My 2017 Reading List, and Top Reads of the Year!

A year-end tradition here at the 4thDaveBlog, so here ya go–what I read in 2017 (in dozens of bulleted lists)!


  • A Year of No Sugar – Eve Schaub
  • Why Pro-Life? – Randy Alcorn
  • Silence – Shusaku Endo


  • The Only Living Boy (vol. 1-3) – Gallaher/Ellis
  • Silent Night – Stanley Weintraub
  • Narrative of the Life… – Frederick Douglass
  • March: Book One – Lewis/ Aydin / Powell
  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Under Our Skin – Benjamin Watson


  • The Long Walk – Stephen King
  • The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers


  • The Truth of the Cross – RC Sproul
  • The Final Days of Jesus – Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor
  • Year of No Clutter – Eve Schaub


  • Unparalleled – Jared Wilson
  • Reverberation – Jonathan Leeman
  • The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey


  • The Dip – Seth Godin
  • Linchpin – Seth Godin
  • The Wonder-Working God – Jared Wilson (audio)
  • Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield


  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
  • Husband-Coached Childbirth – Dr. Robert Bradley
  • Family Worship – Dr. Donald Whitney


  • Teammate – David Ross
  • Call for the Dead – John LeCarre
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  • The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci


  • Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek / Stuart Immonen
  • Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
  • DC Rebirth Deluxe Ed. – Johns/Frank/VanSciver/Reis/Jimenez


  • Why We’re Protestant – Nate Pickowicz
  • Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – Carl Trueman


  • The Down-grade Controversy: Collected Writings of CHS – Spurgeon
  • Playing Saint – Zachary Bartels
  • Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zachary Barrels
  • Can I Be Sure I’m Saved? – RC Sproul


  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Desire and Deceit – Al Mohler
  • Parnassus on Wheels – Christopher Morley
  • Batman: I Am Gotham – Tom King / David Finch
  • The Haunted Bookshop – Christopher Morley


Final Tally: 44 books

Genre Breakdown:  

  • Non-fiction: 26
  • Fiction: 13
  • Graphic Novels: 5

Thoughts on This Year’s List: 

  • I thought I had read more fiction than that. I guess it seemed like more because it ran in spurts. But over a third is still a pretty good ratio, I guess.
  • I read a LOT of short books this year. If we break it down by pages read and average length, it would be significantly down from years past. Honestly, I’m okay with that. This year, I didn’t have the benefit of long commute times, so I squeeze in reading where I can. I have to admit, I also gave a lot of time away to TV–I don’t watch a LOT and I try to be discerning and specific with what I will watch, but there’s some good TV shows out lately, and those stories have been eating up reading time for me as well.
  • What’s not included on this list are about a dozen books I started and never finished, either because I ran out of year or just decided to give up. That never used to happen; once i’d start a book, I would grit it out to the end. However, in recent years, I’ve realized that life is too short to muddle through books that can’t hold your interest. It’s better to walk away from a book you’ve invested 100 pages in, so that the time it would take to read the other 200-300 pages can be devoted to another book you’ll enjoy more.
  • I also attempted some theme-months, with mixed success. I was able to finish 4 books about the African-American experience in February, and I have a list of others to check out in the future. That was really helpful to me, to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. I tried to make October “Reformation Month,” but didn’t get through much. Finally, I had a bound collection of five “Christmas tales” by Charles Dickens. I made it through “A Christmas Carol” (which I loved), but immediately got bogged down by “The Chimes.” I just stopped caring. Maybe next year!

My Top-Five Recommendations from This Year’s Reading List (in no particular order):

The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B DuBois — This book helped me start to understand how black experience and thought began taking shape and being expressed in the 20th century. I could recognize ideas and phrases that would be echoed in other writers (like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work that I read last year). I found this to be a challenging and informative read, and I was the richer for reading it. It also emphasized for me personally how important it is to read widely and read outside your own experience (something I would have acknowledged abstractly but now see the importance of in a new way).

The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci — Yes, I’m a Cubs fan, so a book about their world championship season is a no-brainer. But even if you’re not a Cubs fan, if you like sports writing AT ALL, this book is well-worth your time. Verducci takes the reader inside the nuts and bolts of a major league organization and tells the individual stories that make sports so inspiring and exhilarating. Verducci is a gifted writer, and this book is one of my favorite sports books ever (subject matter aside).

Playing Saint / Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zach Bartels — I’ve praised Zach Bartels’ work before, but I’m here to do it again. These books are just great. Bartels takes the supernatural mystery/thriller genre and just works it like a master. If you want a thrilling, dark page-turner, these two books are right up your alley. (Sensitive readers should note that both books deal with serial killers, and some of the crimes are described…if not graphically, then at least effectively. So, be advised of the content concerns there.)

