Every December, one of my favorite things happens. “Top 20” booklists come out, numerous book reviews are published, and lists from what various people read during the year also dot the internet. These lists and book reviews provide material for my own reading in the coming year or challenge me to read books I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in. Reading reviews on some of the same books I had read that year also stretches me to see things I missed or why one book received such a glowing review when I didn’t feel that way about it.
For me, 2019 was a good year for reading—28 books. I also read more fiction this year than I had since I was in high school.
Of course, I would love to hear what you read and what you would recommend that I add to my list for 2020!
During the early months of winter, biographies were the books that got me through the long, dark days. I need these true-life accounts to lift my eyes above these present circumstances to see Christ. Any book by Dr. Thomas Hale would be a worthwhile read, but my favorite biography of the year would go to Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas)
This was one of the longest books I have ever read, but it was worth all of its 572 pages. It was insightful to read about the man who wrote one of my favorite books, Life Together. Highly recommend this book.
Bus from Bangkok (Dorothy Rose)
Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees (Thomas Hale)
On the Far Side of Liglig Mountain (Thomas Hale)
Living Stones of the Himalayas (Thomas Hale)
The Prince Still Smiled (Carl Lawrence)
Every year, the bulk of what I read is standard Christian non-fiction. I read far too many “best books” in this category. So, I have made some comments by some of these books (and a comment by one I cannot recommend).
Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church (John Onwucheckwa)
Friendship (Drew Hunter)
Different (David Martin)
Decisions, Decisions (Dave Swavely)
Cannot recommend this book. If you are looking for help with making a decision, read All In (Batterson) and/or Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung). Whether intentional or not, Swavely seems to have no need of the Holy Spirit, is strongly against any miraculous gifts of the Spirit being for today, and has gotten making a decision down to a step-by-step process and checklist.
7 Myths about Singleness (Sam Allberry)
So much I could say about this book. If I were to pick one book that most-helped me this year, it would be this one. I highly recommend it be standard reading for all church members and pastors. If you are single, read this book and be understood, challenged, and encouraged. If you are married, read this book to better understand and know the single people in your church.
Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (Miroslav Volf)
This book is a long, at-times heavy read, but so worth the extra thought that must go into reading its pages. There were so many sentences I starred and underlined. And when I finally closed the cover, I was overwhelmed at how giving and forgiving God truly is.
The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (Christopher Ash)
Do you ever wonder what would make your pastor the happiest? Or how you could be an encouragement to him? Then read this book. A short, simple read, but profound in its delivery. If you are a church member, then this book is for you. Read it, be changed, and pass it on to someone else.
The Soul of Shame (Curt Thompson)
Uncomfortable (Brett McCracken)
McCracken makes many good points in this book, but is often hard to separate his personal preferences from scriptural mandates for the church. Yes, there are things we need to give up and set aside in our search for the perfect church, but sometimes things come down to simple preferences that could mean the difference between one’s soul dying or thriving. Would recommend reading this book if you moved and are looking for a new church or simply need a reminder of what the church is supposed to be. And for the things that seem like preferences? Take them as that.
God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel (Costi Hinn)
This was a last-minute choice to read on the flight to SE Asia in October. An easy read, and very enlightening on the prosperity gospel. Helps answer the questions of what it is and isn’t by someone who lived it (Benny Hinn’s nephew).
All In (Mark Batterson)
My older sister recommended this book to me, and what a good, challenging read it was. If you need something to make you ask the harder questions about how you are living and where your life is going, this book may help. Batterson is not easy on his readers, but it is the hard kindness of a surgeon repairing a shattered bone. Necessary.
The Greatest Gift (Ann Voskamp)
Being There (Dave Furman)
The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis)
With this Pledge (Tamera Alexander)
Ordinary Grace (William Kent Krueger)
The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis).
Although I would give this book an A for story, I would have to give it a D for language.
North or Be Eaten (Andrew Peterson)
Home (Marilynn Robinson)
All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)
The Last Train to London (Meg Waite Clayton)
Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate)