The last book I read in 2012, hard to put down

This book is currently available for sale on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc. for $3.99, great deal.


11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't normally read Stephen King. I've only ever read one other book of his, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I read that one in one sitting, it was that compelling. This book is the same way, except that if you read it in one sitting you're going to need a catheter, because this book is a long. With that said, I knocked it out in three obsessive days of reading. If you want to read a book that is very difficult to put down, this is it.

I'm a huge fan of anything to do with time travel. I don't know why, I just think it's a cool concept. Mr. King tackles time travel in this story and the "rules" he creates for time travel are very interesting and lend themselves to a great story. This book was thoroughly enjoyable, even though it is somewhat predictable. Highly recommend it. It's not technical, It has decent characters. It raises some interesting questions, and you'll be fully invested in the ultimate outcome of the book when the plot reveals the final choices the character must make. It would make a fantastic cable TV series!!!!

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Book Review, Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me... great title, better book.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir...of SortsJesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir...of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this book! If you're looking for a book that is troubling, inspiring, challenging and hilarious all at the same time, this book is for you. Mr. Cron tells the tale of his life growing up with an alcoholic who worked for the CIA. It's the story of his families survival in the midst of their father's spiral into the depths of his disease. It is also the story of the author's own journey to faith through a combination of the sacred, the terrible and the mundane. He recounts this journey with a surprising amount of humor that makes the book incredibly hard to put down. I highly recommend this book!

Here are just a few quotes I liked from the book, there were many more but I don't want to spoil it for you:

Humans are the only creatures that require pageantry and ceremony in their social diet. (Ever met a squirrel that wanted a wedding?)

Cron, Ian Morgan (2011-06-07). Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts (Kindle Locations 591-592). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Frederick Buechner once wrote, “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

Cron, Ian Morgan (2011-06-07). Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts (Kindle Locations 768-769). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

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Letters to a Young Life Leader

Letters to a Young Life LeaderLetters to a Young Life Leader by Bob Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No one knows Young Life better than Bob Mitchell. Literally he was a kid when YL basically started in his house. He grew up in and with Young Life. Served in every capacity possible, including as the President of the ministry. Bob Mitchell was a part of Young Life from it's infancy, through it's adolescence and now far into his own old age. In this book he boils down the basics of what makes Young Life unique, attractive, successful and timeless. Everyone who leads or cares about Young Life should read this book, because you will love it!

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You can purchase the hardcover version of this book immediately here.

The Kindle version is available at Amazon here.

Love Does - Book Review

I recently had the opportunity to read Love Does by Bob Goff and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I first heard of Bob Goff from reading a Donald Miller book where he mentions Goff admiringly so I was intrigued to read more about what Mr. Goff was like. As it turns out he is a "doer", meaning he is a man of action who takes his faith very seriously, and does so by turning it into action. Love Does is the perfect title for this guy's book, because that two word statement seems to summarize his entire philosophy of life.
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Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites..... Book Recommendation

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites... and Other Lies You've Been ToldChristians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites... and Other Lies You've Been Told by Bradley R.E. Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book! As a generally skeptical person I often read statistics about Christians, church, America and think "that statistic does not mirror my experience whatsoever". The author of this book felt the same way, so he went out and analyzed tons of statistics and the studies that produced them. What he discovered was both surprising and encouraging in many ways. Read this book!

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Book Review: Manhunt the 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's KillerManhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, and most people know that Booth was killed before being brought to trial. I am like most people. I would guess that most people don't know much about the conspiracy to kill the Secretary of State and Vice President as well, nor do they know the tale of how Booth escaped, and how he was ultimately captured. This book does an excellent job of piecing together many historical accounts of that time, and telling the story in a way that feels fresh for the reader. If this interests you at all, you'll enjoy the book.

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A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Book Review

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My LifeA Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Donald Miller set out to make a movie out of his previous book "Blue Like Jazz". Along the way he discovered what it takes to make a good movie, a good story. He then realized that it takes a great story to make a great life. This book is the result of what he discovered in that process.

When you read the book you do feel like you are discovering these ideas along with Don, because he does a great job in bringing you through his own journey of discovery. It is not an onerous book to read, and it was totally enjoyable and will cause you to do some fun and healthy introspection.

Miller isn't a deep theologian (he's not trying to be), but he is an engaging writer who isn't afraid to say (write) what he is thinking, regardless of how it may unmask some of his own insecurities and foibles. This is incredibly refreshing.

