In 2018 I did not set out to read a certain number of books. My goal was to read the major works of Jonathan Edwards and of C.S. Lewis, with other books scattered throughout. As the year progressed, I stuck with that, but a) I decided to read even more Lewis—finishing virtually all his works—and b) I ended up noting that at my pace, I’d read almost exactly fifty books. So in November, I planned out the rest of the books for the year to end up at fifty even.
In this series of seven posts, I will describe this reading journey from 2018. (I did the same for my 2017 books. And as a disclaimer for anyone else reading this, I primarily do this for myself. I view much of this site as a journal of sorts, especially these “Blog Posts,” from where I can look back on ideas, thoughts, and how, by God’s grace, I have changed. But if anyone does benefit from reading these posts, or seeing book recommendations, then God be praised.) In this first post, I’ll list the books; in the next post, I’ll give my favorites by categories; then I’ll give thoughts about reading Lewis in post three; thoughts about Edwards in post four; a comparison and contrast of Edwards and Lewis in post five; thoughts about reading the Bible in 90 days in post six; and finally a look into my planned 2019 in post seven.
Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis
Before I list the fifty books, however, I would like to point out that this year was chiefly filled with books by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and C.S. Lewis (1898-1963). Why these two? For multiple reasons. On the practical level, after I had read 100 books in 2017 and felt like I skimmed too many surfaces due to so much volume, I desired more depth; so, at the end of 2017, I planned to read through Jonathan Edwards’ major works in 2017. But then coupled with this, we as the pastoral staff at my church decided to read all of C.S. Lewis’ major works in 2018. Hence, Edwards and Lewis.
Yet on a deeper level I think I continued reading these two giants because of their influence on those who influenced me. Up until this year, I always said the two main Christian leaders who have affected me the most are John Piper (primarily) and Francis Schaeffer (secondarily). I know John Piper has said many times that the two main thinkers who influenced him were Edwards and Lewis. So I was fascinated to see why firsthand. Yet there was also a connection to Schaeffer here: As I started reading Lewis particularly, I saw some attractive apologetic similarities like those I was drawn to in Schaeffer. Lewis adds more dimensions—such as creativity and wonder—but his apologetics, such as in Miracles and in various God in the Dock essays, linked in my heart with my love for Schaeffer.
As for when and how much I read them, one can see in the schedule below. I read more books by Lewis—twenty four in total—compared with nine by Edwards. But I spent almost the same amount of time reading the nine Edwards books since they’re much more dense, lengthier, and overall more difficult to read.
Yet more on these two bulwarks of the faith in the posts to come. With all that said, below are the fifty books I read in 2018.
The Fifty Books Read in 2018
(Author – Title – Year Published – Date Finished - Star Rating [out of 5])
Jonathan Edwards - The Freedom of the Will - 1754 - 1/19/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Problem of Pain - 1940 - 2/14/18 - 5
Jonathan Edwards - The End for Which God Created the World - 1765 - 2/15/18 - 5
Jonathan Edwards - The Nature of True Virtue - 1765 - 2/19/18 - 4
Erik Raymond - Chasing Contentment - 2017 - 2/20/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - 1950 - 2/23/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letters - 3/7/18 - 1942 - 5
C.S. Lewis - Prince Caspian - 1951 - 3/10/18 - 3
Jonathan Edwards - Sovereignty Sermons of Jonathan Edwards - 1750 - 3/18/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Abolition of Man - 1943 - 4/3/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - 1952 - 4/4/18 - 4
Time Magazine Book - Coffee: The Culture, the Business, Your Health - 2018 - 4/14/18 - 5
Jack Challem - The Inflammation Syndrome - 2010 - 4/19/18 - 3
John Piper - Expository Exultation - 2018 - 4/19/18 - 5
Donald Whitney - Praying the Bible - 2015 - 4/23/18 - 5
Andrew Naselli & J.D. Crowley - Conscience - 2018 - 4/24/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Great Divorce - 1945 - 5/9/18 - 3
