Thanks to Sydney’s three-month lockdown, I read more books this year than ever before. It’s always hard to pick a list of definitive favourites, but here are a handful of books that stood out as significant reads across different categories.
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
The first Wingfeather novel was on my favourites list in 2020. In January, I eagerly devoured the rest of the series. If you’re not familiar, it’s a middle-grade fantasy series following three siblings as they flee from evil Fangs of Dang. Peterson, a Christian singer-songwriter, beautifully weaves in themes like love, sacrifice, and redemption. Read it to your kids or just read it yourself—you’ll come away with a greater longing for eternity (and probably a few tears too).
Prayer is one of those things that I always say I want to make more time for. But my consistent failure to do so just proves that I don’t truly value prayer as I should. Megan Hill’s book reminded me of how crucial this practice is for those who know Jesus. She focuses on praying with other believers and paints a beautiful portrait of what corporate prayer can do. This book inspired me to start a weekly prayer meeting at my church, and it’s been so encouraging!
The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World by Brett McCracken
I doubt I’m the only one whose technology habits went way downhill during this pandemic. Starved of social contact, it was easy to fill in that time with endless social media scrolling and Netflix shows. The Wisdom Pyramid helped me to rethink my information diet. To be healthy, wise, and joyful Christians, we need to carefully plan what we’re taking in—prioritising the Bible and the church over the ephemeral, trivial attractions of social media.
I read this book quickly in preparation for a podcast interview with Nancy Guthrie. Now I want to go back and digest it more slowly, because every chapter blew my mind! Guthrie traces the storyline of the Bible through nine different lenses or images—for instance, the story of the tree and the story of the dwelling place. She’ll help you see connections across the Bible that you never noticed before. And most importantly, you’ll adore Jesus more by the end.
Communion with God by John Owen
I’d consider a year wasted if I didn’t read at least one Puritan book (this year, I read three!). Owen’s Communion with God is a classic for good reason. He explores what it means to have communion, or fellowship, with our triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you want to draw closer to God—or you wonder what a relationship with him is even meant to feel like—pick up this book.
Spurgeon: A Biography by Arnold A. Dallimore
I read a bunch of books by and about Charles Spurgeon in 2021 and this was my favourite biography. Spurgeon appears an impressive figure when you hear of his accomplishments, but even more so when you read about him personally. The “Prince of Preachers” was a wonderfully godly man whose prayer life encouraged his contemporaries as much as his sermons did. This biography will stir you to live for the glory of Jesus alone.
Once you’ve read this book, it’s obvious why it seemed to make everybody’s favourite book lists in 2020. Trueman traces the development of Western thought over recent centuries to show how our society got to where we are today. The modern concept of the “self” is so at odds with what the Bible says, and Christians are able to better understand and engage with our neighbours when we understand this. I’m looking forward to Strange New World, a condensed presentation of these ideas that I hope will be accessible to the teenagers in my youth group (releasing March 2022).
If you’ve ever spent just five minutes on Twitter, you’ll see that our society has an unhealthy detachment from history. Anyone who expresses a view that’s out of step with the (constantly changing) vogue is immediately cancelled—even if those views were widely accepted just a few years ago. Voices from the past are dismissed as irrelevant or even dangerous. But we need to hear them. Alan Jacobs presents a better approach to the past that will help us to be steady and tranquil people in our current age.