My Top Ten Books of 2019

I’ve been watching with interest various people and organisations post their ‘book of the year’ lists, and have held off doing my own largely because I was finishing up a few books that I wondered if they MIGHT sneak into my top ten.

My book of the year is probably Snodgrass, Bates or Prior, but to be quite honest any of these books could have been my book of the year overall. So, without further ado, and in no particularly order, here are my Top Ten Books of 2019

  1. Walter Moberly, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age – this book is a brilliant contribution to the cultural conversation around Atheism, the Bible and culture.
  2. Ashley Cocksworth, Prayer: A Guide for the Perplexed – finally, a book that blends both theology and practice in talking about the vital discipline of prayer.
  3. Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well – this book is absolutely marvellous. With a blend of literary criticism, Christian discipleship, and virtue, this book is very probably my book of the year, had two others not passed through my mind this year.
  4. Kristi Mair, MORE: Truth – for a short book this punches well above its weight! The perfect antidote to the flurry of fake-news, post-truth and philosophical and theological nonsense that fills so much of our time and airwaves. Read this book!
  5. eds. Crisp and Sanders, The Christian Doctrine of Humanity – a nicely edited collection of genuinely constructive and readable essays about what it means to be human. Far and away the best multi-contributor volume I’ve read this year.
  6. Matthew Bates, Salvation By Allegiance Alone – an incredibly readable, very engaging account of re-understanding the Gospel through the notion of allegiance. Very helpful corrective to individualistic and religious versions of ‘the gospel’, this is a must-read for church people.
  7. Elizabeth Gerhardt, The Cross and Gendercide – this book is a tour de force. Combining the greatest moment in history – the Cross of Christ – with one of the biggest challenges, violence against women, this is a stunning work of practical theology.
  8. Klyne R. Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are – a strong contender for my book of the year, this is an absolutely brilliant, comprehensive and readable theology of human identity. If every church taught through this in a discipleship context, we’d be much the stronger.
  9. N. T. Wright, History and Eschatology – Wright’s Gifford Lectures are an infuriatingly almost perfect book. Superb engagement with history, natural theology, eschatology and much, much more, this is a brilliant book.
  10. Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology – I’m late to this party, but this is probably now my favourite single-volume systematic theology. Humorous, pastoral, broad, wise and faithful. A genuine joy to read.

I’ll have another list of the books I’ve read this year going live shortly, but for now, here are a few more honourable mentions, of books that nearly made it into my Top Ten…

Honorable mentions

  • Including the Stranger, David Firth – this NSBT is a brilliant look at the theme of ethnicity in the Bible. Timely and important.
  • Advent, by Fleming Rutledge – I read this as my Advent devotional this year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent.
  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood – I thoroughly enjoyed this multi-faceted follow up to The Handmaids Tale.
  • The Creaking on the Stairs, Mez McConnell – a superb book on child abuse, particularly for church leaders but appropriate reading for anyone.
  • On the Road with Saint Augustine, by James K. A. Smith – a stunning blend of theology, history, discipleship and reading pleasure!
  • So Everyone Can Hearby Mark Crosby – a definite contender for practical book of the year, every church should have and use a copy.
  • Ninety Percent of Everything, by Rose George – a fascinating look at the shipping industry. Trust me, this is worth your reading time.
  • Invest Your Disappointments, by Paul Mallard – another contender for practical book of the year, this book is a gift.
  • Chernobyl, by Serhii Plokhy – a gripping account of what really happened. Recommended reading for digging into this event and its aftermath.
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