2022 READING LIST
The changing of years is always an apropos time to reflect on what I have learned in this past season. To that end, here are the books that I (Jake) read in 2022, organized by category. Take a look, and maybe you can find your next book to start off 2023!
Special shout-out to my reading and missions buddy, Stuart Ostby, who recommended several books on my 2022 list. At the end of the blog, I will share my 3 favorite books from 2022!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: A beautifully written coming-of-age story about a young orphan girl. One of my favorite books of 2022. There is a clear portrayal of good and evil! The story celebrates Christian virtue. Jane is a character to be praised and emulated.
Silas Marner by George Eliot: Another excellent work of fiction. This is a story about a miser whose life is transformed by goodness. It shows the supremacy of relationships and goodness over wealth and power.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: I am a huge fan of Tolstoy. Anna Karenina is still my favorite, but War and Peace was worth the long read! Tolstoy’s characters are more real than fiction, and he says things in a way that few others can. I already miss Pierre, Andrew, and Natasha!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: An intriguing book. I enjoyed the first half, which emphasized the natural history of a Carolina marsh and the resilience of a young orphan girl. Still, this is not at the level of the above three works of literature!
Christianity, Missions, and Medicine
Bruchko by Bruce Olson: A harrowing true story about a young man incurs great risk to share the love of Christ with the Motilone Indians of Colombia and Venezuela. I appreciated how this book demonstrated that the gospel can affect a culture for good, without destroying beautiful and unique aspects of that culture.
Through the Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot: Tells the story of five missionaries who were martyred while ministering to a remote tribe in Ecuador, and the faithful response of their five widows. This is a missionary story worth reading.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder: Shares the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, whose work in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, transformed global health. He truly cared about his patients and connected with them as human beings in a holistic way. I enjoyed this book!
“There is no third world. We do not live in three worlds. We live in one world.”
“The world is full of miserable places. One way of living comfortably is not to think about them or, when you do, to send money.”
Cross Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer: This book investigates the process of serving in another culture. It is a good reminder to pursue an attitude of humility, openness, acceptance, understanding, learning, and trust, when engaging another culture.
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper: This book transformed my life in college, and it was worth re-reading over ten years later! The message of the book is simple but profound: “God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion.”
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer: A simple but encouraging book about the importance of pursuing the presence of God and not mere head knowledge. We are created for a burning intimacy and relationship with God, not merely for right knowledge about him. The church needs this reminder, and so do I.
Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton: A practical book for us as we thought about fundraising for Papua New Guinea. Encouraged me to see fundraising as a time of ministry rather than as a burden. We truly enjoyed our experience of connecting and re-connecting with friends and family to fundraise and share about God’s call on our lives to Papua New Guinea.
Parenting and Family
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay: This is the best practical parenting book I have read (and I have consumed a lot of them). The book encourages the raising of responsible and respectful kids who are fun to be around. It provides a fun and positive vision for parenting. It emphasizes the importance of natural consequences and choices, and gives a lot of helpful advice for dealing with tantrums, bedtimes, chores, etc. Foster Cline is hilarious, and has some excellent parenting podcasts, too. If anyone is interested in a link to them, just let me know!
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch: Dealing with technology is challenging for me. I want to figure out how to set a good example and lead my kids in this area, too. This was a worthwhile and simple book that gives 10 principles for putting technology in its “proper place.” One example: “Shape your space. Make the places where we spend our most time the place where easiest everywhere technology is hard to find.” I want our family living area to not have a television or an abundance of screens, and instead be filled with art supplies, books, and instruments hanging on the walls.
Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle: This was a bit long, and I skimmed quite a few parts, but this book argues that our cell phones prevent us from having enough intentional conversations with each other, and this lack of conversation leads to a lack of empathy. I was encouraged to reflexively put down my phone when the kids are around. I was reminded of the importance of engaging others in conversation. Interestingly, she says that it takes seven minutes to truly begin a conversation. I do not want to let technology keep me from being able to have deep conversations with others!
