Thursday, 7 January 2010

Falling With Style Book of the Year 2009

So here it is, after much deliberation, I'm about to open the golden envelope of destiny & change some author's life forever.....Well no, actually, I'm going to try & distill my reading list for last year into some firm recommendations.
As I said recently, my recommendations are entirely subjective. A book gets on the list if it has moved me, stirred me, changed my life pattern in some way. When you remember that I cried my way through High School Musical then you will realise the herculean task I have before me to filter books out on these criteria! Here goes....

Top 5 Fiction

1/ Rebels & Traitors
What a magnificent achievement. Lindsay Davis writes 700+ pages on the English Civil War. What's more, she weaves in a grand narrative, a story which spans the years either side of this horrific conflict. The changes in a nation, the shock of regicide, the sheer brutality of life in the 17th century are brightened by a 'will they won't they' romance which is only resolved finally in the last pages. This book dominated my life for a fortnight & when I finally put it down no other writing satisfied me for weeks

2/ Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel's epic from the Tudor Court of Thomas Cromwell would have won in any other year. She writes on a similar scale to Davis, but has such a strong voice for Cromwell that you wonder if she really hears him in her head. Dark, disturbing, gripping.

3/ Fire & Sword
Simon Scarrow has written lot's of historical novels & this book in his Napolean/Wellington series is fantastic.

4/ Twilight
I read these novels by Meyer simply to keep myself informed of our ever changing youth culture. THey are all good, but the first stands alone. What a read, full of old fashioned romance & adventure wrapped up in post modern teenage angst.

5/ Child 44
This novel is set in the deeply depressing post war Soviet Union. It is a fine achievement, strong writing, a story you can't put down & an authentic feel.

Top 5 Non Fiction
1/ The Lost City of Z

This story of the adventures of Amazonian explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett has changed my life. You can look back at earlier blogs to see the boys own dreams it stirred in me. That the story is told through the eyes of author Grann retracing Fawcetts steps makes it all the more incredible. It truely deserves a wider audience & should be mandatory reading for all Dad's & their boys at bedtime.

2/ They told me their stories
Edward Morris has collected incredible first hand accounts of children & young people that were involved in the early years of the Asuza Street Revival. This is not well written, it has a folksy long winded intro, but I challenge you not to be moved in your guts with longing for these stories to be seen in our day & through our young people.

3/ Worship Matters
This is quite simply the best book I've read on worship in years. It is practical, biblical & simple. Again, it should be a required text for church leadership teams & worship leaders. I can pay it no higher compliment than using it with our own team for our training in the next year.

4/ So you don't want to go to church anymore?
A strange & engaging book from the emerging church stable which moved me to think & live differently. Ultimately, Colson is blinkered in his conclusions about the established church, but his heart for real Christ like community & simple life together is compelling.

5/ The Ultimate Treasure Hunt
This book from the Bethel stable isn't the best read I've had all year, but all the time I had it open a voice in my head was telling me, 'take this seriously & your life will never be the same again!' Is that a threat or a promise? Read the book for yourself & find out that you too can be an ordinary believer living an extraordinary kingdom lifestyle.

And the Book of the year is.......................The Lost City of Z by David Grann. I'll send his prize in the post. The best compliment you could pay is to go out, buy the book & dream of adventures!
Here's to more great reading in 2010!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Booklist from 2009

I've been asked to make some recommendations from my reading last year - rather subjective really, it's all a matter of taste after all.
Anyhow, here is my list from 2009 in the order in which I read them. A great range of stirring, provocative writing through to some absolute tat. Unfortunately, I had to read them all, counting it something of a betrayal to give up on a book once started. For that of course (& most of my other hang up's) I blame my mother.

1/ The Early Christians - Eberhard
2/ The Eagle & Prey - Scarrow (Roman historo/novel)
3/ The Eagle & Wolf - Scarrow
4/ Fasting - Jentezen
5/ Fire & sword - Scarrow (Napoleon/Wellington series)
6/ Generals - Scarrow
7/ Making Life Work - Hybels
8/ The Appeal - Grisham
9/ The Ultimate Treasure Hunt - Dedmon
10/ The Prodigal God - Keller
11/ Eagle Hunt - Scarrow
12/ Building a Contageous Church - Mittleberg/Strobel
13/ The Last Kingdom - Cornwell(Viking historo/novel series)
14/ The Reason for God - Keller
15/ The Bone Garden - Gerritson (thriller)
16/ Fire Evangelism - Ahn
17/ Kingmaking - Hollick
18/ Pale Rider - Cornwell (Viking series)
19/ So you don't want to go to church anymore? - Colson
20/ Lords of the North - Cornwell (Viking series)
21/ Searching for the source of the river British Pentecostal Revival - Chapman
22/ Agincourt - Cornwell
23/ The Traveller - Twelve Hawks
24/ Suspicions of Mr Whicher - Summerscale
25/ The Importance of Forgiveness - Arnott
26/ Deadline - Kernick (Thriller)
27/ Sword Song - Cornwell (Viking Series)
28/ They told me their stories - Edward Morris (Asuza Street kids stories)
29/ Sword in the Sand - Cornwell
30/ Dark River - Twelve Hawks
31/ Supernatural Realm - Bentley
32/ Jesus the Evangelist - Gamble
33/ Twilight - Meyer (Teen Vampire series)
34/ New Moon - Meyer
35/ Demolishing Strongholds - Devonish
36/ God's Remedy for Rejection - Prince
37/ Scarpetta - P Cornwell (Forsensic Detective thriller)
38/ Trouble - Kernick
39/ Basic Training for the Prophetic Ministry - Valotton
40/ Wolf Hall - Mantell (Tudor epic)
41/ Child 44 - Rob-Smith (Soviet thriller)
42/ Borgia Ring - White (Thriller Dan Brown genre)
43/ The Way in is the Way on - Wimber
44/ Rumours of another World - Yancey
45/ Siler Pigs - Davis (Roman detective)
46/ Sovereign - Sansom (Tudor detective)
47/ Mr Moody & the Evangelical Tradition - George
48/ Book of the dead - P Cornwell (Forensic detective thriller)
49/ Happy Intercessor - Johnson
50/ Mephisto Club - Gerritson (thriller)
51/ Saying Yes - Releasing Creative Arts -
52/ Lost Symbol - Brown
53/ The Lost City of Z - Grann (biography of Amazonian Explorer Percy Fawcett)
54/ Worship Matters - Kauflin
55/ Eclipse - Meyer (Teen Vampire Series)
56/ Reformation - MacCulloch
57/ The Secret Speech - Rob-Smith (Soviet era thriller)
58/ The Provocative Church - Tomlin
59/ The Power to Change the World - Joyner
60/ The Surgeon - Gerritson
61/ Obliged to Go - William Carey biography
62/ Rebels & Traitors - Davis (English Civil War epic)
63/ The '59 Revival - Paisley
64/ Warrior Queens - Fraser (Boudica biography)
65/ A Year of Living Biblically - Jacobs
66/ Presumed Guilty - Gerritson
67/ Worship by the book - Carson