The Reading Habits of an Academic Book Buyer (That’s Me)

The other day someone asked me “What are you reading?” I get the question a lot and many times, for as much as I’m reading, I draw a blank. I have to stop and think hard about what’s on my reading list. Prior to my current occupation I would read thoroughly through whatever subject was of interest to me. I would chase down hard-to-find books and journal articles. Now all of that has changed. At times I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hydrant.

I offer the following short account of my current reading.

Some time ago (about 2 months) I starting Gary Anderson’s book Sin: a History (Yale University Press). I love it. But it suffered the fate of many books I start—something else came along and pressed it to the back burner. I found it on my desk last night and my book mark shows I stopped on page 145. Fifty-seven pages shy of the end. I know I will finish it but not right now. I’m 217 pages (128 pages to go) into Frederica Mathewes-Green’s book Welcome to the Orthodox Church (Paraclete Press). I’ve read 108 pages of Reclaiming Pietism by Roger Olson and Christian Collins (78 pages till the end, Eerdmans) I started reading The Way of the Wesleys by John Tyson (Eerdmans) but didn’t advance very far so it is definitely on the back burner. I’m half way through This Strange and Sacred Scripture by Matthew Richard Schlimm (Baker Academic).

I’ve read, and finished, Chris Castaldo’s new book Talking with Catholics about the Gospel (Zondervan). I’ve been planning to write a review but have not gotten very far. Reviews are hard work for me. They don’t come easy and so I have to have a lot of time set aside just to do one. That’s why you don’t see many book reviews in the traditional form on this blog. I post a lot of first impressions and provide quotes to let my readers have a taste of what a book is about. It’s intended to whet the appetite and quicken an interest. I’ve read three chapters of Greg Allison’s Roman Catholic Theology and Practice (Crossway). I’m 150 pages into The Quest for the Historical Adam by William VanDoodewaard (Reformation Heritage Books).

I’m in and out of four commentaries: The Gospel of John by Francis Martin and William Wright, Revelation by Peter Williamson, 2 Corinthians by George Guthrie (all three Baker Academic) and 2 Samuel by Robert Barron (Brazos Press).

Since Fr. Barron is coming to our store in July I’m giving his works priority. Aside from his 2 Samuel commentary, I’m reading his newest book Seeds of the Word (Word on Fire) which is wonderfully insightful and fun to read. I’ve got two coworkers pretty excited about it. One of them has made it his “staff pick” for May. Yesterday I received two more titles by Fr. Barron which I ordered and hope to start this weekend: And Now I See (The Crossroad Publishing Company) and The Strangest Way (Orbis Books). I’ve read bits and pieces of Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? (Crossway) I’ve enjoyed some of the essays from John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings (P&R). I probably won’t finish this one but will use it as a reference work. I’ve dabbled here and there in Tim Staples’ new work Behold Your Mother (Catholic Answers Press). A former coworker of mine who now works at another book store acquired for me Garry Wills’ new book The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Frances (Viking Penguin). I’ve only had time to glance at it.

Of course this week I started browsing Harold Netland’s Christianity and Religious Diversity (Baker Academic). Last night I read the Introduction to Stanley Porter’s Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament (Baker Academic). This book will require every brain cell I have to work through. It will be demanding but I know the labor will be worth it. Given the slower pace I will have to take with this I suspect I’ll be working on this one for the better part of a year–or more. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a couple but you get the picture. It’s a mess!

I do most of my reading on the weekend (10-12 hours time permitting). I usually read three to four nights during the week for a couple of hours. What I read depends on what I’m in the mood for. I’ll read for as long as I can in a book and then when I feel the need for a change I’ll switch to another. The variety makes it easier for me to keep going. I don’t read much at work but can sometimes carve out some time to browse through some of the newest books.

So if you see me and ask “What are you reading?” and I get a slightly glazed look in my eyes I’m simply running through my mind the rolodex of books on my desk trying to bring one of them to mind. Just give me a minute—I’ll think of at least one of them.

 

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One thought on “The Reading Habits of an Academic Book Buyer (That’s Me)

  1. A man after my own heart!

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