My Obligatory Favorite Books List

Admittedly, the "My Favorite Books Of The Year" posts are a bit self-indulgent. But personally, I like to read people's favorite books lists. So, with the expectation that at least my parents and in-laws will be mildly interested I offer the following list of my favorite books from this year. One qualifier is in order - Not all the books on this list were published this year.

Biblical Studies / Doctrine:
Word, Water, and Spirit by J.V. Fesko
If you are seeking to understand the reason why the Reformed baptize the infants of believers then Fesko's book may be the most thorough explanation available. If you reject covenantal baptism and have not read this excellent book then give it a try.

Judges & Ruth by Daniel Block
I have found Daniel Block to be consistently helpful. His commentary on Judges and Ruth is no exception. It was an excellent resource as I preached through Ruth.

A New Testament Biblical Theology by Greg Beale
It's huge. It's complex. It's not easy to read. It's great. Beale consistently offers us works which embody scholarly precision and faithfulness to the biblical text. This massive work is well worth the "journey".

Taking The Bible At Its Word by Paul Wells
I love the way Paul Wells writes. This is a truly valuable book. It is now my "go-to" recommendation for a readable introduction to the doctrine of Scripture. Highly recommended!

Jesus On Every Page by David Murray
An accessible guide to reading the Old Testament with an eye toward Jesus, just as was intended.

A shout out to Ryken's Bible Handbook and The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology for being especially helpful as I prepared for ordination exams in the PCA.

Saving Eutychus by Millar & Campbell
Excellent book for preachers. Fairly unique in their approach, the authors offer helpful counsel on how to keep preaching fresh and engaging.

Handbook for Battered Leaders by Balda & Balda
I read this book during a particularly difficult time in ministry. I suppose the main reason I appreciated it so much is because the authors so perfectly described my situation at the time. It made me feel less alone; like there was someone else out there who could see what I was seeing. If you are an elder in a church that tends to chew up pastors then this book is a must. If you are  an elder in a healthy church then read it in an effort to avoid potential pitfalls. Incidentally, I am now gratefully serving in a church that does not batter its pastors.

The Making and Unmaking of an Evangelical Mind by Rudolph Nelson
Edward Carnell was an up and coming star in the new evangelicalism. It was to be a movement that would hold to conservative doctrinal convictions while being much nicer than the older, crankier fundamentalism. Educated at Wheaton, Westminster Seminary, and Harvard, Carnell became the president of the relatively young Fuller Seminary. But he was also a man at war with himself and his doubts. His life ended tragically in a Chicago hotel room from an overdose of barbiturates.

The Presbyterian Crisis by Edwin Rian
This is a classic recounting of the Presbyterian conflict in the first few decades of the 20th century. Rian's account is still quite relevant. Among the priceless lessons is that the collapse of the Mainline denominations had less to do with the liberals than with those so-called conservatives who were unwilling to contend for the faith. The same is true today.

Charles Hodges by Andrew Hoffecker
An excellent addition to the quite sparse body of work on the life of American Presbyterianism's most important theologian. One of the better biographies I have read.

Pilgrim's Wilderness by Tom Kizzia
There is not a wasted page in this terrific book. Alaskan journalist Tom Kizzia gives a compelling account of madness and abuse cloaked in Christian fervor.

Wheelmen by Albergotti & O'Connell
A fascinating and troubling look into the biggest doping conspiracy in the history of sports. This is a morality tale which assesses the men for whom nothing mattered so much as winning. While avoiding self-righteousness, the authors examine the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and find the seeds of his cheating in his youth and a voracious sense of entitlement.

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright knows how to write. This is page-turning reportage at its best. Go inside the Church of Scientology and be amazed and disturbed.

Hunting Eichmann by Neil Bascomb
The harrowing account of how the still new Israeli intelligence service tracked down one of the chief engineers of the Final Solution.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
I haven't read a Stephen King novel since I was in high school. But this one had me from the beginning. The hero finds a portal into the past and decides to top Lee Harvey Oswald from killing President Kennedy.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
This engrossing novel is the first by Kevin Powers. Himself an Iraq War veteran, Powers tells the story of two young soldiers encountering the terror of war all the while bound together by an impossible promise.

Canada by Richard Ford
Heart-breaking. Frightening. I loved Independence Day also by Richard Ford. Canada can move a bit slowly at times. But it is beautifully written and fascinating in detail.