Top 7 Favorite Books I Read in 2017


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Another year draws to a close and—as I did in 2014 and 2015 (but somehow not 2016!)—I’ve selected the Top 7 books that I read in 2017.

As the title suggests, these are not books published in 2017 but rather my favorites that I read this year. They are presented in no particular order and are a mix of fiction, essays, biography, and sci-fi/fantasy.

abofman1. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

Though Lewis wrote close to 3/4 a century ago, society has continued ever further down the track that Lewis diagnoses and dissects in these pages and his thoughts are perhaps even more relevant.

Lewis defends objective truth and natural law—or ‘Tao’ as he terms it—against those who would try to ignore or disprove or subvert it. He ponders the final result of man’s conquest of Nature and cautions against blindly following the idea of progress until we progress so far that we lose ourselves in the process.

Left me with much to ponder and wrestle with, as well as much to thank Lewis for. One I will definitely return to often!

silence2. Silence by Shūsaku Endō

A deep meditation on what makes true faith, the challenges and dangers of contextualization of the gospel message, suffering and persecution, and coming to terms with past failures. A challenging, striking, and thought-provoking read.

 

 

 

everlasting

3. The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton 

Chesterton combats common misconceptions and errors in his popular-level sketch of the outline of history. He shows how man is unique among the universe (and the other animals) and also how Christ is unique among men. I love his observation that to believe that there is no Creator or higher power requires believing in three miraculous occurrences: the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of man.  Really appreciate his perspective on history and how things are often the opposite of how they are presented by the skeptic of the church.

fell4. The Fellowship by Philip and Carol Zaleski

A marvelous portrait of The Inklings that is as much a book of literary criticism as it is biography. Lewis and Tolkien receive—of course—the most attention, but I was surprised by how interesting Barfield and Williams’ lives, beliefs, and careers were as well.

This is a must-read for any serious fan of Lewis and/or Tolkien! A true tour de force that deftly manages to give equal attention to these extraordinary men and their literary subcreations which have gone on to transform our world. If you’re anything like me, you will finish this book with a list of ten or so works either written by these authors or that deeply influenced them to add to your list of books to (re)read this year.

wonder5. Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper

If Charles Taylor is right and we live in a “disenchanted” age, and if James K.A. Smith is correct that “you are what you love,” then how does our approach to living the Christian life change? What is different about our day-to-day experience as followers of Jesus? How do we practice the spiritual disciplines in our modern, secular world?

Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World is Mike Cosper’s attempt to “lift the veil a little bit on how the world has shaped us, how we’ve learned to see things through the lenses of disenchantment” (162). If that sounds interesting to you, head over to my full review.

stand6. The Stand by Stephen King

This year was the year that I finally read some of Stephen King’s works. Yes, somehow I had managed to avoid the master of horror/fiction until recently, but I finally gave in and read a handful of his books. I’m through six of the seven Dark Tower books, read The Eyes of The Dragon, and slogged through Insomnia (ironically a snooze-fest), but found The Stand to be the best of the bunch.

Two groups of survivors of a worldwide cataclysm band together: one around a spiritual and mysterious old woman and the other around an enigmatic and dangerous man known as The Walkin’ Dude. Their struggle for survival becomes a clash between Good and Evil as they all attempt to forge new lives in the ruins of what came before.

Incidentally, if that reminds any of you of the TV show Lost, there’s a reason: this book was one of the major inspirations for the show!

fool7. Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb

Fool’s Fate is the conclusion to the second trilogy to star FitzChivalry Farseer and The Fool. Hobb has built a fascinating world that is both enjoyable and unique. Fool’s Fate functions as a marvelous capstone to both this second trilogy and the story that has carried on from the first trilogy. Hobb’s works are much more in the Tolkien/Robert Jordan/T. H. White school of fantasy than the George R.R. Martin/grim and gruesome/Joe Abercrombie syle. If you’re interested in a new fantasy series, then start at the beginning with Assassin’s Apprentice.

 

What about you? What were the highlights of your reading this year? Any on this list that you read too? Or any that now have piqued your interest?

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My Top Seven Books of 2014


This year I read a lot of books. As such, I decided it was a better idea to write a blog with a list of my top seven books of 2014 instead of everything I read this year. These are not necessarily books published in 2014–though several were–and these are not in any particular order. Instead, it’s simply a list of my favorite books that I read in 2014. I’ve broken them down into a few categories and included some thoughts on each. Enjoy!

