Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2008

I love to read. From theology to classic literature to contemporary novels, if it's well-written and engaging, I'll read it. While not all of these were published this year, these are the best books I read in 2008, in no particular order:

Surprised by Hope (N.T. Wright): The New Testament theologian has outdone himself with this inspiring and challenging look at the concept of resurrection, heaven, and the mission of the church. Perhaps the most accessible-yet-insightful book on the kingdom of God I've ever read. You simply must read this; it's perhaps the best book I've read this year.

Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell): Gladwell is a gifted storyteller, and his latest book about the connections and practices behind successful people is no exception. I don't know how Gladwell manages to find these anecdotes or see the underlying connections, but it's a fascinating and inspiring read.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Rob Bell and Don Golden): Bell's latest is a well-written treatise on his hermeneutical framework for understanding Scripture, looking at the metanarrative through the idea of exile and exodus. The book builds to a biting and rousing commentary on American culture, inviting American Christians to rethink their values and lifestyles.

The Road (Cormac McCarthy): Perhaps my favorite contemporary American novelist, McCarthy won the Pulitzer in 2006 for this remarkable story of a father and son trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America. It sounds cliche, but this is one of those books I simply had to read in one sitting because I could not put it down.

Life of Pi (Yann Martel): Built upon an unlikely premise--a zoo-keeper's son survives a shipwreck in a lifeboat along with a hyena, an injured zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker--the narrative clips along at a harrowingly steady pace, leading up to a conclusion that will make you reevaluate the nature of God. While I don't agree with all of Martel's spiritual conclusions, the story is so well-written that I can fully appreciate the insights.

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer): The vampire love story that has spawned a die-hard devoted following. I heart Edward Cullen.

Youth Ministry 3.0 (Mark Oestreicher): I am still thinking about the ideas expressed in this short-but-sweet book from Youth Specialties' president and middle school ministry guru. I think my review of YM 3.0 paints a good picture of what I think of this book.

The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture (Shane Hipps): Shane Hipps makes a compelling argument for postmodern ecclesiology based on Marshall McLuhan's idea that the medium is message. I found myself repeatedly nodding as I was reading this, seeing the intimate and radical connections that Hipps was making between theology, culture, and media. I've been listening to Hipps' sermons at Trinity Mennonite for the past year, challenging me to communicate the profound truths of God in 20 minutes or less.

Crazy Love (Francis Chan): Chan shares some pretty crazy ideas in his first book, like what if we actually did what the Bible describes and what Jesus called us to do? Simple-yet-profound, Chan's stories and insights point to a radical discipleship that was especially challenging to read while on a mission trip to eastern Europe this past summer. I've given this book to a few high school students and seen them spiritually challenged from Chan's words.

The Blue Parakeet (Scot McKnight): McKnight is a professor at North Park University in Illinois and an insightful theologian. I love reading his blog, though I'm not sure where the guy finds the time to teach, write books, speak at churches and events, and write multiple profound blog posts every day. In his latest book, McKnight makes the argument that there is a third way of reading Scripture, beyond the fundamentalists and the liberals, a way to understand the story of Scripture through discernment and listening to God speak through His Word. The book has been personally challenging, forcing me to rethink just how I read Scripture, making me wonder how I come to some of the conclusions I do about God and following Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Great listing of these books... I appreciate your choice!!