The Best Books I Read in 2019

In the middle of a flood of writing assignments and deadlines, I’m taking a quick break to write about something I actually want to write about: the best books I read in 2019!

(Side note: what does it say about me that my break from writing is just a different kind of writing, particularly writing about reading?)

One thing to note: these books weren’t published in 2019–I just happened to read them in 2019. So without further adieu and in no particular order, the three best books I read in 2019 were:

the meaning of marriage

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller

This was required reading for my Marriage and Family Counseling course. It should be required reading for anyone that is married, is about to be married, or someday might be married. The Meaning of Marriage is a powerful combination of biblical wisdom, practical insights, theological depth, and vulnerable personal vignettes that help readers understand the gospel-reflecting beauty of the marriage covenant.

Or if you’re a Star Wars person, I’ve heard Tim Keller referred to as the Christian Yoda, so there’s that.

Favorite Quote:

“Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.”

none like him

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing by Jen Wilkin

This little book made multiple “best books of the year” lists several years ago and, per the usual, I am late to the game. Don’t be fooled by the cover art–this is not just a book for women. None Like Him is deep and weighty, yet accessible, making readers feel small and weak in comparison to an infinite God–and that’s a good thing.

As an aside, Jen Wilkin is becoming one of my favorite voices. Her podcast titled, “Raising Daughters Beyond Stereotypes” is a must listen for anyone raising a little girl. I still have it saved to my phone after first listening to it over 2 years ago.

Favorite Quote:

“A measureless God begins to upend our sense of personal awesomeness.”

life together

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you’ve never heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, do yourself a solid and add this to your “to read” list. In short, he was a brilliant German pastor-theologian that was ultimately sentenced to death for his involvement in an attempt to assassinate Hitler (read: he’s way more hardcore than you or me). Life Together is his extremely convicting classic on authentic Christian community.

Favorite Quote:

“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves . . . Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.”

What about you?

What were some of the best books you’ve read recently? I’m currently working on my 2020 reading list, so let’s hear what you got!

Best Reads in 2016: Part 2

I’m a sucker for the “best books of 2016” lists that flood my timelines and news feeds this time of year, so to follow suit, here’s a list of my favorite reads from the second half of 2016.

(As a sidenote, these are not not necessarily books released this year, but books that I read this year.)

The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis

I offer you this quote from the book: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” I don’t think I really need to add anything more.

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies

Tim Challies consistently puts out some of the best Christian content and resources on his blog. That’s why this book was a no-brainer when I heard it was coming out. Do More Better is a super quick and easy read but will revolutionize the way you think about productivity. I’m still applying and tweaking many of the suggestions and tools he offers in the book, but I feel that they have helped me immensely over the last few months. Do More Better would be a great read for anyone looking to be more productive in the new year (so, basically everyone).

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

To quote the aforementioned C. S. Lewis, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” I first read The Explicit Gospel just before graduating from seminary in 2012. It was a game-changer of sorts for me. It helped me to see that the gospel is not just the entry point of the Christian life, it’s central to the entire Christian life from beginning to end. I will never graduate from the gospel. Neither will you. That’s why you should read The Explicit Gospel.

As I mentioned, I’m a sucker for “best books” lists, so I’d love to hear your recommended reading from the past year. Also, here’s the list of my favorite reads from the first half of 2016.