Sci-Fi/FantasyWordsOfRadianceCover

1. Words of Radiance-Brandon Sanderson
I previously reviewed this book on my Goodreads account. Here’s an excerpt:
If you already have read some or all of Sanderson’s other books, rest assured-this is his best yet. But if you consider yourself a fan of fantasy (from Tolkien to Jordan to Martin to Rothfuss) and yet DON’T know about Sanderson-FIX THAT NOW! You will NOT regret it…Sanderson picks up all the threads he left them at the end of book one [of the series] with confidence and aplomb and deftly spins them out into gripping, surprising, and inspiring webs that reveal the true purpose and history of the Shattered Plains. Couldn’t recommend this book enough, even if I were to go on for several thousand more words, so I’ll leave it at this. Read this book!
That was how I felt back in March and it’s still how I feel now. This book is emblematic of why Sanderson is my favorite currently-living fantasy author. One of the most well-balanced, exciting, and just plain quality fantasy books I’ve ever read.

alrassanus

2. The Lions of Al-Rassan-Guy Gavriel Kay

Again, here’s an excerpt from a previous review (this time from this very blog):

The Reconquest of Al-Rassan is at hand. The three hundred year golden age of the caliphate’s rule is ending, and three characters-a Jaddite commander named Rodrigo Belmonte, a Kindath doctornamed Jehane, and an Asharite poet and soldier named Ammar ibn Khairan-are caught in the middle. The world is changing and they must find their place within it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the writing, and the characters. If you’re looking for another new fantasy author, look no further.

Theology/Devotional

51G4bZO8VML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_3. The Cost of Discipleship-Bohnoeffer
Perhaps one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read. And not just challenging, but paradigm shifting. In examining the difference between cheap grace and costly grace, commenting at length on the Sermon on the Mount, defining the believer’s part in this, and painting a vision of what the church should look like, Bonhoeffer answers the question of “what can the call to discipleship mean to-day?” (38) I already know I will be revisiting this one often.

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4. Celebration of Discipline-Richard J. Foster
Again, from a previous blog review:
[In reading this book] I found myself continually challenged and stretched in the best way possible. This is a book to read slowly and savor. Time and time again I found myself setting the book down to reflect or pray. Both a helpful book to read straight-through and also to serve as a reference in the future as a refresher.

51xmLGfqceL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_5. Evangelism in the Early Church-Michael Green
Evangelism in the Early Church is a superb introduction to, resource on, and portrait of the early Church’s evangelistic endeavors. Green is both careful and skillful in his analysis, presentation, and application of his insights on the state of the early Church. While it is not for everyone and while it has its areas of weakness, those who are dedicated enough to the material will reap rich rewards from his study on the message, messengers, and methods God used to spread the gospel and grow the Church in the first few centuries. As our culture increasingly reflects the circumstances the early Church encountered in the ancient world, it is a more timely set of lessons than ever. May we as the Church and the successors to the earliest believers rise to Green’s challenge of being willing to pay the price to return evangelism to the place of first importance that it held for them. (**I may post an extended review of this book in the future**)

91wDmVN6shL6. Prayer-Tim Keller
Disclaimer: As of the writing of this post, I haven’t fully finished the book. That said, this just might be the most important book on prayer written for quite some time (and certainly that I have personally read). I will CERTAINLY be reviewing this book in more detail in the coming days/weeks, but I couldn’t post this list and exclude this book. It’s just that good.

Biography

amazing-grace7. Amazing Grace-Eric Metaxas
I previously said that this book is “a heroic story about an amazingly humble and incredibly influential individual that is masterfully told by Metaxas. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!” As with my previous reviews, I’m sticking to my guns. This is the best biography I read this year. There’s a reason that Abraham Lincoln and David Livingstone (among countless others) considered William Wilberforce to be one of their heroes. An invaluable look at the life of a great man of faith.

Runners Up:

I initially wanted to include these books but will simply list the links to my reviews elsewhere for those who might be interested.
What about you? What were your top three or five or ten books that you read in 2014? I’d love to hear your recommendations for my to-read list for 2015! Sound off in the comments to join the conversation.