Happy New Year! As I accustom myself to a new year stretching out before me, I’ve been reflecting on the one that has just gone, as well as doing a bit of tidying… which has lead to me procrastinating and looking over my bookshelves for the best books I read in 2013!
I’ve tried to choose books of different types; books that have made an impact on me during the year, and might be of interest to you.
1. Judges for You: For Reading, For Feeding, For Leading by Timothy Keller
“Judges has only one hero God. As we read this as an account of how He works in history, it comes alive. The Book of Judges is not an easy read. But living in the times we do, it is an essential one.”
I chose to read this because Judges is a challenging book to understand, particularly in knowing how to apply its lessons today. This is one of Keller’s helpful strengths – applying scripture well, without ignoring the bigger picture Bible context. I really enjoyed reading it, and came away with a much clearer understanding of the book. You can get it here
(Keller has also produced a book in the same format on Galatians, which I’ve also read, and is just as helpful, if you’d prefer to study a New Testament book.)
2. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria C Butterfield
Butterfield, a former professor of English at Syracuse University, writes an account of her journey from finding identity as a left-wing, post-modernist, feminist lesbian to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. She describes this experience as “comprehensive chaos”, and writes with intelligence and realism about her journey to faith.
I found the author’s honest exploration challenging and humbling, and was caused to re-examine my own response to Christ as Lord and friend. Although I found the last third of the book weaker in focus and content, it is beautifully written, and I highly recommend it. Buy it here
3. Pilgrim’s Progress (Modernised Version with Scriptures and Study Guide) by John Bunyan
Let me start by saying that I can’t praise this book enough! Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the classics that many have read – or know they probably should have – but the antiquated language can be off putting. It tells the story of a ‘Christian pilgrim’ on his way to the heavenly city, and all the joys and trials he encounters on the way.
This version is designed to be easily accessible to a contemporary audience, and one of the features I found most helpful was its footnotes at the bottom of each page, containing all Bible verses and passages referred to directly or indirectly in the story. John Bunyan, wrote this book as an allegory of the Christian life, and I found it hugely beneficial to be able to glance down at verses referred to as I read the book, it really enriched my understanding and showed me how deeply faithful Bunyan was to Scripture in his writing of the story.
I’ve been amazed at how often I have experienced the very things that Bunyan describes, and been helped by the biblical wisdom woven throughout the book. You can get hold of this particular version here
4. Old Wives Tales: 21st Century Lessons from the Lives of 18th Century Women by Clare Heath-Whyte
I’ve blogged before about how helpful Christian biographies can be, and this book is a great selection of them. This was an easy read, and the author paints a balanced picture of each woman, her merits and failings, and what Christians today can learn from her. This book is full of inspiring accounts of real life women seeking to follow Jesus whilst doing ‘normal life’. You can get it here and at time of writing it’s available on Kindle for only £3.08.
5. Dangerous Calling: The Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp
This is a book for pastors and people in ministry, but also for those who want to know how to love and support their leaders. I found it extremely helpful, uncomfortably challenging at times, and gospel driven. If you’re in a ‘ministry job’ I would recommend this as a must-read that may save you from some costly mistakes, and help you to build a healthy Christ-centred foundation for your work and service. Get it here
Perhaps you have recommendations of your own? Feel free to share them by commenting below.