Doug McHone over at Coffee Swirls asked for anyone to be willingly tagged, since as a child he was apparently traumatized by “I was often the tagee” and resists tagging anyone, not wanting to be the one inflicting pain on others. I can remember being a tagee myself and I also remember my growth spurt in eighth grade that sent me to 5′ 10″ and suddenly I was no longer on the bottom of the totem pole. Now at 6′ 5″ and 250+ I do not play tag, but if I did I would probably once again be the tagee (not nimble enough). This tag has to do with books and having been a bibliophile from an early age (as a child my mother used to read stories to me all the time, and I was a member of book clubs in grade school), this one is a natural. However, I too may decline to tag anyone else. We shall see.
Total books owned, ever:
This is impossible to answer. Just in the 28 years we have been married my wife will tell you that I could have bought a luxury car with what I have spent on books. The answer is well over 3,000 and I have gotten about ten more in the last few weeks. However, the Internet and online resources are slowing my bibliophilia. Fortunately it doesn’t ask how many of those I have actually read, since many of them were used for only a segment of their content, especially the several shelves of ancient Egypt books I have as background to my historical novel series on the life of Moses, which at the moment I am trying to complete the first book in.
Last book I bought:
The last book I bought was MegaShift by James Rutz. It is a book I have read through and through and am going to do a study of with the three men who just completed Knowing God with me. The book is both inspiring and infuriating and fortunately well footnoted. I will keep those interested posted on our progress and observations. As I noted in several posts over the last few weeks, one thing that immediately struck home was the self-mage of saint rather than sinner (e.g. see this Knowing God post on the Grace of God)
Last book I read:
I don’t think see above is fair so I will go to the book previous to that one and by that I mean a book that I read almost all the way through (I skimmed the parts covering anything later than 500 B.C. or so). Handbook to Life In Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David. It is a great backgrounder to what it was like to live in ancient Egypt and I read it to get my mind back around the time and culture in order to help me finish the first leg of my Moses project (see above).
Five Books that mean a lot to me:
Anyone who reads this blog will know at least one of the answers to this question. After that, and avoiding obvious cribs like the Bible, it is difficult to distill it down to five. I would have the same problem with five movies. However, the question is not what I thought were the five “best” books I ever read but the five that meant the most or at least a lot to me. That is a little easier.
1. Knowing God by J. I. Packer – More than any other book penned by man (I consider the Bible actually penned by God even though technically I guess you would say he is the ghostwriter), this book has changed my life, or rather the ongoing study of this book has changed my life. You are welcome to peruse both the Knowing God category link on this site and the Knowing God Study Center at william.meisheid.com for further insight to what I think about Packer’s effort.
2. The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey – Before those of you fellow members of The League of Reformed Bloggers and any fellow travelers click elsewhere, wait up a minute. You have to understand that this book was the fulcrum God used to bring me into the sheepfold. Remember Balaam? I was working out of town and went to the local Dart Drug store looking for something to read (the television in my cheap motel room could not get anything worth watching in rural southern Maryland). I wasn’t very attentive, actually thinking that I was getting a sci-fi book, but despite that I read it even when I found out what it really was. The important part for me (forget all the dispensational pre-trib, pre-millennial stuff) was the rather large section in which Hal gives his personal witness on how he became a Christian. For most of my life I had been seeking, first in my Catholic heritage then later through various occult disciplines, an undeniable connection with God. To say that I had drifted in and out of some very strange corridors is an understatement. But Hal Lindsey was the first person to drive home to me that being a Christian was a matter of making a choice and sticking to it, not some Damascus Road transcendental experience with lights and bells and whistles. So that night in my hotel room I did just that Hal said to do and I haven’t looked back since. Is this a great book? No. But at the time it was popular enough to be sold in a Dart Drug store and for me that meant I was no longer on the outside looking in but had stepped across the threshold into grace and peace, a new creation in Christ Jesus, our Lord. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to behold.
3. The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis – In many ways this book opened my eyes to what was really going on in the world and forever put me on “Berean” alert. His essay on “Men Without Chests” forever saved me from even the semblance of namby-pambieism and helped fortify my already strong knight errand nature (just ask my wife) and willingness to stand and even to be knocked down. This book is part of the selected reading list for autodidacts [self learners] in political thought suggested by Dr. Greg Foster at a wonderful post on Evangelical Outpost. It is a short book (128 pages) that I believe every Christian should read.
4. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, Fourth Edition by James W. Sire – This seminal book examines the set of presuppositions which we hold about the basic makeup of our world. Dr. Sire, more than any other writer, helped me understand and come to terms with the framework of my and other’s thinking, and to grasp how we look at the world affects the choices we make and the way we interpret what we see and hear and read. This book is highly recommended.
5. Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth – Every Christian needs to study the Bible. That said, most of us need to understand that how we approach the scriptures often determines what we get from them. This book, at least for me, was instrumental in helping me to examine how I approached the Bible and it introduced me to hermeneutics in a way that I, and many whom I have both recommended it to and studied it with, can understand. Especially revealing is the section on 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, which will tell you an awful lot about yourself and your predilictions.
There you have it. If you want to be tagged, then you are. Just put a trackback to this posting so I can credit you with having been willing to kick the can…
Grace and peace be yours today and always and may God use these suggestions to bring you, in some small way, closer to him.