Tom Standage - A History of the World in 6 Glasses - 2005 - 5/22/18 - 5
Jonathan Edwards - Original Sin - 1758 - 6/1/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - Miracles - 1947 - 6/3/18 - 5
John MacArthur - The Gospel According to God - 2018 - 6/7/18 - 3
C.S. Lewis - The Silver Chair - 1953 - 6/8/18 - 4
Melissa Hartwig - It Starts With Food - 2012 - 6/9/18 - 4
John Piper - Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power - 2016 - 6/25/18 - 4
Jonathan Leeman - How the Nations Rage - 2018 - 7/6/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - The Weight of Glory - 1949 - 7/17/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - Letters to Malcom: Chiefly On Prayer - 1964 - 7/17/18 - 5
Courtney Reissig - Glory in the Ordinary - 2018 - 7/19/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - The Horse and His Boy - 1954 - 7/27/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity - 1952 - 8/5/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - The World’s Last Night - 1960 - 8/24/18 - 4
Jonathan Edwards - Religious Affections - 1746 - 9/3/18 - 5
Ajith Fernando - The Family Life of a Christian Leader - 2016 - 9/5/18 - 4
Jonathan Edwards - A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God - 1736 - 9/17/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - The Magician’s Nephew - 1955 - 9/20/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Last Battle - 1956 - 9/21/18 - 5
Albert Mohler - The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down - 2018 - 9/22/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - Surprised by Joy - 1955 - 9/30/18 - 3
C.S. Lewis - Till We Have Faces - 1956 - 10/13/18 - 5
Philip Graham Ryken - King Solomon - 2012 - 10/15/18 - 4
C.S. Lewis - Reflections on the Psalms - 1958 - 10/28/18 - 4
Paul Miller - A Praying Life - 2009 - 11/15/18 - 4
Jonathan Edwards - Christ Exalted Sermons of Jonathan Edwards - 1750 - 11/16/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Four Loves - 1960 - 11/19/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - The Dark Tower - 1963 - 11/26/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - Of Other Worlds - 1963 - 12/14/18 - 4
Jonathan Edwards - Revival Sermons of Jonathan Edwards - 1750 - 12/16/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - A Grief Observed - 1961 - 12/18/19 - 3
Stephen Wilbers - Mastering the Craft of Writing - 2014 - 12/21/18 - 5
C.S. Lewis - God in the Dock - 1963 - 12/21/18 - 5
(For some publish dates listed above, I often use the date of Edwards’ and Lewis’ deaths if the book was published posthumously, instead of the actual date the collection or work was first published; and I used the date of Edwards’ last sermon in the sermon collections. Also, Lewis readers may notice that his Space Trilogy is not listed above. I listened to those on audiobook this year and did not read them—and I do think there’s quite a difference between listening and reading! More on that series in the Lewis post to follow.)
Some Statistics About the 2018 Books
I kept track in an Excel spreadsheet which allowed me to come up with these statistics which are interesting for myself, especially when compared to 2017:
The average number of pages for the fifty books was 205 (compared with 156 from 2017). From January to March, the average page number was 173; from April to June, 214; from July to September, 202; from October to December, 221.
For each book I wrote a quick review and gave them a star rating out of five stars. These I wrote over at Goodreads, and you can see all my ratings and quick reviews there. My average rating for my books was 4.4 stars—which is exactly the same as 2017! I guess I’m consistent with my (overall positive) book ratings.
I read a total of 10,250 pages (compared with 15,580 from 2017). That averaged around 29 pages a day (compared with 45 in 2017). This is surprising to me because, although it was only half the number of books compared with the 100 from 2017, it was two-thirds the amount of pages—and these were much denser books.
To no surprise my most prominent read authors were C.S. Lewis (24) and Jonathan Edwards (9). But as stated above, although the Lewis books read far outnumber those by Edwards, since seven of them were part of Narnia, and since Edwards’ are much older, longer, and more dense, I believe I spent nearly equal amount of time reading both authors.
In the next post, I will give my personal favorites out of the books read.