Books have always been a big part of my life. They encourage, challenge, teach, and grow our imagination. They clarify what we were feeling or thinking, and they stretch us to see the world in ways we never would have. Books are a blessing.
There were many books I’d like to recommend that I don’t have space to include, but here are ten books (in no particular order) I read in 2020 that I’d recommend to all believers.
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
The subtitle captures why this is an instant classic. Page after page drips with the grace of Jesus; not just what he did but how he views and relates to us. There’s a reason you’re seeing it at the top of so many book lists. Read a few pages, or a chapter at most, at a time and feast on the goodness of Christ. Get a sample by reading ten of my favorite quotes from the book.
Enough About Me: Find Lasting Joy in the Age of Self by Jen Oshman
In a day when we’re continually told to look within, Jen Oshman helps us see why that is a dead-end road. There is joy and meaning for us, but it’s found by looking up, not looking in. This book, written to women but applicable to men, offers help to navigate the self-focused culture we live in. Here are ten great quotes from the book.
Commentary on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner; Numbers: God’s Presence in the Wilderness by Iain Duguid; Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary by Jonathan Pennington
If you don’t read biblical commentaries, you’re missing out. There are some dry, technical commentaries out there, but many are full of helpful explanations and practical applications any reader could benefit from. There will be pages that are tough sledding, but keep moving forward. These were three of my favorite commentaries this year.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David Blight
Frederick Douglass is one of my favorite figures in history. If there’s a new biography on him released, I try to read it. This award-winning biography is detailed, maybe too much so, but it offers insights and perspectives into Douglass prior biographies didn’t have because of access to personal papers and letters. The book reminded me how powerful the pen (or computer) can be for galvanizing change. It was a great and fitting read in 2020 as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go when it comes to racial equality, sympathy, and justice.
Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters by Carmen Joy Imes
I love books that help us see the connections from the Old Testament into the New Testament. The book not only enriches our reading of the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch, but it traces the theme of “bearing God’s name” from the beginning to end of the Bible. As Christians, we bear God’s name. It’s an honor, privilege, and calling. Here’s an insightful review from TGC.
Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation by Mark Vroegop
Pastor Mark Vroegop wrote the Christian Book of the Year in 2019, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, and helped many people by introducing the biblical category of lament. In this follow up, he applies lament to the area of racial reconciliation and gives us a starting place. The book includes personal testimonies of unity in diversity experienced at his own church, chapters for both majority and minority culture Christians, and each chapter closes with a personal lament written by authors and pastors in Christian ministry.
Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes by Zack Eswine
I’m not finished with this book yet, but had to add it to the list. Ecclesiastes has always been a tough book for me. The bitterness of this life in the “once-Eden,” taunts me with how beautiful and broken it is. Eswine helps make sense of what can be a confusing book or confusing statements. (How can the Bible say everything is meaningless?) He has become one of my favorite authors, with his gentle tone, powerful prose, pastoral wisdom, and biblical insight.
The Gospel According to Satan by Jared Wilson
Maybe a title like this scares you, but this book exposes Satan’s most common lies. They are the lies he packages as truths that many of us fall for. They’re not new, but they’re effective. Wilson helps us see why these lies are tempting and where they show up in our life. But he doesn’t stop there. He points us to the true gospel of Christ that offers the satisfaction that Satan’s lies and idols held out to us could only imagine.
Books I Wrote
Not only did I get to read a lot of books in 2020, but I had the privilege of publishing two books.
Books I’m Looking Forward To
There are a few books in 2021 I’m already looking forward to reading. One just released, and the other four come out in early 2021. Happy reading!
The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World by Brett McCracken
Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit by Hannah Anderson
God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World by Andrew Wilson