Last February I shared some thoughts on the merits of reading both widely and wisely, and I shared my own reading goals for the year. Specifically, these:
- At least one book about/from every continent in the world (plus Central America and the Middle East)
- At least one book by an adherent of every major world religion
- At least 25% to be written by dead people
- At least 40% to be written by women or non-white males.
Well, how closely did I stick to those goals?
- I had each of the continents (plus Central America and the Middle East) covered
- Though I read a lot of books written by Christians and a range of non-Christians (including Alice Walker, a Buddhist, and others I presume to be either atheists or agnostics), I don’t think I read anything by Hindu or Muslim authors.
- 20 written by dead people; only 21%
- 26 written by women or non-white males; only 27%
So I did better in some areas than in others. I’ll keep the goals more or less the same for 2012. But in the meantime, as is the custom (sort of), here are my picks for the top eleven books I read in 2011. Like last time, these are in no particular order, and include books not necessarily published this year. When applicable, I include a link to what I’ve already written about it.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s a classic, and I should have read it a long time ago. I’m guessing you already have.
Michael Casey, Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image
A fascinating look at how the iconic “Che” image has been reproduced and re-appropriated for countless causes — and has paradoxically come to represent global capitalism.
Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
This biography of the great German theologian who was part of a failed assassination plot against Hitler won all kinds of awards last year. I blogged about this here.
Michael J. Sandel, Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do?
In this book the Harvard political philosopher put the cookies on a relatively low shelf, helping you and I wrestle through different understandings of justice in the world around us. I blogged about it here.
Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
One of the most inspiring, funny and heart-breaking books I read this year. I blogged about it here.
Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era
From what I understand, this book never really took off, which is a shame, because it’s a wise, nuanced, an intelligent handling of the two topics none of us seem to know how to discuss in polite company. I blogged about this here.
Robert Lupton, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
An important book on doing no harm when seeking to do good. I blogged about this here and it was also picked up by the Values & Capitalism blog.
Richard Mouw, He Shines In All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace
I haven’t had a chance to blog about this yet, but I plan to in January. In this slim book, Mouw articulates a wonderful theological and practical vision of common grace.
N.T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
For Christians unsure about what’s supposed to happen between being “saved” and dying, this is an important book on ethics and cultivating virtue. I blogged about it here.
How about you? What were your favorite books of 2011? What are your reading goals for 2012?