Recommended Reading from 2018

I have often struggled to know what to read that stretches my mind and soul. So, I thought it be helpful for all my fellow readers out there to see some of my recommendations from this past year. While at Faith Builders I have been asked to read some really good books. Others in this list I borrowed or received as gifts. I recommend these books, not because I agree with everything they say, but because they have a lot of good things to say. The books marked with an asterisk are the only ones I do not have. I’d be willing to lend any of the others to those of you who know me well enough to get them.

            Without further ado I give to you ten good reads from 2018.

  • * Beautiful Child  by Torey Hayden

As someone who has a passion for children with learning disabilities, I will be reading more of Torey Hayden. As a public school special education teacher, Hayden has worked with many at-risk children, and this story is no exception. An easy read, Hayden’s account of a year teaching, focusing on a child who would not talk and why, is fascinating. Although Hayden gives no evidence of being a Christian, this book gives evidence that God gives even unbelievers gifts to bring healing to a broken world.

Buy it here.

  • Just Do Something  by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung beats around no bushes. In a casual approachable tone, he outlines three forms of the will of God—will of decree, will of desire, and will of direction—and claims that the search for God’s will of direction for our lives is crippling and not really Biblical. He emphasises living in harmony with God’s will of decree and will of desire and making choices out of a this God-centred perspective. Although I do not prefer the casual tone, DeYoung has good points to make.

Buy it here.

  • Intended for Evil  by Les Sillars

In 2016 I visited Cambodia and blogged about my time there, including a visit to The Killing Fields and S21, so as I read this book I could picture some of the roads the author walked. Intended for Evil is Radha Manickam’s—a survivor’s—story. Although first a biography, this narrative weaves in the history of the Khmer Rouge, explaining what was happening in Cambodia while Radha is secretly cooking giant snails in the middle of a rice field. In his story, Radha struggles with a perennial question of humanity: “How can a good God let bad things happen?” God’s affirmation to him is both frustrating and humorous at times. Sillars book is well-written in easily accessible language.

Buy it here.     

  • Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education Albert E. Greene

Although this book appears to be written to educators, as I memorized it (big picture, not specific words) for a course I took, I kept thinking that parents, pastors, and other church members should read it. Although Greene’s writing is repetitious at times, this book addresses critical truths. The way our society thinks shapes how we think. “If . . . [The Church] has already capitulated to the world’s way of thinking, it is in no shape to fulfill the Great Commission.” (Pg. 28) Greene shows the progression that brought public education from an educating children to live upright moral lives to educating them for profitable lives ruled by materialism and popularity. He also spends time addressing the connection between different aspects of God and different fields of study from geometry to language, showing that even studies that seem unprofitable are still forms of studying and worshiping God.

Buy it here.  

  • Strong Women Soft Hearts  by Paula Rinehart

As I read this book, I found myself resonating with so many of the thought, attitude, and action patterns that Rinehart sees in many women living as daughters of fallen Eve. She addresses many heart issues. Here are some chapter titles: “Desire: The Language of the Heart,” “Pain: The Crossroads of the Heart,” “Trust: The Art of Falling Backward,” and “Vulnerability: The Secret Side of Strength.” Although not the only influence on my life, this book stands as a road marker, indicating a season of change in my own heart—the willingness to risk loving and trusting when I know I may get hurt.

Buy it here.

  • Three Philosophies of Life  by Peter Kreeft

Kreeft’s writing is easy to understand even as he addresses the complex field of philosophy. Kreeft takes three books of the Bible—Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon—and uses them to examine God’s philosophy. I have read these books of the Bible before, but saw new truth reading them alongside Kreeft’s commentary. Reading the Bible and Kreeft together makes a good devotional. Do not be deterred by the hideous cover.

Buy it here.  

  • The Everlasting Man  by G. K. Chesterton

In short, Chesterton examines the culture of history in the millennia before Christ and reveals the perfect placement of Christ in history and culture. To read and understand Chesterton, you need to jump in and swim for a while before you know where his tide is taking you. His sentences rival Apostle Paul’s in length and his paragraphs go on for pages. However, this Chesterton reveals the profoundness of the verse: “And when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son into the world.”

Buy it here.

  • The Mind of the Maker  by Dorothy Sayers

This book has done so much for me in understanding God. He is—among a great many other things—a story writer who has given his characters free choice. As a writer, I have learned an incredible truth from Sayers assessment of God’s story. Good writers have real characters that make wrong choices and sometimes twist the story in surprising ways. Sayers also uses the writer as an analogy for the Trinity, perhaps the most comprehensive and helpful analogy that I have ever encountered. Sayers, a British writer from the World War ??? era, became a Christian later on in her adult life.  She has written many other essays and books, and I look forward to reading more of her.

Buy it here.

  • * Walking on Water—Reflections on Faith and Art  by Madeleine L’Engle

L’Engle’s writing is tight and profound. I read this book slowly, a few pages before going to sleep at night and found all sorts of nuggets. Here are two quotes:

“Our sins defeat us unless we are willing to recognize them, confess them, and so become healed and whole and holy—not qualified, mind you; just holy.” (Pg. 180)

“Perhaps art is seeing the obvious in such a new light that the old becomes new.” (Pg. 175)

L’Engle is what some would call a mystic, and her faith emphasis is sometimes misplaced. I did not agree with everything, but I think the book is worth the read because of all that can be learned from her perspective.

Buy it here.

  • * Which None Can Shut  by Reema Goode

Goode shares story after story from her experience serving Muslims in closed Arabic countries. Prepare to marvel at God’s working amongst these people and hear the call to prayer even as you read these pages. I found myself saying, “Yes, yes, keep doing it, God.” I also found insightful advice for ministering to the Muslims among us: it is about hospitality, not street evangelism.

Buy it here.

What’s next? Well, between books I’ve been given and borrowed, quite a stack.

7 Comments on “Recommended Reading from 2018

  1. Pingback: Perceiving Sin | travelight94

  2. Interesting list. The only one I’ve read is the one by Dorothy Sayers. I’ll have to get Chesterton’s book. I love British writers like Lewis, Sayers and Chesterton. They have a way of cutting through our muddle-headed thinking to help us see things more clearly.

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  3. I enjoyed reading this post greatly! I trust any book recommendations that come from you. 🙂 Three Philosophies of Life is one book from this list that is going on my “to read” list. I was given Walking on Water as a Christmas gift, and I’m so excited to “dive” into it. When I saw this post I had to smile, because I’m hoping to do a similar sort of post at some point. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this list!

    Liked by 1 person

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