Here’s a wrap up of what I read this year for our first annual G3 Reading Challenge. Stay tuned for the 2023 Reading Challenge, coming next week!
Bible Reading Plan
I started off the year in the middle of a deep dive in the Psalms for my devotions, and then I did a study on prayer. But for years I’ve been wanting to read through the whole Bible in less than a year to really get a sense of the whole book and the whole story of Scripture at once rather than so spread out. So I took this year as an opportunity to do that—and it was fabulous! I will definitely be doing it again. I read through the Bible in 60 days. There are a myriad of plans available online to guide you through this.
To help myself accomplish this as a busy homeschooling mom, I used an audio version of the Bible. I chose the NIV read by David Suchet. That’s not my normal choice of Bible versions, but I don’t like music in the background of my Bible reading (!), and I’m very picky about readers. His reading is music-free and simply outstanding.
This year I sang through the entirety of Hymns to the Living God from the G3 Store, which is an excellent collection of both familiar and more unfamiliar hymns. It’s designed to conserve the best of the best hymns, and it’s short enough to allow churches to sing through its contents on a regular basis. That made it the perfect length—at 350 hymns—to read or sing through in a year.
I read two Christian biographies this year. The first was A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden. I loved how this book put Edwards into historical context in my mind in the pre-Revolutionary War era, in addition to talking about his life and ministry.
The second biography I read was Marriage To a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. I got a number of questions and comments when people saw this title sticking out of the top of my purse! I assured them that my husband is wonderful. This book allows the reader to picture Edwards’ home life. It focuses on Sarah Edwards and her role in her husband’s life and ministry. The title refers to the difficulties of his ministry position at the church in Northampton and later in the wilderness, his delicate health, and his very introverted personality and deep dedication to his ministry and writing. I think this book is a must-read for a pastor’s wife or a wife who’s husband is necessarily very busy with work or travel. It was also inspiring to read in regard to parenting and hospitality, two areas in which Sarah really shined. Hint: Look for this book to be republished by G3 Press in 2023!
Book about Culture
I was excited to read Strange New World by Carl Trueman for this category. This is a shortened, easier version of his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, which is on my shelf but I have not yet read. I couldn’t put this down. It is fascinating—and very accessible. I’d recommend everyone read this book and then hand it to your high schoolers to read. There’s also an accompanying study guide and video lecture series.
I had so many on my list to read for this category. The more I read the Puritans, the more I want to read them. In the end, I picked up at a G3 Regional Conference this beautiful copy of The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal from the Crossway Short Classics series. It has a William Morris print on the cover and nice thick paper. I am really a pushover when it comes to beautiful books, so this one jumped to the top of my Puritan pile. The contents were just as beautiful as the cover.
Book about Worship
I don’t have a link to the book I read about worship because it was written by my husband and is still in manuscript form. The book is Musing on God’s Music: Forming Hearts of Praise with the Psalms, and it is forthcoming from Reformation Heritage Books. I’m so excited for others to get to read this!
Book by an Inkling
There was plenty to choose from in this category of books by C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and other members of the Oxford literary group “The Inklings.” I decided on The Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the new recordings read by Andy Serkis. These are now in my top five books and top two audiobook readings (tied with Richard Armitage’s reading of David Copperfield, in case you’re curious). Listening to these, I was transported to Middle Earth. Highly recommend!
Book about Education
Another category where I had several I wanted to read. I ultimately chose a book released only this year, Reforming Classical Education. Written by various authors, it’s a bit of a push-back against some of what’s evolved in the Classical Christian Education movement and curriculum from a Reformed perspective. What does Reformed theology have to say about some of these practices and books? I have an article I’ve been working on regarding this very topic, and this book gave me the last push of encouragement and scholarly support I needed to finish.
Novel Written Before 1922
I read a boatload in this category. I re-read some longtime favorites—four Jane Austen books and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. But I also read some new-to-me classic novels like Hard Times by Charles Dickens, Cranford and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Dracula by Bram Stoker (not what you might expect . . . at all), and The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation).
Book about Gender or Sexuality
I had another book planned for this category, but our church ladies’ small groups read Let the Women Be Women by Chris Mueller this year, so that ended up being my book. This was a very simple read and would be great for high school or college students to get the basics of biblical femininity.
Christian Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read
This one also could fit as a book by an Inkling, but I read The Screwtape Letters for this category. I’ve been meaning to read this for years, and I’m glad I finally made the time. It has so much relevance for our culture today.
Book of Prayers
I read through the Prayers of the Reformers this fall. What an encouragement! So many rich prayers here from these men who lived in peril of their lives for the sake of Christ and his Word.
I can’t wait to share with you the categories for 2023. They’re fun and stretching, and it’s going to be a great year in books! In the meantime, I’d love to know what you read for the G3 Reading Challenge this year! Share your books—even if you didn’t finish!—using the hashtag #G3Reads and tag me @beckyaniol and @g3conference on social media. I hope you had a wonderful reading year.
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