what should I read?

"Most people would hesitate to recommend a book that’s hard to read. I usually am, but with The Cost of Community, I’m willing to make an exception. You see, The Cost of Community is hard to read for all the right reasons."
This is a blurb from my latest book review published in the MB Herald.

Reading and reviewing this book makes me wonder how we should interact with the books and authors we read. And similarly, what should we read?

I know for myself, I tend to read books I know I'll already agree with or ones that align with a specific project or interest I have. The upside is obvious: I get read books I enjoy! The downside, however, is more subtle: reading can end up being a sort of pat-on-the-back for own views on life. The Cost of Community tested this reading approach.

I did enjoy The Cost of Community, yes; but it also challenged my view of faith and life as a Jesus follower beyond what I'm comfortable with. Jamie Arpin-Ricci presents implications (not applications!) of Jesus-following, that to be honest, I'd rather not deal with (e.g. risk-taking, everyday peace, money). This challenge is the best - and worst! - part of the book.

And it's a challenge, I'm learning, that I need in my reading.

What's a challenging book you've recently read?


Anonymous said...

David, good post and good blog

The most challenging book I've recently read is the Bible - it keeps messing with my life.
The other most challenging book is the "Cities of God" by Rodney Stark (I'm actually reading it right now). I kept coming across his name in footnotes or hearing him referenced in lectures (Regent Audio) so decided to check him out. First his "Triumph of Christianity" and now his "Cities of God"

In "Cities" Stark uses sociology, historical data to analyse how the early Christian expanded. His work challenges the reasons for the Church's growth that I heard in church growing up or way back in my seminary days. His reasons are way more secular.

Larry S

David Warkentin said...

Thanks Larry!

I've read a bit of Stark here and there. And yeah, there is definitely a tendency to spiritualize history from a Christian perspective - as if "secular" forces somehow make the reality of Christianity less believable or inspiring.

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