It’s that time again — time for me to give you the list of my favorite books of the year.
Before we get to the list, however, let me give my super subjective ranking system. The books below made the list based on four questions:
1. How well was the book written?
2. How great of an immediate impact did the book have on my life?
3. How much of an impact do I think this book will have on my future?
4. How readily would I recommend this book to others?
Maybe I didn’t read every word of a few of the books. But I read enough to consider it one of the top reads. Here are my top books of 2018.
My Top 10 Books of 2018
10. Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith by Holly Ordway
Before reading this book I did not know about the author or the publisher. I’m glad I do now. Ordway is brilliant with words. I had the privilege of hearing her speak on the subject of this book at an apologetics conference back in September and both her lectures and this book were helpful. (Related: The Top 10 Best Apologetics Books)
9. Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan
Didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing, but what I read was gold. Copan and I share a birthday so it makes me like him even more. This is a good apologetic book for anyone who struggles with the idea of God allowing so many harsh things to happen in the Old Testament.
8. Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship by Leonard Vander Zee
While I disagree with Vanderzee’s conclusions on baptism, I think his work on the Lord’s Supper is exceptional. This book will make you long to partake in the Eucharist.
7. Karen Jobes’ Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by Karen Jobes
I put Karen Jobes’ name in the title since there are a lot of books with the same name. Jobes is one of my favorite female Christian writers, and her work in this book shines through. It’s a book that covers Hebrews and the general epistles. The book is bulkier than a study Bible but easier to read than, say, a commentary. Especially helpful for students of theology.
6. A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology by J. Richard Midelton
Heaven is not the eternal dwelling place for believers; the New Heavens and New Earth are. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from this book. This is an important subject that clears up some misunderstandings of the afterlife (Related: 5 Common Misconceptions about Heaven and the Afterlife).
5. Acts (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)by I. Howard Marshall
Marshall is always worth reading. In this commentary, he helped clarify some confusing questions I had on the Holy Spirit. This book also gave me a deeper love for God’s church, which is a high praise.
4. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson
Read this one back in January. It’s one of the only few non-academic books I got a chance to read this year, and it is also one of fastest books I read all year (because it’s really good and, when you read a lot of academic books, non-academic work becomes much easier to read). This book is a breath of fresh air, one that will be particularly helpful for those of you who constantly feel like you’re not measuring up.
3. When Life Goes Dark: Finding Hope in the Midst of Depression by Richard Winter
The word “depression” found its way into the subtitle but this is far more than just a book on depression. Yes, Winter covers depression. But Winter also writes on an array of emotions that plagues us when life is hard. A good book written by a great man.
2. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
It’s a pure joy to eavesdrop on one of the best writers of his generation as he gives advice on a subject he has mastered. While I still think On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction is still my favorite book on writing, and while parts of this book were not relevant to me (his work on fiction, for example) simply paying attention to King’s syntax was a thrill. The man can write.
1. Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life
This book is a bunch of letters. They are letters from Schaeffer’s own pen as he tackled questions on homosexuality, spiritual formation, doubt, and many other subjects. Pens have eyes, as John Piper likes to say, and reading Schaeffer’s pen gave my eyes a deeper look into his heart. Over and over again I was impressed not just by his answers, but that he would simply respond to people he barely met. This book made me love people better and taught me a lot about pastoring. It’s the best book I read this year. (Related: 4 Lessons I Learned about Pastoral Ministry from Francis Schaeffer)