Posted by Anne Witton on Friday, January 6, 2023 Under: Books
This has been a great year of reading for me. I was pleased that I read the whole Bible again using the Five Day Bible Reading plan. I managed 93 other books and some of them were absolute gold. So here’s my round-up of the best.
- The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy - Tim Keller
I’ve always loved Jonah – a man called by God who promptly ran in the opposite direction. Conscious of my own failings, I’m so encouraged by the complicated and messed-up people that God chooses to use for his purposes, and Keller beautifully brings the Jonah story to life.
“We doubt that God is good, or that he is committed to our happiness, and therefore if we can’t see any good reasons for something God says or does, we assume there aren’t any.” (p.16)
- Scandalous Grace: A Book for Tired Christians Seeking Rest - Preston Sprinkle
If we think that grace only enters God’s heart and plan with the coming of Jesus, then we’re mistaken. This fantastic book starts by tracking God’s grace and relentless pursuit of his rebellious people throughout the Old Testament, looking honestly at the failings and faith of Abraham, Judah, Zipporah, Rahab, Gideon, David, Hosea and Gomer to name a few. By the time we get to the New Testament, we’re thoroughly grounded in the idea that grace has always been God’s modus operandi. I love the portraits of Jesus’ thuggish, angry, selfish and yet dearly loved disciples. As Sprinkle gently and lovingly reminds us, “When we fall back into the pit of addiction and lust and greed and selfishness, God is eager to roll up His sleeves and go to work.” (p.27)
- Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament - Mark Vroegop
This year has been really tough and I’ve been learning more about what it means to lament biblically. This book was a life-changer. As I journeyed with Vroegop through selected Psalms and Lamentations, I discovered God’s wonderful, compassionate heart for those who are in pain. There are no easy answers to suffering, but there is a lover who understands and experiences every tear with us. Lament helps us to encounter God in our darkest times and trust his never-failing goodness.
“[Jeremiah] uses his song of sorrow to point his heart toward what he knows to be true despite what he sees. (p.106)
- Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion - Rebecca McLaughlin
This isn’t just another book on apologetics. Rebecca writes winsomely and convincingly, countering objections to Christianity on themes ranging from diversity, science and morality to violence, denigration of women and homophobia. The section on suffering and Jesus’ compassion towards Martha and Mary when Lazarus died is wonderful.
“The space between Lazarus’s death and Jesus’s calling him out of the tomb is the space in which Martha sees Jesus for who he really is: her very life.” (p.202)
- Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners - Dane C. Ortlund
A follow up to the excellent Gentle and Lowly (and better in my opinion), Deeper explores the truth about our hearts and God’s heart for us. It encourages us to press on down the hard road of discipleship, not with grim self-determination, but in the compassionate and steadfast embrace of Jesus.
“The love of Christ is a love next to which every human romance is the faintest whisper.” (p.73)
- Longing for Intimacy: Hope for Women Struggling With Same-sex Attraction - Amy Riordan
This is a heart-warming personal account of how one woman has found increasing freedom from her own struggles with same-sex attraction, pornography and lust and found intimacy with Jesus. I felt like, rather than another book giving me advice that I’d struggle to follow, here was a hiking companion stretching her hand down to help me to the summit saying, ‘Come on up, the view’s spectacular.’ You can read my full review here.
“My temptations became less of an indicator of failure and more of an indicator of my continued need for intimacy with Jesus.” (p.115)
Honourable mentions (these are all brilliant):
- Breathtaking Glory: Surveying the panorama of God's grace, faithfulness and victory – Tom Robson
- Tumbling Sky: Psalm Devotions for Weary Souls – Matt Searles
- Life’s Big Questions: Six major themes traced through the Bible – Vaughan Roberts
- A Certain Brightness: Bible Devotions for Troubled Times – Philippa Wilson
- Embodied: Transgender Identities, the Church, and What the Bible has to Say – Preston Sprinkle
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world – John Mark Comer
- Jesus, Lover of My Soul: Fresh Pathways to Spiritual Passion – Julian Hardyman
- Written on the Body - Jeanette Winterson
Winterson is one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever read and this beautiful, lyrical novel describes heartbreak, love and loss in such a poignant way.
- The Cat Who Saved Books - Sosuke Natsukawa
This is an odd tale of a talking cat who helps a second-hand bookseller save his books from people who have mistreated them. It sounds bizarre but is utterly charming and compelling.
- The Orange Girl - Jostein Gaarder
Yet another Gaarder book made it into my list of favourites (I’ve read 8 of his novels now). In this novel, a letter to Georg from his diseased father invites him to uncover the secrets of his family’s past and find out the identity of the mysterious orange girl.
- The Night Watch - Sarah Waters
I read Affinity by Waters a few years ago and it’s one of my favourite books (not at all ‘feel good’ – it’s set in a Victorian women’s prison!). The Night Watch moves back in time through the war-torn 1940s, telling the stories of three women and one man who’s lives overlap. Waters is a superb writer and her depiction of the human condition is masterful.
- The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
Greene’s descriptions of love, jealousy and obsession are truly gripping in this classic tale of what happens when a love affair ends.
- Life After God - Douglas Coupland
In spite of being written more than 20 years ago, Coupland’s tales of life in a consumerist, post-religious society and the human search for meaning still have a powerful impact today.
- Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape - Cal Flyn
I love abandoned places – closed factories, deserted mines, disused brickworks – and I gobbled up this book. It’s beautifully written and explores what happens to nature when humans have fled.
- Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors - Matt Parker
I couldn’t see myself enjoying a book on maths, but this was great, packed full of ways that mathematical errors have had a huge impact. There are tales of missing millions, wobbly bridges and hilariously ill-conceived sales promotions. Fascinating and fun.
- Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books - Cathy Rentzenbrink
A wonderful tribute to the power and importance of books, this is not just an homage to the written word, but an opportunity to discover some hand-picked new reads.
- The Power of Your Senses: Why Coffee Tastes Better in a Red Cup and Other Life-Changing Science - Russell Jones
Written by someone whose job it is to help brands harness psychology to make their products more appealing to the customer, this book gives fascinating insights into how our senses work together and how we can harness them to help us feel energised, work efficiently, relax properly and get more out of life.
- Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World - Mark Miodownik
I didn’t think a book on material science would be very engrossing, but found myself fascinated by the tour of what makes up our modern world and the ingenuity of the inventors and engineers who create our stuff.
- Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure - Tim Harford
I’ve enjoyed a number of Harford’s books and this was no exception. He shows how the many problems of our complex world – from innovation to climate change – can be solved with constant adaptation and experimentation.
In : Books
Tags: reading books