Professor of Mathematics

Matthew Weathers holding a book and grilling burgers outside

Photo by Mike Villa

Favorite Book of the Past Few Years: Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. Describes how we frequently base a lot of our decision making on irrational ideas.

Best Book for the Beach: What If? The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been edited by Robert Cowley. Short essays on how history could have turned out differently. I saw it at Borders for $4 on the bargain table, so it doesn’t matter if you get sand in it.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene H. Peterson. Short but profound chapters about living life well.

Book Everyone Keeps Telling Me I Should Read, but Haven’t: The Bible. Just kidding! The Republic by Plato. It’s only the origin of Western thought, and I’ve only read small parts here and there.

Best Book by a Local Author: Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual by Dennis Prager. This entertaining and funny book offers practical ideas about being happy.

Ashish Naidu

Assistant Professor of Theology

Ashish Naidu holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Favorite Classic: Confessions by Augustine. The church’s first spiritual autobiography from the most quoted theologian in the Middle Ages and the Reformation period.

Book Every Christian Should Read: Institutes by John Calvin. Calvin’s magnum opus is a seminal work in Protestant systematic theology and a must-read for every serious student of theology. The longest chapter is on prayer!

Book I’m Currently Reading: Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology With the Help of the Church Fathers by Donald Fairbairn. An excellent primer for those interested in learning more about the devotional and practical implications of the doctrine of the Trinity from the perspective of the church fathers.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Desiring God by John Piper. A modern spiritual classic in the tradition of the Puritans; it resonates with biblical realism and a passion for the glory of God.

Best Book of Evangelism/Apologetics: Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias. A compelling defense of the Christian faith and worldview from an apologist who is uniquely gifted in communicating biblical truth in ways that reach both the mind and the heart.

Robert Llizo

Lecturer, Torrey Honors Institute

Robert Llizo holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Book Every Christian Should Read: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is a heart-wrenching work that explores the lives of three brothers, born of the libertine, sex-crazed rake and sponger Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov. It is a very philosophical novel that explores the themes of God, theodicy, free will, love and morality through the life of the youngest Karamazov, Alyosha.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. This is a witty, engaging and entertaining consideration of how orthodoxy, far from being “repressive,” is actually a great romance, the romance of faith.

Book Everyone Keeps Telling Me I Should Read, but Haven’t: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. No, I have not read the Harry Potter novels, and everyone tells me that since I have done a lot of reading on the history of alchemy, these novels are just packed with alchemical metaphors. I'll get around to it, some day.

Best Book That Only Takes an Afternoon to Read: The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. A short but meaty consideration of how education forms our moral senses.

Best Book About Byzantine History: Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin. This book challenges common assumptions about the nature of Byzantine government and society by thoroughly addressing the nature of Byzantine imperial court culture.

Todd Lewis

Professor of Communication Studies

Todd Lewis holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Book Every Christian Should Read: Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs. This very practical book attempts to help Christians learn how to communicate honestly and effectively by concentrating on “planting” rather than being obsessed with soul-winning only.

Best Book for the Beach: I’m Fine With God... It’s Christians I Can’t Stand by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz. A book similar to unChristian by the Barna Group people, but more breezy and funny in a “ha, ha, uhhh” sense in that Christians need to be aware of how they are being perceived by non-Christians. If you lose it at the beach, maybe a non-Christian will read it because of the title.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Authentic Communication by Tim Muehlhoff and Todd Lewis. Hey, I know it’s self-serving, but honestly, the chapters will help Christians begin to identify and work on communication concepts that need to be discussed and embraced in public and interpersonal encounters with others.

Best Book That Only Takes an Afternoon to Read: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. You’re never too old to make a difference in the life of a loved one.

Best Book to Jumpstart Conversations About God: The God Conversation by Tim Muehlhoff and J.P. Moreland. The power of using narrative, stories and personal experiences can ethically disarm people who might otherwise be hostile to a discussion of faith and commitment to Christ. This is a breezy but helpful apologetic book that will help Christians have civil dialogue with non-Christians.

