I read 54 books in 2018: about one a week. I love learning and books are one of my favorite forms of learning. I tend to read five types of books: Christian Living, Theology, Leadership, General Non-Fiction, and Fiction. If you’re interested in tracking my reading, getting fuller reviews, and sharing with me your favorites, I use Goodreads and would be happy to have you friend me there. Here were some highlights for me in 2018:
Jeremiah Burroughs’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment pierces the heart with conviction. Rosaria Champagne-Butterfield’s The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is a gripping story of how God got a hold of her and transformed her life through normal means. Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something is the most helpful and straight-forward exploration of the will of God I’ve read. Dave Harvey’s Rescuing Ambition was convicting to me: do I have the courage to foster godly ambition in my life? Timothy and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage immediately vaulted into my favorite two books on marriage (Dan Allender and Tremper Longman’s Intimate Allies is my other favorite).
Randy Alcorn’s Heaven sparked my imagination like few books do. DA Carson’s The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God is a landmark book for Reformed theology, exploring the intersection of the love of God and the sovereignty of God. Our Secular Age was put out by The Gospel Coalition and considers the ramifications of philosopher Charles Taylor’s work—not a gripping premise, but gripping (and even practical!) in execution. CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce remains one of the most enduring reflections on the afterlife, and I only appreciated it more as I re-read it. James KA Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Relativism provides a fresh Christian perspective on pragmatism. Preston Sprinkle’s Fight might have been the book that changed my mind the most in 2018, as he presents a fresh argument for Christian pacifism.
Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated is a fun read that says that faithful, focused practice, not talent, is the most important determiner of ability. McChensey, Covey, and Huling’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution invites the reader to create processes that maximize output by focusing on the wildly important goal, leverage one’s lead measures, keep score, and be held accountable. Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0 is the most helpful personality test I’ve used and helps one to identify one’s strengths and lean into those strengths. Simon Sinek’s Start with Why encourages us to move past the “what” of our organizations and press into the why.
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals explores Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy and how he pulled together a team of his rivals to be his advisers—in an era of polarization, it’s a fantastic and timely read. Jordan Peterson’s meteoric 12 Rules for Life is solomonic and sweeping, and fascinating in the way he pulls together theological, philosophical, and psychological threads, but ultimately his graceless understanding of God undoes his project. Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert is an indictment of the US’s water policies in the West, particularly the building of problematic dam projects—and Reisner would label every dam built in the West as problematic.
Re-reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was a great decision – a timeless psychological and moral tale. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a pretty taught modern thriller with a nice twist. Mo Yan’s Frog was a unique read for me: a story set in mid-20th Century China with the wicked one-child policy as a back-drop. It was a hard, but compelling story.
What I’m Hoping to Read in 2019
There are so many books I’m looking forward to diving into in 2019. A few of those are Jeffrey Arthurs’s Preaching As Reminding, Andy Crouch’s Strong and Weak, Seth Godin’s This is Marketing, Michael Goheen’s The Church and Its Vocation, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, Gary Moon’s Becoming Dallas Willard, David R. Nienhuis’s A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament, Marilynne Robinson’s What Are We Doing Here? and Bob Russell’s After 50 Years of Ministry.
I would love to hear your favorite books you read in 2018 and any books you’re looking forward to reading in the coming year.