Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Books I Read in 2010

1. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (1977)
A book very hard to put down. It is the true account of a man's love for his wife before and after her death. But it's really about how he gets to the point where he can call her death "a severe mercy." It also tells of the couple's friendship with C.S. Lewis and thankfully contains a handful of letters he wrote them over the years, all of which are goldmines of truth.

2. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (1985)
The introduction alone is worth the price of the book. From what I've heard, it is or at least should be the anchor in all advertising classrooms since it's been published. Postman looks at the history of technology and comes to the conclusion (even in 1985) that we are only doing things for their entertainment value, and that this is killing us. How much more is that statement true today? Everyone who is remotely interested in social media and technology should read this book. Actually, everyone who USES technology in the slightest should read this book.

3. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer (1978)
An amazing look at the attributes of God.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
For some reason, I've put off this book for a while. I love the latest movie adaptation (with Jim Caviezel) and finally decided to read the book. The first half is pretty similar to the movie and the last half is completely different, but even better in my opinion. It's a captivating read that doesn't take as long as you might think by looking at it. Definitely worth the hype of being a classic.

5. Jack: A life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer (2005)
I had wanted to read this for a while, and then had to for my seminary class this summer. It was well worth the 464 pages. Looking at all the biographies of Lewis, most would say this is the best and most comprehensive one (I've also heard good things about The Narnain). It is written through the eyes of a man named George Sayer who befriended Lewis at Oxford. He does a great job of not only giving the reader a look into the events that shaped Lewis in his childhood, but he also gets into the mind of who Jack (what all his close friends called him) really was, what made him tick. Excellent biography about an amazing man.

6. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton (1908)
My first introduction to Chesterton was Orthodoxy a few years back. I eventually came to love his style and wit (though it took a second reading to get there). In this latest book, the style is still intact as he cleverly conveys a story about a group of detectives, anarchists and spies. It is a very fun and quick read. It also contains an amazing line, " man should leave in the universe anything of which he is afraid."

7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (2008)
I couldn't make it through The Tipping Point. This book, however, kept me captivated throughout. Gladwell basically presents true life scenarios of different people as he seeks to understand why certain people succeed and why some don't. It's a sociological study that is riveting.

8. The Pressure's Off by Larry Crabb (2004)
Crabb explains how we no longer have to live according to the old covenant of "do this and live" or "do this and be cursed." Subtly, many of us live our lives in such a way hoping to receive God's blessing because of our behavior or using God to make our lives work. This creates huge amounts of pressure and is not living in light of the gospel. When I read this book, God was doing a huge work in my heart, uncovering ways I had believed these lies. Crabb does an excellent job of pointing us to Christ and what he has accomplished for us so that we may live in freedom and grow in our sanctification.

9. The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield (2009)
Really fun read about the history of the Guinness family and their famous beer. The Guinness company was an incredibly philanthropic company that did much for the city of Dublin and the world.

10. Doctrines of Grace by Phil Ryken and J.M. Boice (2009)
One of the best treatments of Calvinism that I have ever read. The authors do a great job at showing the biblical basis for the doctrines of grace, as well as fairly handling the difficult verses that seem to build a case for the other side. They also give a great history lesson about how Calvinism has lead to much flourishing and how Arminianism typically leads to pietism which leads to liberalism which ultimately leads to atheism. Strong words, but they give some great evidence that is hard to argue with.

Honorable Mentions: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Foer), Counterfeit Gods (Keller), Lord of the Flies (Golding)

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