What I read on the set of a Corona commercial

Megan and I just got back from a week-long trip to Cancun/Riviera Maya, Mexico where we were celebrating our ten year anniversary. When we got married we set a goal to go on an anniversary trip “on the fives” (5, 10, 15, 20 year anniversary, etc). We’ve been planning and saving for this trip for five years – and it was well worth it. We’re so very thankful for Megan’s parents, who watched our two boys for the week so we could get away for some “us” time.

We had an amazing, thankful and incredibly restful week. We spent a lot of time reflecting on the past ten years – memories, pain, surprises, joy, difficult moments and where we’ve seen God show up. It was very rich. We ate well, slept well and had a fabulous time taking in the Caribbean experience with ease.

We also read a great deal. Most days we sat under a cabana looking out at what seemed to be the set of a Corona commercial reading and resting for multiple hours at a time. It was grand. Reading is not something I had been able to do the past  six months as I was finishing up my masters degree. I was looking forward to choosing what I read this week Рand boy did I enjoy it.

Here’s what I read last week:

[1] Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor and Chaos (Tim Keel): the book was good. Not excellent, but not bad either. Solid. I especially liked Keel’s nine postures of engagement and possibility. Very helpful.

[2] God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? (David Lamb) Very engaging (much more than I expected). Dave handled tough questions with courage, clarity, knowledge and grace – he even threw him very timely and appropriate humor to get the reader to stick in through some thick material. I loved this book. It’s even more fun to read when Dave is a friend and a former professor of mine.

[3] Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn). I love reading NY Times columnist Nicolas Kristof’s stuff so I knew I had to read this book that he and his wife co-authored. This book was both disturbing and inspiring. Despite horrible stories of oppression, forced labor, rape slavery and sex trafficking, this book gives a lot of hope – seriously! Gripping, well-written, well-researched, balanced and, as I mentioned, hopeful. This is not a feminist propaganda book; this is a pro-humanity book which centers in the life, well-being and role of women in the world and the potential they have. I’m growing more and more convicted and passionate about speaking up for the rights of women around the world after reading this book. I highly, highly recommend it.

[4] The Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan). Wow. I hadn’t read this book since sixth grade. Unbelievable. No wonder it is regarded as one of the most important religious books to be published in English. Did I mention that its been in print for almost 350 years – and never gone out of print? I was reminded again of the richness of this book and the depth of John Bunyan, who wrote much of this from prison. And it was my second fiction book I’ve read in probably five years (you can teach an old dog new tricks apparently). Every Christian (no pun intended) should be required to read this book at least once. At least.

[5] Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder): the inspiring story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his incredible humanitarian/medical work in Haiti. Incredibly inspiring life and very well written. A great read on vacation.

[6] The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan): another careful read of a challenging book about how we eat.

[7] Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (A.J. Jacobs). Satirical and eccentric – and I little funny in some parts – it struggled to keep my attention throughout. I enjoyed Jacobs’ book The Year of Living Biblically, but this one fell flat. The second half of the book was a skim. I guess I am just not that intelligent for failing to finish… oh well.

[8] The Pastor: A Memoir (Eugene Peterson): I got this book in May when it came out, but Megan and I have been saving it. Sometimes we pick a book and read it out loud to each other (something we learned from, ironically enough, Eugene and Jan Peterson – a practice they do every night before going to bed). We sat on the beach and read this out loud to each other but only put a small dent in it. We are enjoying this slowly, ruminating on every bite we take.

[9] Why Work? (Dorothy Sayers): This essay was thought-provoking and very wise. If anybody wants a copy of this, shoot me an email and I’ll attach it in a PDF.

[10] Letters from a Birmingham Jail (Martin Luther King Jr). I’ve heard about this extended essay, but never read it in one sitting. Fantastic and challenging. Dr. King takes his fellow clergy to task, but politely and prophetically. Worth reading on a regular basis.

[11] The Pleasures of Eating: What City People Can Do (Wendell Berry). Great article. Classic Wendell Berry.

[12] ReJesus (Alan Hirsch). Classic Hirsch. Great discourse on getting-back-to-the-basics discipleship.

[13] Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms that Summon You From Self to Community (Eugene Peterson). We have been studying the Psalms this summer within Renew so this was some teaching preparation. It was good, but probably one of my least favorite Peterson books. Not sure why, but it didn’t seem to have the normal ‘pop’ to it.

[14] Finding Our Way (Margaret J Wheatley). I’ve had this book recommended to me multiple times and I finally picked it up. It’s different than what I thought, but worth the read. It’s sort of a mystical leadership-type book. She reminds me a lot of the style of Henri Nouwen. I’m about half way through it (was reading it when the plane touched down). Looking forward to the second half of the book.

Next up now that I’m home: Allah by Yale theologian Miroslav Volf.

I’d love to hear from you:

  • What books have you been reading this summer?
  • Any fantastic reads you’d recommend for me to read in the near future? NOTE: Remember, with few exceptions, I’m a non-fiction kinda guy (don’t judge me).