Top 10 Books, 2014

I do not profess to be cutting edge. Nor do I profess to have read dozens of books that makes my selection of ten that eventful. But these were the books that most shaped me in 2014. Most were not written in this calendar year, and a few of these books I’ve read multiple times. Here they are in no particular order.

The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles
by Scott Hahn

Tkingdomhis was my favorite commentary whilst preaching through Chronicles in the first 4 months of 2014. Not the most technical (although well-researched) and not the most succinct (see Sailhamer) although very close. Hahn models well a Christ-centered reading of the Old Testament, and particularly for the Chronicler, Hahn traces key theological and liturgical (the goal of Chronicles is to call the people of God to return to God and worship) themes throughout this final work of the Hebrew canon.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy
by Tim Keller

freedomI read this book for the first, second, and third times this year. Each read will likely be the best use of 45 minutes of your day. A powerful reflection from 1 Corinthians, which gives life to both those entrapped by the dangers of self-esteem and self-loathing. The gospel frees us to not think about ourselves at all. Get it. Read it.

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

givingPut this on the list of books that made me well up with tears. How did I miss this book as a child? Where the Sidewalk EndsA Light in the Attic, and everything else Shel wrote are gold, but this powerful little story has so much to say to young and old that it would be a shame to not soak it in 50 or so times per year. Good for the soul.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World
by Michael Horton

ordinaryInterweaving scholarship, pop culture, mommy blogs, and genuine biblical insight, Horton gives a compelling vision for lasting, sustainable discipleship (growth) in the church. The incessant need to do more and more, innovate or die, and all the busy tactics of 2014 evangelicalism is given a gospel rebuke/encouragement in this helpful work (I think this is the only book written this calendar year!).

The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War
by Michael Shaara

killerSide note: find a good book club and join it. This Pulitzer prize winning novel follows the generals (among other ranks) of both the Confederacy and the Union in the historic battle at Gettysburg. Powerful, and truly human, this historical fiction will help you humanize many people whom are popularly demonized (a good practice for every generation).

Ender’s Shadow
by Orson Scott Card

shadowI recently finished my third reading of Ender’s Shadow. This is a powerful human story that chronicles the early life of a young boy who perseveres through unbelievable odds (how’s that for a back-of-book summary!). This is a classic, sci-fi story, but it shines a light on a boy who is learning what it means to be fully human: to feel, to love, and to know the warmth of being honored by the one whose opinion most matters.

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited
by Scot McKnight

kingjesusI never got around to reading this book during seminary but I sure am glad that I finally did! Scot’s re-telling of the good news story of the whole Bible, which culminates in Christ, is enriching and inspiring. Unfortunately, some of the stories and references to soterians would most likely come off as condescending to the very people who really need to read this book! His critiques are necessary (and mostly spot on), but I fear they might only be read by those whom already agree with them.

C. S. Lewis: A Life
by Alistair McGrath

lewisI was captivated by this excellent biography of my favorite author. McGrath balances the personal, the professional, and the (well-argued) speculative in this great biography. I cannot wait to re-read this work after reading The Narnian and Jack.

Reading for Preaching
by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

preachingI was hesitant to put this one on the list because I’ve only completed 43% of it. This is partly because I’m scatter-brained and partly because I had to stop and contemplate this argument for more (and better) reading.

Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis

mereTo my shame, this was the first year that I finally read Mere Christianity from cover to cover. Sure, I’ve read and benefited from this one for years, but only this year did I finally complete this classic work in one sitting. Lewis’ chapter on “the great sin” is worth the price of the book alone, but you will be sharpened and blessed by reading this joy of literature.