I had big plans to write this a month and a half ago, as a “My favorite books I read in 2019” post. Then life happened. So here you go…the best books I’ve read in the past year.
Fearfully and Wonderfully, by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand. Yancey is my favorite Christian writer, a former journalist who walked away from God as a young man, then came back. Brand was an orthopedic surgeon who did pioneering work with Hansen’s disease (commonly known as leprosy) in India, then in Carville, Louisiana. The two men wrote two bestselling books together in the 1980s about how the intricacies of the human body tell us about our God. This is a combining and updating of those two books for a new generation of readers.
Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brian. Both these men served overseas on the mission field, which helped them see things in the Bible that we tend to miss or misunderstand.
Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is a terrific storyteller. This book, abut the dangers of trying to communicate with someone we’ve never met before, uses stories ripped from the headlines or the history books as its examples. In many cases, I thought I knew what had happened, only to learn something new. This book inspired me to rethink the assumptions I make when I am talking to someone I don’t know well.
Meet Generation Z, James Emery White. His previous book, Rise of the Nones, helped me understand the growing number of Americans who choose “none” as their religious preference. This book helped me better understand the children, teens and young adults of today, the post-millennials who are the most irreligious generation in American history. White’s church is reaching them for Christ, and he has good insights.
Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others without Sacrificing Conviction, Caleb Kaltenbach. The title is attention-grabbing enough. This memoir is written more for regular Christians than for pastors and scholars.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson. Peterson died last year, so I thought it was finally time to read his much-loved series of essays on the Psalms of Ascent. It was well worth my time. The man could write so lyrically, and inspired so much love for our Father.
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson. This one is now a movie, starring Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book is well worth your time. Be warned: It will shake you up. It’s the story of Stevenson, a Christian attorney who chose to devote his life to representing criminals on death row, focusing on one man who was unjustly convicted.
Bruchko, Bruce Olson. People hand me books all the time. I hate to admit, I just can’t read them all. But two different friends loaned me this one, and months later, I finally took the time. This is a story that seems unbelievable. Olson, only 19 years old, decided to travel to South America without training, resources or backing, to reach people who had never heard the name of Jesus. His story is harrowing at times, and too real to be made up (not everything that happens in this book is happy), but ultimately miraculous and inspiring.
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Yep, I read it. Originally, I read this one because I knew a movie version was coming out and I thought it would be good to take my wife and daughter to see it. We still haven’t made it to the theater, but I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would. And I am secure enough in my masculinity to admit it!