It’s the time of year when the ‘books of the year’ lists start coming out (I did one for work), and I’m gradually joining in. According to GoodReads (which I’ve been using the last couple of years to track and measure what I’m reading – not least to avoid reading the same duffers multiple times) I’ve read 182 books this year (Some don’t exist in GoodReads). Here’s the full list! I’ve included links to reviews (Where I’ve done them) and a less-than-one-sentence summary of my thoughts. I’ve also done a couple of roundup posts.
My Top Twenty Books of 2020 >< My Top Ten Theology Books of 2020
My Top Ten for Pastors >< My Top Ten for thoughtful Christians
Ann Benton, The Fruitful Home – a great little book about a big (And vital!) subject: how can our homes glorify God?
Sharon Hastings, Wrestling With My Thoughts – a powerful and moving story of trusting God in serious mental illness.
Steven J. Duby, God in Himself – a superb technical theology book about Divine Simplicity.
Barnabas Piper, Help My Unbelief – a readable and careful book about the importance of doubt as part of faith.
Peter Sanlon, Simply God – a robust and accessible book about who God is and what God is like. Excellent!
Kinghorn and Travis, But What About God’s Wrath? – a readable and provocative book engaging this question.
Matthew Barrett’s Canon, Covenant and Christology – a superb NSBT that links Christology with the Bible’s authority. Recommended.
Matthew Bates, Gospel Allegiance – a helpful introduction to understanding the Gospel as ‘Jesus is Lord’.
Anne Calver’s Baby Change – a readable, honest and practical Christian introduction to parenting. Grateful for this book!
Various, His Testimonies, My Heritage – a profound and beautiful devotional on Psalm 119. Absolutely brilliant.
Paul Mallard, An Identity to Die For – a helpful book about Identity, rooted in Ephesians.
Judith A. Muskett, Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground – a fascinating if expensive book, relevant to leaders with large buildings.
Peter Bouteneff, How To Be A Sinner – a thoughtful book from the Orthodox tradition challenging how I think about sin and identity.
Dan DeWitt, Sunny Side Up – a short devotional type book that is provocative and challenging in a way that points to Jesus. Good stuff.
Sam Allberry, Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With? – brilliant book, timely and engaging. Superb.
John Lennox, Where is God in a Coronavirus World? – short and readable apologetics book.
Peter Maiden, Radical Gratitude – a good book on being grateful. Worth reading in light of the author’s death from cancer.
Mark D. Smith, The Final Days of Jesus – an interesting perspective on the passion narratives and history from a classicist.
John Stott, The Cross of Christ – still a magisterial and moving treatment of the Cross.
Gavin and Anne Calver, Unleashed: The Acts Church Today – an inspiring and encouraging call to the church.
Michael Green, Compelled by Joy – an encouraging book from a master evangelist. Enthusiastic and encouraging.
Michael Allen’s Grounded in Heaven – a competent but not particularly exciting theology book. Forgettable.
Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor – a classic, if flawed book on the Cross. The SPCK Classics edition is showing it’s age.
Peter Bouteneff, How To Be a Sinner – a fascinating and very readable book from the Orthodox stable. Well worth reading.
Phil Knox, Story Bearer – a genuinely good, culturally sensitive book on evangelism. Brilliant Bible overview chapter.
Andrew Steinmann, Genesis (TOTC) – a solid commentary in a good series. Great place to start a study or series on Genesis.
Kate Bowler, The Preacher’s Wife – a fascinating and readable look at women’s roles in modern American evangelicalism.
Stephen R. Milford, Eccentricity in Anthropology – a provocative and genuinely fresh piece of theological anthropology. I’ll return to it.
Rich Wilson, A Call Less Ordinary – an underwhelming and over-long book.
Gavin Ortlund, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals – a really helpful and readable book of theology – set me off on some fun tangents.
Richard Brash, Christian’s Pocket Guide to How God Preserved the Bible – a good short book that does what it says on the tin.
Sharon James, Gender Ideology – a disappointing book on a vital topic.
Dean Beaumont, The Expectant Dad’s Handbook – a really, really helpful book on becoming a dad. Secular, so missing stuff, but practically great.
James Bryan Smith, The Magnificent Story – a wonderful devotional book that I found really encouraging.
Judith Muskett, Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground – a fascinating but very expensive book about cathedrals!
