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.

Mike Cosper’s new book “The Stories We Tell” is a very fascinating analysis of why we love stories. For the first time I understood why I really wanted Professor Snape to be redeemed even if I hated him.

Christians believe an audacious fact. At the heart of our faith is the bold claim that in a world full of stories, with a world’s worth of heroes, villains, comedies, tragedies, twists of fate, and surprise endings , there is really only one story. One grand narrative subsumes and encompasses all the other comings and goings of every creature— real or fictitious— on the earth. Theologians call it “redemption history”; my grandfather called it the “old, old story.”

Without introductions, let’s dive!

1. Grace Awakening (Charles Swindoll). This is the first proper Christian book that I read from cover to cover and for that reason, I will always think of it as my number one favorite next to the Bible, even if my taste has changed and my understanding has grown ever since. Swindoll opened my eyes to the wonderful concept of grace.

2. Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien). This is the most difficult series I read so far and that’s mainly because of the kind of English Tolkien used. I read all four books before I switched to electronic reading so I literally had to carry a dictionary around to help me with my vocabulary. It was difficult and tedious but it felt like I entered into a magical world. Tolkien’s skill with words is unmatched. He could describe the falling of the morning dew in exquisite detail like it was the most glorious thing in the world. When he described the natural beauty of Lothlorien, it sounded like he was describing heaven.

This scene from Allegiant is haunting:

The plane is silent around me except for the steady roar of the engine.
“Whoa,” says Uriah.

“Shh,” Christina replies.

“How big is it compared to the rest of the world?” Peter says from across the plane. He sounds like he’s choking on each word.

“Our city, I mean. In terms of land area. What percentage?”

“Chicago takes up about two hundred twenty-seven square miles,” says Zoe.

“The land area of the planet is a little less than two hundred million square miles. The percentage is . . . so small as to be negligible.”