Make the most of the time; read a good book!

Make the most of the time; read a good book!

There are many good books published every year, and I think reading Christian books is a worthwhile way to expand your thinking and grow in your understanding. Some of the books I have read recently are not ones I would recommend; in this list, I simply want to present some that I found useful that I think are worth the time investment.

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For the love of God (Natasha Moore)

People often throw around the idea that God and religion are bad for the world. There is no doubt that people have done terrible things in the name of God, of course! This short, easy to read book touches on some of the ways that the Christian church has been a positive (and sometimes negative) influence on the wider world. It is clear and nuanced, explaining context and circumstances rather than simply resorting to saying “well, then there were the Crusades”. Even for those who don’t normally like history, it’s worth a read.

Gentle and lowly (Dale Ortlund)

This book has been hugely popular in the last year or so. The basic idea is that God is so kind to us and we should reflect on his grace and mercy. I took a while to get into this book; it is written in a devotional style, picking up sections from the Puritans on different concepts and Bible texts. It is encouraging and is the kind of book you can read a few pages from and then come back to later on.

Hope in times of fear (Tim Keller)

Keller’s latest release focussed on the resurrection and its implications for us today. While there was not a lot in here that was new for me, it was clear and encouraging. If you’ve wondered how the resurrection fits into your life, only usually considering the death of Jesus, this is worth a read.

 

Harder but worthwhile reads for some

The rise and triumph of the modern self (Carl Trueman)

This book aims to work out how the concept of being a man trapped in a woman’s body is so widely accepted as reasonable in our modern world. Trueman follows several lines of philosophy and the influence of various thinkers and poets to come to his answer. I’ll be honest: this was not an easy read. I was forced to consider a range of issues I had not previously considered, and it was helpful to consider how ideas proposed by philosophers had become part of the wider culture over time. While explaining how we got to the cultural moment we are in, I didn’t leave with a lot of practical outcomes from this book. I would have appreciated more help in thinking through what to do with the current cultural stances on issues like transgenderism.

Faultlines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe (Voddie T. Baucham Jr.)

Critical Race Theory is a big deal, especially in the USA. We have seen the principles being thrust into the mainstream through the Black Lives Matter protests. Voddie Baucham wrote this book to show the danger many churches are falling into by being so closely aligned with a worldview opposed to the gospel. I did learn a lot about CRT through this book, and the dangers are explained well. The only hesitation I have is that this book is so American in content and tone that I struggled to connect with it from my setting.

 

Secular books to consider reading

Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance)

This was eye-opening for me. It is a personal account of someone who grew up extremely poor in America, describing firsthand the difference that inequality makes. It was sad and inspiring, leaving me with a lot to think about. Confronting at times but worth the effort.

A world without email (Cal Newport)

I read everything Cal Newport writes. I love productivity and efficiency books; one of his previous books, Deep Work, was very significant for me. This book shows how email can be so burdensome it impacts our coping and our work output, giving examples of how some companies are coming up with clever ways to avoid it altogether. I don’t think I can quite do that, but it did make me think about how I use email. This is a book I will return to again to think more deeply about.

Thinking, fast and slow (Daniel Kahneman)

This is a classic text on how we think; it’s dated now but the insights are clever and thought-provoking. Why do we think the way we do? Why are some things automatic and others require effort? Why do we fall into decision-making mistakes and how can we avoid the worst of them? This is somewhat academic but fascinating if this topic appeals to you.

 

Whether you read any of these or others, read widely. Many of us have more time to read this time of year. Read a novel that describes a world you don’t know much about. Explore a non-fiction book on a topic that you always wanted to know about. Go deeper in a Christian book on some issue you know you should think through. Books are a great gift to feed your brain; don’t just stay with the junk food of social media and news websites. Read a good book.