That season has come around once again, where top ten lists abound! As you know, reading is one the few hobbies I have, regularly reading around 100 books a year. With that much reading, it’s no surprise that there’s a range of quality. Most are in that “good, but not earth-shattering” category, some were terrible… but a few were legitimately great. Here are the ones that made the cut this year—but this year, I’m doing it a little differently by sharing from a few different categories. Check it out:
Books for Christians
Rooted: Theology for Growing Christians by J.A. Medders and Brandon D. Smith. Rooted is tiny, which makes it a great read for new believers. This book is really a crash course on Christian theology—what is it, why it matters and why eschatology is actually filled with good news. (For more on this book, check out the first episode of Reading Writers.)
True Worshipers by Bob Kauflin. For years, in blog posts and now in this book, Bob Kauflin has been putting many of my hangups about goofy things we do during corporate worship into charitable, but direct words. But what I love about this book isn’t that it voices the concerns—it offers solutions for those who have them. (For more, read my review.)
Understanding the Congregation’s Authority by Jonathan Leeman. This short little book is an introduction to a larger conversation on elder-led congregationalism, but it’s a terrific place to start for anyone who needs a foundational understanding of what it actually means (before reading Leeman’s longer book, Don’t Fire Your Church Members). (For more, read my review.)
Books with great stories
Outlaws of Time Volume 1: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson. This book kicked off a new series, and it’s one of his most fascinating (and fantastical), filled with time travel, action, and high-stakes adventure. It’s a terrific book for readers between the ages of eight and 80.
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Yes, this is four books, but I’m fine cheating this once since the four books tell one story. I’d heard about this series from friends here and there but hadn’t given it a chance until earlier this year. I’m so glad I did, as it’s quickly become one of my favorites. The writing is sharp, and often extremely funny. The plot moves quickly, the drama is authentic, and Peterson smuggles in gospel themes in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Definitely worth reading as a family.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This book is just beautiful. I really don’t know what else to say about it. Dickens’ words, the story of love and sacrifice, the quirky background players, and the setting of revolutionary era France… I can’t wait to jump back into this one.
Books about things that actually happened
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. The film version of The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies. And reading this book, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at its making, was a delight. I loved getting a sense of the camaraderie the cast members felt, and the genuine affection everyone involved had for the source material and the film itself.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Neshi Coates. This book was a helpful (and painful) glimpse into a world I don’t know. I’ve never experienced the world the way Coates has. I don’t know what it’s like to feel fear as the baseline the way he describes as being normative in the African American experience.
I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short. I ran through this book during my commute, and had a number of moments where I almost had to pull over because I was laughing so hard. Until I got to the end, which nearly had me in tears. After reading it, I was left with this desire to take him out for a soda, and give him a hug.
Books with pictures
DC Universe: Rebirth by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, et al. This book is a blast to read, and reminds me of what comics are supposed to be: fun! The storytelling is tight, the art is beautiful, and the hook is compelling. I’m really looking forward to seeing where DC’s editorial and creative teams go from this starting point.
Grayson, Volume 4: A Ghost in the Tomb by Tom King and Tim Seeley. I’m actually surprised this one made the list, as I wasn’t sure I was going to keep reading the series beyond the first volume. But I’m glad I did because it’s become one of the most interesting takes on the character of Dick Grayson so far. And this volume is where you really see the creators are having a great time playing with spy tropes and the character of Dick Grayson, even going so far as to give him a hilariously terrible theme song.
Queen and Country: The Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka. Rucka’s Queen and Country is intense, intelligent and engaging. It’s also very much a read-with-discretion book regarding certain elements. However, what I appreciate about the book is the unsavory elements are not displayed in a way to glorify or titillate. They exist more as a reality, or even as a signal of despair as the lead character’s life quickly spins out of control.
See what made the cut in years past: