One of my friends and colleagues asked me the other day about what I was reading these days. My reading lapsed pretty badly during the April to June season of conferences, but I’m getting back into the groove this summer.
Here are a few things I’ve been dabbling in: For my morning devotions, I’ve been reading through Luke (In part, this is preparation for a writing project later in the summer. Before any serious ministry writing, I always re-read Luke, my favorite gospel.) I’ve also been reading prayers from a collection recently given to me called Celtic Daily Prayers by the Northumbria Community.
Also in preparation for my writing, I’ve been delving into some theological/spiritual formation literature, including and especially Frances Kelly Nemick’s Receptivity, a study of St. John of the Cross and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Explorations of the Spirit. Pretty heavy stuff, but I’ve found it fascinating. I’m also exploring some old Tillich material from my seminary days.
And anytime I’m gearing up for a writing project, I find these exercises helpful: First, I read a book or two on the craft of writing, just for motivation. The last couple weeks I’ve read Write is Verb by Bill O’Hanlon and Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Second, before I start to write I pick out a truly high quality, well-written piece of literature with an excellent and beautiful style and an appealing flow and movement to the formation of sentences and paragraphs. As I read this kind of book, I not only enjoy the story, narrative, characters, etc, but I study sentence structure. I look for phrases that flow easily, clearly and beautifully, and I underline them and read them over and over, trying to fathom why these sentences work so powerfully and poetically. I find the exercise a good rehearsal that stimulates creativity. For this purpose, I just finished reading, The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay, a good story with a writing style that is little short of enchanting.
And then there are the books I read for fun, distraction, avoidance, escape, relaxation, or simply to keep the little gray cells active in the mind. Since annual conference, my “fun and shameless reading list” has included John Grisham’s The Appeal, Lee Child’s Nothing to Lose, Stephen Coonts’ Deep Black Conspiracy, Harlan Harlan Corban’s The Final Detail, and a paperback by Catherine Coulter and another by James Patterson (Ugh. I can’t believe I’m admitting I read these things. Don’t tell anyone!). And I’ve just picked up two books by Rick Riordan, one of my favorite detective writers who sets his delightfully written novels in bi-cultural South Texas. And I’m eyeing the new Baldacci release at Barnes and Noble.
For my professional, skill-enhancement-kinda-reading, I have on my desk three books, Paul Nixon’s I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church (since I have a workshop I’m leading with him in October), Mike Coyner and Doug Anderson’s The Race to Reach Out: Connecting Newcomers to Christ in a New Century (since he spoke to us at Annual Conference), and Beyond the First Visit by Gary McIntosh (since it was given me by Sue Watson). I haven’t read any of these yet because….well, it’s summer, and I’ll get back to them in late August!
So, whatcha’ reading this summer? Anything that is a “must read” for the mostly UM audience that peruses this blog? What’s your “fun and shameless” list look like, and your expand-the-mind kind of reading? Any professional books on your list to suggest?