Books·General

What I Read in 2012 and Reading Resolutions for 2013

17 minute read

For those that appreciate such lists, here are the 33 books I read in 2012. They’re ranked in reverse order of how much I enjoyed them, plus a few words on each. In some instances, like the books I reviewed for my job, I’ve linked to that review.

If any book interests you, click the cover or the title to be taken to the Amazon page for that work.

At the end of the list, you’ll see my reading resolutions for 2013.

Also, let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these and whether or not you agree with my assessment!

33.

Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet

I didn’t even get halfway through this one. I’ve read much of Sweet before, and have appreciated many of his books, but this one simply didn’t grab me. Maybe because he’s speaking more to his own generation than to mine

32.

Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers Are Creators by Steven Rosenbaum

I read this for work. I didn’t come across much that was revelatory.

31.

The Gospel According to Lost by Chris Seay

I highly respect Chris Seay as a pastor and communicator (to wit, this TEDxHouston talk from 2011), but I was underwhelmed with this book. Even as an avid fan of LOST, I felt that most of the chapters were too short to tackle the subjects at hand. I’m assuming this has more to do with the number of characters on the show, the show’s oftentimes maddening complexity, and the fact that the book came out before the series ended.

30.

A Year with G.K. Chesterton: 365 Days of Wisdom, Wit, and Wonder by Kevin Belmonte

Reviewed for FaithVillage. No, I didn’t read the whole thing. Yes I counted it as if I’d read the whole thing. Don’t judge. You should read my review for the G.K. Chesterton anecdotes alone. He was as funny as he was round, which is to say, quite.

29.

@Stickyjesus by Tami Heim

StickyJesus talks about living out your faith online and working to ensure your online persona matches your actual offline self. I spoke to the author via Skype for FaithVillage.com.

28.

Letters To A Future Church by Chris Lewis

Reviewed for FaithVillage. Conceived as a continuation of the letters to churches as found in the book of Revelation, these “prophetic” words from present-day spiritual thinkers was hit and miss.

27.

I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives by Doug Bender

Reviewed for FaithVillage. If you’ve seen the videos, you can skip the book. However, the stories are still inspiring (Bethany Hamilton, anyone?) and the use of QR codes to send readers to the online videos is a great addition.

26.

In Spite of Everything: A Memoir by Susan Gregory Thomas

I expected more from this memoir on divorce. The stats were interesting, but since I can’t recall much else, the rest failed to resonate.

25.

100 Things Cowboys Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die Ed Housewright

I don’t even recall where I received this book, but its trivia and historical anecdotes are a delight — much unlike the Cowboys of the last few years.

24.

The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss

Tim claims he can make you an expert in anything within six months if you’ll just follow his plan. He covers this ground in the first 20% of the book (which I’ve read). He then attempts to prove it by transforming you into a world-class chef in the latter 80% of the book (which I haven’t read). Cooking has always been daunting to me. I hope to crack this one open and see if Ferriss (and I) can deliver the goods.

23.

The Word of the Lord to Evangelicals by Brian McLaren

Part of a trio of ebooks. Regardless of whether or not you agree with McLaren’s final conclusions, he forces you to examine the issues at hand. This was a welcome, short read right before the election.

22.

When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey

If you’re a friend or saw much of my posts on Facebook or Twitter over the last year, you probably know that I got married. Consequently, I read roughly 2,879 marriage books, many of which I haven’t listed here because you and I would both just be embarrassed by their contents. When Sinners is a great, short, sometimes funny book about the fact that the person who’s most likely messing up your marriage is seldom the one looking back at you … unless you’re looking in the mirror.

21.

Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God’s Vision for Your Life by Steven Furtick

Reviewed for FaithVillage. I feared Furtick would slide into the prosperity gospel with this one, but he reigned it on and preached for a greater view of a greater God who desires to do great things in and for his children.

20.

Field Guide for Small Group Leaders: Setting the Tone, Accommodating Learning Styles and More by Sam O’Neal

Reviewed for FaithVillage. Highly recommended for anyone delving into leading a small group for the first time.

19.

Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You’re Believing by Pete Wilson

Reviewed for FaithVillage. Not as good (in my opinion) as Pastor Pete’s first book Plan B, but still a worthwhile read for those who struggle with idols (i.e. everyone).

18.

Shaped by the Cross: Meditations on the Sufferings of Jesus by Ken Gire

Short, insightful, inspiring.

17.

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell

Hellishly controversial. I reviewed it on my blog.

16.

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl

I “read” Pearl’s The Dante Club on audiobook a few years ago. He combines historical fact with gripping literary fiction. The Last Dickens centers on the last year of Charles Dickens’ life and the publishing furor that surrounded his last unfinished work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Plus, whoever heard of a protagonist that’s a publisher?

15.

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

Similar to Pressfield’s The War of Art, Do the Work kicks lazy creatives in their cushioned derrieres. Grab either of these books and read any chapter when you’re tired of not accomplishing anything.

14.

The Muffin Man by Brad Whittington

One of the characters is a talking muffin. That’s all you should need to know, but if that doesn’t suffice, Brad is a smart, funny, erudite writer.

13.

A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars by Jonathan Merritt

Reviewed for FaithVillage. Though I’m not widely read when it comes to faith and politics, I thought this was an insightful take on the culture wars. Merritt, whose father was close to some of the major right-wing Christian conservatives of the last few decades, challenges both the left and the right.

12.

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth

An inspiring, heartbreaking, challenging, Jesus-full memoir that looks through the seams of a very hard childhood to see the thin places on earth where God draws near.

11.

