I’m pleased to say that the year 2021 may be the most disciplined I have ever been at reading. FOMO drives my book selection less and less. I read more strategically, meaning for my creative projects I read/skim chapters of books to glean what I need more than I read a book cover to cover. (Although that also means I have less books to choose from for my end of the year top 10 list!)
There are other reasons my book habits have changed. I’ve read more children’s books as my daughter gets older (she loves SuperBook titles and anything by Sandra Boynton). I also read my own book so many times in the editorial process that I had less desire to read other stuff! And lastly, I’ve been spoiled by a great local library system that uses Hoopla and Libby to give me an unbelievable amount of free content at my fingertips. (Add me as a friend on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading.)
Here are some of the best books I’ve read this year, in no particular order.
What a helpful book! Williams is gracious, biblical, gospel-centered, well-read, and realistic. I’m sure parts of this book will upset some partisan thinkers, but so does Scripture. The testimonies that close each chapter were excellent as were the recommended resources Williams shared along the way. I really, really, really wish every Christian college student and faculty member would read this and take it to heart. I fear for the future of Christian higher education and unbiblical social justice thinking is one major reason why.
Being the Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World That Says You Shouldn’t by Stephen McAlpine
This is a book I’ll read again. So helpful and encouraging. Every Christian would value reading this to stand firm for Christ in our culture. Here’s an interview on the book.
A Christian on the Mount: A Treatise Concerning Meditation by Thomas Watson
I’m still working my way through this one. Like many Puritans, Watson probably could have used a modern editor. Evenso, he packs life-changing jewels in this volume. Here are two choice quotes of A Christian on the Mount to whet your appetite:
“God often does more than he has said, never less; he often shoots beyond the mark of the promise he has set, never short of it.”
“The promises of God are flowers growing in the paradise of scripture; meditation, like the bee, sucks out the sweetness of them. The promises are of no use or comfort to us, until they are meditated upon.”
No, I haven’t read all eight volumes cover to cover (maybe before I die), but this is one of my favorite preachers on one of my favorite books of the Bible. A treasure. (Or you might say “unsearchable riches”.) I finally bought hard copies this year. Thankfully, the good folks at MLJ Trust have all 232(!) sermons in this series for free.
A helpful primer on marriage counseling. A good read for those in ministry and those who want solid preventative medicine for their marriages.
Preaching to Be Heard: Delivering Sermons That Command Attention by Lucas O’Neill
Pastor (and my friend) Lucas O’Neill is a proponent of Big Idea preaching, and this helpful book helps preachers structure their sermons around making that big idea as clear and attention-grabbing as possible. As I read, I felt like I was in a workshop led by a professor and practitioner on making expositional preaching as compelling as it should be, and I’m a better preacher because of it. I will consult the chapter on sermon structure as I prepare my next sermon. Highly recommended.
Teaching and Leading Across Cultures by Dr. Craig Ott
Here’s another title I haven’t read cover to cover. What I have read convinces me that this will be an important book for me moving forward as I seek to grow as a cross-cultural teacher and trainer with Unlocking the Bible. In this book that has been decades in the making, Ott (another personal connection) combines strong theory, research-based information with practical application—a unique blend. I appreciate his thoughts on online learning and how COVID-19 has shifted the use of technology some in theological education.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
What a fascinating and horrifying juxtaposition of an event that literally changed the world (the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago) with a monster who reveled in death and power (the serial killer H.H. Holmes). Being from Chicagoland makes many of the details especially interesting. The 1893 Colombian Exposition was the biggest event in the history of the world to that point. Think about that for a second.I needed a relaxing/distracting read (actually, listen), and this proved very, very enjoyable.
Law provides a helpful primer on the baseball stat revolution. Law differentiates between many old school stats like RBI, wins, and saves while suggesting better ways of measuring individual performance (because the three aforementioned stats may produce misleading conclusions about the performance of individuals because they are more of “team stats”). Recommended for any baseball fan wanting to go deeper into what stats are important and which are misleading. I geeked out.
I’ve bounced back and forth in these two volumes. I actually had never read Pink before. He packs so much depth and riches into his writing. Pink helps me see the majesty of God.
See my full 2021 book list at Goodreads to browse other titles I’ve dipped into this year.