I can’t claim to have read as many as some, or as widely as others, but here’s the books I’ve read this year, and the ones I’d most highly recommend:

  1. One Forever, by Rory Shiner. An absolute peach of a book. How Rory Shiner managed to pack so much rich, joyous theology into a short and very readable book, I’m not quite sure – but he did. The book looks at what it means for Christians to be united to Christ, in areas such as justification, church, fighting sin, and the new creation, but it does so in a clearly understandable and practical way. Thoroughly recommended.
  2. Christ Our Life, by Michael Reeves. I can’t do better than my friend Peter’s review: “For a newcomer to Christianity, or for a long-time follower of Jesus, this book will stir your heart and lift it toward Him. Five chapters in typical Reeves style: high energy, good momentum, great one-liners, on-target historical anecdotes and lots of biblical interaction. The fourth chapter on the Christian life is worth the price of the book, but be sure to take advantage of the rest too.”
  3. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards, by Dane Ortlund. A much more academic book than others on the list, but not by any means in the pejorative sense of the word! Ortlund gets to the heart (pun unavoidable) of the Christian life and Christian motivation, showing how Edwards (and the Bible) point to the believer’s  awakened taste and hunger for God and his goodness as the motive force for growth in maturity and holiness. Looking forward to the author’s new book, Edwards on the Christian Life, too.
  4. Keeping the Heart, by John Flavel. My first book by Flavel, but unlikely to be my last if this is a representative example. Sound exhortations to care for your soul, with that wonderful way of looking at so many different facets of the same thing to bring real richness and depth to the argument. Would probably serve as an excellent introduction to the Puritans in general – certainly a great example of the wisdom of the pastors of past generations.
  5. The Schaeffer Trilogy (The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, He Is There and He Is Not Silent), by Francis Schaeffer. I should have read The God Who Is There in my first year of uni, though I doubt I’d have appreciated it as much. Reading it today I found it stretching and stimulating, and though written in the 60s is still incredibly relevant today. His analysis of trends in Western thought, and how culture and the church have bought into the huge misstep of separating “the upper storey” – faith – from “the lower storey” – reason – is revealing and perceptive. Once I’ve read a bit more in a similar vein, I will return to these and will no doubt benefit even more!

Honourable mentions go to Pleased to Dwell by Peter Mead (24 meditations on Jesus and the Incarnation) and Jesus on Every Page by David Murray (seeing all the ways the Bible speaks of Jesus, right from Genesis), as well as the short 10Publishing books Enjoy your prayer life by Mike Reeves and True Friendship by Vaughan Roberts. I read the latter two with a small group of friends and had some brilliant conversations off the back of them – and they’re short enough to read in an evening too.