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Same Kind of Different As Me

Same Kind of Different as MeSame Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm always late to read the popular books. I don't know if that's because I'm lazy or just skeptical about the "hot new book". So everyone I know read this book 3 years ago, and I just got around to reading it. I enjoyed it, but I didn't weep. It is incredibly heart wrenching, and an amazing story. I won't ruin it, but I think the best part about the book is that it will challenge you to think differently about people who are down and out and the impact that anyone who is willing can have in another person's life.

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Book Review: The Big Short by Michael Lewis

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday MachineThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to better understand the housing collapse of 2008 and have your brain turned into mush at the same time, read this. I was always intimidated by the complicated investments that lead to the demise of the subprime housing market and should have lead to the collapse of every public firm on Wall Street. Once I read this book I still didn't understand these investment schemes, but I felt better about it because neither did most of the people who were buying and selling these bonds, including the CEO's of all the big banks.

As always Michael Lewis tells a great story, and this one has affected every one of us.

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The books I read in 2011 and how I read them

If you're into reading it's always interesting to see what other people are reading.  Goodreads is a great website for this. I joined it last year (it's free) and I really like it. It's in the links to the left of this post if you want to check it out.

I set a goal to read 30 books in 2011. I didn't reach that goal, I never do. I did read 25 books (mostly because I was on sabbatical for a good chunk of time). Below are the books I read, a brief blurb about them, and on what medium I read them(Kindle app for iPad or iPhone, Paper copy, iBooks app). I'm including how I read them because so many people are discovering the joys of reading on a digital device.  I like it so much I don't even consider buying books made of paper anymore. These are the 25 books I read. You can buy all of them at or on the ibookstore on your iDevice. 

I've included links to all of them to their goodreads pages, you can get a link to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc from there.

1. Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong by Baseball Prospectus - this is a series of essays by super baseball statisticians that prove that many of the statistics baseball fans rely on are very flawed, and how many of the adages and strategies that baseball people believe in do more to lose games than win them. If you like baseball this is fascinating, regardless if you're a stat junky or not. Read it on the Kindle app for my iPhone, yes the whole thing on my phone! This is what helped me become a digital reader.

Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong

2. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God - by Francis Chan  - this book is great! Very challenging, and will spur you on to examine and change your life and how you think about your life. In a good way. Don't be afraid, read it. You'll be glad you did. Found it for $5 at a used bookstore, so read it in paper.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

3. Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder - a friend of mine who is a screenwriter turned me on to this book as a way to understand movies, and storytelling. Since I'm essentially a professional storyteller I read it and really enjoyed it.  Started it on the Kindle app for my phone, finished it on the Kindle app for  iPad, thank God, it was formatted terribly on the iPhone, and looked much better on the iPad. This is the only book that I have ever had formatting problems with.

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

4. The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacharias  - the author takes on some of the arguements of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins in this very short book. I love Ravi, and really enjoy his speaking and writing. I'd love to see him and Dawkins actually debate face to face. Read the paper version from a used bookstore.

The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists

5. Identity Theft: Reclaiming your Freedom in Christ by Ken White - The author is a friend of mine and a fellow Young Life staffer. I really enjoyed his book. He did a fantastic job. I read it on iBooks for my iPad.

Identity Theft: Reclaiming Your Freedom in Christ

6. Infinitely More by Alex Krutov - Alex was abondoned by his mother in a dumpster in the winter in Russia when he was 3 days old!  This is basically his autobiography, it's amazing. My friend Kit Sublett publisehd this book (as wll as Identity Theft by Ken White) and I've been promoting it all year, because it's a great story that needs to be shared. I've met Alex and his ministry to orphans in Russia is phenomenal. Read on iBooks for iPhone.

Infinitely More

7. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell - his newest book (Love Wins) caused a bit of a controversy this past spring, so I thought I would check out the book that made him famous before I read that one.  I never got to Love Wins, but I really enjoyed this book. There wasn't too much revolutionary thinking in it, but he does subscribe to some great ideas about how to live out the Christian faith in modern times. Borrowed the paper copy from a freind.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

8. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will - by Kevin DeYoung - One of my favorite books of the year. Very short. Very to the point. He expressed very clearly what I believe about "finding God's will for your life". Everyone under the age of 40 should read this!!!!!!!!!!!  I read it on the iPad and iPhone.

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will

9. Torches of Joy by John Dekker - Jon Dekker's son is a christian horror author who lives in Austin. Weird. Long before his son was a writer though, Jon Dekker and his wife were missionaries in New Guinea and have an amazing story!  These are amazing people and their lives of faith are a testimony to how awesome God is.  Their story is incredibly ecxiting, filled with danger and turmoil, but with incredibly rewards. Read the book, I bought it a few years ago before I went digital.

