Happenings, News

How you can be a discerning reader


PREVIOUSLY we looked at how we choose a book at the bookstore. However, arguably that is more like helpful pointers on how to browse. In this article, we look at a more general way of finding recommendations of books to read.


Again, one cannot stress the importance of knowing various authors and looking at their bibliographies and then expanding one’s pool of authors. Once you get to know a certain author, it will then become easier to follow up on what he or she has written recently.

However, in line with the general theme to expand one’s pool of resources (see previous article in Methodist Message August 2005), I have suggested some places where one can expand one’s awareness of what other materials are worth reading.


There is a sense sometimes that periodicals are not comparable to books as they might be more “fashion-driven”. However, this is not true. We will look at other non-book media that are helpful in the subsequent issues.

ChristianityToday gives one an excellent sense of what is happening in the Christian scene in the United States. Books & Culture gives a good sense of what the books are available. It has a section called “Book of the Week” which introduces some of the newer books published. Although it is written for the American market, it provides an excellent guide.

Evangelical Now is possibly the UK equivalent of ChristianityToday, though it probably has significantly smaller readership in Britain and beyond. It has a small book review section but the books reviewed, especially on American authors, tend not to be as up to date. It does, however, provide a different recommendation from those in the US. Awards Winning an award does not necessarily mean that a book is good (in the sense that one takes the effort to plough through them, winning an award is a good indication that a particular book has received some endorsements from its peers or the public in general).

Here, the major Christian book awards are stated. The first two are especially noteworthy.

I am not aware of any other Christian book award in Asia. There is, however, an award in Australia, sponsored by SPCK Australia known as the “Australian Christian Book of the Year Awards”, which is similar to the awards above.

Christian ministries

Another source to obtain recommendations is to look up Christian ministries. It is too difficult to list all the websites.

It depends very much on the subjects, topics as well as the different perspectives you are looking for. If there is sufficient interest, perhaps, I could write on some of the main apologetics debates and which resources one could refer to but that is another issue altogether.

However, Mars Hill seems to be an excellent source to see what recommendations (not necessarily books) there are.

Christian ministries include recommendations by members of your church in the regular church bulletin. It could also be the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowships of other universities e.g. in Harvard, MIT.

Publisher website

Publishers often have excellent up-to-date websites where they allow surfers to browse selected chapters as well as to read the endorsements of their books.

In terms of publisher websites, I have made comments on some of the publishers earlier. To reiterate, some of the publishers that one should look up are: Zondervan, Baker, IVP (USA/ UK), Paternoster, Crossway, Eerdmans and Thomas Nelson.

Online bookstores

Even if you prefer to shop at your local Christian bookstore or church to support their work, some online bookstores are worth going to see what recommendations they make based on the books you have done searches on. Furthermore, some online bookstores, in particular Amazon, allow people to make lists of what they think others should read and these lists can be helpful at times.

Although websites do not necessarily make good recommendations, they provide a sense of what kind of books are out there and what kind of books have been recommended.

Goh Mui Pong, a member of Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church, is pursuing his PhD in Politics at the University of Cambridge.


Cirque Du Soleil to raise funds for MWS

THE Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) has tied up with Cirque Du Soleil to raise funds through the sale of charity tickets to their circus production “Quidam” in September.

The show “Quidam” (pronounced “key-dam”), is a Latin word for an anonymous passerby. More than 50 performers from 10 countries will come together to present a two-hour show, featuring a dizzying array of astounding sets, incredible effects and astonishing feats of acrobatic artistry. It will be held under the blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau (corner of Beach Road and Rochor Road) on Sept 16, 2005 at 8 pm.

The charity tickets, priced at $100 each for adults and children, are available from the MWS at tel: 6478-4706.

These Category A tickets are being sold at Sistic outlets for $130 (adults) and $110 (children) each.

Full proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to the MWS to help meet its estimated operating deficit of $3.3 million.

The proceeds will enable the MWS to continue to help clients at its 13 service centres in caring for the sick and frail, the elderly, the destitute, the poor, children, youth-at-risk and disadvantaged families. These centres reach out to about 3,500 people a month, providing care, shelter and support, and restoring some quality of life to the less privileged in our society.