Posted by: Billy Marsh | December 29, 2009

Billy and Kim’s Favorite 2008 Reading

Yes, you read rightly. This is a year end 2008 list. This post was near completion but then Wyatt was born on January 7, and I kept waiting to publish it so that Kim could find time to comment on her top 3 books. Well, that time never came due to the demands of a newborn, and so I decided to leave it alone. After determining to do a list for 2009, I realized that this post was still a draft in my archives which moved me to finish it before submitting my 2009 list. Kim still hasn’t commented on her books, but I can testify that each of these three has had a tremendous impact on her life.

Last year, taking our cues from the Desiring God Blog, Kim and I revealed our top 3 favorite books of 2007. The only credential that a book must meet in order to appear on this list is that it must be . . . a book. Thankfully, both she and I read more than just “theology” books, so there aren’t any restrictions as to whether or not a book is fiction or non-fiction, Christian or secular, in order to merit a place in this annual and now “traditional” post.

It has been another good year of reading for me. I think that I read just about the same amount of books this year from cover to cover as I did in 2007, but in terms of actual “pages” read, my reading in 2008 blew 2007’s out of the water. This is mainly due to the fact that I started the Ph. D. program this year, which had me reading about 150 pages each week from August to December in books that we never finished. I also spent quite a lot of time back in the spring reading large portions of systematic theologies in preparation for my Ph. D. entrance exams. Nonetheless, it has been a very profitable and enjoyable year of reading on all fronts, and I look forward to what the Lord is going to have me feasting upon in 2009.

Kim’s reading for the first part of the year was fairly normal with a good mixture of theology and fiction, but once we found out we were pregnant back in April, she immersed herself in the pregnancy and baby canon of literature. I’m glad that she did, though, because her diligent reading and research has really helped us as new parents to decide on how we want to do things with our forthcoming firstborn, as much as a couple could be prepared without having any prior experience.

As always, Kim and I both would love for you all to submit your “top 3″ books of 2008 in the comment(s) section. We are anxious to see what you all are reading, and hopefully, your recommendations will give us some new and exciting reading material for 2009.

Kim’s Top 3 Books For 2008

1. Pride and Prejudice ~ Jane AustenPride and Prejudice ~ Jane Austen

2.  The Hidden Art of Homemaking ~ Edith Schaeffer The Hidden Art of Homemaking ~ Edith Schaeffer

3.  The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C. S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C. S. Lewis

Billy’s Top 3 Books For 2008

1. The Silmarrilion ~ J. R. R. Tolkien The Silmarillion ~ J. R. R. Tolkien – People always told me not to get my hopes up for The Silmarillion just because I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. What they didn’t understand was that I was already past the point of no return in the world of MiddleEarth. Tolkien had left a permanent mark on my life and worldview, and I realized, just like any serious Lord of the Rings fan, that The Silmarillion was integral for having a full understanding of what exactly Tolkien was trying to do as a “sub-creator”. This book is beautiful. The first chapter is a magnificent piece of literature where Tolkien recounts the creation story of MiddleEarth which obviously utilizes the Genesis narrative as its framework. For me, The Silmarillion was candy, but that’s probably due in part to the fact that I’m a purist and I feed off of details, not to mention that I have a huge appetite for history in general. Nonetheless, it is obvious that Tolkien spend the bulk of his life pouring over this work. It is just as much moving as it is truly a work of art.

2.  The Dumbest Generation ~ Mark Bauerlein The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future ~ Mark Bauerlein – I picked this book up after hearing of a few of my professors who were reading it. As a part of the under-30 crowd of whom Bauerlein says you shouldn’t trust, I pray that I’m, among others of course, an exception to the rule. However, I’ll be the first to admit that my generation and the one following it  have the mega-potential for leading our nation, and perhaps beyond, down a very dark and unflattering road. This book was a fascinating and enlightening read. Most people will close the book and write Bauerlein off as uber-conservative and harsh, but those types of critiques of his thesis, I think, fail to recognize the seriousness of the downfall of our culture. In addition, I’m not aware of Bauerlein’s belief-system, but many of his conclusions would only take minimal additions in order to come across as Christian concerns and suggestions for contemporary culture, in particular, modern Church culture.

3. The Cost of Discipleship ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer – I could go on and on about this classic. After reading it, it was clear to me why this book has and will endure for years to come. It has no rival. You cannot read Bonhoeffer’s treatise on the nature of Christian discipleship without being forced to either live out your faith radically or either to harden your heart to obediently living out the Christian life in the manner that Scripture demands. The first couple chapters are what most people quote from concerning “costly grace”. But Bonhoeffer has much more to offer throughout. I was especially moved by his thoughts about hidden righteousness where we must do the works of faith in a way that we don’t let our right hand know what our left is doing. We must forget them as we do them in order to keep ourselves free from false humility and pride in our own deeds. This is a life-changing work and a must read for any serious Christian who desires to follow hard after Christ.


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