Bradley Christerson

Associate Professor of Sociology

Bradley Christerson holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Favorite Classic: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. This sad but compelling classic powerfully displays the dysfunctions of the American middle class. Still as relevant as ever.

Favorite Book of the Past Few Years: Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris. This book explains a problem that plagues the spiritual lives of many of us (especially those of us in midlife), what ancient believers called Acedia — a state of spiritual despair/laziness that makes life seem pointless and empty.  Norris provides examples from her own experience and the ancients on the means of recognizing and overcoming this state.

Book I’m Currently Reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads With An Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn. A powerful and insightful conversation between a Lakota elder and a white man seeking to understand the history and current lives of Native Americans.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol. Chronicles the lives of families struggling to survive in the South Bronx, the forces stacked against them and the faith that sustains them.

Best C.S. Lewis Book That Nobody’s Read: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Lewis supposedly thought that this was his best work, and I agree. A masterful retelling of a Greek myth that shows us how our “false self” keeps us from the love of God and others.  

Natasha Duquette

Professor of English

Natasha Duquette holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Favorite Classic: A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful by Edmund Burke. I know this is a nerdy choice, but I actually really love reading 18th-century philosophy! This book grabbed my attention when I was a graduate student and has remained a central focus for me through the years. Burke’s compelling argument still speaks into contemporary debates regarding theological aesthetics.

Best Book for the Beach: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. This novel is a delightful, comic, witty and satisfying read. Its nature-loving character Marianne Dashwood, with her love of fresh air and walks in the hills, makes it perfect outdoor reading. I still prefer it to Pride and Prejudice, though Elizabeth Bennet does her fair share of solitary walking and even asks: “What are men to rocks and mountains?” ;)

Book Everyone Keeps Telling Me I Should Read, but Haven’t: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I have always wanted to read this novel since I was an undergraduate student. I have read articles about it, heard people talk about it and watched movies that refer to it. I really must read it this summer!

Best Book That Only Takes an Afternoon to Read: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Usually, when I pick this book up I cannot put it down, and that is why I finish it in one sitting. It is truly gripping. It is for people of all ages who love the ocean, animals and their Creator.  

Best Book From a Distant Land: Between Two Worlds by Miriam Tlali. This novel exposes the injustices of daily life during the apartheid era of South African history. It is an excellent account of a black woman’s struggle to provide for her family, and turn the other cheek, when faced with institutionalized racism. It illustrates the difficulty of balancing grace and justice but ends on a note of gratitude and forgiveness.  

Garry DeWeese

Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics

Garry DeWeese holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Best Book for the Beach: I don’t do beach. Best book for the mountains: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Brings the reader into the thrill, danger, tragedy and triumph of high-altitude mountaineering.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: For the Beauty of the Earth by Steven Bouma-Prediger. Makes a thoroughly biblical case for Christians to be involved in “creation care,” and while I disagree with some of his stronger conclusions, his suggestions for action are helpful.

Best Book That Only Takes an Afternoon to Read: Life After God by Douglas Coupland. A strange and disturbing little book that should break our hearts for the empty, searching unbelievers around us.

Best Easy-Reading Fiction: Centennial by James Michener. No Nobel prize for literature here, but a sweeping account of the Indians, mountain men, cowboys and entrepreneurs who shaped and were shaped by the American West — specifically, Colorado.

Book I’m Currently Reading: To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter. A thoughtful and provocative investigation of Christianity and culture; on almost every page I can find something with which to agree or to argue.

Lisa Swain

Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Arts

Lisa Swain holding a book

Photo by Mike Villa

Favorite Book of the Past Few Years: The Word that Redescribes the World by Walter Brueggemann. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The radical words of a haunted Jeremiah still convict and challenge me in my world today. Rarely have I read a book that provoked me out of a complacent faith as did this book.

Best Book for the Beach: How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. All that’s missing from this cynical look at capitalism and art gone awry is a rousing rendition of “Springtime for Hitler.”

Book I’m Currently Reading: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. If today’s headlines do not provide enough drama about abusive white male patriarchy, class envy, shifting real estate values and prima donnas, this little book will set up proper.

