Posted by: Dan | January 14, 2008

Books of 2007

I’ve been hoping to write about a few things, but life has been rather hectic as my wife and I were looking for another place to live, and are now packing. Anyway, this is my book list of 2007. This year I fell short of my 100 book objective and only finished up 79 complete books. That means I’ve read about 280 books, cover-to-cover, over the last three years. In 2008, I suspect the number will continue to drop (damn you, thesis!), but I intend to read more 500+ page books, and worry less about the total number of books consumed. We’ll see how that goes.

Best Book(s): The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, & Faith and Wealth: A History of the Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money by Justo Gonzalez.

It’s hard to pick a ‘best book’ out of last year’s books, but I think Klein’s book is is probably the most relevant to our day and age. If you want to learn about our own context (which is usually the most neglected aspect of hermeneutics) then read this book. Actually, just read it anyway. I paired it with the Gonzalez book, in part because I read the two books together and found that to be a very fruitful exercise, but also because Gonzalez shows us the standard set for us by the early Church and demonstrates the trajectory that the early Church was following (and, by implication, how far we have deviated from that trajectory). Reading these two books together changed me probably more than anything else I read this year.

Worst Book: Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990-1995 by Jean Baudrillard.

It was hard to pick one book that stood out as much worse than the others. I was tempted to go with Ratzinger’s book on Jesus, or Hay’s book on economics (or even the last Harry Potter book), but I ended up with Baudrillard (even though the other books I read by him were exceptional) because Fragments hardly qualifies as a book. It’s more like a collection of aphorisms that Baudrillard puts together in order to try and deconstruct the form of the book itself. Yippee. Damn, I wish he had of continued along the vein of his earlier works.

Here’s the list, broken into various categories:

Theology/Spirituality/Christian Living (19 Books)

Best in Category: With the Grain of the Universe by Stanley Hauerwas (next to Gonzalez).
Worst in Category: A Cry of Absence by Martin Marty.

-Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings, 1946-52 by Karl Barth.
-Church Dogmatics I.2: The Doctrine of the Word of God by Karl Barth.
-The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography by Dorothy Day.
-The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability by Nancy L. Eiesland.
-Francis of Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, The Saint edited by Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellman, O.F.M. Conv., and William J. SHort, O.F.M.
-Faith & Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money by Justo L. Gonzalez.
-With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology by Stanley Hauerwas.
-A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy, and Postmodernity by Stanley Hauerwas.
-Joyful Exiles: Life in Christ on the Dangerous Edge of Things by James M. Houston.
-The Fear of Beggars: Stewardship and Poverty in Christian Ethics by Kelly S. Johnson.
-A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart by Martin E. Marty.
-Easy Essays by Peter Maurin.
-The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation by Jurgen Moltmann.
-In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen.
-The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry by Henri Nouwen.
-God in the Slums: A Book of Miracles by Hugh Redwood.
-Conscience and Obedience: The Politics of Romans 13 and Revelations 13 in Light of the Second Coming by William Stringfellow.
-New Tasks for a Renewed Church by Tom Wright.
-Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff.

Biblical Studies/Commentaries (16 Books)

Best in Category: A Biblical Theology of Exile by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher.
Worst in Category: A Long Way from Tipperary by John Dominic Crossan.

-Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church by Walter Brueggemann.
-In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed.
-God & Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan.
-A Long Way From Tipperary: A Memoir by John Dominic Crossan.
-Liberating Paul: The Justice of God and the Politics of the Apostle by Neil Elliott.
-Matthew by Stanley Hauerwas (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible).
-Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit by Richard A. Horsley.
-The Liberation of Christmas: The Infancy Narratives in Social Context by Richard A. Horsley.
-The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity by James S. Jeffers.
-The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul by Wayne A. Meeks.
-Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus by Ched Myers.
-Rome in the Bible and the Early Church edited by Peter Oakes.
-Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement by Brant Pitre.
-Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration by Joseph Ratzinger.
-Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David A. deSilva.
-A Biblical Theology of Exile by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher.

Philosophy/Economics/Socio-Political Commentary (32 Books)

Best in Category: The Consumer Society by Jean Baudrillard (next to Klein).
Worst in Category: From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman (next to Fragments).

-Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping the World by Benjamin R. Barber.
-Mythologies by Roland Barthes.
-Forget Foucault by Jean Baudrillard.
-Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990-1995 by Jean Baudrillard.
-The System of Objects by Jean Baudrillard.
-The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures by Jean Baudrillard.
-Man on His Own: Essays in the Philosophy of Religion by Ernst Bloch.
-Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Vol 1), by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.
-Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International by Jacques Derrida.
-After Theory by Terry Eagleton.
-Marxism and Literary Criticism by Terry Eagleton.
-Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings, 1972-1977 by Michel Foucault (edited by Colin Gordon).
-Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman.
-From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman.
-Economics Today: A Christian Critique by Donald A. Hay.
-An Introduction to Metaphysics by Martin Heidegger.
-The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times & Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers by Robert L. Heilbroner.
-The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein.
-A user’s guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guatarri by Brian Massumi.
-The Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
-Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill.
-Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.
-In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver edited by Leslie Robertson and Dara Culhane
-Derrida and Religion: Other Testaments edited by Yvonne Sherwood & Kevin Hart.
-Fascism: what it is and how to fight it by Leon Trotsky.
-Candide: Or, Optimism by Voltaire.
-The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber.
-Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking and Resistance by Louisa Waugh.
-Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein.
-How to Read Lacan by Slavoj Zizek.
-On Belief by Slavoj Zizek.
-The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity by Slavoj Zizek.

Fiction/Poetry/Graphic Novels (12 Books)

Best in Category And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat.
Worst in Category Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski.

-Love is a Dog from Hell: Poems 1974-1977 by Charles Bukowski.
-Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez
-Watchmen by Alan Moore (illustrated by Dave Gibbons).
-Batman: Year One written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli.
-5 People who Died During Sex: And 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists by Karl Shaw.
-Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley).
-And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat.
-The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowlings.
-The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
-Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.
-The Secret Lives of Men and Women compiled by Frank Warren.

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