it is effective in making its point. Essentially it is enjoyable read that is also a cultural critique and a call to be aware that your rights are not guaranteed but must be intentionally preserved.

Read my full review here: Republic: A Novel of America’s Future by Charles Sheehan-Miles←

32. Guarding the Treasure: How God’s People Preserve God’s Word (Defenders of the Faith) by Linda Finlayson

A great overview of church history aimed at young readers. It is an interesting read that focuses in on the lives of various individuals throughout church history. It is centered around the theme of how the Bible was written and then translated into various languages and spread around the world.

Read my full review here: Guarding the Treasure by Linda Finlayson←

Also a short interview with the author: Interview with Linda Finlayson←

31. The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left by Ed Husain

This is the autobiographical story of a British Muslim growing up into the world of Islamist organizations, becoming a mover and shaker in that world, before ultimately seeing the emptiness of it and looking for something more. I would highly recommend this book.

Read my full review here: The Islamist by Ed Husain←

30. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelberg

A book primarily written to Christians, though anyone with genuine questions about what it is that Christians believe will find it profitable. Mark Mittelberg is a Christian apologist. He conducted a survey among Christians about the questions they felt least confident in answering. This book was born out of that survey. The answers are well thought out and formatted in a helpful way.

29. Day of War by Cliff Graham

This is a biblical/historical novel written about the lives of David’s mighty men. It is a really enjoyable way to jump back into the biblical world of the Old Testament. While there is obviously a certain amount of artistic license taken with a work like this I really felt it was a beneficial book. I felt like I could begin to understand these biblical figures as real men rather than “storybook heroes” or stiff “churchy” types. They were warriors. They were husbands. They were fathers. They faced challenges and struggles just like any of us might. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

28. Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef and Ron Brackin

An autobiographical look into the very heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mosab is the son of one of the founding members of Hamas. His family was in the heart of the action during the Infitada. His story includes imprisonment in Israeli prisons, Palestinian prisons, a role as an informant for the Israeli secret service, and finally his interaction with Christians and his story of becoming a believer in Christ, and leaving his homeland behind. If you are interested in a personal look into the inside of this conflict it is an engaging book.

27. Paid in Blood by Mel Odom

A NCIS investigative novel. Enjoyable quick read.

26. Living for God’s Glory by Joel R. Beeke

A thorough introduction to Calvinism. Looks into the historical development and background. It is especially helpful for expounding what the Calvinistic world view is and moving the discussion beyond simply the Five Points that Calvinism is generally limited to.

25. The Sentinals: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman

Really interesting and enjoyable novel about World War 2. A group of young economists get entangled in a plot of global proportions.

24. The Fiddler’s Gun by A. S. Peterson

Aimed at younger readers (12-17). The first in a series set in America around the era just preceding the American Revolution.

23. In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson

Collected essays from Sinclair Ferguson wrapped around the theme of the Gospel encapsulated in the theme of In Christ Alone.

22. The Next Story by Tim Challies

Impossible to accurately summarize this in just a few sentences. This book is a must read for Christians who are beginning to navigate this new digital world. Really analyzes how technology affects us, our world and our faith. That decision “iPhone or keep my old talking only” is much more than simple addition to your life. It has far reaching affects that The Next Story helps you see and consider.

21. The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington

20. John by R.C. Sproul

19. Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel

18. Art of War by Sun Tzu

17. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

16. Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

15. When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett

14. Religion in Public Life by Roger Trigg

13. Stupid History by Leland Gregory

12. How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer

An insightful book from one of the premier Christian thinkers of the 20th century. In this book Schaeffer traces the rise and fall of western thought and culture. It is a massive undertaking and on the whole he handles it well. In this book he argues how the truth of scripture is relevant for every aspect of life. It is one of the books for Christians looking to answer the question for how they should live and it remains extremely relevant even 35 years after it was first published.

11. The Bishop by Steven James

10. The Knight by Steven James

09. The Justice Game by Randy Singer

08. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

07. Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

06. Ten Great Events in History by James Johonnot

05. Medicus by Ruth Downie

04. Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd

03. The Rook by Steven James

02. Watchlist by Jeffrey Deaver

01. Last Light by Terri Blackstock


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