Worthy Reads for the Year Ahead

Written by Ryan Evans on January 19th, 2022

While it can be tempting to measure reading goals by the number of books read, we do well to heed the words of Thomas Hobbes. “If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are.” Ouch. So read what you like but seek to challenge yourself as well – all without being caught up in numbers.

As promised in the last issue of the Providence Principles, here are some of my top reads from the past year, representing a variety of books to read for pleasure, to cultivate the mind and soul, and some long-standing favorites.

  1. Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer – A short book but packed with spiritual truths that anchor our faith to a life of Christian community. Bonhoeffer wonderfully models Christian charity, scriptural meditation, and thoughtful prayer centered on loving and serving others in spite of our own weakness.
  2. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman – Trueman traces the decline of the Judeo-Christian worldview over the past several hundred years, identifying seeds sown by key thinkers: Rousseau, Marx, Freud, and Darwin. He provides keen analysis to help Christians frame what has occurred in the last twenty years within a larger historical framework.
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis – Packed with adventure, mystery, and redemptive themes. You can’t go wrong with any of the Chronicles of Narnia, but this is my favorite.
  4. The Life of Gustavas Vassa, Gustavas Vassa – Also titled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. A classic slave story with an overwhelming testimony of the grace of God and the witness of a bona fide Christian man. Vassa’s life was tragic yet heroic, and so incredibly uplifting to see courage, fortitude, patience, and humility in spite of incalculable injustices.
  5. Fault Lines, Voddie Baucham and Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice, David Scott Allen – Two great books to help make sense of the social justice craziness. Baucham takes aim (in the right sort of way) at fellow Christians compromising on biblical principles. Allen graciously but clearly defines the key terms and bring clarity to the stark differences between justice as explicated in scripture and social justice defined by a warped and backwards culture.
  6. The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro – Shapiro takes a long look at the history of ideas, tracing everything back to the roots of Western Civilization: Athens and Jerusalem. From Jerusalem comes the moral law, an objective standard of behavior with clear right and wrong. From Athens comes freedom, reason, and discourse centered on civilized argumentation.
  7. Wherever I Wind Up, R.A. Dickey – Dickey’s journey in major league baseball was marked by faith, humility, and determination. A remarkable true story written with intelligence and rare candor.
  8. Animal Farm, George Orwell – Like 1984, prescient with some classic phrases: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” While unlikely that Orwell didn’t intend to mimic Paul’s lament on sin in Romans 7, this allegory provides an apt portrayal of how sin begets sin.
  9. False Alarm, Bjorn Lomborg – The propaganda, “Climate change will kill me” is not only a false narrative, but dangerous, writes Lomborg. It leads to bad policy, poor decisions, and a culture of fear inhibiting our ability to solve the issue with meaningful solutions. Readable and enlightening.
  10. The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor – With her characteristic humor, cynical wit, and profound spiritual insight, O’Connor’s letters are entertaining. O’Connor was admittedly an imperfect person, making the letters more enjoyable.