The Intentional Father by Jon Tyson: Argues that boys in our culture struggle to become men because they do not have a right of passage. As I raise my boys, I want to give them a right of passage and a time of very intentional discipleship when they hit age 13.
“Beware the soul-sucking voice of reasonableness.”
“It is easier to raise strong children than it is to repair broken men.”
A Burning in My Bones by Winn Collier: A biography about author and pastor, Eugene Peterson, who is most well-known for his creation of, “The Message.” I was encouraged to learn from his powerful presence and intentionality with people. He was highly ambitious in his pursuit of sanctification, and he simultaneously shunned acclaim and accolades. He embodied many paradoxes and certainly led a worthwhile life!
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri: This was a fun autobiographical and (mostly) true story about Daniel Nayeri, an immigrant to the US from Iran. It encouraged me to tell stories and to explore other people’s stories, too!
“Does writing poetry make you brave? It is a good question to ask. I think making anything is a brave thing to do. Not like fighting brave, obviously. But a kind that looks at a horrible situation and doesn’t crumble.”
Bioethics and Academics
The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory edited by David Copp: An exploration of numerous ethical approaches, from theological voluntarism, to virtue ethics, to consequentialism. I appreciate narrative ethics with a bent towards virtue ethics. I was encouraged to pursue a, “wide reflective equilibrium”.
Christian Ethics and Moral Philosophy by Craig Boyd and Don Thorsen: This is an introduction to Christian ethical approaches (normative ethics) and moral philosophy. I was intrigued by Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Aquinas’ Given v. Acquired Natures, and Locke’s discussion on the States of Nature.
Biotechnology and the Human Good by Mitchell, Pellegrino, et. al.: “Technology opens doors, it does not compel man to enter.” Which doors do we enter, which do we explore, and which do we keep shut? How do we think about human enhancement and the reshaping of human nature? C.S. Lewis was wise when he stated, “Each new power won by man is a power over man as well.”
For the Glory of God by Rodney Stark: An (at-the-time secular) historian supported the claim that Christian theology was essential for the rise of science. “Christianity depicted God as a rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting human comprehension.” Christianity and science are not in conflict. Christianity is actually to thank for the rise of science in Europe!
From Inspiration to Legislation by Amy Black: A helpful practical book on how to turn an idea into federal law. Explains how bills make their way to and through both the House and Senate.
Growth and Leadership
Atomic Habits by James Cleary: One of my favorite books of 2022. An excellent book on how small habits can lead to profound changes over time. I was encouraged to focus on identity habits and decisive moments.
“To change habits, it is more important to focus on who you want to be rather than what you want to do.”
“If we can get 1% better at something each day for a year, we will be 37 times better at the end of the year.”
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon: I want to be a writer, but I am a perfectionist and too-quickly kill any artistic endeavor I undertake by being self-critical. This was a fun reminder that I need to be willing to make bad art, and a great description of the creative process!
“On the spectrum of creativity, even a poor product is still a creative act. There is a gap between mediocrity and excellence, but an even greater gap between mediocrity and those who do nothing.“
My Top Books of 2022!
Jane Eyre was profoundly enjoyable and beautiful! I was uplifted, encouraged, entertained, and mesmerized by Bronte’s prose.
Atomic Habits encouraged me to work on micro-changes and identity-oriented habits. Already, I have seen positive results from implementing these changes.
Steal Like an Artist challenged me to get back on the horse of writing fiction. I want to engage in creative endeavors, and be willing to do the verb (write) in order to be the noun (a writer)! Every creative act is still a creative act, and the gap between mediocrity and excellence is not as great as the gap between mediocrity and those who do nothing.
What about you?
If you made it this far, I congratulate you! I would love to hear from you. Have you read any of these books? Are there any you want to read? What are the best books you read in 2022?
Quick PNG Update: We are still awaiting our Visas to be approved by the PNG government. We hope they will be approved this month which would allow us to depart in late March or early April!