Torches of Joy

10. Which Real Jesus?: Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, adn te arly American Roots of the Current Debate by Steve Bateman  - The title is a bit intimidating. A friend of mine gave me this book and it sat on my "to read" pile for over a year. I didn't think I would like it until I read the first chapter, then I was hooked and I really enjoyed it. He does a fantastic job of comparing the debate about the nature and existence of God and Jesus in Jonathan Edwards and Ben Franklin's era to the debate about the same topic in our own time. It's amazing to see that people are essentially still debating the same topics 300 years later regarding Jesus. His research was impressive and enlightening, and he does a great job of creating a list of Founding Fathers who were serious Christians and which were more on the Deisitic end of the spectrum. Highly recommended.  I read it on paper.

Which "Real" Jesus?: Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, and the Early American Roots of the Current Debate

11. The Book of Harold, the Illegitmate Son of God by Owen Egerton - Owen is one of my very good friends from college. He and I agree on very little, which is highly entertaining. He is a very gifted writer. This is the first novel I read last year, and I had a very strong emotional reaction to it. Mostly because I knew the author. It's a very interesting book that will make you think, and evoke an emotional response. Would also make for some good discussions.  I read it on the Kindle app for my iPad.

The Book of Harold, the Illegitimate Son of God

12. A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer - I've read almost all of his novels. I needed something fun and relatively mindless to read over the summer. His stories are always really enjoyable but at this point in his career he has become totally formulaic.  It's a good formula, but after reading 10 or more of his novels, the act is kinda wearing thin. Any big time offer like Archer is making so much money cranking out books, that they probably don't care if it's formulaic any more, because the money is obscene. If you want to read a great, fun Jeffrey Archer book from his early days, check out Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. If you have never read any of his books, you'll enjoy this one thoroughly. I read it on the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad.

A Prisoner of Birth

13. The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big Time Basketball to the South by Bethany Bradsher - Bethany is another friend of mine who writes books. This is a fascinating story that you probably know nothing about unless you are over 50 or from North Carolina. If you like basketball or good regional history, you'll love this!

The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South 

14. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - I'm an Apple zealout, so I had to read this book. I blew through it. It's fascinating stuff and you get all sides of Steve Jobs, the good and the bad. Of course I read this on my iPhone and iPad wih the Kindle app.

Steve Jobs

15. Wired by Douglas Richards - This is a high tech thriller with a little bit of philosophy and quasi religion thrown in. It's entertaining. You'll read it in less than 48 hours, it's fast-paced to say the least. The reason I bought it is because it's only available digitally and the price fluctuates wildly. Basically the author sells it for super cheap (I bought if for 79 cents!) until it gets in the top 10 books on the Kindle store, then he raises the price to $2.99, sells a ton of copies at that price until it falls out of the top 10, and then starts the whole thing again. Pretty cool way to make a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year. Obviously I read it on my iPhone and iPad Kindle app.


16. - 18. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - This Young Adult Trilogy is all the rage, and there is a movie coming out in a few months. I read them for a couple of reasons: 1. to get my book count up before the end of the year, they're short and fast 2. Because I try to keep up with what the young people are reading so I can be relevant (I drew the line at Twilight though, won't go there). 3. I like to read the book before I see the movie.  They are exciting, and the movie should be fun. Read on the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad. Strangely they weren't available on the iBookstore.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

19. Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow - I read it in one day. Couldnt' put it down. Spot on. Amazing, I loved it!!!!!!! Everybody should read this book immediately. Seriously, this dude nails so much about why guys aren't terribly comfortable or excited about church. He also provides good, doable solutions! Read it on iBooks for iPad. Got if for free from  

Why Men Hate Going to Church

20. Heaven if for Real by Todd Burpo - Huge bestseller, really short, totally crazy, a great read that will make you think about Heaven and will also get you really excited to go there. I loved it. Read it on my iPhone Kindle App. Yep, the whole book on the phone.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

21. Scream Free Marriage by Hal Edward Runkel  Another one of my college roommates who turned into an author. Hal is very successful, and this book is his followup to ScreamFree Parenting. I loved this book, and Jessica (my wife) can attest to its effectiveness. Get it. Read it. Live it. Read it on the Kindle for iPad.

ScreamFree Marriage

22. A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin - this is the 4th book in the Song of Fire and Ice Series. HBO made this series into a very successful TV show (Game of Thrones). The first 3 books were amazing, some of the best fantasy ever. The story was derailed quite a bit in the 4th book, but little did I know how bad it would get, read below. Read on iPad/iPhone Kindle app.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

23. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin - book five in the series.  It took him 5+ years to write this book, and it basically sucked.  The 4th book dragged, this one came to a screaching halt, and took 1,000+ pages to do so. I'll keep reading the series, but this dude needs and editor, badly. Read it on the iPad and iPhone.

