This was an okay year for reading, as far as I was concerned. I set out to read 55 books, and at this point I’ve read 33 with a couple more that I’ll probably finish before the year is over. That said, I’m quite happy with the books that I did read–or, rather, the ones that I chose to read. My recent graduation from seminary opened up some time and brainpower to plow through works that have been on my list for a while. In addition, 2016 marked a return to fiction, and for that I’m thankful. Without further ado, here are my five favorite works from the last year.
1. N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, vol. 1 in Christian Origins and the Question of God (1991)
In terms of paradigm-shifting works, there wasn’t one this year that was more effective than Tom Wright’s first volume in his Christian Origins series. He did more to situate the early church in her historical, Jewish context than three years of seminary and private study. His work will have you questioning the essentially Gentilic nature of Protestant Christianity. And that’s a good place to be for a time. I recommend this to anybody who has trouble making the connection between Christianity and its Judaic roots.
2. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (1961)
The introduction by Madeline L’Engle is worth the price of the book, but Lewis’s thinking-out-loud over sixty pages over the loss of his beloved H is especially poignant. He bleeds onto the page. The master storyteller lays out his doubts and struggles for his diary–and then the world–to see. If you have recently suffered a loss, I have no doubt that Grief may be the balm you need.
3. Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)
The progenitor of the current(ly regrettable) rash of dystopian books and movies, Canticle masterfully paints a world, in all its fullness, that has wrecked itself with nuclear war and is picking up the pieces. Moving in three parts and following the religious order connected to one of the physicists responsible for the Deluge, Canticle offers a view of knowledge, spirituality, and humanity that is worth considering.
4. George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, vol. 1 in A Song of Ice and Fire (1996)
The inspiration for the widely-acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones, Martin’s A Game of Thrones sets the stage for the massive chessboard that is the Seven Kingdoms. I’ve seen it described as a grown-up Lord of the Rings. There’s little to dispute about that characterization. It’s engrossing. It’s compelling. It’s heartbreaking at times. Read it.
5. Jürgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ (1989)
Moltmann’s 1992 book is dated in terms of the contemporary events that he chooses to address. However, the method of his Christology in this book is absolutely worth looking into. Rather than relegating the nature and work of Christ to some abstraction, he maintains a relevant-Christ that can still speak prophetically and apocalyptically to the contemporary world. His Christ can address nuclear war, global warming, poverty, and all other ills.
To see all that I’ve read this year, click here for my Goodreads.