Favorite Books of 2013

2013 was a year that I slowed down with reading.  In fact, in January of this past year I had a hard time focusing on ANY book.  I was kind of burned out after reading 60-some books the previous year.  The good news is, I’m coming out of that fog and feel a renewed hunger for reading and learning.  In any case, out of the 40 books I got to this year, here were my top 10 (in no particularly order.)  I’ve got short, lazy descriptions of the books below. I tried not to think to much while writing this. Enjoy!

1. When the Church was a Family – Joseph Hellerman
This is a really important work for the American, consumer oriented church. Hellerman exposits on what it meant to be the “church” in the first century through the metaphor of “family.” Powerful!

2. As One Without Authority – Fred Craddock
An introduction and invitation to inductive preaching. Half of the time spent reading this I was inspired, and half of the time I was discouraged by my own mediocrity in preaching compared to Craddock’s!

3. Endurance – Alfred Lansing
How did I not know anything about the Shackleton expedition before this year? Where have I been. This is the most incredible survival story I’ve EVER read. Have you picked this up yet? Why not?

4. Gilead – Marilyn Robinson
I remember this being about something…but it’s more about the writing than anything else. Trust me.

5. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes – Randolph Richards
A popular level read on the contextual matters that particularly Westerners get wrong when interpreting the Bible and what we can do to help remove the blinders that keep us from getting it right. Left me wanting more, so I suppose that is a positive thing!

6. Desiring the Kingdom – James KA Smith
Smith makes a strong argument that as affective, desiring “animals” everything we do is formational. Exposes the liturgies that we participate in and are shaped by that generally go unnoticed. This is one I’ll probably read again.

7. The World is Not Ours to Save – Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
For those who consider themselves activists-“world-changers”, this is a hopeful yet, welcome correction to the fact that NO ONE can save the world and it’s not even our responsibility to do so. A provocative read with many compelling stories.

8. Every Good Endeavor – Tim Keller
A biblical theology of work. VERY helpful in thinking through vocation and what our 9-5 jobs have to do with God.

9. Lament for a Son – Nicolas Wolterstorff
A painful and haunting reflection on his sons death. Having two sons myself, this book wrecked me. Particularly the line about how the same two hands that he used to pick his son up out of the crib were now the hands lowering his casket in the ground. Only book to make me cry this year.

10. Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals – William Webb
Webb’s explanation of his Redemptive movement hermeneutic. Back in the day, I heard many a seminary student ignorantly cast this book/hermeneutic off with the words “trajectory hermeneutic” without ever reading or engaging Webb’s actual materials. I’m very compelled by his approach and this is a big reason that Evergreen is an egalitarian church community.