Planning Your Reading for 2016 (part 1)

Every year, around this time, I start to plan out the books that I am going to read. First I check out the giant list of Christian classics that I have not yet read and try to tackle at least one or two. Next, I check out what the year will hold in Christian publishing. While I do pick up books on the fly, I also try to plan out at least a portion of the books that I plan to read each year in order to ensure that I am reading from a variety of areas and on a variety of topics. If you have never put together a plan for reading, let me encourage you to do so. Consider all of the different roles that you play in life. Then, as you look back on the previous year, in what areas might you need some insight. Add 5-10 books to your list for the coming year that you plan to read no matter what else might come across the radar. If 5-10 is too many, choose one or two. But purpose to get through a few purposeful books.

In this post and the following post (a few days) I want to give you some options for this 5-10 books. This first post will cover books that have already been written and that I think might be worth your time if you have not yet read them. The next post will include a selection of Christian books coming out in 2016 that should have your attention. Happy reading!




I read this book several years ago – early in my short life as a pastor – and it has been of immense help as I study both for the pulpit and for life. I recently reviewed Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.  and he details the importance for preachers and teachers of read widely. Adler explains how to read well. This is vital if all of your reading is ever going to be of any worth.



The Christian Life


If you have never read this classic by John Bunyan, challenge yourself this year and give it a crack. Well, it might not be a challenge to you – it was for me. But it’s very rewarding. This version from Crossway is faithful to the original, but a bit easier to read – which will make you happy.




There are a lot of C.S. Lewis books that might make this list. However, this is my absolute favorite. Th evil one is a master game-player and this little fictional story lifts of the veil a bit and will help you see the schemes of the devil more clearly in your own life.




In theory and theology, we believe that God is always around us and available. But what does it look like to actually put these truths into practice in daily life. I first read this when I first started pastoring and I use the thoughts on a regular basis as I work with students and adults alike. In fact, I often have to remind myself of these things.




This is less and book and more an essay. However, it will blow your little mind into a billions pieces. When Pink starts talking about how big God is, get ready to feel really small. One of my favorite works ever.

Read it for free HERE



Calvinism often gets a bad name because Calvinists are often over-zealous and sometimes rude. Hopefully, those times are changing. But Spurgeon once said, concerning the teachings of the reformers,

“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine.”

I have come to the same conclusion over the years. I simply cannot see in Scripture that there is any way that I can choose God on my own apart from his grace. In this classic, Spurgeon explains how the works of salvation is, indeed, all of grace.



Family and Parenting


Don’t let this cover scare you away. Yes – it’s nerdy and has not been updated in forever. But this book should go right beside your Bible in your efforts to raise a family. Incredible, incredible resource.





Christian biography should be an important part of your reading plan. However, it can take a while to get used to it and enjoy it. This is a good place to start. Brother Andrew’s story of taking the gospel into communist Europe are incredible – you won’t be able to put it down.



There are others, of course, but I have to stop somewhere. If you have never read any of these – pick one and go for it. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Stay tuned for books coming out in 2016 that should be considered for your reading list as well.



  1. Pingback: Planning Your Reading for 2016 (part 2) | JOEVALENTI.ME

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