Books Read 2019

My goal is to read 40 books a year in addition to journals, articles, and commentaries. Here is my 5-star rating for the books I read in 2019. Other than giving a ranking, the books are not listed in any further order. Mostly, within the categories they’re listed in the order that I finished them. Click on the title to find it online. At the end of this post, you can find a list of “Books Read” posts for previous years.

Five Stars

Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. I read this in college and decided to revisit it.


The Green Mile, by Stephen King


A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines


Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo


Descent, by Tim Johnston. I enjoy this guy’s writing.


A Pocketful of Rye, by AJ Cronin


Cool Hand Luke, by Donn Pearce. Even better than the film. A lot more detail about “Cool Hand’s” PTSD from crimes committed during WW2, and his loathing of his preacher father–and thus his loathing of the Heavenly Father–comes out much more sharply in the book.


The Testament, by John Grisham. I read this years ago and wanted to return to it. One of Grisham’s best, in my opinion.


Death Comes for the Deconstructionist, by Daniel Taylor. Very entertaining first book in a series on a most unusual private detective. The relationship between the main character and his mentally-challenged sister is sweet, too. The imprint that printed this book, Slant Books, is doing some good work.


The Theology of the Book of Revelation, by Richard Bauckham. A good preparation for my sermon series through Revelation.


The Current, by Tim Johnston. I bought this after reading Johnston’s Descent


The Battle for Middle-Earth, by Fleming Rutledge. Rutledge saw the same thing I saw by my second time through The Lord of the Rings years ago: “I became consciously aware that there was an extraordinarily sophisticated and subtle balance being struck between human autonomy and the divine purpose.” Excellent book for Rings fans.


Reversed Thunder, by Eugene Peterson. Good prep for my sermon series through Revelation.


Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. I had an idea for a novel where the plot depends on a woman slipping into dementia. So, I remembered the movie Still Alice and found the book it was based on.I liked the movie, but, as usual, I liked the book even more. (I don’t know if I’ll follow through with my novel idea, though.)


The Letters of Our Lord, by G. Campbell Morgan. Good prep for my sermon series on Revelation.


Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, by Mary Oliver. Upon news of the celebrated poet’s death, I decided to buy this book. So many good entries here.


Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life, by Scott M. Marshall. Dylan converted to Christ in 1979 or thereabouts, in my college freshman year. This book took me back. Marshall argues that Dylan hasn’t left behind those convictions, and he has a point.


Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger. A different subject than Krueger normally covers. I liked it.


Jesus: A Very Short Introduction, by Richard Baucham. Oxford Press has a book series called A Very Short Introduction on a wide range of subjects. I was pleased to see they enlisted Richard Bauckham to write on Jesus for the series. At only 114 pages, it’s truly a very short introduction to the best of Bauckham’s New Testament scholarship.


Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church, by Nelson Searcy. We’re hoping to improve our follow-up with first-time guests at my church in 2020, and this should help.


Lisa: Born to Inspire, by Betty Ann Goodman-Curvin. My aunt wrote a sweet book about her daughter.


Four Stars

Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. Fascinating overall; disappointing in places. Isaacson’s negative comparisons with Michelangelo, Da Vinci’s contemporary, makes me want to study more on Michelangelo.


Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng


God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright. Entertaining. I’d say it falls in that collection of books and movies that presents a Texas that the New York Times wishes was true, but still entertaining.


Doing Time in the Depression, by Ethan Blue. Good historical work here.


The Paragon Hotel, by Lyndsay Faye. Set in the 1920s and 1930s. Sparkling prose, but the surprise revelation about one of the main characters faithfully serves the current cultural agenda. I give the audio narration by January Lavoie five stars.


Infamous, by Ace Adkins. Based on Machine Gun Kelly and his scheming wife.


The Elusive Eden: Frank McMullan’s Confederate Colony in Brazil, by William Clark Griggs. I had an idea for a novel about Southerners who fled to Brazil after the Civil War. I don’t know if I’ll follow through on the novel, but Griggs’ work of history was engaging.


Long Way Gone, by Charles Martin. Martin is a popular author of Christian fiction. Like his other novels, some of the plot routes stretch credulity at times. But, like his other novels, he does a good job with character development and story arc.


Imagine Heaven, by John Burke. Intriguing study on a subject that about 300 churches in our city will cover for 4 weeks after Easter. I recommend the book but not the audio version. The reader used a lot of voices to distinguish the quotes: high effeminate voices for women, cultured affectations for the scholars, an ethereal voice for heavenly beings, and an attempted Indian accent for Indian speakers. Ill-advised. So, so ill-advised.


The Great Good Thing, by Andrew Klavan. The story of the horror writer’s conversion to Christ.


One More River to Cross, by Jane Kirkpatrick. A story based on an historical event. Entertaining.


Three Stars

The Reckoning, by John Grisham.


Depression Desperado, by Sid Underwood. A historical account of one of Clyde Barrow’s accomplices.


Presidio, by Randy Kennedy. Entertaining enough story, but I give the narration on the audiobook two stars, and I’m sure that impacted my ranking of the novel itself.


Recent Changes in the Vernacular: Poems, by Tony Hoagland


Between the Cross and the Throne: The Book of Revelation, by Matthew Emerson. Good prep for my sermon series through Revelation.


Didn’t Finish

Sugar Land by Tammy Lynn Stoner


Lists from Previous Years

(The links for Books Read 2013-2018 will take you to pages on this blog. You can access the “Books Read” lists from 2009-2012, but the links on those page take you to a blog I no longer update.)


Books Read 2009


Books Read 2010


Books Read 2011


Books Read 2012


Books Read 2013


Books Read 2014


Books Read 2015


Books Read 2016


Books Read 2017


Books Read 2018