2020 was a strange year for my reading life, mainly because I wrote a book of my own and didn’t have as much time for leisure reading. Of all I read, here is what impacted me the most:
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
This book will be on many top book lists for good reason; sinners and sufferers need to know how God sees them in Christ. That’s why the book has sold over 130,000 copies since releasing earlier this year. Here’s what I said in my mini-review:
Gentle and Lowly is devotional theology at its best; accessible for the layman and spiritually challenging for every Christian. So many Christians feel distant from God or unloved, and Ortlund brings readers to the Savior to hear and feel the very heartbeat that led Him to the cross for us.
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
This is the first Cal Newport book I read. I bought it thinking I needed it badly, but was surprised to see how God had already worked in my life to avoid many of the pitfalls of being obsessed with technology. Nevertheless, Newport offers common sense and well-researched wisdom to help you use technology in helpful, not harmful ways, something of increasing importance in life and discipleship. Here’s an eleven-minute video summary.
2020 was the year for me to get my family’s finances in shape. This book comes with a language warning, and I wouldn’t recommend this book to believers who don’t have a Scriptural foundation for money. (If you need that, check out Alcorn’s Managing God’s Money.) While the title may mislead, it’s a book about personal finance. Sethi tells it like it is and is extremely practical by sharing loads of great information like scripts on how to negotiate lower bills with cable companies and recommending which banks to use and which ones to stay away from. I’ll definitely reference this book in the future. (I heard about this book on The Art of Manliness podcast.)
What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing edited by Peter Ginna
This collection of essays from those in the book industry peel back the curtain to show you how the book sausage is made. I selected this book (audiobook, actually) because I want to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry as my first book continues to make its way through the publishing process. Like most collections of essays, this can be a bit repetitive and some essays are better than others. I enjoyed this book a lot and have great respect for editors and their heart for blessing the world with good books. If I didn’t enjoy what I did so much, I’d consider switching industries to publishing!
The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Iain Murray
Iain Murray has never disappointed me. This one-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is simply fantastic and has made me even more of a fan of the Doctor. Simply reading about the weighty atmosphere of worship at Westminster Chapel lifted my soul and inspired me to press on in faith and ministry. (Also: 100 recommended Christian biographies.)
This is a really helpful book for all of us who know people who seem to be nominal believers (what Inserra calls ‘unsaved Christians’). I think it’s true that the hardest people to reach are the ones who think they already are reached. Listen to the author on the For the Church podcast.
I’ve not finished this book, but did see Carl Trueman speak on the topic. Many of the blurbs caught my attention as to how this book might go down as the most important analysis of western culture in recent history. So far, the analysis is penetrating and helps make sense of our upside down (or should I say, inward focused) world. This is a longer tome than some will be able to stomach, but Trueman’s free lecture series on the topic may provide an engaging summary of themes.
A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage
It’s amazing how the development of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and soda can tell so much of the world’s history. The book drags in certain parts and the evolutionary worldview comes through strong, but it’s still a neat book, especially for those who enjoy the drinks mentioned.
40 Questions about Biblical Theology by Naselli, DeRouchie, Martin
I’ll have a full review sometime in the New Year, but I’m devouring this book. Thank God for His glorious and life-giving Word!
Just like the title says. Like any book of this type, it has some fluff to make it the ideal length, but it’s a great read. I mention it in my final chapter of When Prayer Is a Struggle on busyness.
Together Through the Storms: Biblical Encouragements for Your Marriage When Life Hurts by Jeff and Sarah Walton (see my review).
Finding the Right Hills to Die on: The Case for Theological Triage by Gavin Orlund. I wish I read this book in seminary! (On another note, 2020 was a great year for books from the Ortlund brothers.)
Abide by Warren Wiersbe. A super-short, yet helpful read unpacking and applying a crucial passage: John 15. I bought several copies to giveaway.
Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application by Daniel M. Doriani. The best book I know of on application for sermons.
Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom by G.K. Beale. I haven’t finished this yet, but am really enjoying it.