This is certainly a fashionably late time to still be posting book recaps of 2021. It’s been a rather busy end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 for me over here in North Carolina. But lest I break the tradition I’ve been sticking pretty regularly to over the past several years, I did want to post about my top ten books from last year before the month of February rolls around.
As has been the standard for these lists, I generally keep re-reads off this list (unless it dramatically changed my view of the book), so those won’t be represented. But without any further commentary, let’s dig into my favorite new reads I’ve done this past year. (As always, titles are linked to my longer reviews.)
10. Truman by David McCullough I’ve always enjoyed David McCullough’s biographies of different presidents. This book was no exception. A great work that really did an admirable job in bringing the 33rd president of the United States to life.
9. No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert This is a fantastic contemporary novel that wrestles with a number of important and relevant issues that Christians face in the world today. I really appreciated the book’s honesty, its care, and its complexity in the different issues that it explored. And it was certainly an enjoyable book to boot!
8. That Pale Host by L.G. McCary This book feels very contemporary, but is certainly more in the speculative fiction realm than the last book. It’s the sort of story you read that screams authenticity where the primary tension stems from the very real challenges we face in various relationships in life. Gripping read.
7. The David Story by Robert Alter There’s probably a fair bit of theology that the author and I would disagree about, but this was a wonderful literary commentary on the books of Samuel.
6. God-Breathed by Rut Etheridge III A warmly-written, compassionate book exploring the isolation and brokenness we so often experience in the world along with the meaning and comfort that God provides us with in the Bible. A great introduction to Christianity for the questioning reader.
5. It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day A wonderfully practical and rich book about cultivating patience in lives that always feel like they’re yearning after the next best thing. This book really moved me.
4. Something’s Not Right by Wade Mullen I’ve read several books about abuse (particularly abuse in Christian circles) over the past couple years since it’s a topic that matters a lot to me. This was a really helpful read for learning how to better recognize abuse when it occurs.
3. The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton The best work of popular fiction I read this year. Excellent speculative fiction mystery novel that kept me turning pages until the mind-blowing Inception-level ending.
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy It’s hard to beat the complexity and depth of the Russian novelists. Enough said.
1. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund To be honest, this is probably the best non-fiction book I’ve read not only in this year, but really in the past three to five years. I was moved to tears a number of times when reading this book, and it left me with some strong reminders about the nature of Christ’s love and what his heart really is toward sinners and sufferers. This is a book I won’t soon forget.