I love the December flood of articles about favorite books almost as much as my younger self loved presents under our Christmas tree. If you feel the same, allow me to feed your joy by offering five of my favorite books I read in 2022:
1) The 5 Masculine Instincts: A Guide to Becoming Better Men by Chase Replogle
What gets lost in most conversations about masculinity is the development of character. Men have tools to sharpen some skills and shape their beards but are ill-equipped to shape their hearts. We need help to “pay close attention to your life and your teaching (1 Tim 4:15).” Chase gives men the tools we need to build character. He takes five men from Scripture – Cain, Samson, David, Moses, and Abraham – drawing out crucial and helpful applications for men today. By examining these men’s lives, we are better equipped to watch our own life and make progress in godliness. (Review)
2) Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patty Calahan
The icy breeze of an Oxford winter meets the warm fireplace in the Kilns, the home of C. S. Lewis. Patty Callahan tells the story of Megs, a mathematics student at Oxford who sees life as an equation to be solved. Her eight-year-old brother George, dying from heart failure, reads The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and falls in love with Narnia. He pleads with Megs to ask Mr. Lewis where Narnia comes from. Even though exams are around the corner, Megs knows the painful truth that she doesn’t have much longer with George, so she agrees. Lewis doesn’t give her the straight answer she wants but instead tells her stories of his life. She writes them in a notebook and reads them to her brother. Megs can’t help but feel like she is failing her brother by not getting a straight answer. Slowly, however, her imagination gets baptized. Her view of reality, built exclusively by cold hard facts, melts in the warmth of imagination and story.
Our worldview is story-formed and Once Upon a Wardrobe shows the beauty of a life shaped by story. This is a fantastic story on its own, but also, much like the wardrobe it’s inspired by, it’s a door to a wide and wonder-filled world.
3) The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
One of my favorite old books is The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. I’m preaching through the Servant Songs in Isaiah in December, so I read Sibbes again. The Bruised Reed is an exposition of Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed he will not break and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” From this verse, Sibbes channels such warmth and depth of comfort from Christ to broken believers. He shows readers “that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” It would be of great benefit in today’s mental health crisis to listen to a word of comfort from an old Puritan.
4) A Habit Called Faith: 40 Days in the Bible to Find and Follow Jesus by Jen Pollock Michel
My local public library has 176 copies of James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, which 1,125 people currently have on hold. People are interested in habits and how they form us. Pollock Michel reminds us that “faith can be formed in much this same way: by virtue of repetitive motion.” We cannot create faith by habits, but we cultivate and nurture faith through the repetitive motions of our walk with Christ. The book is a 40-day devotional through Deuteronomy and John’s Gospel, focusing on habits of faith that God has marked out for our walk with him. It is beautifully written, theologically rich, and powerfully practical. This would make a great Bible-reading companion to start 2023.
5) God, Technology, and The Christian Life by Tony Reinke
An early chapter in Reinke’s older book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, is a short theology of technology. God, Technology, and the Christian Life is the 300 page robust theology of the short chapter in 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. I’ll admit I did not enjoy this book as much as the others on my list. It is dense and has some rough edges, but this is such an important book. Small supercomputers live in our pockets, and A.I. exists that science fiction writers only dreamed of 40 years ago. Christians need wise, theologically sound resources for thinking about technology. Reinke checks these boxes. He does good work thinking biblically about technology’s relationship to God and then applying that to a Christian’s relationship with technology. (Review)
5 Other Books I enjoyed:
- The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church by Dustin Benge (Review)
- The Lord’s Prayer: Learning from Jesus on What, Why, and How to Pray by Kevin DeYoung (Review)
- God and the Transgender Debate: What does the Bible actually say about gender identity? By Andrew T. Walker
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel by Mike Cosper (Review).
A good book helps us enjoy and understand life from a biblical worldview. The best books help us enjoy and glorify God. So, as you leave this article, why not go and read a good book and pick one from this list while you are at it?