Top Reads of 2017: The Shortlist

Happy New Year! I’ll try to be more disciplined about posting regularly this year. I just need to make the time and kick the perfectionism. We’ll see how it goes. For now, I thought I’d share my favorite reads from last year!

NONFICTION

1. Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson

If you’ve read Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, I almost see Wilson’s book as the poetic, sassy version of it. It’s like an extended Psalm, standing in wonder at God’s created world and man, the pinnacle of his creation. It’s written with an understanding of our modern world, and casually dismantles the philosophical flaws our generation clings to, doing so with humor and flair. Also, his mastery of words is magnificent. Example:

“The Problem Part Two: The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.”

2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

I heard Nabeel’s name in Christian circles for awhile, but I finally picked up his book the same year he passed away. A year ago, I was telling a friend about an ongoing Gospel dialogue I was having, and she said it reminded her of Nabeel and David’s conversations. Curious, I started reading. Nabeel takes you deep into his world: of his Muslim upbringing, his religious devotion, his struggle with faith, and his conversion to Christianity. It’s intensely personal. His life is a testimony to the grace of God as well as a reminder that the cost of following Christ is high.

Note: I was a big fan of his friend David in the book. If you read this, you should check out David’s own testimony on YouTube. Blew my mind.

3. Why the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester

Protestants celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation last year, and I read this for a series our Bible Study is going through. It’s a clear and accessible book on the history and doctrines of the Reformation. Reeves and Chester draw clear lines of distinction between Reformed theology and Roman Catholicism, showing how the differences are not small, but go to the heart of the Gospel. A faithful and good reminder that we cannot cast truth aside in the name of tolerance.

FICTION

1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I stumbled across this book randomly and it was incredible. I tend to think of the post-apocalyptic genre as zombie-infested, (boring/gory) lone survivor stories, and bleakly annihilationist. This subverted my expectations. Station Eleven is really about art and stories, but it takes place on the brink of civilization’s collapse. It draws one of its core themes from a Star Trek quote: “Survival is insufficient.” Even without electricity, Internet, or airplanes, a theater group is still traveling the country, performing Shakespeare. The world we take for granted is made beautiful in the eyes of those who have lost it.

2. From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

A lot of really good literature has come out of the WWII era. This is probably not a well-known one, but it’s beautifully written. At heart, it is a story of star-crossed lovers: two children raised together fall in love, but he becomes a Catholic priest, and she a persecuted Jew on the run. I’m not a big romance reader, but I appreciate how Harmon captures the danger of the times, the heartbreak, and the marvelous contrast of hope in the darkness.

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Another WII read that is well-known. This one climbed the ranks into one of my all-time favorites. I’m not sure what to say about it, but that it’s a beautiful story about goodness and humanity in a broken world. And Doerr’s writing is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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