Books to Read in 2016
As we close the first month of the New Year, I’ve heard from several people who aim to read more through 2016. It’s a worthy goal; general rates of readership are in a plummeting decline. Here is a list of books I recommend anyone consider adding to their list of titles, in no particular order. They’re all on my shelf, and many have been for years, surviving moves, miles and a fleeting attention span.
All titles are hyperlinked to Amazon for your convenience.
In a phrase, really I think you should just read biographies and journals in general. But Whitefield is worth a read (John Wesley as well) because you’ll journey with him from young adulthood through decades of ministry wrought with success and failure alike, all set upon the steadfastness of Christ.
Scougal’s letter to his nearly-apostate buddy was published after the author passed away in his late twenties due to sickness. It is a treatise we hear little of and owe much to: both Whitefield and Spurgeon explicitly mention it as an early influence. Whitefield said he did not know what true religion was until he read Scougal’s letter.
Tozer’s succinct navigation through the revealed character and personality of the High and Lofty One makes much of our Maker and will both bring you to your knees and yet inspire you to boldly approach our Father in heaven. It is a classic. I read through it annually, and it is almost always in my backpack when I travel.
The Hebrides revival is my favorite of them all, for a dozen reasons I won’t unpack here. Suffice to say this book is the best documentation of what the Lord has done in the Hebrides that I’ve been able to find, compiling the history and context of the nation and islands in the early twentieth century, a short biography of the minister who spearheaded the movement in the 1930s, a narrative of that particular revival, and several eyewitness testimonies of those who lived through it. The legacy of the Hebrides revival is the faithfulness on the backside of the move, in that no one backslid. It’s incredible. Few stories have given me hope as a missionary on the frontier than the sovereign move of God upon islands most would otherwise never know existed.
Qureshi was born in America to Pakistani parents, and raised on the Eastern Seaboard and Scotland as his Navy officer father followed orders. He at once understands Eastern and Western thought, and invites you on his journey as he wrestled between the Islam he was raised under and the Christianity he came through. Reading this will soften your heart to those who think differently, and challenge any anti-Muslim sentiment you harbor in your heart.
Cahill has been working on this Hinges of History series for years; this is one piece in the series, and one of his best known. Some have criticized his title for being disingenuous and sensationalistic, but the bottom line is the island once reputed for barbarism managed to preserve literacy during the collapse of the Roman Empire. It’s a story worth telling, and a story worth knowing. Special mention to Saint Patrick, who is my favorite.
Saint Patrick is one of the most famous and most misunderstood people of all time. He wrote an autobiography and a memoir (Confession), both of which are available on Kindle for pennies. He survived human trafficking, escaped slavery, entered the priesthood, and returned to his captors to bring the Gospel to his enemies. He tore through the Emerald Isle, baptizing princesses and paupers alike. The island full of barbaric pagans has never looked the same since (as Cahill explains in his work). Patrick’s legacy as a pioneer missionary is in his reputation as the patron saint of Ireland. We throw parades on his feast day, knitting his name into the soil upon which he served—but he wasn’t actually Irish. I can think of no better example for those who hit today’s frontier.
This is a recent addition, though on loan. A friend graciously sent this to me last year to go through at my own pace—and was quite trusting to do so. I’ll painfully send it back soon before our FAI team ships overseas. It is admittedly a bit of a niche piece; while I’d love to think everyone would appreciate this collection of seminars given on the value of language and the integrity of words, it’s probably pigeonholed from there.
As a BBC correspondent, Danahar was on the ground for much of the significant events in the last decade+ of turmoil and turning in the Arab world. His premise is essentially: forget what you’ve heard and believe about the Middle East, because you think in decades and Sykes-Picot just evaporated. If you are thinking of serving in the Arab world or just want to wrap your mind around what’s going on, you cannot skip this book.