Top Five Books I Read in 2021
I often get asked about book recommendations. One of the challenges is that I read in such a wide area that it can be difficult for me to offer suggestions.
Having said that, there are some books that stood out for me this year. I will note that I reread a number of C.S. Lewis’s books and reread the Lord of the Rings and that could easily fill the top five. But all of the books I’m sharing here are ones I read for the first time. They are in no particular order.
George MacDonald edited by C.S. Lewis
I was vaguely aware of George MacDonald, having read one of his novels and knew of his influence on C.S. Lewis. This book, which was put together by C.S. Lewis, gave me a much better taste of this incredible figure. It includes an introduction by Lewis and then selections from MacDonald. It has made me want to read anything by MacDonald I can find.
C.S. Lewis at the BBC by Justin Phillips
I have read a lot of books on C.S. Lewis but this not very well known book gave me a fresh perspective. The book that we now know as Mere Christianity began as a series of BBC talks. But how did those talks come about? This book looks at the BBC background and the ongoing conversations that led to this Christian masterpiece.
Bullies and Saints by John Dickson
I love Christian history and I even have a podcast on the subject. But one of the challenges for people of faith is that we have a very mixed history. It’s not all good and it’s not all bad. It is very messy and it includes the best and worst of humanity. I appreciated John Dickson’s presentation of the history in all its glory and flaws. It truly is a story of bullies and saints.
Disability and the Church by Lamar Hardwick
There has been a shift in my primary interests from apologetics to disability theology and ministry. I do much of my writing on this at Disability Comes to Church. I read a lot in this area and one of the books that stood out was Disability and the Church by Lamar Hardwick. There are disability books written by more prominent theologians but this books stands out for its sheer practicality. The author is on the Autism Spectrum and shares both as a person with autism and a pastor. This will be one of the books that I point people to as they try to navigate disabilities and the church.
A Burning in My Bones by Winn Collier
I have been impressed by everything I have read by Eugene Peterson. Many know him only as the translator of The Message but he is so much more than that. He is a pastor’s theologian. However, his written work is only a part of his larger story. In this biography by Winn Collier, the context for Peterson’s life and thought is presented. This ties together Peterson’s larger body of work. This book made me want to not just be a better pastor but a better Christian and human being.
Not in the top five but close to it is On Killing by Dave Grossman. How easy is it for a person to kill another person?Is it easy even for soldiers to do it? This book examines the psychology behind killing. I would recommend this book even to the most diehard pacifist, although I find it especially helpful for me as a military chaplain. People from all backgrounds might be surprised by what they find.
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