Top Books of 2021

Looking for something to read in 2022?
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I recommend one of these first three books be at the top of your reading list for 2022:

HOW TO THINK ABOUT THE WORLD

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman wrestles with the question of how we came to a place as a society and culture where someone can say, ‘I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body’ and no one even bat an eye. And how did this happen in a relatively short window of time, as such a sentence would have been utter nonsense to someone just a generation ago. The book is so good, yet definitely difficult to work through in places. I recommend finding a discussion group for this one, as it’s too important to ignore. Note that there is a forthcoming condensed version of the book.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT YOURSELF

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. I read his People of the Lie fifteen years ago and found it eye-opening on some important elements of human nature. The Road Less Traveled is all about growing in emotional maturity. I can’t overstate how important it is to read this. You won’t agree with everything he says, especially for the Christian reader, but it is full of wisdom and insight. I came away from it thinking differently about almost every relationship and my role in building into other people. The more people I meet, the more I see how many of us stay stuck in emotional immaturity and blame circumstance and others for problems rooted in our own unwillingness to deal with our own issues. 

PARENTING

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. This book is a MUST READ for parents of all ages. Every page is dripping with wisdom and critical insight into how we need to reshape our thinking about parenting, to begin to see ourselves as ambassadors and stewards.

And now for a few others…

C.S. LEWIS

I’m almost always reading a book by or about C.S. Lewis. His step-son, Douglas Gresham, wrote an account of growing up and getting to know Lewis in Lenten Lands. Patti Callahan created a fictionalized account of his book and focused on the romance between Lewis and Joy Davidman in Becoming Mrs Lewis, which was faithful to the facts and tastefully done. And God Came In is a biography about his wife, Joy Davidman. Of most encouraging note was the vivid account of her radical conversion to Christianity.

ANOTHER PARENTING BOOK

You Can’t Make Me … [but I can be persuaded] by Cynthia Tobias is for parents of strong-willed children. I love the title and the mindset it represents. It is full of so many practical insights on how to speak to your child in very specific situations. This will be especially helpful for the people-pleasing parent that always did what their parents said and can’t understand why a kid wouldn’t want to. Seriously, those people do exist and you desperately need to read this to understand that your kid doesn’t hate you, they are just wired differently. Very differently.

HISTORY

  • A Higher Call: Fascinating account of WWII B-29 bomber escaping destruction by being escorted across enemy lines by a German fighter pilot and their miraculous meeting thirty years later.
  • PT 109: Story of JFK’s torpedo boat sinking in enemy waters and his fight for survival in WWII. His leadership and physical endurance through the ordeal gave me a new appreciation for him.
  • We Pointed them North: McMurtry called this the finest piece of writing about western cowboys. I wrote about what this particular book meant to me because of my grandmother in a previous memo.
  • The Aviators: Weaves together the stories of the early pioneers in aviation: Rickenbacker, Doolittle, and Lindbergh. I had heard their names before (and had read Spirit of St. Louis) but learned so much more about who these amazing men were and their passion for aviation.

MCMURTRY

This year I went on a Larry McMurtry kick. Of course his fiction is well known, but I found his non-fiction more intriguing, particularly Books: A Memoir and Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, primarily because of his extensive knowledge of books and his hunger for learning.

STORIES OF GOD AT WORK

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire: I read this twenty years ago when it first came out and then again recently when my pastor recommended it to the church. Amazing story of God at work to grow a church through prayer.

FOR PASTORS

Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson: Being a new pastor (see more below), I’m hungry for books on the topic. This one was so refreshing and centered on the essence of the role: loving God and loving others. It’s an important book for everyone serving in any capacity in Christian ministry (whether full-time or volunteer). Written by the creator of The Message Bible translation/paraphrase. 

SIDE NOTES

  • This year I went through a major ministry transition, starting as pastor of Valley View Church in Louisville, Kentucky. You can read more about the transition here
  • As the new pastor at Valley View, I’m encouraging everyone to read through the Bible this year
  • Steven Pressfield wrote a humbling article about finishing well that might help some of us launch into 2022 with focus and determination. Check it out here: “It is very well typed.”

As always, to see what I’m currently reading, follow me on Goodreads. For book overviews and summaries and an all around rollicking good time, listen to The Bottom Line Books Podcast here.

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