So here’s my top ten list of nonfiction books to read in 2010. I’ve been making lists for three years now and I’ve yet to read all ten (so many others get in the way!), but this year I’m hopeful that I can stay focused. I’d love to hear what you’re planning on reading this year, or any insights you have on mine!
1. Shalom by Perry B. Yoder – Every year I try to read something that explores the meaning of salvation in a broad sense. Since I have thought for a long time that shalom is somewhere near the core of all this, and since I like reading from the Radical Reformation wing, I went with this one.
2. The Quest for Paul’s Gospel by Douglas Campbell – Campbell may be one of the major players in the field of Pauline studies in the coming years. In this one he lays out the foundational framework on what “the gospel” meant for Paul. He fights against many of the ways we’ve all shrunk it down today to mean something much less. It’ll be work to get through this one, so I hope it’s good.
3. A History of Christian Missions by Stephen Neill – I think this is the standard work on the subject, one I’m interested in for three main reasons. One, I love history and I love the church, so naturally I love church history. Two, I’ve heard Neill deals well with Christian missions’ complicity with colonialism, but not in an empty-headed way. Three, I’m obsessed with exploring how the church can be faithful in our own rapidly changing world, so it makes sense to see what we’ve tried in the past.
4. Transforming Mission by David Bosch – Similar to the one above, but I think different in that Bosch is more of a missiologist by trade while Neill is more of a historian by trade. I started this book a while back, but I never got to the main section where he lays out the major paradigms for how “mission” has been perceived and practiced.
5. God For Us by Catherine LaCugna – I needed something strictly theological on the list, as well as something by a Roman Catholic, and this one narrowly beat out JPII’s Theology of the Body. LaCugna’s book is about the Trinity, and I think her thesis is that at some point early on we started talking about God in an abstract way that divorced God from everyday life. Many feel that the doctrine of the Trinity is part of the problem, but she claims the opposite.
6. The Political Economy of Media by Robert McChesney – From what I understand McChesney is one of the foremost media critics of our time, and this book is about the hi-jacking and monopolization of our media outlets for the sake of profit and at the expense of true democracy.
7. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse – Another social criticism book, this one about our society as a whole. The subtitle is “studies in the ideology of advanced industrial societies.” I’m assuming he’ll talk about just what it is that we should be resisting, and a bit about how.
8. A Force More Powerful by Peter Ackerman & Jack Duvall – Based on a documentary television series by the same name, this book tells numerous stories of how nonviolence “worked” in all the realms of conflict people usually say require violence to be resolved. When ordinary people gather together to combat injustice without resorting to violence, surprising transformations sometimes take place.
9. A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki – I’ve had this one for some time and it is burning a hole through my shelf. Takaki, a Japanese American, tells the story of America from the perspective of minorities and immigrants. (Anyone know anything about the difference between the original and revised editions?)
10. Quantum Physics: A Beginner’s Guide by Alistair I. M. Rae – It’s taken me forever to land on the tenth book for my list, but here’s the winner. I know next to nothing about this topic, but a few years ago I was feeling curious and ordered this book. Hopefully I’ll understand it. 🙂