On my website (www.evanesceemerge.com), I try to list the top 3 books of a given year. As I tried to choose three from this year, it was impossible. So, I chose 5, and then had to add a 6th. And they are...
6. The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism, Mary Eberstadt - Like The Screwtape Letters, this was a fascinating series of fictional letters written from an former Christian turned atheist to the leading atheist writers (Dawkins, Hitchins, etc.). She has some probing questions for that deal with major holes in atheist doctrine so that she can make more convincing arguments to the foolish Christians. It is witty and thoughtful.
5. The Life of Pi, Yann Martel - Being in school I don't have a lot of time for fiction or any other non-theological books, but this was worth the read. It tells the story of Pi Patel, an Indian boy shipwrecked for almost 300 days, floating about with just him and a Bengal Tiger in a small boat. It is a tale that invites to ask ourselves which story it is we want to live within - one that is based on "dry, yeastless factuality," or one that is debunks reason and includes adventure and meaning.
4. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ, Eugene Peterson - Peterson continues to rescue my heart. All who are cynical about the church need to read this. All who hunger for a way of life in Christ that is open to His power and presence need to read this. It is an extended reflection on Ephesians written to reveal the living Christ in His church growing them into fullness.
3. The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, Howard Bryant - This is a thoroughly, thoughtful, and well-researched biography on the real home run leader and former Brave, Henry Aaron. The story is bound up in a tumultuous era in American history when African Americans were mistreated, abused, and dismissed. It is about baseball, civil rights, and one man's journey to fulfill his dreams while remaining true to himself in the public spotlight. If you read this you will sense even greater how much of a shame it is that Barry Bonds could be held in the same conversations with Aaron.
2. Gilead: A Novel, Marilynne Robinson - Ever read a book that nourished your soul? This was one such book for me. Robinson writes as if she is John Ames, an congregationalist minister who is elderly and in his final days. This novel is John's memoir to his young son who will grow into adulthood never really knowing his father. It is a touching reflection on God's presence in the world, a father's love for his son, and a life given to ministering to God's people.
1. Rule of Saint Benedict: Insights of the Ages, Joan Chittister, OSB - The author has been a Benedictine sister for decades. She offers a daily devotional reflection on the famous Rule of Saint Benedict. The Rule is already broken up into daily readings so that it is read 3 times a year by monks. She offers a reflection on each reading. It is one of the richest, most thoughtful, and most real-life-rooted description of how to live a full and vibrant life with God and with God's people. Even if you are totally unaware of monastic life and practices, this will be one of the best reflections on the spiritual life you will ever read.