The worst books I read in 2014


Yeah, I’m going there.

Usually at the end of the year, us blogger types only talk about the books and articles and moments and cookies we really loved. The ones that really mattered to us (at least for a few minutes).

I’ve got lots of that coming up, have no fear. But what I want to do today is I want to kick off the “best of” season with a bit of a twist, and share a few of the really bad books I read in 2014. Some (most?) were released this year. Some were crazy popular. But none of them were particularly good. Ready? Let’s go!

That time R.C. Sproul wrote a bad children’s book

The King Without a Shadow by R.C. Sproul. Okay, this might be a shocker to some. But if I’ve got my timeline right, this is Sproul’s first children’s book, and it shows. My wife and I read it to our kids and it was




It’s so long that Emily lost focus while reading it. I may or may not have feel asleep while reading it, too. We love Sproul’s other children’s books (although none of them are really all that short), yeah, this is one we’re not planning on going back to any time soon.

The one that put a cramp in my soul

Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. You may have seen my review over at TGC a while back. (And if you haven’t read it, will you please? I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.) That review, incidentally, took ages to write as I had to try really hard to not go all ad hominem on Furtick. Its false premise, defensiveness and hopeless help isn’t worth your time.

The other one that put a cramp in my soul

Killing Lions by John and Sam Eldridge. There’s a review coming. The first line: “I don’t even know where to start with this book.” True story.

The one that didn’t really say anything

The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. I know this book is a business classic and all, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I can figure out why. So many pages, so little content. If you want to save yourself some trouble, just read the opening and final pages of each chapter; you’ll get everything you need from those. Then go read something by Patrick Lencioni, because he’s way more fun.

The one that is sincere, but sincerely wrong

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. This is another one I’ve been struggling to review, not because I don’t have a lot to say, but because I want to be as thoughtful as possible in doing so. My central point of contention is that while Vines relies on the standard—and largely disproven—arguments for homosexuality’s compatibility with Christianity, he bases his arguments in experientialism and emotionalism disguised as “fruit.”

Bonus: The one that was too obviously ridiculous to even bother reading

The Zimzum of Love by Rob and Kristen Bell. C’mon, like you didn’t know this book wasn’t going to be a complete waste of time from the title alone. When a supposed Christian ex-pastor starts spouting pagan[1. The term comes from Kabbalah] nonsense about increasing the energy flow between you and your spouse, and the displacement of God’s omnipresence (something that, by definition, is not even possible), you know you’re going to crazy town.

Photo credit: cesarastudillo via photopin cc

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

Reader interactions

12 Replies to “The worst books I read in 2014”

  1. […] My least favorite books of 2014 […]

  2. Sounds like your zimzum with Rob Bell could be better (is that how it works?)

  3. Don’t potshot the zimzum. 😉

  4. Ha! Love it. As much as I appreciate the writings of R.C. Sproul I found the same thing with another novel he wrote. But grateful for your review on Furtick’s book. Thanks Aaron.

  5. I guess since the start of your review is, “I don’t know where to start,” you can’t do this, but can you give a general direction of the problem with Eldridge family book? As someone with a little boy the premise seemed somewhat interesting.

    1. There are a number of issues, but much of my concern centers around Eldridge’s understanding of our identity—being validated as a man, being a king, a warrior-lover-lion-heart-eater, and one upon whom the whole world depends. But little to nothing about our identity in Christ.

      1. Gotcha!

        Yeah I read “Wild at Heart” over 10 years ago. It was at a point in time in my life where a couple of the chapters addressed things I was currently working through. But even as a young person it came off far more like good pop-psychology from a Christian than a biblical study of manhood.

        I was hoping as time passed the biblical would grow larger and the pop-psychology would shrink smaller. :/

  6. Thanks for the list, and for the Chatterbox review.

  7. Couldn’t agree more on Furtick’s book. It was recommended to me to read…waste of my time.

Comments are closed.