My favorite books of 2021

It’s that time of year when websites make their own book awards, host galas, and share their favorite books of 2021. I am no different, except that I’m not creating a book award and my gala budget was slashed.1

So today, I am presenting, in article form, my favorite books of the year. As always, my picks cross multiple genres and mediums (print and audio, text and graphic novels). They also are not limited to books published in 2021. So, with that said, here are my favorites.

My Favorite Books of 2021

Faith

  • Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund. It’s clear why this book is so highly regarded from its earliest pages. Ortlund addresses one of the most underdeveloped areas of modern evangelicalism’s spiritual life, God’s heart for His people. This is not a book to rush through; read slowly and thoughtfully.
  • Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley. This book offers an apologetic for the faithfulness of biblical interpretation within the black church tradition. At the center of this is hope—and specifically, a hope rooted in the Scriptures themselves. Despite its size, it is a dense book, one that demands to be read with great care—and multiple times over at that.
  • Secular Creed by Rebecca McLaughlin. In the hands of a less capable writer, this book would have taken a sledgehammer to five key claims of secular society, building up straw men in order to obliterate them with extreme prejudice. McLaughlin is far more capable. As she examines each claim through the lens of Scripture, she helps readers see what apologetics can look like when truth and love meet.

Fiction

  • American Gospel by Lin Enger. Enger brings a raw edge to his exploration of father-son dynamics in this tale involving estranged families and a Minnesota cult set against the backdrop of the Watergate scandal. Brilliant, beautiful writing.
  • Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Weir is one of the most fun writers of the last decade. Hail Mary continues to prove why in a tale about a last-ditch effort to save the world—and what happens when humanity meets extraterrestrial life for the first time.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Doerr’s latest novel is a demanding one, as it criss-crosses timelines with its seemingly distinct storylines featuring five separate lead characters, connected only by a lost epic tale. This is another book I can see benefiting from multiple reads; there’s a lot going on, but all of it is wonderful.
  • Superman: The City of Tomorrow vol. 1 by Jeff Loeb, Joe Kelly, Mark Millar, et al. This is a collection of stories published at the turn of the century, ushering in a new era of Superman stories after years of increasingly dour sagas. There’s an infectious sense of fun and optimism that jumps off the page thanks to the bold art of Ed McGuinness and his cohorts. Looking forward to digging into volume 2 over the holidays.

Memoirs, Art, and Current Affairs

  • The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Grohl is widely considered one of music’s most likable superstars; it’s easy to see why from reading this book. It is funny, occasionally moving, and unpretentious—an ideal vacation read.
  • Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell. Gaiman offers some brilliant thoughts on the importance of art and imagination in this short book and Riddell’s work brings them to life beautifully. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone working in a creative field.
  • The Hardest Job in the World by John Dickerson. This is a fascinating look at how the job of “president” has evolved from Washington through Trump, and how that evolution has set it up for failure at every turn.

Honorable mentions

  • Gospel-Driven Ministry by Jared C. Wilson. Jared’s continues to be a needed voice, as he is among the most consistent and insistent that gospel centrality has to be about more than the content of our preaching, but the heartbeat of all of our ministry.
  • Fan Fiction by Brent Spiner. Easily the most delightfully absurd book of my reading year, and a must-listen as an audio book since it involves most of the cast members of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson. The latest in the Longmire series, continuing its exploration of faith, the supernatural, and First Nations culture, while delivering a compelling mystery.

My favorite books from previous years

2020 favorite books of the year
2019 favorite books of the year
2018 favorite books of the year
2017 favorite books of the year
2016 favorite books of the year
2015 favorite books of the year
2014 favorite books of the year
2013 favorite books of the year
2012 favorite books of the year
2011 favorite books of the year

  1. Thanks, stupid global pandemic.[]

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.