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens — This is like picking the Patriots to be Super Bowl contenders. “No, duh, Dave, are you for real? A Christmas Carol is good?” Yes, it is. But I’m picking it because I think people forget exactly how good it is. Dickens is an incredible writer, who spends pages on description because he wants the reader to see and hear and smell his London setting. Plus, the novel gives you details and side comments and scenes and conversations that are always cut out of film or stage adaptations of the story, and it’s a delight to re-discover those elements of the story that we don’t see in other media. I hadn’t actually read this story since high school, and I’m glad I revisited it. You should, too.

Honorable Mention: Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen — This graphic novel was better than I expected, so I wanted to give it a shout-out. It’s the story of a boy from the Kent family who grows up in Kansas–no, not that boy. This boy lives in a world where Superman is a comic book character–yet, his parents decide to name him Clark anyway. Young Clark Kent grows up to resent his super-powered namesake…until he develops strikingly similar superpowers of his own. He then must decide if he actually wants to take up the fictional mantle in the “real” world. I thought this take on the Superman mythos was a lot of fun, and would definitely recommend it to even casual fans of the original character.


What’s Up for Next Year: Next year, I’m going to do battle against tsundoku by reading only* books I physically own as of December 31st, 2017.  I will also be doing something new for next year’s reading list — I’m going to try writing a capsule review (or longer, if I feel the urge) for every book I read in 2018. (Yay! More blog content!) So that means, by the end of the year, if you’ve been hanging tough with me, you’ll already have a good idea what my top-five will look like! As always, this is subject to change; I am a fickle fellow when it comes to New Year resolutions and reading plans. But why not try, right?


[*I’m leaving myself a little grace/wiggle-room in case I “have to” read things for church purposes (e.g. book studies, men’s groups, etc.). But I’m not going to seek out any recreational reading other than what is on my TBR shelves as of this coming Sunday. Probably. I’ll try.]


So there you have it. My 2017 reading list.

Did you read anything great in the past year? Comment below and let me know!


Last 5 Books [7/17/17]

Hey friends! Lots going on lately, but I’ve been able to do a little reading over the last month or so.  Here are the last 5 books I’ve read and my brief thoughts on each!

Linchpin, by Seth Godin – This book by business and productivity “guru” Seth Godin touched on a lot of really interesting ideas that I’ll probably bring up in a later post. Here’s one that I found pretty compelling: the way to elevate your work from being another monkey pressing a button in a cubicle to creating “art” (even if you aren’t in an artistic field) is to bring your humanity to bear in your daily tasks. Don’t just be content with formality and the minimum necessary effort to interact with people. Remember that you’re emailing actual people with feelings and concerns. Treat them that way. It raises the game for all concerned.

The Wonder-Working God, by Jared Wilson – Wilson’s work is always excellent. (I’m an unabashed fan.) This book was helpful to me because it challenged me to look at the accounts of miracles in the Gospels with fresh eyes, and look at how these miracles were signposts pointing to who He is as God-in-flesh. Growing up in the faith, I’ve taken a lot of things in the Bible for granted. The truth is, the story of Jesus’ life and ministry is pretty fantastic and shocking, if you’re paying attention. I appreciated Wilson’s humor and eloquence in exploring these ideas.

Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield – Pressfield has earned a reputation in the area of writing about writing and, in particular, about the war that writers wage against The Resistance, that internal force always threatening to stop us from producing art. In Turning Pro, Pressfield considers what it means to be an Amateur versus being a Professional, not just in terms of writing or creating art but in terms of life. His style is punchy and sometimes profound, but I felt like this volume wasn’t as strong as his other works, The War of Art or Do the Work, which I would recommend instead.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport – Newport challenges the oft-repeated advice to “follow your passion” by arguing that career satisfaction comes not through following your dreams but through working like a craftsman to become outstanding at whatever you’re currently doing. He argues that seeking to be exceptional and skillful in any field opens up opportunities (what he calls career capital) to increase your autonomy and direct your work toward a chosen mission. This book is chock-full of great ideas and interesting insights. I’ll have more to say on this later.

Husband-coached Childbirth, by Dr. Robert Bradley – My wife is having a baby pretty much any day now, and we have chosen to have the baby at a birth center with a midwife. Natural childbirth is a daunting task, and Dr. Bradley is one of the most trusted names in the field of natural childbirth in the United States. I really appreciate the high value that this approach places on the husband’s role in childbirth, and how Bradley coaches husbands to be actively involved throughout labor. While I have some qualms about some of his ideological assumptions, this book is very practical and would be a help to any prospective parents who are considering natural childbirth. It’s not the only resource out there, but certain a good one to check out.


So what’s up next on the reading list?

  • I’m about a third of the way through the audio version of Tony Reinke’s Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You. This book is outstanding. Already going to call it a must-read.
  • I’m about to start The Cubs Way by Tom Verducci, a story of the management decisions that lead to last year’s magical World Series run.
  • I’m working my way through Jeff Goins’ latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. LOTS of good content there. Full review forthcoming.
  • Depending on when things come in from the library, this month I’ll also be starting The New Dads Playbook by Benjamin Watson, Teammate by former Cubs catcher (and DWTS runner-up!) David Ross, Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, and a few others.


Your Turn: Read anything interesting lately? About to start any new books? Let me know in the comments!