101 Best Books


I’m sure they’re designed simply to make me feel inadequate. They’re the lists that pop up from time to time that sit there mocking me. They leave me scratching my head wondering what I’ve done with my life.

Bookshop Dymocks has come up with a list of The Best 101 Books as Voted by Dymocks Booklovers.

Here’s their top ten:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. Magician by Raymond Feist
5. The Lord of the Rings (Books 1-3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
10. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I’ll admit that I’ve heard of most of the books on the list. I’ve read some, like Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and The Bible. Animal Farm by George Orwell was required reading in school. I’ve seen the movie of The Princess Bride several times. Both 1984 and Wuthering Heights were amazing songs and I can sing along to both, even if I can’t get the high notes that Kate Bush can reach … or David Bowie for that matter.

What I need is someone to fund me to take a year or two off to just sit around and read. I need to catch up. Any takers?

To be honest, I do know what’s happening here. Those lists are designed to create what we now know as FOMO. Fear of missing out. If I haven’t read those books I’m inadequate so I need to rush out right now and by some copies … from Dymocks.

Yes, I should spend more time reading and there are probably many books on that list that I should lose myself in but my life is never going to be measured on whether I’ve read a list of books that others think I should.

There are dozens of books that I’ve read and enjoyed that aren’t on that list. There are still others on my shelf and in my electronic library that I would prefer to read before many that are in the top 101.

Just out of curiousity. If you were compiling a list of top books, what would your top three be?

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To ‘E’ or not to ‘E’?


I guess that by now most of us have had the chance to sample reading ebooks and contrast the experience with good, old fashioned hard copy books. You know … the ones that contain real paper and don’t need a power source.

What’s the verdict? Which do you prefer? Do you do all your reading electronically? Are you devoted to hard copy books? Or maybe, like me, do you mix it up a little?

I’ve been reading a number of books so far this year. I just completed one ebook and I’ve finished a couple of others of the ink and paper variety. I have another hard copy book on the go and I have a few more ebooks that I’m making my way through. I enjoy both and I think both have their advantages but I’m interested in your thoughts. Let me know what’s working for you. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each?

To get you started, here’s an infographic that looks at the reasons that 1000 Fatbrainers gave for staying lo-tech when it comes to reading.

(You can click the image to get a better look.)


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When Helping Hurts


How would you feel if you discovered that after all your best efforts you were causing harm to the people you most wanted to help?

I’m now a couple of months into my new job at Compassion Australia and I’m continuing to learn more and more about the work we do in releasing children from poverty. I’m very keen to know that what we’re doing is having the effect that it’s meant to be having. With that in mind I’m grateful for books like the one I’ve just finished reading. While it’s not a new book, (first released in 2009) it’s the first book I’ve finished for 2014 and it was a challenging read.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself is a book that will continue to make many people uncomfortable.

Authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert point out how much of what has been done to alleviate poverty has actually caused damage to both those being ‘helped’ and those doing the ‘helping’ but far from being a book that simply points the finger, it gives a clear direction forward and urges us to increase our efforts to reduce poverty everywhere.

Corbertt and Fikkert speak directly to the Christian church and asks the hard questions about the nature of poverty and the best ways to change the lives of those in both what we term as developing and developed countries.


When Helping Hurts uses the Bible and the Great Commission to state that the church’s mission should be to help the poor and the desolate.

Corbett and Fikkert state that the definition of poverty will change depending on who is defining it, with the poor defining it through the psychological and social scope while more wealthy churches emphasize the lack of material things or a geographical location.

The authors emphasize that this can cause a harmful cycle where North American churches provide material resources and evangelism to the poor, which reinforces the poor people’s sense of inferiority and lack of self-esteem, which in turn increases the original problem.

Corbett and Fikkert give several hypothetical scenarios to illustrate this cycle and then offer several solutions that they say can alleviate poverty. – Wiki

I’m pleased to say that there is a lot of encouragement in there for the direction Compassion is taking towards relieving poverty through holistic child development.

I would recommend When Helping Hurts to any Christian who is prepared to think through some of the harder issues of reducing poverty. If you want to do more than just feel good about doing something to help, grab a copy and be prepared to ask yourself and your church or ministry some tough questions.

The book is a must read for church leaders and especially anyone in a church or ministry involved in any kind of mission locally or overseas.

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Hollywood Jesus


When you read a book or head to the movies do you sometimes feel that you’ve heard the story somewhere before? For many hundreds of years writers have been drawing inspiration from the greatest story ever told.

Parallels have been seen in everything from Shakespeare to Harry Potter. There is rich symbolism in the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and many others.

A Christ figure, also known as a Christ-Image is a literary technique that the author uses to draw allusions between their characters and the biblical Jesus Christ. More loosely, the Christ Figure is a spiritual or prophetic character who parallels Jesus, or other spiritual or prophetic figures.

In general, a character should display more than one correspondence with the story of Jesus Christ as depicted in the Bible. For instance, the character might display one or more of the following traits: performance of miracles, manifestation of divine qualities, healing others, display loving kindness and forgiveness, fight for justice, being guided by the spirit of the character’s father, death and resurrection. Christ figures are often martyrs, sacrificing themselves for causes larger than themselves. – Wiki

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98five Sonshine FM is Rev Dr Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we talked about Christ figures in our books and movies. You can hear what Ross had to say by clicking the play button on the audio player below.

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When Others Hurt You


I’m currently several chapters in to a pre-release copy of the book The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You by Mary DeMuth. It’s not being released until the 15th of October but you can pre-order a copy now.

Family members hurt us. Friends betray us. Fellow Christians deceive us. But Jesus provides a path through the pain—the Lord’s Prayer.

In The Wall Around Your Heart, Mary DeMuth shows you that you can reach wholeness and healing in the aftermath of painful relationships by following the road map of the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll walk through story after story of hurt people who are led through biblical truth into amazing, life-sustaining, joyful growth.

Life is hard. People can be mean and petty and awful. But they can also be amazing and beautiful and sacrificial. God is good. He is faithful. You can trust him with your relationships. “He’ll send people to call out what is hard in your heart,” Mary shares. “And that’s a gift to you.”

I’ll say a lot more about the book as the release date gets closer but I should say even now that I believe it’ll be a book that will bring healthy change for many people.

Have you ever had that feeling when you’re reading a book that you wish someone else could read those pages because they’re ‘just the sort of person’ that needs to hear those words? Sometimes we feel that way because we believe that ‘God needs to sort them out’. It can be a rather negative thing. We want to wave those words around like a big stick to make someone else be more like we think they should be.

Let me tell you that this book is so different in that as I read through the pages my heart goes out to those I feel would find new hope and healing through the words Mary has written. It’s not about changing anyone’s ‘bad behaviour’ but changing their hearts to experience love and life in new ways. It’s about wanting freedom from the past for them. But let me assure you, it’s not just about wanting others to find healing in those pages, I need those words too. They’re honest, refreshing and practical and I need to hear what God is saying through Mary’s words for me too.

I’ll say much more in coming days but if you’ve been hurt and are finding it difficult to move forward, keep holding on and put the 15th of October in your diary for the release of The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You by Mary DeMuth.

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