While not all of these books were published in 2016, I have either read or re-read them this year and have benefited from them immensely. Between sermon preparation and Ph.D. work, I do not have a lot of time for “leisure reading.” I hope to add a little more fiction to my reading diet in 2017, so if you have some suggestions, I would love to hear them.
If you are interested in taking a look at the books in my list, just click the image of the book for more details. Now, in no particular order, here are my favorites from 2016:
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis – Many consider this to be Lewis’ best and most mature work of literature. It is a captivating story of conversion told in two parts from the perspective of an older sister, Orual, who struggles to understand the purpose of the actions of the gods in the life of her younger sister, Psyche.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance – I started this book upon the recommendation of several online reviews. Vance’s work is a first-person narrative of his own bringing in rural Kentucky. However, it is seasoned with sociological insights that make this book not only a memoir, but a engaging study of a forgotten culture.
In Defense of Doctrine: Evangelicalism, Theology, and Scripture by Rhyne Putman – Putman serves as Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This particular book represents a reworking of his dissertation on the relationship between doctrinal development and hermeneutical phenomenon. For me, Putman’s work was my first exposure to the theological interpretation methods of Kevin Vanhoozer and Anthony Thiselton.
The Pastor Theologian by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson – This tremendous book cast a vision for the reunification of rigorous academic scholarship and heartfelt pastoral ministry for the benefit of Christ’s church.
A Free People’s Suicide, Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness – I make it a point to read everything that Os Guinness writes. He is a public theologian of the first-rate. In this book, Guinness explores the relationship between freedom, virtue, and faith in the public square. As Guinness notes, “Freedom requires virtue, which in turn requires faith of some sort, which in turn requires freedom. Only so can a free people remain ‘free always.’”
Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer by Scott Hendrix – While I have always harbored a deep appreciation for Martin Luther, Hendrix’s work humanized him in a very helpful way. Hendrix demonstrates the power of Luther’s pen over against his presence. He rarely travelled and often struggled with debilitating illness, yet, he turned the world upside down. He was a not a perfect man, but he was a great man
Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God by Timothy Ward – Ward’s short but helpful book on the theological nature of scripture is a welcomed voice in present-day conversation about scripture. Ward takes scripture’s self-referential testimony serious, allowing God’s Word to define how we should think and speak about the bible.
Churchill by Paul Johnson – Johnson achieves an incredible feat with this book. He highlights the larger-than-life character of Winston Churchill in a small, well-written book. While it is not the definitive work on the life and work of Churchill, it is certainly the most accessible. Like Luther, Churchill was a great, but flawed leader. To say that he was a little eccentric would be quite the understatement. There are many lessons to be learned from his life, and Johnson is helpful guide on the journey.
Moral Formation according to Paul by James W. Thompson – Thompson attempts to demonstrates what held the apostle Paul’s moral instruction together. For Thompson, the need to establish a corporate identity and encourage corporate holiness among new Christians provided ethical coherence to Paul’s instructions. In a western society plagued by individualism, Thompson’s emphasis on corporate holiness is refreshing and convicting.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – Unlike Johnson’s Churchill, this book is a tome, but it is well paced. Even as a former consulting engineer in IT, I was largely unaware of the impact that Steve Jobs had on the world. He literally changed personal computing (Mac), the way we listen to music (iPod), the way movies are made (Pixar), and the way that we communicate (iPhone). To be sure, he was an odd and difficult human being, but there is no denying his significance. Isaacson tells the complex story well, for which we are grateful.
What are some of your favorite books from 2016? I would love to hear about them!