Christmas books

I’ve got to that age (40 if you must know) where for whom buying presents is difficult.  Of the things I’m into (Macs, cycling and Jesus, in reverse order) my requirements have become so specialised that even my wife balks at buying something unless I’ve specified it to the nth degree. I’m too young to receive an annual dose of slippers and handkerchiefs and, rather pleasingly, too old for a new X-Box or PS3 game. Both of which I am very relieved.  So I generally get lots of books, CDs and a few DVDs, which in itself betrays my age apparently, because if I was down with the kids, all my music and video would be obtained online, rather than enjoying the physical pleasure of the case or the insert booklet.  Of course, records were better for cover art (bet you haven’t heard that one before).

So Father Christmas (there’s sound theological evidence for him by the way*) brought me some great books, most of which I’d forgotten I’d added to my Amazon wishlist.  Cycling literature is underrated, and both “The Escape Artist” by Matt Seaton, and “The Rider”, by Tim Krabbe, are exemplary.

I’m looking forward to “Sex Lies and Handlebar Tape: the Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil” by Paul Howard.  Anquetil, the first five-times winner of the Tour, had the most preposterous personal life, which I hope this book disentangles at least.    The other decent cycling book I’ve been given is “A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer’s Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium”.  Few Americans get on well with the Belgian biking scene, particularly the Northern cobbled Classic races, The Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix, so the clash of cultures that this promises should get me to start reading it fairly soon.

I’ve had some good Christian books, too: “the Theology of Martin Luther” by Paul Althaus; “How then Should We Live?”, by Francis Schaeffer, and “Wesley and Men Who Followed” by Iain Murray.  These are particularly well received by me, but for the first time I think I need to prepare a book reading plan for this year, not least to reduce the number of unread books on my shelves (invariably bought at bargain prices at some conference or other, too low to resist).   I’ll set out the book list when I’ve finished it, but I think this is how it ought to be shaped.

  • The whole list should be span a wide range of subject material  and remind me of some core truths as well as stretch my thinking in one or two areas.
  • It should be a good mix of old and new books (something both C S Lewis and John Piper strongly advocate).
  • It should be based on one book a month, so at least I have a fighting chance of getting through them all, as well as being able to read others as they cross my path (and leaving time for the, ahem, odd cycling book, plus my now-seemingly annual run through either the Jeeves & Wooster stories or Sherlock Holmes cases!).
  • For the sake of frugality, and because I have dozens of half-read and unread Christian books, I should own most of them.  Sad to say John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ” is one of these half-read books, and therefore it really ought to be on the list.
  • It should be driven by subject first, (e.g. evangelism, systematic theology, culture, etc) rather than what looks tasty.

I’ll publish the list in the next day or two.

*Of course there isn’t, but I bet you hoped that there could be, eh!?

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