Eugene Cho

the book(s) you want to read this year?

I’m packing for a short trip and every time I pack for a trip, I bring  a book.  The intent is there but I rarely finish books from cover to cover.  I have the habit of reading couple books at the same time basically because my brain is wired or conditioned that way.  

So, here are some questions:  

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What’s the one book on your TO READ list this year?

My answers:

  • For the trip, I’m taking Jeffrey Sach’s End of Poverty in hopes of finishing it.

And I’m cheating again and will give you several answers for books on the top of my ‘to read list’ this year.  I may be asking some of you for a copy if you’re done with them.

Filed under: travel,

40 Responses

  1. jake says:

    breaking out of lurker status…

    three cups of tea is definitely on the list for this year. i want to read n.t. wright’s surprised by hope too. i need to finish the books i have already started though (jesus for president and everything must change).

  2. Tyler says:

    i’d love to get my hands on and have time to read scot’s new book

  3. Dan says:

    I too am always to be found with a book in hand and cannot seem to commit to just one work at a time. I am partially through A.J. Jacobs ‘The Year of Living Biblically’, a hilarious memoir that not only makes me periodically distract others @ my local coffee shop by my audible laughter, but also, oddly enough, has challenged me to confront the areas of my life where judgment has had a tendancy to spring up. It also seems that in addition to this lighthearted literary work, that I require something with a little more ‘body’, so to speak. I just picked up ‘Simply Christian’ by N.T. Wright (Loved the Challenge of Jesus and Surprised by Hope…and figured that I can’t get too much of a good thing, right?) along with a recommendation from a good friend called ‘Changes that Heal’. We’ll see how it all pans out. If I don’t recognize myself in a few weeks, at least the Quest nametag on Sundays will provide some sort of identity.

  4. zmanowner says:

    There are several schools of thought when it comes to reading. Most people that read regularly and finish all the ones they start, read books that most compare to their personalities and their line of work. One other is the stronger your imagination the more likely the book is to hold your attention. Reading heavy is an expensive hobby. I read prolly between 18 to 22 books a yr and generally read only about an hour to 2 hrs a day. Zman sends

  5. zmanowner says:

    Currently reading The last lecture by Randy Pausch…..would like to read the new Joe Torre book due in Feb..Zman sends

  6. Kim says:

    Just finished two little books on The Lord’s Prayer that blew me away…NT Wright’s, The Lord & His Prayer and William Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas’s, Lord, Teach Us; The Lord’s Prayer & The Christian Life.

    Book List = Surprised By Hope (Nt Wright); our Lady of Kibeho (Immaculee Ilibagiza – If you have not read her Left To Tell, read that too); The Bishop of Rwanda; Finding Forgivenss Amongst a Pile of Bones (Bishop John Rucyahana); ReRead Tangible Kingdom (Hugh Halter) and Just Courage (Gary Haugen)…that’s it for now.

  7. Tom says:

    Just reread Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. You’ve probably already read it, but if not, I think you’d be encouraged. It’s the story of Paul Farmer, the guy who’s probably done more for poor folks in Haiti than almost anyone else. A really honest account of what it takes to create something life giving.

    Sach’s is a must read but it took me over a year to do it, so don’t feel bad. MBM is just End of Poverty born again as compelling narrative journalism.

  8. I’m about half way through “Three Cups of Tea” and I think it’s fantastic. “East of Eden” by Steinbeck is next on my list.

  9. kate says:

    currently reading: The Bottom Billion: Why Poor Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier. very interesting so far.

    upcoming authors i’d like to read: noam chomsky, n.t. wright, peter rollins.

  10. jorgebautista says:

    I’m currently reading Hank Kung “Islam Past, Present and Future”. I am not sure of books I will be reading this upcoming year, but East of Eden is a re-read for me this year for sure. Also, I highly recommend reading “What is the What” by Dave Eggars. If you are interested to know the story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. This book will inspire you to continue and fight for injustice and poverty in the regions of Africa and any other part of the world. Seriously, “What is the What” will bring forth convictions you forgot you had.

    On a side note,, this is a website that shows book I am currently reading, book I want to read, and books that I have read. I recommend this website as well for those who would like to keep track books in any form.


  11. D C Cramer says:


    After reading that, everything by Yoder is on my reading list for the year: NEVERTHELESS: VARIETIES OF CHRISTIAN PACIFISM, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?, BODY POLITIC, etc.

    If you’ve never read anything by Yoder, you must give him a try. He will radically affect your understanding of the church’s role in society.