The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture by Stephen Mansfield

I love Mansfield’s The Search for God and Guinness, a book that combines two of my favorite subjects. In Mormonizing, Mansfield presents real-life vignettes of Mormons and intersperses historical fact about this “American religion” on the rise. My boss had the opportunity to talk with Stephen via Skyper a few days before the 2012 election.

10.

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall

In conducting research for a project, I came across TV critic Alan Sepinwall’s self-published book. He reveals behind-the-scenes information about a number of seminal TV shows from the last decade, like LOST, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and the Sopranos. I only read half of the book because I only read about the series I’ve actually watched in full. I may only read the other chapters once I’ve watched those other series!

9.

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki

The single best guide to self-publishing I’ve ever read. This is a reference tool that anyone interested in getting their digital words into the hands of a digital audience should purchase posthaste.

8.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Another book that all aspiring authors should have. Michael Hyatt is a blogging machine, and I enjoy his podcast, This is Your Life, as well. As former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers and a best-selling author in his own right, he knows the path. Fortunately, he’s written a guidebook for the rest of us to (try) to follow. Chapters are short, but imminently practical.

7.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

There’s a reason this series has sold close to a bajillion copies. I don’t need to say anything about it because I’m pretty sure you’ve read it too.

6.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

One of my first reads of the year. Atwood is a masterful storyteller, and Assassin takes you on a long, inventive, intriguing trip. As far as I know, we’re not related, but I sure wouldn’t mind it if we were.

5.

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller

The best book on marriage I read this year, and that’s saying something. I’d recommend this one to absolutely anyone considering marriage, and even for already-married couples who may wonder why they’re married at all. The Kellers dole out such sage and biblically sound advice that we used many quotes from the book on a runner/backdrop for our wedding ceremony.

4.

Cross Roads by William Paul Young

Reviewed for FaithVillage. A surprising work. You may recall Young from his breakout sleeper hit The Shack. I enjoyed that work, but not as much as Cross Roads, a creative look inside the human soul. I called it Pilgrim’s Progress meets The Great Divorce meets It’s a Wonderful Life.

3.

The Blue Umbrella: A Novel by Mike Mason

Another surprising work. I’d known Mason from reading The Mystery of Marriage and The Gospel According to Job, both non-fiction works that take a lot of heart and mind to read for all they’re worth. The Blue Umbrella was a welcome departure from those fairly heavy and spiritually deep books. Ironically, the veneer of The Blue Umbrella masks many of the issues he’s grappled with in his non-fiction. Umbrella is likely classified as a young adult novel, but, like that allegories of allegories, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, there’s much, much more going on than just a children’s tale.

2.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I borrowed this book from the library years ago, read a few pages, then gave up on it. I have no idea why, but I wish I could ask myself from the past why I turned it down. It’s a fantastic story, and one that still had me ruminating on it days after finishing it.

1.

Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck

East of Eden may be my all-time favorite book. (It battles A Tale of Two Cities and The Count of Monte Cristo, if you’re curious.) These behind-the-scenes diary entries, which were never supposed to be published in the first place, riveted me. Steinbeck writes to his editor and shares his thoughts on a wide number of issues, often talking about his writing process and the life of an established, highly successful author. A number of choice quotes have encouraged me to keep pressing into the writing life.

 My Reading Resolutions for 2013

  1. Read 38 books.
    This will be an increase of eight books from the goal of 30 I made for myself in 2012. I barely made my goal in 2012, and I plan to write more in 2013 (plus, I’m married now!), so 38 seems a bit daunting right now!
  2. Alternate between fiction and non-fiction.
    In the past, I’ve never planned out what to read. By alternating, I’m at least forcing myself to read something wholly different each time. I read 26 non-fiction books and 7 fiction works last year; however, 5 of those fiction works made my top 10 for 2012.
  3. Quit reading a book if it’s not interesting me past 20% through it.
    There are so many good books on my shelves. They shouldn’t have to suffer because of my need to see that 100% marker on my iPad Kindle app.
  4. Continue to mark my reads on GoodReads, but at least write thoughtful 1-2 sentence reviews.

Thanks for taking the time to read (or scan) my list.

Let me know which ones you’ve read, or share your reading resolutions too.

read more:

5 Replies

  1. Blake, Aaron Wedemeyer here. Firstly, we are long overdue for a beer; let’s remedy that at some point. Secondly, nice list…I’m jealous that you have the time to read that many books (and get married). Thirdly, perusing your 2013 reading resolutions, I notice one glaring omission: the re-reading of certain books. I’ve recently been challenged by a C.S. Lewis quote, which I paraphrase here: my aim is to never begin a new book until I’ve reread an old one. Nabokov, in one of his lecture essays that I have my students read, posits that one doesn’t actually read a book until he or she has reread it. Sorry, no lecture intended, just a teacherly concern.
    Let’s talk about that beer…seriously, I’d love to catch up.

  2. Aaron! Thanks for the comment. Let me know next time you’re up in DFW and I’ll do the same next time I’m in Austin.

    I know the quote of which you speak. Came across it just this year, as a matter of fact. But, I fear my book reading is much like my movie watching. I want new (to me). I will take your teacherly concern under consideration. Maybe that should be my fifth resolution: read at least 5 books I’ve read before.

    Also, it’s fitting that you’re the first commenter. I read “East of Eden” based on your recommendation.

  3. Will do. My sister and her fam live in Keller, so I’m up that way occasionally.

    I know what you mean about preferring the new. Rereading the old definitely requires discipline from me. Actually just started rereading East of Eden. Small world…literarily speaking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *