For many people, especially those in college, summer is a time marked by less busyness, more time with family and friends, and several opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. While such opportunities include internships, summer camps, and study abroad programs, they also include good books.
Here are some of the ones that I will be reading this summer:
1. Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway).
Do Christians have reliable belief in the 27 books that make up the New Testament? That is to say, do we know that we have the right books? These are some of the questions that Kruger attempts to answer as he shows why neither a community-determined model nor a historically-determined model of canonicity will work for believers. With the integrity and authority of Scripture under fire today, affirmative answers to the questions are vitally important for believers.
2. Cornelius Plantinga, Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).
While Plantinga has preachers in mind, this book is not limited to preachers in its application. Plantinga writes about how reading leads one to delight, a greater appreciation of language, and cathartic experiences that result in greater sympathy for people and situations that one previously knew nothing about.
3. Luc Ferry, A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living (Harper Perennial).
While I would not recommend Ferry’s book as a “guide to living,” I would recommend it for its narrative of Western thought. Ferry takes readers through the thought of ancient Greece up to our present day. Tim Keller, referring to books on culture, said, “If you only read one, read this one.”
4. D.A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).
In this culture exegesis, Carson “traces the subtle but enormous shift in the way we have come to understand tolerance over recent years — from defending the rights of those who hold different beliefs to affirming all beliefs as equally valid and correct” (Amazon). This book is important for believers as we continue to uphold absolute truth that is rooted in God and revealed by Him in the Bible.
5. Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men (Basic Books).
It is easy to see from statistics and personal anecdotes that we have many, as one pastor would say, “boys who can shave” in our society today. Leonard Sax, a family physician, author, and researcher, attempts to answer why we have so many young men who don’t have much passion for real-world activities, are falling behind in school, and are, quite simply, not growing up. While Sax’s proposals must be discerned through a Christian worldview, his book seems to be important to anyone concerned with our nation’s young men.
6. J.I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP Books).
Packer’s book has been a classic for over twenty years, and it “has been an important tool to help Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God” (Amazon). Packer’s hope is that Christians would learn more about God so that they might know God more fully. As John Piper said, “right thinking is for deep feeling,” and Packer’s book will help the believer with both.
7. R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (IVP Books).
“The Bible is the written Word of God, and it is treasured by many. But it is also an ancient book about people and cultures very different than us. Thus, while we know we should read it, many of us have a hard time understanding the Bible” (Amazon). R.C. Sproul, a well-known pastor-theologian, helps readers understand why Christians should study the Bible, how they can interpret it correctly, and what practical methods and tools they can employ in this end of knowing God more through the Scriptures.
8. Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Basic Books).
With hundreds of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and other digital confidantes, we should no longer have any feelings of loneliness, right? Wrong. Turkle explains how we have made technology the “architect of our intimacies,” and how it is greatly failing us. This book goes into much greater detail than the TED talk that Turkle also gave on the subject.
9. Ronald Muller, Honor and Shame: Unlocking the Door (Xlibris).
Guilt, shame, and fear: These are the three bases that underly all worldviews.
Most Western theologians, though, only address how the Gospel takes away a person’s guilt, yet the Gospel also removes shame and fear. Muller attempts to explain this truth, which, when understood, deepens a believer’s understanding and appreciation of the Gospel.
10. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (Harper Perennial Modern Classics).
This 20th century classic would be interesting to read alongside Turkle’s book, Alone Together. Huxley’s dystopian world is sure to challenge readers’ beliefs about the uses and ethics of technology.
11. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Dover Publications).
This short, 72-page read is considered by many to be Conrad’s finest story. In it, Conrad describes “the narrator’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region” (Amazon).
12. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (Penguin Books).
“Ever since it was first performed in 1949, Death of a Salesman has been recognized as a milestone of the American theater. In the person of Willy Loman, the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine, Arthur Miller redefined the tragic hero as a man whose dreams are at once insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial. He has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity—and a play that compresses epic extremes of humor and anguish, promise and loss, between the four walls of an American living room” (Amazon).