J. Ayodeji Adewuya, Holiness in the Letters of Paul – a very helpful survey of a key topic in the Pauline corpus.
Various, The First Letter of Peter – a curate’s egg of a commentary on 1 Peter.
Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw, Does God Really Like me? – a really helpful book on God relating to us.
James R. Payton Jr., The Victory of the Cross – a fascinating and readable book about soteriology in Eastern Orthodox theology. Good book.
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, 1 Peter: An Introduction and Study Guide – partly useful mainstream mini-commentary. Good format.
Oliver D. Crisp, God, Creation and Salvation – a good book on/of Reformed theology marred by poor production values.
Thomas Erikson, Surrounded by Idiots – a helpful business book about communication. Recommended for anyone not working alone.
Lizzie Ling and Vaughan Roberts, Talking Points: Abortion – a very good short book on a big moral and political issue. Recommended.
James Mumford, Vexed: Ethics Beyond Political Tribes – provocative, fun and readable book about big ideas and how they work out. Read this.
Steve Hilton, More Human – a thoughtful, fascinating but over-long book on making a more human-shaped world. Great ideas. Too long.
Al Hsu, Grieving a Suicide – a powerful, wise and beautiful book about a horrible topic. Recommended.
Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – a comprehensive, readable and engaging history of Rome.
Luke Bretheton, Christ and the Common Life – a readable and interesting book on political theology, but more descriptive than I’d hoped.
Christopher Steed, The Identification Principle – an interesting book about how the incarnation should influence Christian life and ministry.
Brett Gray, Jesus in the Theology of Rowan Williams – readable AND technical. If you care about the words in the title, you should read.
John Starke, The Possibility of Prayer – a brilliant new book on prayer, which I found helpful throughout the year.
N. T. Wright and Mike Bird, The New Testament In It’s World – a phenomenal achievement, and a great resource. Worth buying for reference.
John and Ann Benton, Aren’t They Lovely When They’re Asleep? – a brilliant short book on parenting. Some dated aspects, much good truth.
Matthew Barrett, None Greater – a good book on what God is like. Possibly more technical than intended.
Lucy Peppiatt, Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women – a really good book on the issue from an egalitarian perspective. Read it.
Various, Healthy Faith and the Coronavirus Crisis – the first book I’ve edited, with some of the best Christian writing on COVID I’ve seen. Buy it.
Jonathan Lamb, Essentially One – a really robust book on unity. If you care about church unity and the gospel, read this book.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction – a book that gave me spiritual backbone for this bizarre year. Gold.
Mary Beard, Women and Power: A Manifesto – a punchy but not quite excellent little book.
Gerald L. Bray, Doing Theology With the Reformers – a super book, weirdly packaged, but well worth reading.
N. T. Wright, God and the Pandemic – a really good little book, more so as an intro to Wright, imo.
Fitzpatrick and Schumacher, Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women – a really good book from a more complimentarian position. Recommended.
Penelope Wilcock, Equality is Biblical – a very disappointing book from a broadly egalitarian position.
Wesley J. Wildman, In Our Own Image – an interesting piece of philosophical theology. Not what I expected!
Alan E. Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection – a classic ‘theology of holy saturday’. Some weak parts, some golden nuggets.
Ike Miller, Seeing by the Light – a great technical book. Recommended if you like John’s Gospel, Barth, or Augustine.
Thomas C. Oden, A Change of Heart – a superb book, both as an interesting biography and theological reflection. Read this.
Simon J. Gathercole, Defending Substitution – a really good short book about the atonement. Recommended reading from me!
Andrew J. Bartlett, Men and Women in Christ – a robust and eirenic look at the egalitarian/complimentarian discussion. Worth reading.
ed. Gibson and Gibson, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her – a superb collection of essays about limited atonement.
Adam Rutherford, How to Argue With a Racist – a really helpful book about race, ethnicity and science. Recommended for good discussion.
Matt Smethurst, Before You Open Your Bible – a good little book about the heart postures we should bring to reading the Bible.
Ben Lindsay, We Need to Talk About Race – a very helpful book for Christians thinking about race issues – perhaps for the first time.
Owen Strachan, Reenchanting Humanity – an infuriating book: some excellent bits, some mediocre bits, a lot of real disappointment. Avoid.
Shundrawn A. Thomas, Discover Joy in Work – a happy and encouraging book about work. A helpful read in a year of work being odd!
