On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked George Yancey—author of Beyond Racial Division and Beyond Racial Gridlock, as well as One Faith No Longer with Ashlee Quosigk—about what’s on his bedside table, favorite fiction, favorite rereads, and much more.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
Two books for different reasons. Kingdom Race Theology by Tony Evans, because I need to keep up on what influential Christian leaders are writing about racial issues, and Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality by Hillary Morgan Ferrer and Amy Davison, because I need help raising my three active young boys and will take advice wherever I can find it.
What are your favorite fiction books?
Fiction? What is fiction?
What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?
I haven’t read a lot of biographies and autobiographies. I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X a long time ago, which is the last one I can remember reading. I tend to stick to books that deal with social science or make a social, political, or philosophical argument.
What are some books you regularly reread and why?
Other than the Bible, of course, I use some key books as a reference consistently. Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith is one I use for racial issues and the church. I find James Wellman’s Evangelical vs. Liberal useful when working on theological diversity issues within Christianity. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt is a go-to when I want to understand political polarization.
What books have helped you be a better disciple of Christ in non-Christian academic settings?
Numerous apologetics books by the likes of Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig helped me be intellectually centered in my field. I also benefited earlier in my walk from Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance and from Secrets of a Christian Life by Tim Stafford and Philip Yancey (no relation). Finally, Tony Campolo’s A Reasonable Faith and It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’ also contributed to my growth as a Christian thinker.
What’s one sociology book you wish every pastor would read?
There are many for different reasons, but I suggest Soul Searching by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton to understand Moral Therapeutic Deism and the challenge that exists in the younger cohorts.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
The challenge of raising three boys has definitely put me in a position to see how the Father raises his children and the power of will in that relationship. It has also humbled me and forced me to rely more on him as I tend to my boys. The new challenges and opportunities swirling around me can be overwhelming, and I’m working on putting my priorities into a proper perspective to handle those challenges.