Yesterday I shared some of my favorite books to read in 2013 (many of which I reviewed). Today, I want to share a few of my favorite books to review.
(And no, this isn’t a case of “I just liked so many books I couldn’t limit the list,” as you’ll see in a minute.)
These are not all books I enjoyed, nor are they all books I’d recommend you read yourself. But all were books that challenged me in some way as I tried to figure out how to best review them, whether because of disagreements with the content or because the genre was something I’d never tackled before. Simply, they were some of the books that let me exercise my critical thinking skills.
So, with that in mind, here are the reviews I most enjoyed writing in 2013:
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Why’d it make the list? Being familiar with Evans’ work, I knew I wasn’t likely to agree with her conclusions in the book from the get-to. But the challenge here was finding ways to articulate my disagreement in a way that would be helpful and appreciate the good points of the book.
One of my concluding lines was “On some points, A Year of Biblical Womanhood offers some extremely helpful insights. On others, though, it comes across as petty and juvenile,” so I’m not sure how well I succeeded there.
Mapping the Origins Debate by Gerald Rau
Why’d it make the list? While the book is a bit stuffy in its writing style (it skews academic), its subject matter is too important not to give careful consideration. I’ve seen attempt to present a balanced view of the major positions on human origins. Rau did a very good job of this, as well as pointing out the often overlooked role of our presuppositions in interpreting scientific data.
Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax
Why’d it make the list? Trevin’s book is one of the first serious attempts I’ve made at reviewing a work of fiction. In fact, it might actually be the first fiction book I’ve reviewed. And any time I need to start a review writing, “Clear Winter Nights is not an ugly book,” I think it means I had some thinking to do.
Does God Listen to Rap? by Curtis Allen
Why’d it make the list? Because controversial subjects require a lot of thought. Allen clearly worked hard to address the concerns about Christian rap from a biblical perspective and his arguments require careful consideration.
God’s Good Design by Claire Smith
Why’d it make the list? This book had almost the opposite problem of A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Because I’m in agreement with the arguments made by the author, I still needed to figure out how to think through these with a degree of objectiveness. Again, not sure how well I succeeded there, so you’ll have to be the judge.
The Boy and the Ocean by Max Lucado
Why’d it make the list? Mostly because reviewing a book geared toward children is incredibly challenging. At the risk of being obvious, writing a book for kids isn’t the same as writing for adults. There’s more nuance you can include in a book for big people that doesn’t work well with little ones. Nevertheless, I think I stand by my conclusion: “A gospel-driven book, this is not; but it is an opening to a gospel conversation with your kids. And if that’s what Lucado set out to do, then he’s succeeded admirably.”
A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll
Why’d it make the list? This was, far and away, the most challenging review I wrote all year for me personally. I found myself with a large list of concerns, as well as a number of things I appreciated about the book—which, in hindsight, actually were some of my concerns!
So those were a few of my favorite books to review. Although a number of them are books I’d probably recommend you not read, hopefully checking out the reviews will help you understand why I like the process of reviewing so much.