Last fall I had quite a bit of time, not only did I spend alot of time painting and created my own art instragram page: https://www.instagram.com/preble_art/ but I also had a good amount of reading time. Here are my top 4 books I read during that time.
Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Quereshi
A very clear presentation of Christianity from the late Nabeel Qureshi. Coming from a Muslim background, during his time in university he was determined to disprove Christianity, but also approached his research with open mind. Walking with him on the journey of questioning is a perfect way to walk through how he discovered truth. Reading this will give you a clear picture of the major beliefs that Christianity hinges on. I’m looking forward to reading this one again. I would also suggest looking up some of the talks that Nabeel gave before he passed away from cancer late 2017.
Silence and Beauty by Makoto Fujimura
I had heard about the movie Silence based on Shusaku Endo’s book Silence, but heard that I should read this book by Makoto Fujimura first. The chapters explore many aspects of Japanese art, history, and culture which give amazing background to Endo’s book. I would suggest even reading this prior to reading Endo’s book, as it give insight into Japanese culture and history which is helpful if you are unfamiliar. One main takeaway from this was the capacity Japanese people have for ambiguity and mystery, and how that actually helps in their understanding of God compared to a materialistic Western mindset. I went on to read another of Fujimura’s books and I would highly recommend looking into the Culture Care work he is doing.
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (Audio)
This was part of my research before going to South Africa, along with watching a few of the videos on Netflix of Trevor Noah’s comedy. Let me say this, I cannot imagine reading this as a paper book, the audiobook is essential. Trevor speaks many of the languages from South Africa, and for those who are unfamiliar with them (like me) I cannot imagine reading them and getting the same effect. This book explores stories from Trevor’s life, with much background on apartheid and the racial issues that exist and have existed in South Africa. It’s actually pretty cool to see how Trevor balances the humor with seriousness as he tells his life story.
Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
This would be my favorite book from my time while at home for a few reasons. You know when you read a book at the perfect time? Reading this was that for me. Certainly going through a season of pain personally and reading about how to go through it was helpful. Also being present for others in my family experiencing chronic illness and cancer, it felt very close to my life experience. I was able to walk through how I usually react to suffering (like a stoic) and see what resources being a Christian gives me to face difficult things. One of my favorite parts of the book was the personal stories at the end of each chapter, Keller was a pastor at a large church in NYC for many years so he walked with many people through difficult times in his ministry. I can truly say in the end this book gave me hope, seeing how other people come to know God in a deeper way because of pain. Suffering really peels back the layers, and is a great way of coming to the end of yourself, which I have personally experienced, but I can then seek God for who He is rather than any of the good things He gives. If you read any of these four books, this is the one you MUST read.