Friday, January 20, 2023

A 2022 "Reading" (and Listening) Retrospective

A modest discovery—prompted initially by the need to squeeze in as much Hebrew listening as I could—paid "reading" dividends last year: I realized that even a five minute commute is enough to make real headway in an audiobook or podcast, especially when the commute is multiplied by four and the playback speed is turned up to 1.5. When you add in the time it takes to put on and take off boots, toque, and jacket to prevent frostbite during our Saskatchewan winters, the amount of "reading" doubles. 

Thanks to multiple daily mini-commutes, a couple longer road trips, household chores, and a decent set of Bluetooth earbuds, almost one third of the books I "read" in 2022 were audiobooks. For the glass-half-empty folks out there, the fact that nine out of thirty books "read" in 2022 were audiobooks means that I only completed a paltry twenty-one conventional books. Ten of the thirty were completed in December, which says something about the reading I was not doing the rest of the year. Twelve of the thirty were published in the last three years—surely a record. Aside from textbooks, I only made it through one monograph that can be said to be directly related to (one of) my primary research interests. On the other hand, the other reading was rich, rewarding, and often refreshing. Listening too: In addition to audiobooks and Greek and Hebrew audio, I (finally) subscribed to the excellent Onscript and Biblingo podcasts. 

Without further ado, here is a lightly annotated list in reading sequence, with links to blog posts:

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. New York: Dover, 1818. 
Bolt, Robert. A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts. London: Samuel French, 1960. [Followed a viewing of the Academy Award-winning movie, when trucking convoys were in the news.]
Bauckham, Richard. Jesus: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. [A textbook, re-read for at least the 3rd and 4th times]
Barr, Beth Allison. The Making of Biblical Womanhood. Brazos, 2021. [The first audio book of the year, followed in succession by Kirsten Kobes du Mez (see below)]
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. [Last read during high school]
Keefer, Kyle. The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. [A textbook, re-read for at least the 3rd and 4th times]
Zimmermann, Jens. Hermeneutics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. [I expect to use this as a textbook the next time I teach undergraduate hermeneutics.]
Longenecker, Bruce W. The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. [A textbook; read multiple times previously]
Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750. New York: Norton, 1989. [Read aloud to the family; a classic I should have read years ago.]
Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Garden City, NT: Doubleday, 1952. [Maybe it was the play rather than the diary that I read 30+ years ago.]
Nayeri, Daniel. Everything Sad Is Untrue. Montclair, New Jersey: Levine Querido, 2020. [See this post for my recommendation.]
Du Mez, Kristin Kobes. Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. Liveright, 2020. [Audiobook]
Dinesen, Isak. Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass. New York: Vintage, 1989. [Audiobook; see this post for my recommendation.]
Stanley, Christopher D. A Rooster for Asklepios: A Slave’s Story, Book 1. 3rd edition. NFB Publishing, 2020. [A fun historical novel written by a NT scholar; especially enjoyable if you have spent time in the historical sites in Turkey where the story is set.]
Stroup, Christopher. The Christians Who Became Jews: Acts of the Apostles and Ethnicity in the Roman City. Yale University Press, 2020. [A reminder not to trust dust jacket blurbs.]
Buechner, Frederick. The Alphabet of Grace. New York: Seabury Press, 1970. [I gradually realized I had read it before; still good the second time]
Jennings, Willie James. After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging. Eerdmans, 2020. [influenced this post; recommended]
Buechner, Frederick. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale. New York: HarperCollins, 1977. [First read almost 30 years ago as a homiletics textbook; re-read aloud to the family.]
Holland, Tom. Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World. Basic Books, 2021. [Audiobook]
Kuhn, Thomas S., and Ian Hacking. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition. 4th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. [Audiobook; a classic I've been thinking about (without reading it) for 25 years]
Jipp, Joshua W. Reading Acts. Cascade Companions. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018. [Textbook; re-read multiple times]
Skinner, Matthew L. Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015. [Textbook; read for the first time but will probably do so again]
Birkett, Kirsten. Living Without Fear: Using The Psalms To End Your Worry And Anxiety. Self-published, 2022. [Recommended by my former colleague, Eric Ortlund; read aloud]
Rowling, J. K. The Christmas Pig. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2021.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Mind in Another Place: My Life as a Scholar. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2022. [Audiobook; thought-provoking enough to generate several blog posts (herehere, and here)]
Plass, Adrian. The Horizontal Epistles of Andromeda Veal. London: Marshall Pickering, 1988. [Re-read]
Strawn, Brent A. Lies My Preacher Told Me: An Honest Look at the Old Testament. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2021. [Audiobook; "read" while crossing the Rockies on Dec 26]
O’Donovan, Oliver. Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. [The book I'm most proud of finishing this year (see here and here for why)] 
Marsh, Charles. Evangelical Anxiety: A Memoir. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2022. [Audiobook. The tagline could be, 'Of course, I needed Jesus; I also needed therapy.' James K. A. Smith calls it "a bold, beautiful memoir, at once transgressive and faithful," which seems about right, though one should underscore transgressive. This is Marsh unfiltered. Not rated for a general audience.]
Hill, Wesley. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. [Audiobook; "read" while crossing the Rockies on my way back to Saskatchewan on Dec 31]

The first and only book I've completed so far in 2023 is a re-read of Adrian Plass's hilarious The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn, surely an auspicious start to the year. I'm also slowly digesting Jason Staples's Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism, about which I hope to say more in due course.