Out of the 54 books I read in 2011, these are my favourite. They aren’t necessarily the best, but simply the ones I enjoyed and benefited from the most at the time. The criteria is completely subjective. But I commend them all to you for your own reading. Drumroll please….
1. Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness
This was the book I was most anticipating in 2011 and it did not disappoint. Gospel wakefulness is Jared’s term for coming to a greater awareness of my brokenness and the wonder of the gospel so that I treasure Christ more greatly and savour his power more sweetly. I thoroughly enjoy Wilson’s writing style. And the content of the book is excellent. I loved his previous book (Your Jesus is Too Safe) and you definitely need to follow him on twitter (@jaredcwilson). Favourite book I read in 2011.
2. Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus
Keller is my favourite author. His books are always pre-ordered well before release, immediately read, quoted, recommended and re-read. This book is an exposition of the key texts in Mark. Keller does a masterful job of weaving the story of Jesus with contemporary thought and challenges. This book does a fine job of introducing Jesus to non-Christians, as well as challenging life-time Christians with the true message of the gospel.
3. Tim & Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Another marriage book? When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t as excited about it as other Keller books. I wasn’t sure what the Kellers would add to the conversation. But I surprised by it and found it much better than I anticipated. They show how biblically a marriage is a covenant that displays the gospel, which is why it is so wonderful and so difficult. I was very helped by a number of their discussions. I’ll probably be using this for marriage counselling in the future.
4. N.D. Wilson, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World
This book is a sort of apologetics by art. A mishmash of philosophy and theology, viewed through a lens of Wilson’s unique and creative writing style. I wrote more on it here.
5. Stephen Mansfield, The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World
This book is a biography of the man Arthur Guinness, his descendents (split into bankers, brewers and clergymen), and the Guinness brand itself. This is a story of how a man of faith worked and lived for the glory of God and how the family business he left behind worked to be a force for good in Ireland. A very enjoyable (and tasty) read.
6. Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
Tavris & Aronson are two psychologists who investigate why people continue to justify their behaviour, even when it is so clearly obvious that they are wrong. Filled with interesting historical examples and fascinating insights, their study is very interesting and has significant implications for marriages and families, as well as pastoral counselling situations. Shout out to Paul Brooks for recommending this one to me.
7. Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change
I read this book with the other leaders of our church’s Redemption Groups. Paul Tripp is one of the best writers on biblical counselling and all his books are excellent. This is his introduction to gospel-centered biblical counselling. I found it both very interesting and helpful from a counselling perspective, but also deeply convicting for my own personal growth. Highly recommended for anyone in Christian ministry.
8. Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness
A classic. Originally published in 1994, I finally got around to reading this book for a Re:Train class with Bryan Chapell. This is an excellent book on gospel-driven sanctification. It’s God’s grace that gives us salvation, and it’s God’s grace that disciplines us in Christ.
9. Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mindshift that Changes Everything
Mark Dever called it “the best book I’ve read on the nature of church ministry.” It might just be. Church work is made up of trellis work (programs, structure) and vine work (personal ministry, gospel growth). They outline the common peril of being mostly trellis-focused and give a practical plan for furthering your vine-focused ministry as a church. Our whole elder team read and benefited from this book.
10. Justin & Lindsey Holcomb, Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault
Unfortunately there is great need for this book. The statistics on sexual assault are staggering. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their life. The Holcombs weave the stories of victims they have counselled, statistics and research and biblical truth. They outline the common effects of sexual assault experienced by victims and then show how the gospel can bring healing to each of those wounds.