What time of year is it? That’s right. It’s time for endless lists of favorite books of the year. I’m actually writing my list fashionably late. Most of the important people posted their lists a few weeks ago. I’m going to keep it short. I’m picking my five favorites books that I read this year.
You should be highly skeptical of any favorite books list in 2020 that doesn’t have Gentle and Lowly on it. We all needed this book in 2020. Dane Ortlund does a masterful job revealing the heart of Christ for sinners. In my review, I said it’s like being wrapped in a warm Puritan weighted blanket for the soul. It’s theologically rich and deeply encouraging. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this as a gift to yourself. You can read my review here.
Have you thought about the discipleship process at your church? Can your church’s discipleship take someone from being a new believer to being a pastor? J.T. English asks some challenging questions to get us to examine the state of discipleship in our local church. This is probably the most practical book I read this year. It certainly got me thinking about my church and how we can improve our discipleship process. I think Deep Discipleship will be extremely helpful to churches for years to come. You can read my review here.
I haven’t finished this book yet, but I already know it’s one of my favorites this year. I’m reading it slowly, because there is so much to take in. “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.” That statement would have been considered nonsense and morally suspect just a generation ago. Yet, it is full of meaning today and to question it is now considered morally suspect. Trueman looks back through western culture to figure out how our society has changed to understand and essentially worship self. It’s a fascinating and disturbing read. I will post a review as soon as I finish it.
It’s appropriate that Rod Dreher wrote the foreword to the previous book on this list. Live Not By Lies is a challenging examination of the rise of soft totalitarianism in the United States. It’s hard to argue with his thesis as cancel culture rages all around us and social media continues to make Orwell’s 1984 look like reality. But here’s what makes Live Not By Lies especially interesting. Dreher interviews Christians who lived through hard totalitarianism under communist soviet rule. How did they do it? How did they keep their faith? You can read my review here.
This book wasn’t published this year. Being a former English major, I tend to alternate between nonfiction and fiction. Fiction has a special ability to build empathy and understanding. Not to mention it reads much quicker than nonfiction. The Town really highlights fiction’s ability to make the reader see through another person’s eyes, even if you don’t agree with them.
It is the second book in Faulkner’s masterful trilogy about the Snopes family, set in Yoknapatawpha County, the fictional Mississippi county Faulkner created for many of his stories. Three characters tell the story from alternating viewpoints. The more you want to hate the Snopes family, the more Faulkner develops characters and unfolds the inner life of the town. The reader slowly begins to see why people are the way they are.
That’s it. Those are my favorite books of 2020. I know I personally needed good books to get through this year. I hope this is helpful, and here’s to happy reading next year.