Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2010


I love books. I'm always reading a couple (or three or four) at a time. As I look back on what I read in 2010, most of the books were written by dead people. Here's the best of what I read that was actually published last year (with one exception). In stead of a simple list of 10 books, I'm recommending the "best" of 10 categories.

1. Best Book - To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davidson Hunter
If you, like John Mayer, are 'waiting for the world to change,' if you are finally waking up to the reality that (most) things cannot be solved by political means, if you have given up on your beauty pageant dream for a better world, you really need to read this book. Hands down the best book of 2010.

2. Best Children's Book - Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink by Victoria Kann
My 3-year-old has the original Pinkalicious book memorized (really she can recite it word-for-word. Did I mention she's 3?). This is a great "sequel." By the way, did you know that Pinkalicious: The Musical, premiered in New York in 2007 to sold-out audiences and is now going on a US tour?

3. Best Book for Pre-teens
- Guardians of Ga'hoole (Books 1-4) by Kathryn Lasky
OK, so these books have been out for a while (2006), but the movie debuted in 2010 so I'm including it. (Hey, it's my list.) As is usually the case, the books are much better than the movie. See the movie, read the books. My favorite lines:
Kludd, the disbelieving owl, to his father: "Dad, have you ever seen a Guardian?"
Father: "Just because you haven't seen something, doesn't mean it isn't real."

Ezylryb (Lyze of Kiel), the wise warrior, to Soren: "I fancy it must be hard meeting your hero and finding out he is real and not a myth (when Soren sees Lyze disfigured from war and learns that the stories aren't as heroic as he had heard). This is what it looks like when you've actually fought in battle. It's not glorious, it's not beautiful. It's not even honorable. It is merely doing what is right and doing it again and again, even if some day you look like this."


4. Best Biography - Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
I love good biographies and this is the best I've read in years. Kudos to Metaxas. He clears up some of the misconceptions concerning this great evangelical theologian and pastor. This is the Bonhoeffer that Dr. MacKenzie was trying to portray to us in seminary (and I think he knew him personally).

5. Best Fiction - Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
This beautifully written story provides insightful, first-hand viewpoints of the current conflict in Burma through the perspectives of two boys, Chiko and Tu Reh. When the two boys' lives intersect, they realize that despite their different backgrounds and experiences, they are not so different after all. The heart-wrenching horrors of the conflict in Burma are haunting and the hardships that the boys endure are real. Perkins keeps the story engaging, thought-provoking, and in the end hopeful and inspiring.

6. Best for Women - A Way with Words: What Women Should Know about the Power They Possess by Christin Ditchfield
Heather, my wife, should be making this recommendation. She's an avid reader and has buzzed through several books this year. I did ask her--she said something about some books about the sun, Twilight, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, or something like that. (She's going to kill me!) Here is my recommendation. I'll say no more.

7. Best for Men - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand is a great story-teller (she authored Seabiscuit). This book tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. The book includes the remarkable tale of his conversion to Christianity. Read the book and be ready for the movie.

8. Best for Parents
- The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace and Stuart W. Scott
I love being a parent and I love my kids. I want them to love and serve God, but that's not really up to me. What I'm called to be is a faithful parent. Some of the men and women I respect the most have children who sadly are not walking with Christ. Most parenting books, outright or indirectly, promise a good outcome if you only follow their suggestions. This book contains a wealth of practical, Biblically-based suggestions, but it maintains that the most important relationship in any family is vertical—between parents and God.

9. Best for Couples - What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul Tripp
Our marriage needs help. (Can you tell from the comments above?) Perhaps there are couple out there who have it all together, but I haven't met them. If anyone tells you their marriage is perfect, you should speak to their spouse for the real story. This book offers real help. Tripp says it well, "Spouses need to be reconciled to each other and to God on a daily basis. Since we're always sinners married to sinners, reconciliation isn't just the right response in moments of failure. It must be the lifestyle of any healthy marriage."

10. Best for Christian Living - Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller
Keller has the ears of many (to the tune of 25,000 downloads of his sermons each week). In this book, he may rattle a few cages. He is among a new breed of conservative Christians eager to break out of the straitjacket that frowns on justice work as doctrinally unsound or the work of overzealous liberals. Keller carefully analyzes Old and New Testament passages to make the case that God's heart for justice on behalf of widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor is indisputable, and that an encounter with grace will inevitably lead to a desire for justice. If you haven't read Keller before, start with The Prodigal God, then Counterfeit Gods, then Generous Justice.

Happy reading!

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