Friday, December 30, 2022

My Top Books of 2022

For me, 2022 was not a good year for finishing books. I read at and from books, but I didn’t read through very many of them. I read fewer books to the very end than I can remember in recent decades (18 fewer than the previous year!), and I didn't publish any full book reviews. I’m not completely sure why the paucity. It’s definitely a holdover from the mental pressures of the pandemic and also a simple sign of the particular season of life I’m in–I have listened to many more podcasts as I’ve walked the streets of Lanse than I have sat in my chair and turned pages. A lot of my reading time in 2022 has been focused on studying the Prophesy of Jeremiah–a worthy effort, and those books will be on the 2023 list, Lord-willing!

Of the ones I did finish in 2022, these were books* that impressed and taught me the most:

Count on Ed Welch to cut right through the fog with the gentlest and most succinct choice of words. How do should we think about psychiatric diagnoses like anxiety and panic disorders, trauma, depression, and narcissism? In just 85 compact pages of careful and care-filled wisdom, Ed shows us the way. 

After 25 years of reading his writing, I keep expecting to know what he's going to say, but instead I should be expecting to be surprised and learn something new. Highly recommended.

I read everything I can read (and follow) by Fred Sanders when he's writing on the tri-unity of God. This collection of essays coordinating the doctrines of the Trinity and Soteriology (salvation) were incredibly rich and characteristically delightful to read. At times, I had to read parts of it out loud to Heather just because it was so insightful and well-constructed!

An added bonus was that in the Spring I got to take a class on this book with Fred through the Greystone Theological Institute online and on site--the richest theological learning experience I have had in long time.

Evangelism As Exiles
Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land by Elliot Clark

Last winter I was preaching through 1 Peter, and I kept Evangelism as Exiles at my elbow the whole time. Elliot Clark caught the lightning of Peter's first epistle in a bottle and gives it to you to drink! Even though it was my second time to preach through 1 Peter (even at times the same passage 20 years to the day!), I never have understood what it means or how to apply it to our current situation like I did after digesting Clark's little book.

My pastor, Kerry Doyal, convenes a monthly book-discussion group on Zoom of district pastors, and Paul Tripp's LEAD was our book for half of 2022. At times Tripp made me uncomfortable because he was stepping on my toes!

I recommend LEAD for leadership teams, especially for challenging conversations about how healthy your team is and how truly transparent you are with one another. 

Gender: A Conversation Guide for Parents and Pastors
by Brian Seagraves and Hunter Leavine

I have been doing a lot of reading on gender and identity this year to better understand and respond in our current cultural moment, and I thought this 77 page book was a really helpful starting place

Seagraves and Leavine give parents and church leaders foundational truths and insightful conversation starters appropriate for kids of different ages. This isn't the last word, but it's a good first one.

[Similar (and free!) resources come from Andrew Bunt of LivingOut: Quick Guides on Gender Identity and Trans Identification as well as Josh Glaser and Paul Rhinehart at The Gospel Coalition: How to Talk with Your Kids About Transgender Ideology.]

I'm grateful that my life is full of good books even when I don't get them read to the last page. Our church has granted me a generous three month sabbatical next year, so I hope to read (and finish!) a lot more books in 2023. 


* As I’ve said before [2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 2018, 2020, 2021], this list is not necessarily the best books that were published that particular year or the most enjoyable either. I intend it to be a list of the fairly new Christian nonfiction books I read:

- that had the most personal impact on me, my thinking, my heart.
- that I was the most consistently enthusiastic about.
- that I kept coming back to again and again.
- that I couldn't help recommending to others (and recommend without reservations and significant caveats).