Last year I did a list of the top books I read in 2017. It was popular enough that I thought I would do it again. I should point out that a lot of my reading is not for fun. I am reading to develop as a follower of Jesus and a Christian minister. But I thought I would share with you what I have read because life is too short for bad books. So here are my recommendations for reading:
Book of the Year
Book of the year is the one book I read this year that I think everyone should read. Admittedly, Rediscovering Holiness by J.I. Packer had sat on my shelf for some time before I picked it up and read it. It is one of those books that really gets under your skin and because it is by Packer it is one you need to savor it slowly. If you were a fan of Knowing God, you will love this. If you are a professional in ministry, this is a must-read.
I read a few books in the historical/ biographical category. An honorary mention needs to go to Iain Murry for J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone. But the stand out for me was the Audible book The Autobiography of Martin Luther King,
Jr edited by Clayborn Carson. This year was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of MLK, and I had to admit I needed to fill in some blanks in my knowledge, which is why I went to this book. The reason I liked this book was because it was the man’s own words. He was preparing an autobiography when he was killed, Carson put it together. Throughout the audiobook, where they could, they used MLK’s voice, especially when he was preaching which makes you realise how much his Christian convictions lead his way in a reform movement.
Every year I try to read at least one book on preaching. This year I read through Catching the Wave by Tim MacBride. I think if you are going to understand the New Testament as literature, you need to be able to interact with rhetoric. There is a longer review here.
In terms of development, I re-read Death by Meetings by Patrick Lencioni, which still stands up as a great book on meetings, especially in terms of how it is written. I finally got around to A Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp and it did not disappoint. Evangelism in a Skeptical World by Sam Chan could have easily been my book of the year. It is a great book to inspire and understand evangelism, well written by a great communicator. It is a great book for anyone to pick up and read. Not all the chapters may be relevant, but the ones that are will be a great read.
Understanding our World
I have tried to spend bit more time on how to understand the world we are living in. Why do people think the way they do, how do we make ethical decisions, etc? Part of this was discovering the fabulous magazine: New Philosopher. How (not) to be Secular by James K. A. Smith is not an easy read, made more complicated by the fact it is reacting to another, longer book by Charles Taylor. Nevertheless, there certainly are insights that have helped me to understand the people I am trying to reach with the gospel.
I finally got around to finding out why the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway won a noble prize in literature. The Bobiverse Trilogy by Dennis E. Taylor was nerdy but fun! At the start of the year I read 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing you by Tony Reinke and the ideas in this stuck with me throughout the year.
Enjoy reading in 2019, but please read!