Natalie Collins, Out of Control – a superb book about domestic violence. Sadly and soberingly very relevant this year.
Matthew Y. Emerson, ‘He Descended to the Dead‘ – an interesting but not *groundbreaking* book on Holy Saturday and ‘the descent’.
David Runcorn, Love Means Love – a spectacularly bad book on same-sex relationships and the Bible.
Paul Harcourt, Greater Things – an encouraging and inspiring book that shares the story of New Wine. I spoke to Paul about it.
Ian Knox, Finishing Well: A God’s Eye View of Ageing – a readable and practical book about ageing. Worth a look.
Graham A. Cole, Engaging with the Holy Spirit – an excellent short theological book about the Holy Spirit. Big love for this.
Cyril of Alexandria, On The Unity of Christ – mind-bending, heart-warming theology. Please read this book.
Sam Allberry, A Better Hope – a short ebook reissue of an excellent chapter from another excellent book.
Dan Strange, ‘For Their Rock is Not As Our Rock’ – a superb academic book, presenting an evangelical theology of religions.
2nd edn., Salvation to the Ends of the Earth – a helpful if imperfect book offering a biblical theology of mission.
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (4. vols) – surprisingly accessible and very rewarding ‘big read’ of the year. Will keep it close.
Joe Barnard, The Way Forward – a helpful book on discipleship, ostensibly just for men, but I don’t think exclusively.
Rachel Gilson, Born Again this way – a really good book on sexuality, by a woman, that deserves a wide readership.
Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity – a superb apologetics book, which I’ll give to people when it’s in paperback.
ed. Joe Aldred, Pentecostals and Charismatics in Britain – a very uneven but occasionally brilliant anthology. Good reference book.
various, The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views – a classic format, usefully engaging the atonement. Helpful reference book.
Jonathan Leeman, One Assembly – a provocative and biblical book, helpfully challenging ‘multisite’ and ‘multiservice’ ecclesiology.
Elizabeth McQuid, Joy: Food for the Journey – a solid undated 30 day devotional on this important theme.
Johan Bavinck, The Church Between Temple and Mosque – a very good and short book on Christianity amongst the religions. Very good.
Nancy R. Pearcey, Love Thy Body – an ethical/theological tour de force, warmly recommended.
Allan M. Harman, The Story of the Church (4th. ed.) – an idiosyncratic classic: a readable and brilliantly short history of Christianity.
Chris Wright, ‘Here Are Your Gods!’ – a superb book on idolatry, with application to politics. Recommended!
ed. Fred Sanders, Retrieving Eternal Generation – a helpful book of essays on this important topic, with some standouts.
ed. Trillia Newbell, Beautifully Distinct – a great little primer on lots of things. Well worth reading.
Brian Johnson, When God Becomes Real – an honest but disappointing book on depression.
John Fenwick, The Free Church of England – a readable and fascinating history of this Anglican church.
Dane C. Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly – a good book, but not in my opinion the great book that so many say it is.
Michael Allen, Reformed Catholicity – a really helpful short book on theological retrieval and biblical interpretation.
Graham A. Cole, Against the Darkness – a superb evangelical theology of spiritual warfare and related issues. Recommended.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a house key – a spiky + mostly excellent book about hospitality. Weakened by patriarchy.
Various, Sport and Christianity – an edited collection, slightly uneven, that does what it says on the tin.
John Piper, Life as a Vapor – a helpful and encouraging undated devotional. 31 days!
Craig A. Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition – a really good book. Could have been a bit shorter.
Philip Marsden, The Summer Isles – a beautiful travel book about sailing in Scotland. Inspirational and wonderful escape.
Amanda Mukwahi, But Where Are You Really From? – a good if very short book about some of the racial questions in our culture.
Julian Hardyman, Jesus, Lover of My Soul – a superb book, ostensibly on the Song of Songs but ultimately about intimacy with Christ. Brilliant.
Donald V. Gaffney, Common Ground: Talking about Gun Violence in America – a sobering but helpful book. Worth reading on this topic.
Don Kistler, Devotions from the pen of Jonathan Edwards – a helpful but occasionally weak book of 120 devotions. Undated.
Ephraim Radner, A Time to Keep – a superb work of theological anthropology. I’ll be reading more by Radner!
Mitchell W. Kim, Genesis: A 12 Week Study – good little study in a series I’d not read before.