  12. jason says:

    Right now I am reading Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis for the first time. As for the must reads I am really wanting to finish up my Hemingway collection.

  13. Rose Swetman says:

    I am reading books for my dissertation literature review at the beginning of the year:
    Making Room for Leadership – MaryKate Morse
    Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership – Ruth Haley Barton
    Pagan Christianity – Frank Viola
    Confessions of a Reformission Rev – Mark Driscoll
    I have already read – The Great Emergence – Tickle (have you, if not you really must)
    Blue Parakeet was great. I have some questions for Scot:) I would lend you mine but I got it online.
    Did you already read Exclusion and Embrace – Volf

  14. john says:

    the god delusion — richard dawkins

  15. Julie says:

    I’m looking for some good fiction reads – I’ve been devouring way too many theological books and my brain is still spinning, so I’d like to curl up on our couch with a good STORY. I tend to read fiction in waves of authors, though – I find an author I like and then read everything s/he’s written. I’m currently fiction-author-less, though, and I’m not quite sure where to start.

    I heartily second Dan’s recommendation of “A Year of Living Biblically.” Simply marvelous, for both entertainment purposes as well as making the reader think twice about HOW to read the Bible.

    I liked Scott McKnight’s “Blue Parakeet” – mostly. In the first part of the book, he goes through “how” to read the Bible, and I wasn’t sure I always agreed with what he was saying. Sometimes he seemed contradictory. But then, in the second part of the book, he walks through actual biblical interpretation (focusing on women in ministry), and I felt like it was one of the soundest inteprative examples I’ve read in a while (not to mention one of the best biblical arguement for women in ministry). I’d be happy to lend it to you if Paul isn’t using it (and if you don’t mind that we vandalize books we own with underlining/marginal notes).

  16. Randall says:

    I’m currently reading Culture Making by Andy Crouch along with Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. Reading the two together is really fun and interesting because Claiborne seems to be doing what Crouch is suggesting we do: move away from critiquing or avoiding or transforming culture and towards making culture.

    My goal this year is to finish the un-read books on my bookshelf before buying any new ones.

    Next up will either be The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight or The New Conspirators by Tom Sine…or maybe I’ll finally try and finish Rainbows for the Fallen World by Calvin Seerveld.

  17. gracerules says:

    I am currently reading “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power” by Jeff Sharlet – (a compellingly brilliant account of power in America and how it’s shaped by religion)

    The next non fiction will probably be Tribes by Seth Godin and Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight.

    For fiction I plan to read World Without End by Ken Follet (loved Pillars of the Earth so thought I would read World Without End also) and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (don’t know how I missed reading this one before now but I look forward to reading this modern classic)

  18. steph says:

    I am surprised at how many people who commented, read NT Wright and also, there was a brief mention of Phyllis Tickle! I read The Challenge of Jesus (really enjoyed it) and Prayer is A Place (Tickle), and was so surprised at how many people in our “Christian” circle outside of our church, had never heard of either NT Wright or Tickle. Our Church uses the Original Jesus series a lot, as well as incorporates the Divine Hours a lot.
    Anyway, that comment aside, I’m reading The Shack and Finding Iris Chang. I need to finish the third Edward Jones’ Book and perhaps read either Simply Christian (Wright) which my husband loved, or The Divine Conspiracy by Willard.

  19. matt says:

    Flat, Hot, and Crowded by Tom Friedman

  20. Aaron says:

    Uprising: A revolution of the soul – McManus (currently reading)
    Better: A surgeon’s notes on performance – Atul Gawande
    The Alchemist – Paulo Cuelo
    Outliers – Malcom Gladwell
    Jesus Wants to Save Christians… – Rob Bell

  21. Aaron says:

    … oops, missed the ONE book part….

  22. Rachel says:

    I’ve been loving The Five Love Languages of Children by Chapman & Campbell. I’m hoping to start The Red Tent this week. Thanks for sharing your list. There’s a few interesting ones.

  23. D.D. says:

    You must read “Water from a Deep Well … Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries” (IVP, 2007) by Gerald Sittser. Sittser teaches at Whitworth College in Spokane. He’s a superb writer and a deeply spiritual man. [He wrote the a powerful, sobering book on grace and grief called “A Grace Disguised.”] Water from a deep Well is for anyone who wants to think not only about the rhythms of our walk with Jesus but also the elements to include when thinking about turning the church over to the next generation. You must get it. D.D.

