The Best Books I Read This Year

I read a good many books this year, not as many as in previous years but I suppose that comes with parenting.  Here is a list of my favorite reads in 2012.  Note, these are not all new books that came out in 2012, they are books I read in 2012.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – One is a classic, considered one of the greatest novels ever.  The other is a few years old and recipient of numerous rewards.  Both were stories that grip the reader and the sort of books that make me want to read more fiction.

A Secular Age by Charles Taylor – Probably the best book I read this year, or at least the most demanding.  Taylor tells the story of how we went from a culture where it was nearly impossible not to believe in God to one in which faith is just one possibility among many.  What does it mean to live in a secular age?  How did this change come about?  This book stretched my mind and I am sure there were parts I did not fully grasp.  That said, it was amazing and rewarding.  Taylor’s work explains much in the debates and issues and arguments we see in the world around us today.

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – If I had to recommend one book to people, this would be the one.  Do yourself a favor and read it.  It is disheartening and stomach-churning at times, but the stories the authors tell about the plight of women worldwide are ones we all must hear.  We must not just hear such stories, we must allow them to get inside of us and to change us, to cause us to take steps to help our fellow humans.

All is Grace by Brennan Manning – This is the sort of book that I would want to reread when I am depressed or doubting, because Manning’s story makes me want to be a better Christian.  That is probably the best compliment I can give.

Simply Jesus by NT Wright – I have read a lot of books by Wright, yet this one may have been my favorite.  He presents a vision of who Jesus was, what Jesus did and why it matters.  The Christian community would do well to hear Wright and catch this vision.

The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans – Funny and thoughtful, provocative and encouraging, this book is probably the most controversial on my list.

On to another year of reading!

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