Given my conviction that reading good books can contribute to one's happiness, I thought I'd write about a few good books I've read this past year. The following are books I've read during 2012 that stand out as some of my favorites. I don't think any of them were actually published in 2012 but a good read is a good read, even if you're late to the party (as I usually am when it comes to books).
Bonhoeffer: Last winter, author Eric Metaxas came to speak at the university where I teach. While it took me a while to really get into this book, I enjoyed it very much and was challenged by the depth of conviction and faith of someone who was willing to give his life in the fight against Hitler and Nazism. Bonhoeffer's devotion to his nation, other people, and his faith are commendable. Bonhoeffer's story still does not receive the attention and reflection that it deserves. They should make a movie based on this one.
Gullhanger: This is a great read for any soccer fan, and is free on Kindle at the moment. The author describes in humorous but realistic detail his decision to become a devoted fan of his local soccer club, Brighton and Hove Albion. Eschewing the big clubs, his passionate support of the Seagulls rekindles his love for the beautiful game.
I read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels this year, and enjoyed them a lot. They make for great bedtime reading on the Kindle–you can get most for free or for a nominal charge.
The Christian Case for Virtue Ethics: A well-written and soundly argued work. Kotva argues that in light of Christian theology and Scripture, a moral framework centered on virtue and character is "a particularly promising way of understanding the moral life" (p. 1). Many associate Christianity with a rule-based ethic, but Kotva makes a good case for virtue in this work. It is a great introduction to virtue ethics as well.
A Life Too Short: This is a difficult, but really insightful read about the life and death of Robert Enke, a German goalkeeper who committed suicide at the age of 32. The pressure of European football comes through clearly in the story. The details of his struggle with depression are hard to read, but give some insight into what it's like to experience it, and what it is like for those who love someone who is dealing with this disease.
Getting Things Done: Wish I'd read this book years ago. It is simple, effective, and putting it into practice has helped me to be more productive, more organized, and have less stress. I've followed the advice over at The Secret Weapon and have adapted Evernote for use as a GTD software system. So far, it is working very well. There are so many productivity and organizational systems and books out there, but I can't imagine a better one than this.