  24. Liz says:

    I just wanted to say that The Reason for God (Tim Keller) is absolutely fantastic. I borrowed it from the library, and now I need my own copy, haha.
    My Amazon wish list serves as my “to read” list, and it’s several hundred books long, so I can’t pick just one. Highest priority right now, though, are:
    The Divine Conspiracy (Dallas Willard)
    Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (Karl Barth)
    This is Your Brain On Music (Daniel Levitin)
    The Will of God as a Way of Life (Jerry Sittser)

  25. Rob Merrill says:

    Currently Reading: Death by Church – Mike Erre
    Want to Read: Flickering Pixels – Shane Hipps

  26. caristone says:

    Hey Eugene.

    I’ve never actually posted a comment, but thought you might appreciate the following recommendation in light of some of what you and Minhee have been thinking about this past year.

    The book is called There Is No Me Without You. I wrote a short review/reflection on it on my blog:

    It is a brilliant book in my opinion and one that everyone who is wanting to understand more about the African AIDS pandemic and orphan crisis ought to read.

    I hope you have a good trip!

  27. Mike says:

    currently reading a slew of books for grad school. for fun (and for the soul) i’m reading “the rest of God” by mark buchanan and “mudhouse sabbath” by lauren winner.

    to read: many, many books. not too sure. ive got a bunch waiting for me…mostly a bunch of nt wright and a bunch of frederick beuchner

  28. blackwasp19 says:

    I have grad school books as well so that will take up much of my time

    Mike. “Mudhouse Sabbath” is a great little book, I think you will enjoy it

    I am going to to try go read is Robert Gelinas’ Finding the Groove.

  29. reJoyce says:

    Lots of interesting titles here (she says as she hastily adds more to her “books to look for” list).

    I’m currently reading “Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition” by Christine D. Pohl and listening to an audio version of “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie.

    I’ve got piles (and piles) of books that I want to read, but am thinking of starting on a chronological bible next. (Anyone have a favorite?)

  30. Mark Peach says:

    I appreciate all of the book suggestions listed here! Currently, I am reading “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. It is excellent. I am looking forward to reading the brand new Christopher Wright book “The God I Don’t Understand.”

  31. jan owen says:

    Eugene, I have tons but let me recommend one to you – a book on spiritual leadership which changed my life: “Strengthening the Soul of Your LEadership” by Ruth Haley Barton. Not a strategy of “to dos” but a book to help you lead out of the overflow of the work of God in your own life.

    I’d consider it an honor to send you an autographed copy. Ruth is my two year retreat community leader and her teachings are so good. If you’d like a copy email me your address and I’ll send it to you.

  32. eugenecho says:

    so many good books, so little time…

  33. Jeong says:

    Used books I recently picked up at Powell’s or Elliot Bay Books:
    At Canaan’s Edge, America in the King Years 1965-68-Taylor Branch
    (If you haven’t read Branch’s, Parting the Waters, it is a must read for King admirers.)
    At the Same Time-Susan Sontag
    The Coldest Winter, America and the Korean War-David Hamerstam
    Embracing Defeat, Japan in the Wake of WWII-John Dower (currently reading)

  34. alliehope says:

    I second that thought about so many good books, so little time, Eugene. And it seems like more good ones come out with every day….dang!

    I just read (as in just finished 2 days ago) Shane Claiborne/Johnathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s Becoming the Answer To Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals. Can’t say enough good about it. It’s short (I could have gotten through it in about 2 days) but it packs a lot of meat for its brevity, so I’m glad I took the time with it.

    My “want to read” list is bigger than my budget right now! Thank goodness for the local library, since that’s free!

  35. Jill says:

    Rose, you mentioned “Pagan Christianity?”. Great read. Also, the sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at . It’s also available on Frank is also blogging now at .

  36. “Surprised By Hope” – NT Wright
    “Ouliers” – Malcolm Gladwell
    “Let Justice Roll Down” – John Perkins
    “A History Of God” – Karen Armstrong

    Three Cups Of Tea was excellent! Very inspiring for anyone involved in international work of any kind!

  37. Deanne says:

    finish “outliers”
    and start on “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris. My friend turned me to it on her blog:

  38. […] One of my goals this year is to read 23 books and many of you shared some of the books you’re hoping to read this year in an earlier post.  I had the cool privilege of running into Scot McKnight recently – author of […]

  39. […] recent book, The Great Emergence, is making the waves amongst many people and it’s also on my ‘To Read’ list for 2009.  She is one sharp amazing lady and I don’t want to spread rumors but I’m pretty sure […]

  40. […] my readers know, I’m working through my list of books I want to read this year and his new book, The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership in a Third […]

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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