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I love to read, both fiction and nonfiction from many diverse genres. Like any good reader, I like to impose my tastes in reading upon others.

If you really want to understand what moves me, as far as literary works are concerned, there is one book that you must read: Byzantium, by Stephen R. Lawhead. It is a piece of historical fiction, an imagined early life story of St. Aidan of Ireland. Aidan grows up in a sheltered environment of faith and embarks on a pilgrimage, devout in his faith in God. When disaster befalls his group of fellow pilgrims, his faith is shaken to its core, to the point that he doubts everything he has ever known. His journey out of his old illusions of faith and ultimately, into the reality of a vibrant, living faith, resonates with me in a way that no other book ever has.

Aside from that, my tastes in reading are a bit eclectic.

I read and study the Bible regularly. I don’t presume to be an expert, but I am generally reluctant to take anyone’s interpretation of any one piece of the Bible without digging in and exploring it for myself. I think that the Bible has the potential to be the most life-changing book ever written, but I also think it is perhaps one of the most misquoted, misinterpreted, and misunderstood books as well. I regard God’s Word, insofar as it is uncorrupted by humans, to be the ultimate authoritative work.

I love the Harry Potter books. Perhaps having both the Bible and Harry Potter in one’s reading tastes strikes you as paradoxical, but that’s how it is, nonetheless. Harry Potter is one of the few instances where I feel that the product and phenomenon live up to the hype. J.K. Rowling is one of the most gifted, imaginative and brilliant storytellers alive today.

I like some Sci-Fi, but I’m picky. While I loved many of the various Star Trek series, I don’t like the book adaptations, and I never liked the Star Wars movies or their books. Space books in general just don’t do much for me. Give me something a little more rooted in reality but still completely fantastic, like Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

If it’s going to be fantasy-fiction, I’m equally picky. My Uncle Mike gave me a trilogy called The Song of Albion by Stephen R. Lawhead when I was a teenager, and this set the bar almost impossibly high for this genre. (It also paved the way for my discovery of the aforementioned Byzantium). I also love the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and am currently reading those to my kids.

There are also a number of modern-day theology explorers whose books I enjoy, particularly those who investigate how we have “religionized” many aspects of our faith, much to its detriment. I want to pursue authentic Christianity, not stale dogma or ritual that has lost its original meaning. I tend to be a bit disenfranchised with the modern, Americanized version of Christianity, and while I do believe that there are modern churches preaching the true Gospel of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone, I think that many of them have lost their focus and are in need of revival and restoration. Books that explore authentic faith in Christ and that are willing to think outside the box when it comes to church and religious practices intrigue me. Authors in this category include people like Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren. I would recommend, as a starting point in this family of books, either Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell or Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

And to top it all off, I’m a sucker for spooky stories. I’m a longtime fan of Stephen King, and a friend has recently reintroduced me to the twisted mind of Dean Koontz. Another author whom I regard as strange but strangely beautiful in the stories he writes is John Irving, and my favorite is probably A Son of the Circus.

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