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

24. The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ by Lee Strobel - this was my favorite book of the year. Lee investigates common arguements that are raised by people on the web all the time, who quote "scholars" for their proof. He dives in deep with experts in each field, and it's very enlightening. I learned a ton about the New Testament and the study of ancient documents. If you're into apologetics, or have questions about who Jesus really was, this is a great book for you! Read it on Kindle for iPad.

The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ

25. Wholehearted by Roger Wernette - Roger is an old friend of mine. A very funny guy, and a very gifted communicator, both in speech and in the written word. This book was a great encouragement for me in my walk with Christ, and I've given it to about 30 people this year. Read it on iBooks for iPad. I believe it was the first book I read on the iPad.


Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church

Why Men Hate Going to ChurchWhy Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is awesome. This dude nails it, and he had the data to prove his points. I would encourage every Christian to read this book, and then begin to act on the truths and the hard realities contained within. This book isn't sexist, or misogynistic. It is true, funny, and well researched. The author was able to put words to many of the things that had been rumbling around in my head for years.

It sounds like it might be a negative book, but actually it's very upbeat, humorous and positive. He points out many problems with the church but he's careful to provide positive observations as well as upbeat, reasonable, doable solutions.

Literally, every pastor in America (and Europe) should read this.

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Hunger Games Review

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're looking for some intellectually stimulating fiction, look elsewhere. However, if you want a fun, quick read then you'll enjoy this book. You'll have to suspend your critical thinking skills, because there are all kinds of huge leaps in logic you'll have to make to not go crazy pointing out all the absurdities in the setting and the convenient plot devices that pop out all the time. But if you, like me, don't have a problem checking your brain at the door, then get ready for a fun ride.

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Reading has changed forever!

I have loved books for a long time.  Ever since I was a child. I read the Chronicles of Narnia in third grade, all seven books. Ever since that time I’ve loved reading books.  Recently, everything has changed. Here is how...


This past year I read 4 600 page novels...... on my phone.  

Yes, on my phone, and it was pretty enjoyable.  I used the Kindle application for my iPhone and/or the iBooks application. Both apps are great ways to read.

I liked it so much I downloaded the Kindle app for my laptop, and started reading on my computer too. The Kindle  and iBook apps both know where you left off so if you stop reading on one device (the phone for example) and then pick back up on  another device (the laptop) it knows where you left off. Pretty slick.  

I declared at this point that I was willing to accept ebooks as the future of reading. Then some thing else happened....

I got an iPad 2.

At that point I declared.....

I will not purchase paper books any more, ever!  (unless there isn’t an ebook option).

Seriously, I like reading ebooks that much. It’s so convenient. I am currently carrying over 30 books....on my phone, which fits nicely in my pocket.  I can read almost anything, anywhere! It’s awesome.

However, with the iPad you get the size and layout of a book, but you can still carry THOUSANDS of books with you wherever you are.

You can highlight passages, take notes, copy text, leave bookmarks, everything you can do with a regular book, but more, and better. Plus, now you don’t have to keep buying book shelves to hold all of the books.

If you haven’t tried reading on an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, etc. Give it a go, and you’ll see why Amazon just announced that they have started selling more ebooks than paper books. 

The world of reading is changing and it is awesome!

A few quotes from Wholehearted by Roger Wernette

St. Augustine said, “Love God, then do what you please.” For when you have learned to love, you will not even desire to do those things that might offend the One you love.
—Madame Guyon

The rest are directly from Roger

I started asking myself why I love this world so much. What makes me hold on to it when I know that it won’t last? We are all heading to an eternity with or without God, so I do not understand why we all hold on to this world and its riches so tightly. It is the same as holding on to your armrests in an airplane when you become afraid. Do you believe that the seat will not go down if the plane does? What are you thinking? So why hold on to the things of this world that will be destroyed with the rest of the world?

Instead of worrying about business or the stock market, just pray the prayer, “God help me to love You more.” Pray like your life depended on it (it actually does). Ask God to help you love Him more than you love your bonus. Or more than you love your hobby on which you spend all of your spare time and income. Ask God to replace your devotion to whatever dominates your thinking with a stronger love of Him.

We need to become men and women who will put our actions where our mouths are. It is imperative for our faith that we reject the idea that Jesus only comes to save us from hell. He comes rather to implant in us His heart and desire to do the will of the Father. We will never grow in our faith until we trust His goodness by acting upon what we know to be true.

You can buy Wholehearted at or the Apple iBooks store.