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Culture Making by Andy Crouch. Not only does Crouch provide a reasonable solution for the “culture wars” approach once held by evangelicals, but he opens up great avenues of discussion about how culture is proposed, considered, absorbed and disposed in today’s American society. A great read for those interested in good salt manufacturing.

Best Book Better Than the 2009 Movie: The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald. Steven Soderbergh’s movie fairly hangs whistleblower Mark Whitacre’s buffoon duplicity on his own wiretap, but Kurt Eichenwald’s slower reveal allows for readers to get as blindsided as the FBI. It makes for a far more satisfying read. Complicated, but worth it.

Doug Geivett

Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics

Doug Geivett holding a book

Photo by Stephen Hernandez

Book I’m Currently Reading: The God I Don’t Understand by Christopher J. H. Wright. There are no glib answers in this sensitive and sensible book about tough questions of faith: “What about evil and suffering?” “What about the Israelite elimination of the Canaanites?” “What about the justice and necessity of Jesus’ crucifixion?” “What about the end of the world?”

Best Book in the Philosophy of Religion: Is There a God? by Richard Swinburne. The book is brief, systematic and accessible. Written by an internationally recognized Christian scholar from Oxford University.

Best Book That Only Takes an Afternoon to Read: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. An unusually insightful book about finding meaning in life, by a secular psychologist. Armed with a thorough understanding of the Christian worldview, a reader should be able to recognize borrowings from the Christian tradition, and missteps due to naturalist diversions.

Best Book for the Procrastinator: The Procrastination Workbook by William Knaus. If you ever get around to dealing with your procrastination, this book will take you through the steps.

Best Book for Managing a Busy Life: Getting Things Done by David Allen. This will appeal only to the truly obsessive-compulsive, who will need to be careful not to let system overtake the responsibilities of life.

Jason Newell & Brett McCracken

Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor, Biola Magazine

Jason Newell holding a book and Brett McCracken holding an iPad

Photos by Mike Villa

Jason Newell

Editor-in-Chief, Biola Magazine

Favorite Book of the Past Few Years: So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. A train robber and a frustrated novelist journey across the American West in search of redemption while a ruthless detective tries to hunt them down. Think Mark Twain meets Les Miserables.

Best Book for the Beach: Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide by Brett McCracken. A fun, thought-provoking look at what happens when Christianity tries to be cool. I’m reserving a spot for it in my beach bag when it comes out this August.

Book I’m Currently Reading: After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters by N.T. Wright. Wright is one of the most insightful, entertaining and prolific writers alive today — of any genre. I’m about halfway through his latest book (on transformation and virtue in the Christian life), and so far, Chapter 3 has offered some of the best 30 pages I’ve read all year.

Book Everyone Keeps Telling Me I Should Read, but Haven’t: Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. I picked up a copy a couple of years ago and stashed it in my nightstand, but I guess other books keep taking cuts in line. I’ll get to it one of these days.

Best Book From My Childhood: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Growing up, I must have flipped through this 1943 Caldecott Medal winner hundreds of times. So when I rediscovered it at a bookstore a couple of years ago, I had to buy it. It’s a simple picture book for kids, but it’s also a poignant parable about progress, the loss of innocence and — ultimately — redemption.

Brett McCracken

Managing Editor, Biola Magazine

Favorite Classic: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not only the best American novel of the 20th century, but maybe the best novel about America ever. The writing is unbelievably lyrical, and the last page is pure poetry.

Favorite Book of the Past Few Years: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Robinson probes deep truths about life, family and God against the backdrop of small-town Iowa. Each page is a revelation of transcendent prose.

Book Every Christian Should Read: The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells. This is an important book that reminds Christians that relevance isn’t so much about keeping up with the trends as it is about being faithful to the transcendent truths that undergird our faith. 

Best Book for a Discussion Group: Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. There is a lot of “rethinking what we think about Christianity” in here that will provoke great discussion.

Best Book for Those Who Think Technology is Oppressive: Technopoly by Neil Postman. Following in the footsteps of Marshall McLuhan, the eminent cultural critic Neil Postman outlines a prescient and disturbing case for the harmful effects of technology in our contemporary society.