With the end of the year in sight, it’s time for my annual run-down of literary heroes and zeroes. I’ve read 30+ theology titles again this year, including several 500+ page tomes. About half of those titles I’ve read in my new role as book review editor for Clarion. It’s a gig I’m quite enjoying.
I’ve also read a lot more non-theological non-fiction and novels this year. I’m pretty sure my “extra-curricular” tally is also well above 30.
However, before getting to the highlights, let me start off with this year’s number one stinker: The Case for Christian Nationalism by Stephen Wolfe. This is a dreadful book on so many fronts. My review for Clarion is still in the queue, so I don’t want to spoil anything. For now you’ll just have to trust me that this book is not worth your time.
The best novel I read in 2022 was one that I had to read in school way back when. I loved it then and I love it even more now: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just such a well-crafted story. Nothing comes close.
I love Antony Beevor’s books on World War II. This year’s favourite non-fiction book is his Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944. I suppose one of the reasons I loved it was that I would read a chapter and then watch the related scenes from the movie A Bridge Too Far. I have two runners-up: David Crystal’s Just a Phrase I’m Going Through: My Life in Language and Robert McCrum’s Wodehouse: A Life. Crystal is a big name in linguistics and P.G. Wodehouse is a big name in humour. Both have had fascinating lives.
It’s really hard for me to pick a top read for theological books. I’m going to call it a dead heat between two worthy competitors: Paul David Tripp’s Do You Believe? and Simonetta Carr’s Church History. Tripp’s book is a great explanation of Christian doctrine and how it applies to life. Carr’s book is the most incredible church history textbook I’ve ever seen. Both ought to be on your shelf.
As for runners-up, John Dickson’s Bullies and Saints is a great combination of apologetics and church history (read my review here). And there’s When Home Hurts: A Guide for Responding Wisely to Domestic Abuse in Your Church by Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson. It’s a tough read, but a necessary one, especially for elders and pastors.
Finally, do you want to read something about writing in 2023? Put this one on your list: Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark. I love Clark’s books on writing – he’s witty, practical, and if you write to him, he actually writes back!
Tolle lege, my friends, tolle lege (Latin for ‘sit on your backside and start reading already’).