With December nearly over, there is one headline that has dominated many of the Christian blogs in these last few weeks: top books from 2018. With the celebration of Christmas now behind us and with gift cards in hand, I thought I would share my own top books from 2018. Reading is an important aspect of Christian growth and those that know me are certain to hear me teach the need to immerse ourselves in books (as long as we are immersed in Scripture first). However, because everything we do should be done with excellence for the glory of God, our reading also should be dictated and guided by the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, we must immerse ourselves in good books and we should endeavor to read well. I pray that as you seek to do just that, this list will guide you in finding some of the ‘best’ books that are worthy of your precious time. One note though that makes this list a bit different than many of the others. Spread across several disciplines, seven of the books on this list were published in the last year (and a couple more within the prior year) but my list is not focused solely on those published in 2018. Instead, I am highlighting those that I read in 2018. Often it is good to not forget previous books that still maintain their value and application today. Therefore, with that said, here are my favorites from 2018:
- (Christian Living) Being a Christian by Jason Allen: Truthfully, this was the hardest category to determine, but almost a year later, this book still resonates with me as an encouragement to live the Christian life. Interestingly though, it is one that you will not find on any of the other lists.
- (Biblical Studies) Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World by D.A. Carson: While there are many books on the subject, I have found this to be one of the best as Carson does an incredible job guiding readers through Matthew 5-10. To be fair, I still have not read D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ work on the same subject, although it is highly recommended.
- (Theology)Expository Exultation by John Piper: John Piper’s writings are usually worth the reading as he draws Christians towards a deeper love of their Father. In this book, a follow-up to A Peculiar Glory and Reading the Bible Supernaturally, Piper reasserts preaching as an act of worship.
- (Cultural Studies) The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse: Sasse’s insights into modern ideologies from a formal education standpoint are astounding. To actively choose to ignore his premises is to the detriment of our society. I suspect that his writing would go well with The Coddling of the American Mind, a book that found its way onto many ‘best of’ lists this year (and one I hope to read). The profundity of this book also makes me desire to read his most recent release, Them.
- (United States History) Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose: Lewis & Clark’s journey into the unknown in the early 1800’s is often taken for granted, and Ambrose traces not just the journey, but Lewis’ relationships with Thomas Jefferson and the years that followed until his disputed suicide. After hearing of this book towards the middle of last year, I decided I wanted to read it. Since then, I’ve learned it is a highly regarded book and comes recommended by almost anyone who has read it.
- (World History) Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson: In my limited reading life, this is by far my favorite read about WWII. Olson masterfully tells the story of world leaders converging on London after the fall of their own countries. Yet, captured in this book is not desertion, but bravery and concern for their own people. It has propped up a greater personal interest in some little known historical figures of that time.
- (Biography) American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis: Ellis is a masterful writer and with this biography of Jefferson, he does not merely recount the events of his life but draws out Thomas Jefferson’s character. It’s a unique focus on a well-known man.
- (Literature) Las Catedrales del Cielo by Michel Moutot: Thus far, I have not found this book in English (only in Spanish and French). Moutot tells the tales of the workers taking on the monumental task of skyscrapers.
- (Fiction) A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny: I spent much of last year reading my way through Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. Many disregard mystery fiction as a cheap thrill, but Penny is masterful in her use of language prompting not only a reader’s use of deduction in the plot twists of mystery but a deeper contemplation on life. I just wish that she had a better grasp of Christianity instead of the cheap view she portrays in her books and that in her masterful use of language she would stay away from the foul end of it.
- (Must-read of the Year) Paul Tripp: Paul Tripp is my go-to author on a number of subjects and it seemed unfair to simply single out one of his books for mention because all of his books are a must-read. This year you will find two on my reading list that I enjoyed immensely for various reasons: Sufferingand Awe.
After reading 118 books, determining the top ten books was no easy task. Yet, each one of these for some reason or another stood out among the rest. With that said, there are several books that did not make it onto this list, but I believe deserve a mention as worthy books:
- What About Free Will? by Scott Christensen
- When We Say Father by Adrian Rogers
- Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks
- The Life of Moses by James Montgomery Boice
Interestingly, three of the authors on this list are no longer living and two of these books were published posthumously. I am thankful that there were some individuals who saw the value enough to put in the very difficult effort of getting them ready for publication without the help of a living author and that these writers still have an impact today. With so many books being published every year, determining the best to invest our time in is no small task (and very subjective). For one reason or another though, each of the books mentioned here deserve attention in their own right and I would urge you to take them on in your own personal reading. It is my hope that regardless of where you are at in your own reading, a look at this list will stimulate your own personal reading and growth for the glory of God.