Graham Tomlin, Why Being Yourself is a Bad Idea – a superb book for our times. Read it!
Putty Putman, Kingdom Impact – a very poor book. Some gold, buried amongst more strangeness. Don’t bother.
N. T. Wright, Broken Signposts – a readable and worthwhile book, but not for long-term fans/readers of Wright imo.
Tony Lane, Sin and Grace – a superbly researched and wonderfully readable book. Recommended.
Martin Saunders, We Are Satellites – a mostly excellent little book on discipleship, ostensibly for youth but deserves a wider readership.
Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? – a superb apologetics book, looking at the Old Testament. Recommended.
Richard Brash, Knowing Me, Knowing God – a really good short introduction to theology, as a way of reading the Bible. Recommended.
Charles T. Chapman, The Message of the Book of Revelation – an excellent short commentary on this often confusing book of the Bible.
Ruth and Ayo Afolabi, MORE> Direction – a good little book on finding and following God’s calling on our lives.
Kate Bowler, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel – a superb book, well worth reading, and it reads well too!
Timothy Ward, Words of Life – a really strong little book on the doctrine of Scripture. Likely too technical for some.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology – the 2nd edition of this controversial modern classic. I interviewed the author.
Nijay Gupta, 1-2 Thessalonians – a great little commentary on these two epistles, which I read and enjoyed devotionally.
Tim Gough, Rebooted – an excellent and well-rounded biblical understanding of youth work. More people should read this!
Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep – a solid pop-science book, slightly too long, but with some good practical takeaways. Well worth reading.
Justin Giboney, Michael Wear and Chris Butler, Compassion & Conviction – a superb (if very American) book on faith and politics.
Stephen Kuhrt, Tom Wright for Everyone – a genuinely useful book, even if you don’t like Wright!
Matthew S. Harmon, The Servant of the Lord and His Servant People – an excellent book that digs into what the Bible actually says about servanthood.
Mark Scarlata, The Abiding Presence – a wonderful theological commentary on Exodus, which I enjoyed devotionally.
Ben Jack, My Lord and My God – a very good little book on evangelism and doubt. So good I bought myself a copy!
Robin Routledge, Hosea (TOTC) – a solid new commentary on Hosea. The introduction alone is worth buying it for.
Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black – an absolute barnstomer of a book, thrilling to read, sobering to reflect on. Essential.
David B. Capes, The Divine Christ – a really good summary of issues around the divinity of Christ in Paul. Recommended.
Ally Kateusz, Mary and Early Christian Women – a provocative book that, if true, is an un-ignorable challenge. Fascinating.
Kate Wharton, Single-Minded – a superb book on living as a Christian single person. Every Christian should read this.
Amy Orr-Ewing, Why Trust the Bible – a brilliant book to give away, or to encourage trust in the Bible. Recommended.
Johanna W. H. van Wijk-Bos, The End of the Beginning – a fascinating and provocative feminist commentary on Joshua and Judges.
Peter Smith, Bad Buying – a surprisingly enjoyable business book that has some helpful takeaways for various parts of my life.
PJ Smyth, Elders – a very mixed bag of a book, with some helpful advice, some poor exegesis, and some just meh bits.
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Walking With God Day By Day – a solid 365 day devotional. Got a bit bogged down in 1 John, though.
There are a few books I will probably finish in the early part of January 2021:
- Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – first time reading it in a single volume.
- ed. Israel Oluwole Olofinjana, African Voices – edited volume of African British theological reflection.
- P. J. Smyth, Elders – a befuddling little book, thus far, that I’m trying to read slowly and fairly.
- Simon Ponsonby, Amazed by Jesus – a new book by one of my favourite pastor-theologians.
- Andrew M. Mbuvi, Jude and 2 Peter (NCCS) – a commentary from a series I think I like, which I’ll be reading devotionally.
- Vaughan Heppner’s Doom Star series – six novels and one short story about a future inter-solar-system conflict. Great gripping sci-fi.
- Vaughan Heppner’s The Lost Starship Series – simple, bizarre swashbuckling sci fi.
- A large number of volumes in The Horus Heresy series. It’s like a bath for my brain.
- Joanne Ramos, The Farm – one of my favourite books of the year, this is a novel about race/womanhood/mothering/ethics/privilege/power I’ll be returning to.
- C. S. Lewis, The Space Trilogy – counting as one book, I was underwhelmed.