In the first post about this, I explained how I was graced by God to diligently read 100 books in 2017. And then I listed the 100 books, with some statistics about my reading. In the next post, I will give 9 benefits and 4 downsides I found while doing it. I also will answer if I will do it again. But in this post, I want to give my favorite books I read this year.
As I have been reading throughout the year, I have had some categories of awards, if you will, for books as I read. Here they are with my favorites:
Book That Most Inspired Prayer
- E.M. Bounds - Purpose In Prayer. Reading Bounds on prayer contagiously makes you want to pray.
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. This man clearly took prayer and pastoral ministry very seriously. He was such an inspiration to kick me in the pants to go and depend on God in prayer.
- Rosalind Rinker - Prayer: How to Have a Conversation with God. This book was #1 most influential book on Evangelicals according to Christianity Today. And although maybe it doesn't deserve that award, her ideas about just talking to God are encouraging and really inspire prayer.
Honorable mentions: A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God; John Piper - Reading the Bible Supernaturally; Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls; Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims; Jon Bloom - Not by Sight; E.M. Bounds - Power Through Prayer
Book to Keep by the Place of Prayer (for inspiring quotes and prayers)
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. For the inspiring quotes.
- A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God - For the inspiring quotes and for his prayers at the end of every chapter.
- Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims. For the reminder of God's presence.
Honorable mentions: EM Bounds - Purpose in Prayer; Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls; R.A. Torrey - How To Pray
Book That Most Inspired Bible Reading
- John Piper - A Peculiar Glory. His idea that you know the Bible is true because you see was fascinating and right on. He inspired me to go and see glory.
- John Piper - Reading the Bible Supernaturally. This book is Piper on how to read the Bible. Can it get better than that?
- John Piper - When I Don’t Desire God. His practicality in this book about Bible reading and memorizing is very succinct and helpful.
Best Devotional Book
- John Bloom - Not by Sight. There is only one favorite here. This is devotionals at their best. He incorporates story, encouragement, conviction, and beauty—all while being firmly biblical and focused on Jesus's glory.
Book That Most Inspired Me to Be a Better Man
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. He hit me like a (good) ton of bricks. He caused me to be more seriously radical about my call to be a man of God, and a pastor of God.
- John Piper - This Momentary Marriage. I've read this before, but I needed to again. His call of men to be men, to lead, and to love is spot on and inspiring.
- Jerry Bridges - The Pursuit of Holiness. A deserved classic from the late Bridges. One cannot read this and not want to pursue holiness for Christ's sake.
Honorable mentions: Ray Ortlund, Jr. - Proverbs; A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God; Joshua Harris - Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is); Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls; Andrew Murray - Humility; Corrie Ten Boom - Amazing Love; Justin Buzzard - Date Your Wife
Most Interesting Book (meaning, a page turner)
- Wellum and Parker - Progressive Covenantalism. I had so many issues and problems with the Covenant Theology I was taught at seminary, but I also had so many issues with Dispensationalism. This edited work answered almost all of them. It was spot on. And being so, it was truly fascinating.
- Tony Reinke - 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. I love this topic because I think phones are a bigger deal in our world than we usually realize, and Reinke did abundant research and wrote a great book on the subject.
- John Piper - Reading the Bible Supernaturally. As I wrote above, this book is John Piper on reading the Bible. It doesn't get much better than that. And although it was 400 pages, it was very enjoyable.
- Bruce M. Metzger - Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation. I include a fourth here because I simply really enjoyed this 100 page book on Revelation. I agree with almost all his points, but more importantly, he does a great job entertainer and convincingly covering the entire book in 100 pages. A joy to read.
Honorable mentions: C.J. Mahaney - Worldliness; John Piper - Spectacular Sins; Jon Bloom - Not by Sight; John MacArthur - The Gospel According to Paul; Doug Wilson - Persuasions; Tim Keller - The Prodigal God; John Piper - The Supremacy of God in Preaching; Francis Schaeffer - True Spirituality; D.A. Carson - The Cross and Christian Ministry
Most Convicting Book
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. Ravenhill really convicted me of my lethargy and desire for comfort. And he inspires me to be a better man of God.
- Richard Wurmbrand - Tortured for Christ. Reading what Wurmbrand went through, and what martyrs continually go through, for Christ is convicting, but in a good way. It inspires me to be more radical in my following of him.
- Andrew Murray - Humility. Oh how convicting it is to read a good book on humility! This doesn't disappoint.
- Tim Keller - The Prodigal God. Keller does a great job showing the sin of the younger, but especially older, brother. I struggle more with acting like the older, religious, self-righteous brother. And he convicted me in these areas and inspired me to be more about grace and love.
Honorable mentions: Joshua Harris - Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is); C.J. Mahaney - Worldliness; A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God; Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls
Most Life-Changing Book
- C.J. Mahaney - Worldliness. He really showed me the folly of clinging to the world, even if so many people do it. Christ is better. "Worldliness is so serious because Christ is so glorious." I'll always remember that line.
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. See above for why.
- David Platt - Radical. I had read it before, but once again Platt led me to want to be more radical in how I live.
