This is the second of three posts leading up to the 2012 Together for the Gospel Conference. If you are more than a mere peruser of the book tables at conferences, this will be a money saver for you.
Caution: you are entering a book buying temptation zone if you are going to T4G next week. The tables will glitter with the latest titles, the discounts will be scrumptious, and everyone else will be approaching the checkouts with Tower of Babel sized piles.
They even prime your pump by giving you free books when you walk in. That doesn’t spoil your appetite like the Triple Dipper at Chili’s. It’s more like a quick hit of heroine that leaves you wanting another fix the rest of the week (and another, and another).
This stacks the odds in favor of you impulsively buying books that you will never read. And books bought, but not read, are a waste of money.
So to spare your budget the unnecessary expense, I’ve compiled some trustworthy lists of recommended books for pastors.
Each of these nine resources can be accessed online, so you can have these lists available at the book tables (assuming that you, or your friend, has a smart phone). Instead of asking your roomie if “that book is any good,” check the list, then buy it or put it back. That simple.
1. Bestcommentaries.com ranks more commentaries than could ever fit on your shelf. What I like about the site is that it doesn’t just place them in order from first to worst. It gives each commentary a rating out of 100. So if the top volume isn’t rated very well (see Zechariah commentaries, for example), it might be best just to wait for a better commentary to be published.
2. The Denver Seminary Journal provides online bibliographies for both the OT and NT. They cover more than just commentaries, hitting a host of academic tools. It’s updated for 2012.
3. D.A. Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey is available on Kindle. I know it’s technically not “on the web,” but you can buy it off the web, and access it on a smart phone, so I’m including it (who ever heard of a list of eight?). At $6.99, if it rescues you from one poor purchase, it will more than pay for itself. It’s current up to 2007.
4. Al Mohler has put together a small list of books he recommends that preachers read in 2012.
5. Brian Croft, who has made a name for himself for his quality book recommendations, has a list of suggested pastoral reading at his blog.
6. Desiring God has a list of recommended commentaries. It’s a bit dated (2006), but makes a lot of picks that still can’t be beat.
7. Desiring God also has a general list of book recommendations. Again, it’s a bit dated (also 2006), but it contains so many timeless titles that it will be a helpful resource for years to come.
8. The Resurgence has a large list of suggested reading for the topic of leadership (2009).
Lastly, if you are stuck between two commentaries, I’ll offer you my “go to” authors. These are guys whose commentaries I buy no matter what. They are not just top scholars, they are good writers, which makes their scholarship easier to grasp.
For the OT, in my opinion, you should have every commentary written by Gordon Wenham, Dan Block, Peter Craigie, Bruce Waltke, and Douglas Stuart. For the NT, the same goes for Doug Moo, D.A. Carson, Greg Beale, and Peter O’Brien.
Did I miss any other great lists? Help the rest of us book junkies out by linking to them in the comments!