It’s that time of the year again — the time where bloggers are listing their favorite books of the year. I’m joining the herd today. This year was the hardest year yet. I read so many good books that it’s hard to just pick ten. And it’s even harder to rank them. But somehow I did, and you can find the list below.
But before you read them, let me give you a few caveats:
- Not all of these were published in 2016—they were just my favorite books I read in 2016.
And when I say “favorite,” I have at least four things in mind:
- How well was the book written?
- How great of an immediate impact did the book have on my life?
- How much of an impact will the book have on my future?
- How readily would I recommend this book to others?
One final note: while one book may be better than another, the greater the book impacted me, the better the ranking it received.
OK, with those things behind us, here’s the list:
My Top 10 Book of 2016
10. Amy L. Sherman, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good (IVP Books).
This is the best book I’ve read on integrating your faith with work. It’s a theological book written at an academic level, yet it’s still accessible to any layperson.
9. Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity (Cruciform Press).
Nick McDonald says, “This is not just a book I read; this is a book I did.” I quite agree. This book is immensely applicable. I still use the productivity tips that Challies outlines daily even though I read the book 11 months ago.
8. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community (HarperOne).
A classic on Christian community. I plan on re-reading it several more times.
7. Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (Penguin Books).
This is now my go-to book on suffering for Christians. Keller is perhaps at his pastoral best, and you can sense him pleading with you to have hope amid your pain in every part of the book.
6. J. Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus (Crossway).
This book convicted me more than any other book I read this year. Then again, books on evangelism are always convicting! If a pastor is struggling to create a culture of evangelism in his church, this book is the remedy.
5. Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (NavPress).
Bridges past away in 2016, but his words still speak today. He’s one of my favorite authors, and this is one of the best books on grace I’ve read. It’s particular strength is appropriating God’s grace in the area of sanctification.
4. Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anchor).
I love reading books on writing because one of the best ways to grow as a writer is by, well, reading books on writing. Lammot is funny, intelligent, and the girl can flat-out write. I enjoyed every page.
3. Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Zondervan).
Do you understand the gospel? Do you understand why you were created, what your purpose is on earth? I thought I did. I mean, I do, but this book opened my eyes to see new depths of the implications of my election from a biblical theology perspective. My love for the gospel is greater, and my sense of mission is clearer, as a result of reading this book.
2. Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (Penguin Books).
With my wedding day only a few months away, I figured I’d read a book or two on marriage before I say “I do.” I apparently started with the best one since I doubt I’ll read a better book on the topic than this one.
1. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Zondervan).
I listened to Kevin DeYoung give a series of lectures on preaching this past fall at Covenant Seminary, and he must have mentioned this book a dozen times. About halfway through his lectures, I stop listening for a moment to buy this book on Amazon. Then I resumed listening. I figured I’d read this book upon graduating, but once I received it in the mail, I could hardly wait to start reading.
As an MDiv seminary student, I can barely finish all the assigned reading, let alone make time for additional books. But for some reason, I made time for this one. I often found myself up past midnight reading what the doctor prescribes on preaching, and the 40th Anniversary edition includes essays from Tim Keller, John Piper, and Mark Dever, among others, which in itself is worth the price of the book. DeYoung edited the latest edition, and starts by writing, “Preaching and Preachers is a classic. That may sound prosaic in a world of hype and spin, but with this book it is actually true.” I now see why. While there were a few thoughts here and there that were unsettling (I doubt anyone would agree with 100% of the book!), overall, the Lloyd-Jones succeeds over and over again and shows why preaching is preeminent and how to preach well. He got me all fired up. I guess that was his goal, since, after all, “Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.”
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