It's the time of year when "best of" lists are coming out. Thus here's part one of my "Best Books of 2009" list. I hope this might be helpful to you—as it can be hard to make one's way through the thousands of titles released by publishers (Christian and not) each year. The books listed below are only those from among the books I've read. They must have been published in 2009, or at the very end of 2008.
Fiction – Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Winner of 2009's Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Olive Kitteridge offers amazing insights into the thought/emotional world of aging adults. It's not a book that will leave you feeling happy, but you will leave the book deeply touched and with a much better sense of peaks and valleys of the aging.
Non-Fiction – The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci. Everyone likes a peek behind the curtain. It's amazing how detailed Joe Torre is in recounting life as manager of the Yankee dynasty.
Business – How the Mighty Fall,
by Jim Collins.
Good to Great is a classic, and How the Mighty Fall is, in some ways, it's inverse.
Memoir – Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Albom. Albom is a marvelous writer who gives a surprisingly honest and enjoyable journey through his own faith struggles as he prepares to eulogize his childhood rabbi.
Biblical Studies – An Unsettling God: The God of the Hebrew Bible, by Walter Brueggemann. Virtually everything Brueggemann writes is thought-provoking, substantive, and useful at once. I don't buy absolutely everything Brueggemann has to say in this volume, but as usual, my "Amens" outnumber my "Say whats?" by a long stretch.
Christian Theology (Practical) – Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys that Should Be): In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. This response to the emergent church offers the everyday person insight into both the shortcomings of the emergent church movement and the inherent strengths of the "institutional" church.
Christian Theology (Scholarly) – Justification, by N.T. Wright.
As my buddy says, "It's hard to go wrong with Wright." This response to his critics, namely John Piper, was overdue. To be honest, Piper made some rather good points in The Future of Justification. Wright needed to answer them, and he has adequately.
Church History – A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, by Diana Butler Bass. Bass writes to combat what she sees to be the spiritual amnesia of Western Christianity. This book is for those who see historical Christianity as a do-nothing, harmful, orthodoxy-focused religion. Bass does a marvelous job of showing how Christianity's everyday followers have impacted the world in profound ways through social justice and ministry.
I'm always looking for good stuff to read…so I'd love to know what books you'd add to this list.
Next up: Family Life, Christian Leadership, Devotional, Ministry Strategy, Apologetics/Evangelism, Preaching, and Spiritual Formation.