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Book Recommendations 2019

Posted by Anne Witton on Friday, December 27, 2019 Under: Books
It's become traditional that I round off the year with a survey of my reading and a few recommendations of books that I think are interesting, challenging, moving, informative or just fun.

Here are the numbers of books I read for the last four years:

2016 40
2017 134
2018 54
2019 80

As with last year, it was a real mixture of stuff, with probably more Christian titles in preparation for talks and assignments. Here's my round up of the best.

Top Christian



  • Faith in a Time of Crisis: Standing for Truth in a Changing World - Vaughan Roberts and Peter Jensen
    Although this book was written to address the issues facing the Anglican church regarding the debate on sexuality, this book has much wider application and significance. At its heart is the conviction that we need to take the authority of the Bible seriously; that the gospel is wonderful, life-giving news for all and that as Christians we need to resist being swayed by the tide of public opinion. An a non-Anglican, I found this an engaging and inspiring read and would recommend it to all Christians, especially those confused about the debates over sexuality, or who are changing their minds.

  • The Sacred Art of Joking - James Cary
    I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Was it a light-hearted look at humour from a Christian perspective, or did it have some important points to make about our culture; offensiveness, outrage and censorship; public reading of Scripture, free speech, politics and the media? (it's the latter, in case you hadn't guessed). It's a fun and interesting read, but it also challenges us to engage meaningfully with our culture.

  • 7 Myths About Singleness - Sam Allberry
    This is a timely and much-needed contribution to the (sparse) literature on singleness. Although it's a thin volume, there is some really helpful teaching and biblical encouragement. This would be important for both single - but perhaps even more so for married - Christians to read. I particularly like Sam's affirmation that singleness is indeed a good gift from God that can be experienced as such as isn't just something to 'cope' with. He inevitably talks from his own perspective as a male church leader, but there's something helpful for everyone here.

  • The Message of the Sermon on the Mount - John Stott
    Like all Bible Speaks Today commentaries, it combines helpful cultural context and background with a systematic exegesis and application of the text. This is one of the most significant passages of Scripture which outlines a blueprint for Christian living and Stott is equally inspiring and challenging in his treatment of it. One to work through slowly and prayerfully.

  • Sympathy for Jonah: Reflections on Humiliation, Terror and the Politics of Enemy-Love - David Benjamin Blower
    This is a rare gem: a short but profoundly wise book about an oft-misunderstood prophet. Jonah’s story is one which we’re simultaneously over-familiar with and yet not well-versed in at all. As the subtitle makes clear, Jonah’s is a tale of “Humiliation, terror and the politics of enemy-love”. In a world of Brexit, Trump, Boris, greed and political instability, Blower’s prophetic voice is sorely needed and all Christians will benefit from reading this stand-out reflection on one of the most intriguing and complex Old Testament characters.

  • Joseph: A Story of Love, Hate, Slavery, Power and Forgiveness - John Lennox
    I found this exploration of Joseph’s life exciting and inspiring. Lennox places the story firmly in the broader context of the book of Genesis before tracing the story of Joseph, his father and brothers. The book is particularly strong on drawing out wider biblical themes from the narrative and showing how God’s interaction with Joseph and his family points forward to ultimate redemption in Jesus (the Seed Project - Gen 3: 15). There’s some particularly powerful teaching about forgiveness as well as God’s guidance and providence, and there are some interesting insights about the cultural context. Lennox is also careful to make applications of the text to our own cultural situation so that this isn’t just interesting information, but can help us in our own discipleship.
Top Non-fiction



Top Fiction



  • All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
    One of the most profound and beautiful novels I've ever read. Set in WWII, this is an exquisite tale of two young people from very different backgrounds as their lives are transformed by the devastation around them. A haunting and moving novel.

  • The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
    I'm a fan of Wyndham and this classic is one of his best. If you've never read any of his work, this dystopian chiller is a good place to start. I'm working my way through his writing and can also recommend The Midwich Cuckoos and Web.
I hope you enjoyed the selection. Do let me know your top reads of 2019 in the comments.

In : Books 


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