Why short books?
Well, because they’re short! Duh.
Churchill said somewhere that old words are best, and short words when old are best of all. Maybe the “old” part is less true than the “short” part. But surely the idea applies also to words in large groups – books.
(Maybe that means that if you’re going to write a book – especially a nonfiction work – go for it. But make it short and to the point.)
Here are 8 quite short books that have been particularly valuable to me, that I’ve read and reread. Two I used as a textbook two or three times (#6,8), and the rest I’d like to use as texts.
By B H Liddell Hart (126p)
His answers include this prominent reason: we lie about it. Still going on isn’t it? British and European history examples, but clear and valuable. “makes one wonder and consider … we certainly should [consider] in an era when so much bad history and propaganda is being put before us from unknown sources by unknown authors.”
by Walter Wink (66p)
From 2005. Review provided by the publisher: “Repressive authoritarian regimes are falling and fragile new democracies are emerging around the globe. How are long-standing conflicts and deep divisions to be healed and enemies reconciled without breeding further injustices? To answer this question, Walter Wink here applies his compelling analysis of “the Powers,” as they appear in the New Testament, to the global scene.”
by Richard Bauckham (164p)
Kinda longish, and a bit dense. But it’s shorter than lots of theology books! Very valuable for it’s highly credible treatment of “The Revelation” as a subversive Christ-honoring tract against the violence and fraud of the Roman Empire.
This series of shorter books on various New Testament books (“The Theology of …”) has some pretty good stuff in it. From Cambridge University Press.
by William Strunk, Jr, and E. B. White (71p)
I love it. “the so-called Strunk & White, which Time named in 2011 as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.” The New Yorker: “distinguished by brevity, clarity, and prickly good sense…” The Boston Sunday Globe: “If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s never too late to get your copy.”
by Howard Thurman (112p)
A classic. A strong influence on Dr. Martin Luther King – both this book and its author. Chapter titles: Jesus, an Introduction; Fear; Deception; Hate; Love. Leaves off preaching and goes to meddling.
by Walter Wink (103p)
A book of small physical dimensions but impressive range of coverage. Very good little chapter on theological issues. Much appreciated by some of my students in the past. “The comparative degree of carnage is a moral issue.”
by Hendrik Berkhof (tr by John Howard Yoder) (70p)
A brief but focused study of the Biblical terms used regarding the powers that resist the healing, reconciling, revitalizing work of Christ. Important groundwork for Walter Wink and others. Are you concerned about “the powers that be”?
by Brooks Berndt (54p)
Berndt shows that climate is very much a justice issue, which means it’s a matter of loving all our neighbors, so it’s ipso facto a Biblical issue. Berndt is Minister for Environmental Justice at the United Church of Christ. There’s a post on this site that briefly reviews this book: Young Climate Prophets, Wise and Blunt Against Earth Abuse.
Churchill also said, by the way, something like: You don’t have to have read all the books on your shelf. If you take them down on occasion and handle them and appreciate them, that also is of value.
Are you acquainted with any of these? Do you have a title or two to add?
Go get yourself some short books! You can at least handle them, read the back covers, the tables of contents, appreciate them and the people who labored to produce them.
(I’m not a great fan of Amazon. But I often link to them for books because of the availability of formal and informal reviews. That makes it easier to get the lay of the land.)