best of 2017

My favorite reads of 2017

That season has come around once again, where bloggers make their listicles! As you know, reading is one the few hobbies I have, regularly reading at least two books a week. With that much reading, it’s no surprise that there’s a range of quality. Most are in that “good, but not earth-shattering” category, some were terrible (and we’ll talk about those soon)… but a few were legitimately great.

Here are the books I’ve read in 2017 that I think qualify as being of that caliber. Like last year, I’m using a few different categories to help divvy up the list. Ready? Let’s go!

Books for Christians

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I can only restate what I said previously about Reset: this is of the most personally challenging books I’ve read in years. Just about every Christian man should take the time to read this book. It’s well worth your time. (For more, read my review.)

Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen. Kellemen did a wonderful job exploring Luther’s counseling theology and methodology, and offering me desperately needed counsel along the way. (For more, read my review at TGC.)

This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax. Trevin is a rare man in that he’s not prone to pessimism in his writing. He writes about the hope of the gospel like he really believes it, and that’s something we need more of. This book is another example of why I believe this is true. (For more, read my review.)

The Curious Christian by Barnabas Piper. This book is Barnabas at his most optimistic—a call to embrace our sense of wonder, which is too valuable to lose, and an encouragement: if we fear we’ve lost it, we can get it back. (For more, read my review.)

Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt. Vanderstelt speaks my language in all of his books so far—the language of gospel culture, the result of the gospel filling every part of our shared experience. It’s a book that’s strange in all the right kind of ways, and we need more of that.

The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson. We need more books like this—books that aren’t telling us how to be super-Christians, but are reminding us that God is with us and for us and making us more like Jesus, even when we’re being total goobers. (Read five of my favorite quotes from the book.)

Man, that’s a lot of books for Christians that were really great this year. Hopefully next year is even better!

Books with great stories

The Door Before by N.D. Wilson. When Wilson writes a story, I know it’s going to be good. When Wilson writes a story connecting two of his most beloved series… wow! When prequel manages to have a real sense of drama and danger, you know it’s good.

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith. The Green Ember series got on my radar late last year, and I’m glad it did. Smith is  a superb storyteller, and the entire series has become a favorite in the Armstrong family. We’re all eagerly awaiting book three!

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. This is Gaiman’s spin on the classic stories of Thor, Odin and the others in the pantheon. These are not morality tales, because the Norse gods are terrible people. But they are fascinating nonetheless, and wonderfully retold.

Books from real life

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. This is as beautifully written as it is heartbreaking. It’s is the kind of book you read not to check off a box and say “I now understand the consequences of racism.” You read this book to realize just how silly it is to attempt to offer simplistic solutions. (Read some additional thoughts on this book.)

God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen R. Prothero. One of the most surprising books I’ve read in recent years that delivers a fairly compelling apologetic for why all religions cannot be the same. His picture of Christianity isn’t really all that recognizable to me, but there are tons of insights to be gleaned.

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Holiday is not a Christian. He is a self-described stoic, advocating humility as a way of life for hotshot business guys who think they’re a big deal, by the former king of dark arts marketing. This book was shockingly helpful, in part because it shows how even when a worldview gets close to Christianity, it’s still not enough.

Books with pictures

Superman by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke, et al. Seriously, y’all, Superman hasn’t been this compelling in probably 20 years. Tomasi and Gleason’s ongoing story is an absolute delight, leaning into what makes the character work, at least when we’re not being too cool—optimism and hope. (Note: I’m including every volume of their run collectively so far in this.)

Batman by Tom King. Batman is often depicted as an unfeeling sociopath, but that’s not what is happening in King’s book. This is Batman wrestling with feeling feelings, y’all, and it’s so good.

Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Brick by Brick by Gerard Way. It reads like a satisfying pop song—it’s catchy, creative, and fun. Fans of Grant Morrison’s run on the series back in the 1990s will be thrilled as this book goes back to its more eccentric routes.

See what made the cut in years past:

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