I enjoy taking time to look back and reflect on my reading each year. If you follow me on Instagram, then you have seen my one-sentence reviews of each book throughout the year (still available in my Highlights). Here I have organized all sixty-eight books under my five categories, offering a brief comment about each category, highlighting three books, and listing the remaining books in alphabetical order by author.
This year I have included Amazon Affiliate links for the books that I highlight. If you want to read those books yourself, using the link will help fund my book addiction.
A lot of my academic reading for the next few years will be geared toward dissertation research on the Psalms. However, others helped with a writing project on Creation and science.
The Highlight: Volume 1 of Abraham Heschel’s The Prophets. Heschel examines the emotions and circumstances of the prophets in order to read their messages. It also has my favourite opening sentence to an academic book. I’ll read volume two in the near year.
Runners-Up: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John H. Walton, which offers a fascinating interpretation of Genesis 1, and The Psalms: Songs of Tragedy, Hope, and Justice by J. David Pleins, which is an underrated introduction to the Psalms focussing on themes of suffering and justice.
- Israel’s Praise: Doxology Against Idolatry and Ideology by Walter Brueggemann
- The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
- Science, Creation, and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins by Richard F. Carlson and Tremper Longman III
- The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature by John J. Collins
- Ideology, Class, and the Hebrew Bible by Norman K. Gottwald
- The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible by Michael S. Heiser
- Contending for Justice: Ideologies and Theologies of Social Justice in the Old Testament by Walter Houston
- God’s Righteousness and Justice in the Old Testament by Jože Krašovec
- Theology of the Psalms by Hans-Joachim Kraus
- The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms by David C. Mitchell
- Divine Council, Ethics, and Resistance in Psalm 82 by Erica Mongé-Greer
- Portraits of the Righteous in the Psalms: An Exploration of the Ethics of Book I by Daniel C. Owens
- Psalms and Practice: Worship, Virtue, and Authority ed. by Stephen Breck Reid
- The ‘Uncertainty of a Hearing’: A Study of the Sudden Change of Mood in the Psalms of Lament by Federico Villanueva
- The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate by John H. Walton
- Elements of Old Testament Theology by Claus Westermann
Books in this category help me grow in my ability to teach and write, offering content for classes and helping me think through pedagogy.
The Highlight: Yes, I have selected a book on grammar and copyediting as the highlight here, but Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer was so fun to read, but is also a valuable resource for writing.
Runners-Up: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, an accessible introduction to how western culture and philosophy impacts our reading of Scripture, and Willie James Jennins’ After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, which is beautiful and thought provoking.
- Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today by Bernhard W. Anderson
- Finding Favour in the Sight of God: A Theology of Wisdom Literature by Richard P. Belcher Jr.
- What Is The Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell
- Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes by Flower Darby and James M. Lang
- How the Bible Actually Works: In which I Explain how an Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads us to Wisdom rather than Answers—and why that’s Great News by Peter Enns
- Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1–9 by Daniel J. Estes
- The Theology of Jeremiah: The Book, the Man, the Message by John Goldingay
- How (Not) to Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-women, Anti-science, Pro-violence, Pro-slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture by Dan Kimball
- A Theological Introduction to the Psalms: The Psalms as Torah by J. Clinton McCann
- Interpreting the Psalms by Patrick D. Miller
- The Destruction of the Canaanites: God, Genocide, and Biblical Interpretation by Charlie Trimm
Reading history and about the experiences of others is invaluable. All of the books in this category are worth reading.
The Highlight: Everything Sad is Untrue: (A True Story) by Daniel Nayeri is a memoir of a young Persian refuge living in Oklahoma. Nayeri is a master storyteller—you will laugh, be informed, and be enthralled.
Runners-Up: History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present by Elizabeth Isichei, which addresses the problem of writing history from a western perspective, and if you study Canadian pentecostalism at all then you need to own a copy of the Canadian Pentecostal Reader: The First Generation of Pentecostal Voices in Canada ed. by Martin Mittelstadt and Caleb Courtney. But, again, I would recommend almost all of the books in this category.
- Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism by Robert Mapes Anderson
- The Life of Antoy and the Letter to Marcellinus by Saint Athanasius
- No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need To Hear) by Kate Bowler
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by March Charles and Soong-Chan Rah
- Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir by Stanley Hauerwas
- Healing Through the Centuries: Models for Understanding by Ronald Kydd
- How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
- Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle by Danté Stewart
- Exactly As You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers by Shea Tuttle
This is a bit of a catch-all category for books about personal growth and popular level theology.
The Highlight: You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World by O. Alan Noble is a powerful cultural critique. Though I did not agree with all of his observations, and his examples are repetitive, he offers an important warning against being formed by our western cultural anthropology.
Runners-Up: For a great devotional for Lent, use Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, and Carmen Joy Imes‘ Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters is worth getting for her chapter on taking the Lord’s name in vain.
- Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
- Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to Their Beauty, Power, and Meaning by Miriyam Glazer
- A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture that Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer
- Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian D. McLaren
- The Wounded Healer: ministry in Contemporary Society by Henri J.M. Nouwen
- Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best by Eugene H. Peterson
- After Doubt: How to Question Your Faith without Losing It by A.J. Swaboda
- The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus by Rich Villodas
- The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard
- Postcards from Babylon: The Church in American Exile by Brian Zahnd
I did not read as much fiction this year (and no poetry or plays). However, there are still standouts among this list.
The Highlight: Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads. This story follows a pastor’s family in the 1970s and the church youth group. The family splinters and falls apart as each member faces decisions and crises. Franzen is a fantastic writer, one to whom I will return in the future.
- A Time To Kill by John Grisham
- Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley
- Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover
- The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman