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 well over 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, a few were so bad I’m not sure how they were even published… but a few were legitimately great. Here are the ones that made the cut this year:
10. Quiet by Susan Cain
A word of warning for those who tend to only read Christian books: this is not a book written by a Christian; therefore, you’re going to have to do some worldview identification and translation while reading this book (which is a healthy thing to get into the habit of). However, Cain’s insights into the “extrovert ideal” that dominates America and how introverts can thrive in it are much needed.
Buy it at: Amazon
9. Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger / The Life of God in the Soul of the Church by Thabiti Anyabwile (tie)
Christian publishing had a number of hot topics this year. Among them is “church.” Of the contemporary books I’ve read on the subject this year, these two are the standouts. Both offer strong, balanced theological insights, while avoiding unnecessary prescriptiveness on secondary matters. This is a difficult balance to strike and I’m grateful for the combined wisdom of these authors.
8. Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian
Suffering is an important subject for us all, as recent events in Newtown CT, have reminded us. There are a number of good (and some great) books on the subject, many doing the work of preventative medicine or giving a theological foundation. Tullian’s book is different. It’s one meant to encourage the reader who’s in the midst of suffering and trial (particularly of the sort they’ve got no control over), posing the question: What is God doing in the midst of suffering?
The answer he provides is simple, practical, and helpful for every reader: “For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God’s chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be himself for you” (26).
My review: The Gospel Coalition
7. Excellence by Andreas Köstenberger
Most of you have likely not read this. You really should. Köstenberger’s examination of the scholarly virtue of excellence (which, by the way, is incredibly applicable to everyday life) will challenge the way you look at what it means to be excellent to the glory of God. Here’s a standout excerpt:
Far from being optional, excellence is in fact a divine mandate that applies to every aspect of our lives, for God himself is characterized by excellence. Mediocrity, sloppy workmanship, and a half-hearted effort do not bring glory to God or advance his kingdom.
6. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller / Friends and Lovers by Joel R. Beeke (tie)
Of all the many marriage and relationship books by folks affiliated with the Reformed Resurgence in America, these are by far the best. A key reason: Experience. Both were written by authors who’s marriages have seen long-term health and sustainability. While you likely won’t agree with everything written in either of them, both offer readers a great deal of practical, pastoral wisdom. Continue Reading…