Reading in 2012

I like statistics, I like making lists, and I like competing with myself, so a few years ago I started keeping track of the books I read each year.

Here is my reading list for 2012:
  1. Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver 
  2. In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon 
  3. Jesus and Jonah, by J. W. McGarvey 
  4. How we Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot 
  5. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane 
  6. Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara 
  7. Watchmen, by Alan Moore 
  8. Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander 
  9. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson 
  10. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller 
  11. The Days of My Life, by George L. Dockery 
  12. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids, by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark 
  13. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd 
  14. Will God Run?, by Charles Hodge 
  15. For Freedom: The Biography of John Nelson Armstrong, by L.C. Sears 
  16. Determining the Form: Structures for Preaching, by O. Wesley Allen Jr. 
  17. Greek To Me: Learning New Testament Greek Through Memory Visualization, by J. Lyle Story and Cullen I.K. Story 
  18. Steeped in the Holy: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, by Raewynne J. Whiteley 
  19. The Practice of Preaching, by Paul Scott Wilson 
  20. The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas G. Long 
  21. Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination, by David Edwin Harrell 
  22. The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  23. The Sinister Signpost, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  24. A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
  25. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson 
  26. Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, by Ida B. Wells 
  27. Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike 
  28. Fielder from Nowhere, by Jackson Scholz 
  29. The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ: A Nationwide Survey of Churches of Christ, by Gailyn Van Rheenen and Bob Waldron 
  30. The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe 
  31. The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, by Cheeseburger Brown 
  32. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas 
  33. Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Charles H. Kraft* 
  34. The Church of Christ in the 21st Century, by Mark Adams 
  35. Reading New Testament Greek: Complete Word Lists and Reader’s Guide, by Bernard Brandon Scott, Margaret Dean, Kristen Sparks, and Frances LaZar 
  36. The Mark on the Door, by Franklin W. Dixon 
  37. It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, by David Alan Black 
  38. Set Free? Stay Free! The Fallacy and Failure of Legalism, by Larry Deason 
  39. Using Twitter Effectively as a Congregation, by Adam Faughn 
  40. Is The Bible Really Completely True? A Deeper Understanding of Biblical Inerrancy, by Matt Robertson 
  41. Friend-O-Nomics: How Friendliness Can Make Your Youth Ministry Grow, by Rick Lawrence 
  42. A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, by Tim Woodroof 
  43. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf 
  44. Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934, by Charles R. Smith Jr. 
  45. The Story, by Biblica**
I stated at the beginning of last year that I intended to write more book reviews in 2012, but I didn’t do very well in that regard. I would like to do better in 2013, but I also realize that for whatever reason, I hate writing book reviews so I’m not sure that I will. Still, even if I don’t write formal reviews, I will try to share helpful quotations and ideas from books that I enjoy.

I read some really good books in 2012. The Devil in the White City and Mystic River were both great (though disturbing), and I also enjoyed Biggest Brother and Killer Angels. Moving over to biblical and theological books, For Freedom was an excellent biography on J.N. Armstrong, the first president of Harding University, and a helpful window into Restoration Movement studies as well. How We Got The Bible was a useful primer on the history of the Bible, The Church of Christ in the 21st Century is an excellent book for Bible class study, and The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ was a very helpful survey book which every Church of Christ elder and minister should read. Undoubtedly though, the gem of the year was Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids. This is a wonderful book which I believe should be read by every minister and Christian parent in the world. Seriously (it’s so good I just linked to it!).

Disappointing books that I read in 2012 include In His Steps (why is this book famous?), Is The Bible Really Completely True? (a very poor and barely coherent defense of inerrancy), In The Garden of Beasts (which was pretty good, but just disappointing after reading The Devil in the White City), and Christianity in Culture (which was truly unreadable). I also forayed into the graphic novel medium in 2012, but was rather disappointed by some of its highly-rated volumes: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (none of them were awful; neither were they very good).

My overall book total increased from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012. Realistically, I think this is about my limit. Maybe I could push it to 50, but with the delicate time balance that I currently maintain, I’m fairly pleased with this amount.

I’ve already started reading in 2013 and have a long list of books to read (I got 15-20 books for Christmas!), but I’m also interested in the recommendations of others. What were your favorite books from 2012?

(For comparison’s sake, you can see the books I read in 201120102009, and 2008).

*Full disclosure: I didn’t read this entire book. I read the first 1/3-1/2, and then skimmed the rest because of time constraints (it was an assignment for a class). As I mentioned above, I thought it was almost unreadable—some good ideas, but in need of significant editing.
**This was part of Biblica’s new Bible translation which puts the NIV in chronological order and removes chapter and verse numbers to make the text more readable. “The Story” was a compilation of Luke and Acts which we used for our youth group Bible class this past quarter. Since it was self-contained and over 100 pages on its own, I listed it on my reading list separate from my regular Bible reading for the year.


Angela Frederick 1/8/13, 11:41 AM  

I'd say that's pretty good for someone who is a new dad, working full time, and taking grad school courses!

Jared Pack 1/8/13, 11:54 AM  

Well, this list is impressive, I must say. And I completely understand your disdain for book reviews. Unfortunately, I don't have much option about reviewing most of the books I read. And, I also figure that while I could give you some great book suggestions, you probably aren't interested in my books. lol

Adam Noles 1/8/13, 1:14 PM  

Interesting Post. I think I read about 27 books this year.
The best of 2012 for me :
Why they Left - Flavil Yeakley
Radical - David Platt
Who is my brother? F. Lagard Smith
Erasing Hell - Francis Chan
Communication for a Change - Andy Stanley
Other interesting reads of 2012:
Seeker Small Groups - Poole
Taking your church to the Next Level - McIntosh

Mark 1/8/13, 5:55 PM  

Great work! And thanks for including mine!

Luke Dockery 1/9/13, 8:52 AM  


Thanks…I know your list is much more impressive than mine!

Luke Dockery 1/9/13, 8:53 AM  


I was interested in the book you were telling me about last night, but for the life of me can't remember the title or author.

Luke Dockery 1/9/13, 8:55 AM  


Your best of 2012 list looks great:

I've intended to read Flavil's book for awhile; I've only heard great things about it.

I was interested in both Radical and Erasing Hell, but was waiting to hear good feedback from someone I respect—you count. :)

F. Lagard Smith's book sounds interesting too.

Argh, you just added so much to my “To Read” list!

Luke Dockery 1/9/13, 8:56 AM  


I enjoyed your book, so I'm happy to give it a little publicity. It really is a good Bible class study and is something you should be proud of.

Hope you're doing well.

Rusty 1/20/13, 3:29 PM  

What? You didn't like the Dark Knight Returns? I still reread that every couple of years.

Luke Dockery 1/21/13, 3:30 PM  


Sorry to disappoint. I like The Dark Knight Returns more than the other two, but I think part of the problem was that I just had very high expectations. I had heard that it was very good, and I really like Batman in some other forms (The Dark Knight Trilogy and the Animated Series), and I just didn't like it as much as I hoped or expected.

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