It’s time once again to share my top ten favorite books of the year.
Putting this list together is always fun and hard. It’s fun because I love to read and recommend books; it’s hard because I only get to pick ten, and it’s not always easy to rank them. In fact, don’t put too much stock in the ranking of the books. I may have switched the order around had you caught me on a different day. The point of this post is not a cookie-cutter ranking of books based on a perfect algorithm but simply some books I enjoyed this past year that I want to bring to your attention.
And maybe I didn’t read every word of some of the books below, but I read enough of the book to consider it one of my top books of the year. Sometimes just one beautifully written sentence is enough to edify your life. I read these books in 2021, although they may have been published in a different year.
My Top 10 Books of 2021
As I mentioned in my post 5 Christian Books on Thankfulness and Gratitude, I preached the Thanksgiving Eve sermon at our church for the third year in a row. As a result, I wanted to read a book on thankfulness to prepare my heart. I choose this one. I enjoyed it: simple, biblical, practical, and worshipful. I’m becoming more and more convinced that thankfulness is one of the most important disciplines in the Christian life.
9. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt
I started listening to this book on Audible in 2020 but I didn’t finish it then. I decided to purchase the hardcover and read the entire book this year and I’m glad I did. The content in this book is not distinctly Christian, but Hyatt is a believer. I particularly enjoyed the tip on batching, which means doing the same kinds of tasks one after another to maximize momentum. For example, writing. Do it in batches: write a blog post, then 500 words for a book chapter, then outline a sermon. Do this back-to-back because you are already in the swing of doing it, and switching to a different kind of task hurts your momentum, and consequently inhibits productivity.
8. On Being a Pastor: Understanding Our Calling and Work by Derek J. Prime and Alistair Begg
Convicting, practical, and helpful. A great overview of what a pastor is called to do.
7. The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right by Gorick NG
I heard Cal Newport talk about this book on his podcast. Intrigued, I decided to buy it. I’m glad I did. I now see why Newport gives this volume a great review. Although some of the content in this book is not transferable to pastoral ministry, there is a lot of great advice on working with people. If you are starting a new job or career, this may be a useful book for you to consider.
6. How to Build a Healthy Church: A Practical Guide for Deliberate Leadership by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
I don’t agree with every sentence in this book, but I appreciate the comprehensiveness of this volume. This is a church leadership book that informs the reader how the application of church ministry is done at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D.C. So if you want to know how Mark Dever and the guys there do church, this is the book for you. It is difficult to think of an aspect of church life in which the authors do not cover. I’m grateful for 9 Marks and I hope to continue to learn from the resources they put out.
I’m not a dispensationalist. Those who are credobaptists need to figure out where we stand on the relationship between Israel and the church, on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments (or covenants; that’s what “testament” means). This is an accessible introductory look at covenant theology, although it is written from a distinctively presbyterian perspective.
4. Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation by Dan Doriani
My new favorite overall book on Christian faith and work. So, so good.
3. Every Day Matters: A Biblical Approach to Productivity by Brandon Crowe
I love, love reading about productivity and time management. This is especially true when it’s from a Christian perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed this title. It set me ablaze once again to focus on being productive for the glory of God.
2.You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith
Wow. Every once in a while I’ll read a book by an author and think, “This person is such a good writer.” Or, “I’ll never be able to write this good.” Such were the thoughts that entered my mind as I read this well-received book by James K.A. (A.K.A. “Jamie”) Smith. It’s a book about the role of the heart in Christian discipleship. I’m glad Smith teaches that the local church is the heart of Christian discipleship because that’s true.
1. A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin
If asked what one book you wish every Christian would read, this book would be a good contender. A classic book on the Christian life.
My Top Books from Previous Years
If you’d like to see my top ten books from previous years, you can do so by clicking here.
Or you can just select a year below.