2018 was a great year of reading! These are the ten best books I read in 2018 in no particular order.
Robert Merry’s epic, definitive work on the 25th president of the United States is an absolute knockout. Merry presents McKinley as a deeply principled, but achingly complex leader whose strengths and weaknesses shaped late 19th century American society. It is a readable, engaging, thorough and insightful look at an oft-forgotten American President whose influence continues to be felt today in surprising ways. If you are a fan of presidential bios or 19th century American history then this book is a must-have.
I have always enjoyed Cal Newport’s thoughtful work on productivity and “Deep Work” is no exception. It is a paradigm challenging book that will cause readers to question the “depth” of their work habits and what those habits produce in our daily vocations. As a Lead Pastor who spends a large amount of time preparing sermons during the week I found some of Newport’s suggestions to be exceptionally helpful.
I have been a fan of Bob Dylan since I was a kid. I still remember blaring “Like a Rolling Stone” and screaming “How does it feel?!” at the top of my lungs every time it came on the radio. But, it was my encounter with Dylan’s “Christian-era” albums that cemented my love for and interest in the prolific songwriters music. Dylan famously embraced evangelicalism in the late 70’s and in doing so managed to anger and alienate millions of fans. Since the early 80’s Dylan has been largely silent about his religious leanings but Scott Marshall’s fascinating and well-researched book sheds some light on the enigmatic lyricist and the faith he might still hold to. A must-read for any music fan.
This book hurt. Terry Linhart’s insightful, pastoral book works like an ointment on the soul for anyone who has found themselves in the uniquely precarious and oft dangerous world of leadership. Linhart points out the need for accountability and community in the life of leader if “blind spots” are going to be exposed. The book calls leaders to be honest with themselves about themselves. For me, it was a timely read. Highly recommended.
As a Preaching Pastor in a local church, I am always looking for a good read on the art and science of preaching. I’ve devoured dozens of books on preaching over the years, but Yancey Arrington’s new book on preaching delievery stands out. This is one of the few books I have read on how to actually preach sermons and it is also the best. If you desire to preach or preach regularly this book is simply a must-read.
Paradigm shifting book on leadership from Scott Sauls. Sauls covers eight specific vulnerabilities that leaders should embrace if they desire to grow and be more like Jesus. Sauls’s book is saturated in Gospel-realities throughout and provides many helpful application points for leaders at any stage of life. A must read.
For sheer reading pleasure, no book surpassed this one. Gordon S. Wood’s brilliant work on the complex relationship between two American icons like Adams and Jefferson is a true page turner. Wood traces, not only the relationship of these two men, he also shows the profound way each of them influenced early America history in their own unique ways.
Dave Ferguson’s practical guide to creating a culture of multiplying leaders and disciples is a fantastic read for any leader seeking to develop more leaders. A great book to read with other senior leaders or staff. The book also features an extremely helpful appendix with some great resources.
Few Old Testament scholars have taught me more than John Walton. His impressive, and surprisingly accessible. Old Testament Theology for Christians is a true tour de force with Walton at his absolute best. Walton’s insights on the ancient near eastern context of the OT provide a fantastic jump off point for anyone looking to dive into Walton’s work.
Alan Jacobs is one of my favorite writers so I was eager to dive into this love-letter to good books. The book is both a helpful critique of our modern obsession with technology and the inevitable distractions that technology creates while also reminding readers about the immense enjoyment that reading brings. If reading books has become more of a chore than a delight this book will be a much-needed tonic for you.