Top 10 of 2011

I’m always reading something and am a firm believer in sharing good things with others.  So, as 2011 is over and 2012 is now underway, I pass on my best read picks from this past year, in no particular order.  Maybe they’ll find themselves into your reading in the months to come.

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ~ Barbara Kingsolver

In true Kingsolver fashion, this book chronicles a year in her life–a year of eating as homegrown and close to home as possible. It also includes recipes for every season (thanks to her daughter) and environmental tid-bits (thanks to her husband). This book made me want to buy ostriches, become a canner, and grow a garden for seed diversification. Wonderfully written. Terribly inspiring.



2. Leaders on Leadership ~ George Barna

This was not a new read to me, I read it nearly 10 years ago;  however, I was going through a leadership “crisis” in my own life and turned to it again with fresh eyes and renewed interest.  Each chapter, which highlights a different aspect of leadership is written by a different leader in his respected field.  Though it claims to have all leaders in mind, women as well as men, not one contributor was a woman, and for this I was a bit disappointed.  Nevertheless, it is a good book, one which is needed in our current crisis of leadership lack.



3. The Perfectly Imperfect Home ~ Deborah Needleman

This is the perfect coffee table book!  I read it cover to cover without so much as stopping for a potty break or coffee break.  It was that good.  Deborah Needleman has been editing the design scene for quite some time now and this book is her take on all that is good and necessary in great home decor design with a lived-in feel.  It is entertaining and educational wrapped up in a pretty package.




4. The Early Christians: In Their Own Words ~ Eberhard Arnold

This book gives us a picture of early Christianity from those who were there.  We know, of course, that the church now is very different from the church then, but from one follower to another (from me to Ignatius) the differences are drastic, to say the least.  Back in the earliest days of Christianity there was no regard for “political correctness”, seeker sensitivity, or warm fuzzies from a platform.  Instead Christianity was raw, required devotion of the utmost, and was bound to cost you your life.  This book isn’t written by an historian but is instead a compilation of letters and accounts by those who were there, grappling with what it meant to be a Christian when Christianity was still new and fresh.


5. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University ~ Kevin Roose

I liked this book because though it was written by someone not claiming to really be “Christian” Roose was, however, complimentary and nice about his experience within Christendom.  A liberal college student, he goes undercover and fully attends a semester at Liberty University.  An outsider’s view of the inside, and he’s not mean about it!  Well written.




6. Out of a Far Country ~ Christopher Yuan

I include this book because it’s one of the best out there on the topic of homosexuality and godliness.  And why shouldn’t it be, it’s written by a gay man who met Jesus.  He tells his story of sin and sorrow, but talks very openly about sexuality in the shadow of the Saviour.  If for no other part of the book, Chapter 30: Holy Sexuality, alone, is worth buying it.  This is a topic which we in the church, especially leaders, should be learning and thinking more openly about.  Highly suggest.



7. Blue Like Jazz ~ Donald Miller

I know that this book has been out and about for a while now, and I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading it, but I’m glad I did.  I like how open Miller is about his journey toward and with Jesus.  This book is reminiscent of a memoir, but it’s more theological and philosophical than that.  It has something to teach us all, no matter where we find ourselves in our own journeys with Christ.




8. One Thousand Gifts ~ Ann Voskamp

While the author was a little hard to follow at times, as though she was trying too hard to be poetic, forcing prose out of her pen where it was unneeded, this is a much-heralded book, and for good reason.  It is poetic and it is deep but it’s also accessible and stirring.  It’s about developing a lifestyle of gratitude, and in gratitude, God touches our lives in extraordinarily profound ways.  This book encouraged me to start my own list (though I’m not as dedicated to it as Voskamp was hers).



9 & 10. Love Wins ~ Rob Bell  &  Erasing Hell~ Francis Chan

These two books need to be read together, one after the other. 
Bell’s book was much talked about and highly controversial whereas I heard not a thing about Chan’s book except that a friend asked me if I had heard about “the book he just came out with.”  
It would seem that Chan’s book was written in reaction to Bell’s book, and maybe it was, but both books are written about a topic that many seem to be talking about nowadays–the afterlife, heaven, and hell.  While I like Bell’s book in that it raises a lot of questions many have but do not ask.  He gets us talking about heaven and hell in a way that traditional Christianity is uncomfortable with, and that’s good.  He’s not asking us to ascribe to a particular belief-set, he’s simply getting the conversation going.  Chan, on the other hand, brings balance and light to the topic that could easily get out of hand if all our questions aren’t brought back to some unifying point by laying out traditional Biblical thought and doctrine in a straightforward manner.  Once again,  read these books in tandem for greatest impact and thought provocation.
Happy reading! And if you feel like sharing your top reads, please do. I’m always interested in a good book.

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