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Book recommendations 2017

Posted by Anne Witton on Thursday, December 21, 2017 Under: Books

As I look back on the year, one of the highlights has been the amount and scope of reading I've done. This was an intentional move which was fuelled by me deleting all the games from my phone in February. I have really loved re-discovering the many benefits of reading books.

In 2016 I read 40 books. In 2017 this increased to 134! There has been a total mixture of themes from science to humour via typography and transport. It’s almost impossible to pick favourites, but I’ve chosen 8 particular topics and highlighted books that I've particularly valued reading from each. I hope you enjoy your own journey of literary discovery in 2018.

Contemplation / spiritual disciplines

Top pick
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

 

I read this whilst on holiday in France this summer and it not just challenged me to make changes in my Christian life, but inspired me to rely on the Holy Spirit and surrender more to God. A practical, biblical and inspirational guide to the spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance and celebration.

“We do not need to be hung on the horns of a dilemma of either human works or idleness. God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so he can transform us.” (P. 7)

Other recommendations


Sexuality

Top pick



Ed’s book is a refreshing addition to the growing body of work on the subject of faith, Christian community and sexuality. I have often been left feeling frustrated by other books which have been great at setting out the biblical teaching, but have been weak on showing how to apply it in a rich and life-giving way. Ed doesn’t hold back from challenging the church to become a place where same-sex attracted people can flourish and enjoy life to the full. Should be read by every Christian, especially those who aren’t same-sex attracted themselves.

“If same-sex attracted Christians feel they are being held to a higher standard than anyone else in the church, the plausibility problem will only get worse.
Do you want to make sexual godliness seem plausible to someone like me? Take Christ-likeness seriously in every area of your life.” (P.104)

“Churches..have settled for middle-class respectability rather than radical living for Jesus.” (P.134)

Other recommendations

Fiction

Top pick
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon



This is a light and entertaining read which I found strangely compelling. It’s an interesting premise and the character development is well done. The quirky drawings and diagrams really added to my enjoyment of the book.

Other recommendations

Internet, social media and culture

Top pick



Very short, but packed with wisdom. Tim Chester’s wise analysis of how social media is changing the way we relate is eye-opening. There are some hard-hitting challenges to use our time wisely for God and invest in a full, embodied life lived with others in community.

“To those of us exhausted by the need to portray themselves for the approval of others, Jesus says: 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' (Matt 11: 28)” (P. 27)

“Embodied life is harder. But it is more fulfilling, more real, more satisfying.” (P. 36)

“Many of us are playing with toys when we could be taking risks for Christ's kingdom.” (P. 36)

Other recommendations

Busyness

Top pick



What I love about this book is that it isn’t just another list of all the ways you’re getting things wrong and a whole load of seemingly impossible steps to getting back on track. It’s actually a liberating read as Chester uncovers some of the roots that are driving our busyness and gently shows us how Jesus can set us free. Biblical, gracious, wise and inspiring.

"There are no words for seconds or minutes in our Bibles. They didn't divide the day into 24 hours and they just didn't think about time as a thing to be spent or wasted or maximised or organised.” (P.43)

“The revelation of the Son comes in the invitation to find rest. Here is this invitation of grace. And we don't come with our wisdom or status, our achievement or activities. We bring our weariness and burdens. We don't have to prove ourselves to God.” (P.79)

Other recommendation

Missionaries

Top pick
Enough by Helen Roseveare



I’d never heard of Helen Roseveare before reading this book, but I certainly won’t forget her now. Helen was a medical missionary to the Congo between 1953 and 1973 and endured extraordinary suffering, yet was able to proclaim that Jesus brings fulness and contentment. A massive challenge to comfortable Western Christians.

Other recommendation

History

Top pick



I’ve always enjoyed Bryson’s writing, especially his travel memoirs (until his humorous observations started to become more grumpy old man rantings). I wasn’t sure what I’d make of this as there are large chunks about things I wouldn’t have said I’m particularly interested in (boxing and baseball mainly). However, this is warm, well-written and genuinely interesting.

Other recommendation

Church, mission and Christian life

Top pick
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne



Uncomfortable and provocative, prophetic and much-needed, Shane’s voice is a clarion call to take the gospel seriously, make sacrifices, serve the poor and live radically different lives because of Jesus.

What if a fragile world is more attracted to God's vision of interdependence and sacrificial sharing than to the mirage of independence and materialism? (P.21)

Jesus never says to the poor, 'Come find the church' but he says to those of us in the church, 'Go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned.' (P.102)

Jesus doesn't exclude rich people, he just lets them know their rebirth will cost everything they have...Rather than accumulating stuff for oneself, followers of Jesus abandon everything, trusting in God alone for providence. (P.104)

Many spiritual seekers have not been able to hear the words of Christians because the lives of Christians have been making so much horrible noise. It can be hard to hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit amid the noise of Christendom. (P.127)

Other recommendations

So there you have some of my favourite books from 2017. Do let me know your recommendations in the comments below.

In : Books 


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