It’s December so that means holiday preparations, Christmas cookies, asking yourself why you live in such a cold climate (if you indeed do live in such a place), and best books of the year blog posts.
The more of these top books of the year posts I do, the more I realize how arbitrary they are. How do you measure a book? Overall enjoyment? How it impacted me? Some combination of both? I’m not sure, but in looking over my list of books read for the year, these ten rose to the top. They are in no particular order. Three were released in 2018 and the others date back to the 1600s. Hopefully, this list will give you an idea or two of what to read in the new year.
Love Your Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality by Nancy Pearcey
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller
I’d give this book six stars out of five if I could. Miller is a praying man who has learned much in the pursuit of a praying life. I’m motivated to have a child-like faith and converse with my heavenly Father about everything after reading. I loved Miller’s anecdotes on how he’s learned to pray during family struggles. I finally know why people rave about this book!
Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by Stephen Dempster
While all titles of the NSBT series I’ve read have been good, Dempster’s volume presenting a Biblical Theology of the Old Testament stands apart. Dempster’s depth of knowledge and insight made reading this a pleasure. Some of the NSBT volumes are more scholarly than I’d prefer, but Dempster largely avoids that. This volume is fairly easy to read and accessible for an intermediate-level biblical theologian. I’m sure I’ll revisit this book.
Fidelity: What It Means to Be a One-Woman Man by Douglas Wilson
Wilson can write. He’s also direct in talking about sexual sin which is refreshing when many books are littered with euphemisms or cutesy descriptions. My men’s small group enjoyed reading this together and seeking to grow in every aspect of being a one-woman man. This book presents a helpful, biblical, and practical take on sexuality, something our society gets so wrong these days.
Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray
I needed this book. I didn’t realize how badly I needed it until I read it. My future self will thank Dr. Murray for helping me evaluate my life, habits, workload, and perspective. Every believer would benefit from reading Reset for the establishing of healthy rhythms and avoiding burnout. Special thanks to our friends at Crossway who provided copies for an LRI trainers event last Spring.
Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks
If you like Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, here’s a similar premise in a different package. Puritan Thomas Brooks arms believers with truth to fight against Satan’s devices. Brooks would have been a great blogger (although he could have used an editor) as this book is basically a collection of listicles. See my interaction with one section: How to Fight Distraction in Worship: Wisdom from Thomas Brooks. There’s a reason this book from the 1600s is still in print!
21 Servants of Sovereign Joy by John Piper
This book is a compilation of 21 short biographies that John Piper wrote (and preached) for pastors conferences. I shared the free audio here and enjoyed working through the lives of some fascinating people. You might also be interested in 100+ of the Best Christian Biographies. I’ve become convinced you can’t read too many good biographies.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
This book blew me away. Wilkerson artfully told the good, the bad, and the ugly tales of three southern black Americans who fled the Jim Crow south in search of a better life in the north. If you want to understand racial issues more in America, here’s a great book.
I’ve heard Romans 8 called the Mount Everest of the gospel in how it portrays life in the Spirit, God’s grace in suffering, and our unshakeable assurance in Christ. Aussie preacher Ray Galea artfully exposits Romans 8 in a fresh way that will remind you of the glorious hope we have in Christ. I would give this book three thumbs up if I could. Galea’s explanation of the text is crystal clear and his illustrations add flavor and life to a chapter that was very familiar to me. Special thanks to my friends at Matthias Media for the copy.
I’ve been meaning to read both of these books for at least a couple of years. Sowell is an economist (now retired) but writes insightfully on conflicting visions that separate conservatives and liberals in the US. His book shares a helpful paradigm in thinking through foundational beliefs and values of both sides of the political aisle.
The second book won’t be of interest to everyone, but as a missionary to Latin America(ns), I’ve wanted to read this for a while. My big takeaway is that so much of Latin America still needs the five solas of the Reformation. I’m so glad to play a part with Leadership Resources International in training Latin American pastors to exposit the Scriptures!
- A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
- Ecclesiastes (Preaching the Word) by Philip Ryken
- Supernatural Power for Everyday People by Jared C. Wilson
- Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Thornbury