Dare to Read Difficult Books

January 1. It’s that time of the year again when people sit down to list down goals that need to be accomplished in the next 365 days. These are my reading goals for this year. I don’t want to burden myself with unrealistic expectations so I’d just aim for a few books:

1.) Read my ESV Bible from cover to cover. I know I haven’t been successful at doing this in the past but I still want to do this anyway. I am choosing Jason DeRouchie’s Kingdom Bible Reading Plan this year. If you are using OliveTree Bible App on iOS, you can download the reading plan on your mobile device. If you need other options, Justin Taylor’s post might be helpful to you.

2.) Read Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. This is a four-volume translation from the Dutch original and I heard that this is really heavy reading. I must be nuts for embarking on a personal dare like this but Derek Rishmawy assures me that this is worth the investment. If by reading these four volumes I grow in my love for Christ and the church and help me pursue a life of godliness, then my financial and time investment would all be worth it.

3.) Read three fiction books: John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath; Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead; and John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. There are at least two reasons why I have these in my list: (1) because I really just enjoy good books; and (2) because a well written fiction gives insight into the depths of the human heart. Preachers need this insight to give depth and realism to their sermons.

4.) Finish Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Christian biographies are an interesting genre of books. They show us that the God we know is also the God of the people who went through some really difficult times. I choose Bonhoeffer’s biography because I am fascinated with the history of Nazi Germany and how the gospel stands in the face of the greatest evil in the history of the world. It is interesting to note that many churches didn’t actually do anything at first and that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of those who tried to assassinate Hitler, was also a pastor and a theologian.

I am admittedly a slacker when it comes to reading. I have been trying to be more disciplined each year but so far, I only managed to start reading the books I buy without actually finishing them. Here’s to hoping that it will be different this year.