For the first time in a while, I have a lot of time on my hands so I decided to prioritize reading good books. Here is a short list of some of the books I recently read or am currently reading. The book descriptions are copied from

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

”In this weighty, riveting analysis of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Metaxas offers a comprehensive review of one of history’s darkest eras, along with a fascinating exploration of the familial, cultural, and religious influences that formed one of the world’s greatest contemporary theologians. A passionate narrative voice combines with meticulous research. . . Abundant source documentation brings to life the personalities and experiences that shaped Bonhoeffer. Insightful and illuminating, this tome makes a powerful contribution to biography, history, and theology.” —Publishers Weekly

Shutting out the Sun: How Japan Created its Own Lost Generation by Michael Zielenziger

(Booklist review) “At the end of the 1980s, Japan’s future seemed bright. A leader in the technological arena, Japan seemed poised to become the world’s next superpower. Twenty years later, that promise has faded, and the once-influential nation is in crisis. Journalist Zielenziger, who has lived in Japan for 10 years, set out to discover why. Much of the focus of this engrossing, comprehensive work is on the clash between older and younger generations and on how the former’s inability to let go of tradition is stifling the latter. Japan’s rigid education and work systems have created a class of young people known as hikikomori, who literally shut themselves up in their rooms. Through interviews with several of these young men, Zielenziger reveals how the pressures on Japanese youths cause some to give up and retreat from society. Young women, too, are rejecting traditional roles and choosing careers with foreign companies over marriage and children. A piercing, astute look at how a society’s refusal to embrace change is detrimental to its younger generation.”

Japan at War: An Oral History by Haruko Taya Cook & Theodore F. Cook

(Yomiuri Shimbun) “In a sweeping panorama, Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook take us from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s to the Japanese home front during the inhuman raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, offering the first glimpses of how the twentieth century’s most deadly conflict affected the lives of the Japanese population. The book ‘seeks out the true feelings of the wartime generation [and] illuminates the contradictions between the official views of the war and living testimony.'”

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson MD and Cecil Murphey

(from “In 1987, Dr. Benjamin Carson gained worldwide recognition for his part in the first successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the head. Carson pioneered again in a rare procedure known as a hemispherectomy…Such breakthroughs aren’t unusual for Ben Carson. He’s been beating the odds since he was a child. Raised in inner-city Detroit by a mother with a third grade education, Ben lacked motivation… But Sonya Carson convinced her son he could make something of his life, even though everything around him said otherwise. Trust in God, a relentless belief in his own capabilities, and sheer determination catapulted Ben from failing grades to the directorship of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Gifted Hands takes you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world—and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician who lives to help others.”

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

(From “In the summer of 1942, the French police arrested thousands of Jewish families and held them outside of Paris before shipping them off to Auschwitz. On the 60th anniversary of the roundups, an expatriate American journalist covering the atrocities discovers a personal connection—her apartment was formerly occupied by one such family. She resolves to find out what happened to Sarah, the 10-year-old daughter, who was the only family member to survive.”

I saw the movie before I read the book. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will simply say that while I thought the movie was excellent, the book answered questions that the movie didn’t address and the movie definitely changed a number of details and several dialogues.  I was glad to have a fuller picture of certain events left out of the movie. Here is a preview of the movie:

Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

(from Amazon) “Jesus Calling is a devotional filled with uniquely inspired treasures from heaven for every day of the year.  After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her.  It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue.  She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God.  Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages.  They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling.  It is Sarah’s fervent prayer that our Savior may bless readers with His presence and His peace in ever deeper measure. ”

A personal note: Over 460+ five-star reviews on I find that pretty impressive (not that we judge a book merely by its reviews, of course). I have used this as a morning devotional for several months and I love it. I highly recommend it and love how God uses it to call me back to Jesus every morning.