Best Book Concerning Culture
- Tony Reinke - 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. A very timely and needed book about how technology is affecting us.
- Courtney Reissig - The Accidental Feminist. A helpful book from someone who used to be a feminist, but now sees that God's way is much more beautiful.
- Sam Allberry - Is God Anti-Gay? A helpful, small book on the subject.
Most Theology-Changing Book
- Wellum and Parker - Progressive Covenantalism. See above for why.
- James Hamilton - What Is Biblical Theology? This was essentially a short biblical theology with the same view put forth in Progressive Covenantalism.
- David Croteau - Tithing After the Cross. I'm not saying I agree with everything he wrote, but his perspective is something I hadn't looked into theologically before.
Most Practical Ministry-Changing Book
- John Piper - The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Piper's stirred me to preach with more gravity about God. His idea of God-centeredness in preaching is spot on. I think it is what people hunger for, and I think the lack of it is why the evangelical church is languishing and shallow.
- Rosalind Rinker - Prayer: How to Have a Conversation with God. She simply makes prayer conversational. But moreover, the way she talks about praying in groups is excellent. It moves away from monologue type praying (which has become the norm), toward better conversational, topical praying.
- D.A. Carson - The Cross and Christian Ministry. Carson's ministry insights from 1 Corinthians are exegetical and helpful.
- John MacArthur - The Gospel According to Paul. He brought me back to the central teaching of the faith: the gospel, especially as seen in Paul's letters.
- Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries. He taught me to really rely on God and be serious in the right way in the ministry, for it is a serious task.
- Mark Cahill - One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven. His emphasis on heaven and hell I think is mostly right in terms of evangelism. He got me more on board with tracts than I ever have been before (but maybe not the tracts he uses; rather, ones from Crossway seem much better).
- Jon Bloom - Not by Sight. Bloom shows how to portray beauty and glory in retelling of biblical short stories.
Honorable mentions: Ray Ortlund, Jr. - Proverbs; A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God; Nelson Searcy - Fusion; Tim Keller - The Prodigal God; Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls
Most Disappointing Book
- Philip Yancey - The Jesus I Never Knew. See below for why I really did not like this book. It was disappointing specifically because I heard such great things and expected it to be a robust portrayal of the historical Jesus. But instead, it only showed a Jesus who lacked much backbone, and who looked a lot like modern evangelicalism.
- Justin S. Holcomb - On the Grace of God. This was a short book aimed to describe what God's grace is. However, instead of focusing on the idea grace itself, it rather just told the gospel story sing biblical theology. Not bad, and of course the gospel is about grace, but it was not exactly about grace as a subject.
- C.S. Lewis - A Grief Observed. Lewis says many things I disagree with, to the point where I would not recommend this book. As a result, it was disappointing.
- Cormac McCarthy - The Road. I heard such good things about this fiction! And it just didn't live up to the hype. Sure, it portrayed a dark, grim world. But is that really that difficult to do or that unique?
- Dan C. Barber and Robert A. Peterson - Life Everlasting. I had Dr. Peterson as a professor in seminary and really loved how he systematically put the Bible together. But here, it just didn't live up to being a good book about heaven. Most of the book wasn't even about the subject. It was too focused on biblical theology, and it was too all over the place.
- Mark Dever - What Is a Healthy Church? This is almost in a different category than numbers 1-5 above, as it was still a good. But I expected more. It seemed brief and obvious.
- John Owen - The Glory of Christ. This also is almost in a different category than numbers 1-5 above, and many might be shocked to see it here. But I went in expecting it to be meditations about Christ himself. But it rather was about how we should seek glory itself. Jesus therefore wasn't the subject. Glory itself was. As a result, I was disappointed.
Book I Most Disagreed With
- Philip Yancey - The Jesus I Never Knew. As you see, I am putting this as more disagreeable than The Shack, and on purpose. As stated above, I went into this expecting good things. It had received much commendation. But unfortunately, it really misrepresented Jesus. And this is a big problem since Yancey is claiming to have really described the historical Jesus well. But his Jesus is missing a backbone, and really only looks like a modern evangelical. If you want to hear more about why I really didn't like it, see my review on Goodreads here.
- William P. Young - The Shack. Of course there are many reasons why I disagree with the book. I actually thought the movie was a tad better, but I don't think either really represent God in all his glory well or helpfully. For more, see my review here.
- C.S. Lewis - A Grief Observed. I was surprised at how much I really disagreed with this and did not like what Lewis was saying, especially since the subject is so serious and something not to get wrong. For more, see my review here.
Books to Reread Every Couple of Years
In no particular order: Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries; A.W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God; Tim Keller - The Prodigal God; Horatius Bonar - Words to Winners of Souls' Charles Spurgeon - All of Grace; Corrie Ten Boom - Amazing Love; John Piper - The Supremacy of God in Preaching; Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxim; Jon Bloom - Not by Sight; John MacArthur - The Gospel According to Paul; Rosalind Rinker - Prayer: How to Have a Conversation with God; John Piper - This Momentary Marriage
Those are my favorites from different categories! See my first post here for the list of the 100 books, and see the next post here for 9 benefits and 4 downsides to reading 100 books, as well as answering if I would do it again.