I’ve had a fun year of reading books. Out of 100+ read so far, here are my top ten books of 2011. I tried to pick the ten that were in some way more entertaining, eye-opening, paradigm-shifting, thought-provoking, or edifying than others. It was hard to do. Here’s what I came up with.
Books are arranged according to the order in which I read them.
This book opened my eyes to a chapter in American history—a dark and bitter chapter—that I had no idea about.
I am fascinated by psychology. I am also entranced by Gladwell’s research writing. Combine these two factors, and you have a book that grabbed me.
Some people just amaze me. Louis Zamperini is one of them. This book tells how he mastered the art of dodging death and doing the unbelievable.
4. The Help
This novel addresses the 1960s segregation problem that festered in Jackson, Mississippi. After I read the book, I saw the movie. It should go without saying, but the movie and the book are two different works of art. Watching the movie does not suffice for reading the book, and vice versa.
I was hesitant to read yet another book trying to define the gospel, but was thankful for the way that Scot McKnight graciously and compellingly traced the story of the gospel from Genesis to Revelation. The pan-biblical storyline of the gospel, and its implications for life and witness, are inescapable. A solid book.
6. Kite Runner
Hosseini is a masterful novelist. Kite Runner is a grip-you and shake-you type of story that forces you to confront the discomfort of injustice and abuse.
7. Steve Jobs
What a biography! Steve Jobs has impacted my life in an inescapable way. In the morning, my iPhone 4 buzzes me awake; I read the Bible on my iPad; all day long, my fingers tap the keys of my MacBook Pro. This book gave me insight into the brilliant and maniacal mind of Steve Jobs.
Generous Justice was one of several books that have made me aware of the essential nature of social justice in the life of a believer. Generous Justice was the best of these books. I’m not exaggerating when I say that reading this book changed my life.
I used to think that MLK was a bad dude. Not anymore. After reading the autobiography, his foibles notwithstanding, I possess profound respect and gratitude for what God allowed him to do for America. His amazing courage and patient endurance helped to bring America from a generation of shame, and into a new era of hope.
10. Barefoot Church
Hatmaker’s book Barefoot Church was a book that challenged my conceptions of what “doing church” really means. Each page is soaked with Scripture, careful explanation, and real-life application. It gave me a refreshing new look at what the church should be and do.
In a future post, I’ll list all the books I read in 2011. There were some real downers, but these ten were some of the bright spots. I highly recommend them.