These are my fifteen favorite books I read in 2010:
1. What Did You Expect? / Paul David Tripp
Of all the books I read this year, What Did You Expect? was my favorite. It ought to be required reading for engaged couples. Every husband should consider reading this book with his wife. You will be consistently convicted, driven to prayer, and pointed to a perfect and gracious Savior.
2. The Holy Spirit / Sinclair B. Ferguson
Sinclair Ferguson on anything is worth reading. An extended treatment on the Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson is essential. Ferguson does more than just unfold the work of the Spirit. He helps you encounter the person of the Spirit. Cessationists and non-Cessationists alike can read and enjoy this book.
3. Finally Alive / John Piper
We are neither the master of our fate nor the captain of our soul. Jesus said we must be born again. This gem of a book will help you to marvel at the miracle of the new birth.
4. God the Peacemaker / Graham Cole
This book forced me to ponder a world without the atonement. Without the cross, what would we lose? Cole answers: “no union with Christ, no forgiveness of sins, no cleansing, no justification before God, no redemption from sin, no adoption, and no reconciliation with God. In short, no peace with God, no gospel” (p. 157). Wow.
5. Counterfeit Gods / Timothy Keller
Money, sex, power, and success are cruel masters. Keller shows us why. Reading this book is devastating but in a good way. Keller gets you from the opening paragraph: “We search endlessly for ways to acquire the things we desire, and we are willing to sacrifice much to achieve them. We never imagine that getting our heart’s deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us” (p. 1). Buy two copies and read this book with an unbelieving friend.
6. The Unquenchable Flame / Michael Reeves
I read this book because Mark Dever said it was “quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation that I have read.” Take his word for it. It’s really good. The pictures are pretty horrendous but the writing is outstanding.
7. The Good News We Almost Forgot / Kevin DeYoung
I guarantee this is the best book on a Reformed 16th Century catechism that you will ever read in your life. DeYoung is the perfect tour guide through the Heidelberg. He helped me think long and hard on grace, guilt, and gratitude.
8. What Is the Gospel? / Greg Gilbert
A brief and helpful explanation of the biblical gospel. The section on the gospel and the kingdom is worth the price of the book.
9. Thunderstruck / Erik Larson
Only Larson could write a readable and utterly fascinating non-fiction account of Guglielmo Marconi and his invention of trans-Atlantic wireless telegraphy. Maybe that’s because he weaves a gruesome murder and a police chase spanning two continents into his book. That works every time.
10. WAR / Sebastian Junger
The other non-fiction book that I found unforgettable was WAR. Junger was embedded with U.S. 2nd Battalion for five grueling months in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. My favorite quote: “The brain requires around two-tenths of a second just to understand simple visual stimuli, and another two-tenths of a second to command muscles to react. The distance at which you might literally be able to ‘dodge a bullet’ is around a thousand yards. You’d need a quarter second to register the tracer coming toward you– at this point the bullet has traveled 250 yards– a quarter second to instruct your muscles to react– the bullet has now traveled 500 yards– and half a second to actually move out of the way. The bullet you dodge will pass you with a distinctive snap. That’s the sound of a small object breaking the sound barrier inches from your head” (pp. 30-31). So now you know.
11. The Hunger Games Trilogy / Suzanne Collins
I couldn’t put these books down (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay). Sort of a mix between Orwell’s 1984 and Stephen King’s The Running Man with a dash of teenage-love-triangle-angst thrown in for good measure. Collins depicts the atrocious and horrifying impact of war on the young.
12. The Long Ships / Frans Gunnar Bengtsson
If you are interested in lively historical fiction about Vikings then this is just the book for you. I have yet to meet anyone who disliked this book.
13. Washington’s Crossing / David Hackett Fischer
Ron Chernow’s new biography of George Washington is wonderful but this book is even better. Fischer describes in breathtaking detail one of the pivotal events in American history: General Washington’s crossing of the frigid Delaware in December 1776.
14. An Experiment in Criticism / C.S. Lewis
Very few books about reading are worth reading. But this classic by Lewis is chock full of wisdom. Let Lewis inoculate you from literary snobbery and help you to enjoy seeing through the eyes of others.
15. My Reading Life / Pat Conroy
I love reading Pat Conroy books. This book is about the books Pat Conroy loves to read. He swears he’s read at least 200 pages of fiction every day of his life since 9th grade. He writes: “Reading and prayer are both acts of worship to me.” (p. 183). Another delightful factoid was Conroy’s praise of The Lord of the Rings: “In an endangered land of dwarves and elves and wizards, I listened to the story of creation and the unseen world told once more by a writer with supernatural, unsurpassable gifts. I let the story possess me, take me prisoner, feed me with the endless abundance of its honeycombed depths. It is a story that rules me.” (pp. 92-93).
Happy reading and Happy New Year!