It’s the last week of the year, which means it’s time to look forward, but also to look back.
Tis the season for year-end lists.
I read more fiction and more really old books in 2018 than I had in previous years (I challenged myself to do this at the beginning of the year, in part to follow my own “wisdom pyramid” advice). It was a lovely reading year, and the lists below highlight some of my favorites in two categories: books I read in 2018 that were 1) released this year and 2) not released this year. Perhaps some of these will make it onto your bookshelf in 2019. I recommend them all!
10 FAVORITE BOOKS RELEASED IN 2018
Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen: Convincing explanation for America’s decline, in which the system itself—manifested in both the left and the right—is the root problem.
Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble: The most disruptive (in a good way) and important Christian book of the year.
The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff: Neil Postman might title this book, Protecting Ourselves to Death.
Provocations by Camille Paglia: Aptly titled collection by a writer whose machine gun-style deployment of nouns is second to none among English language essayists.
On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior: Master class not only in reading literature well but in living a virtuous life.
Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry: Raw, refreshing memoir that makes God’s proactive grace and goodness, not the foibles of our “authenticity,” the star of the show.
The Soul in Paraphrase by Leland Ryken: Soul-nourishing collection of 90+ classic poems to enrich the devotional life.
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger: Beautiful, funny, grace-filled portrait of small-town, hard-luck, rust belt America.
The Prodigal Prophet by Tim Keller: Prophetic and timely look at one of the Bible’s most notorious prophets.
Walking Through Infertility by Matthew Arbo: Concise and careful Christian thinking on the theology and ethical issues surrounding infertility.
10 FAVORITE BOOKS I READ (BUT WERE NOT RELEASED) IN 2018
City of God by Augustine: Took me all year to read it, and sometimes it was a slog, but a bit of Augustine each morning was just what I needed in 2018.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson: The title and subtitle (“Discipleship in an Instant Society”) say everything about why this is such an essential contemporary classic.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry: Along with Robinson’s Gilead, this is probably the most exquisite contemporary fiction book I’ve read.
Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers: Essential read for pastors, parents, church leaders and others seeking to understand our post-Christian culture.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton: South African literary classic that is jarring in its beauty as well as its tragedy.
Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren: Wise spiritual lessons from brushing teeth, making beds, sitting in traffic, eating leftovers, and other quotidian rituals.
For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann: Beautiful book about life, culture, and theology from an Orthodox Christian perspective.
Free Women, Free Men by Camille Paglia: Fearless, (largely) sensible, politically incorrect reflections on gender, sex, and feminism.
The Mestizo Augustine by Justo González: Great companion piece to reading Augustine’s work; explores the African and Greco-Roman context that shaped him.