I have always advocated that pastoral students remember that the M.Div. is but a license to learn. One important learning tool is not only reading, but reading widely and deeply. Since I recently read poetry and fiction, it is admittedly absent from the list. So my list may be a little shallow in that sense. I just reviewed it again: very much tilted to American history except for Winner’s spiritual memoir (I just went through a really big British history stage in reading so I didn’t realize the shift until now).
My method isn’t for everyone. I enjoy reading at “reading stations” in the routes and patterns of life. Thus I am able to enjoy several books at once. It is not a matter of a literature marathon or a point of boasting, but simply pure pleasure in the diversity of stories. Sometimes I prefer a break and will put everything away but the Bible and one book—usually poetry (often something I have read before, like Dylan Thomas). Right now, I am moving through stations. My stations have changed this year and that has thrown me off a wee bit. So here is where I find myself today. By the way, I don’t include devotionals for morning and evening, which I read with my family. Nor do I include the books—commentaries, technical books and the like—that I use in the preparation of manuscripts for sermons, lectures, articles, and books. So, yes, I do read Calvin. These are to fill the spirit with story and human nature and the opportunity to look beneath the presenting issues of plot and subplot to discover God at work in everything. And in everyplace.
Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick (Early morning table with tea)
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (evening chair with Tab the Cat)
Calvin Coolidge by Amity Shlaes (Night table with an iPhone night light app)
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Francis Winner (study in a lounge chair or mid morning tea break)