Monday, December 28, 2009

Best Books I Read in 2009

2009 was a good reading year. Here are three of the best books I took in:

1. Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, by Ammon Shea. This is one of the funniest books ever. Shea chronicles his year-long reading of the Oxford English Dictionary, all 20 volumes, even the bibliography. Along the way, he talks about some of the more interesting words he encounters, a different section for each letter of the alphabet. It's much better than I'm making it sound here. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed. I've talked about this book here and here.

2. In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, by Alistair McGrath. McGrath is one of those really dumb people. First, he earned a doctorate in the natural sciences at Oxford. After his conversion from atheism to Christianity, he decided to pursue religious studies and has since become a world-class professor of theology. In this book, though, you won't find any stuffy academic terms or specialist jargon. Just a straightforward, easy-to-read account of the events leading up to the appearance of the King James Bible, and the legacy of this most significant document in the English language. An interesting, enjoyable read. To hear more about this one, go here.

There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, by Antony Flew. I didn't plan on reading this one until I was asked to do a presentation at church on "The Existence of God." Flew was a name that I remembered. Years ago, he debated the late Thomas B. Warren on this question, and I'd heard that he had since done a turn-around. So I picked up this book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Among other things, Flew is a good example of how a person can make a strong case for the existence of God without preaching or even believing the good news about Jesus Christ. And, no, one doesn't necessarily lead to the other. I don't believe that the first is preparation for the second. I've made a few other comments about this book here and here.

So, what did you read this year that was especially good?


Adam Gonnerman said...

All very interesting options. The one regarding the existence of God seems especially relevant. It could be my paranoid imagination or the region where I live, but I'm seeing more and more atheism among people of my generation. Not agnosticism. Outright atheism. From the sound of it the theists and atheists are polarizing around issues of creation and evolution, leaving many to believe that the only rational option is one which excludes an ultimate, personal deity.

Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

I read McGrath's In The Beginning several years ago and learned many new things. It is one of the best works on the English Bible. I will be looking into the work on Flew. Thanks for the heads up.