29 Dec 2016

Top Ten Books of 2016 (of the ones I read)

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bobby's World, Books, Reading

Of making many books there is no end …” (Ecclesiastes 12.12)

A brief catalog of my “Top Ten Books of 2016.” But of the books I have read in 2016 (and I’ve only bought two books since being in Colorado) these are the top ten. They are in no certain order. They reflect my penchant for theology and history. I have included Amazon links in the titles of each book.  Tolle lege.

1) Jack Levinson, Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (this is one of the most interesting books on the Spirit I have ever read).


2) N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began (book of the year)


3) Matthew Richard Schlimm, This Strange and Sacred Scripture (this is a very very good book. He examines some of the more controversial aspects of the “Old Testament” and asks are we hearing it correctly. This would be required reading if I could make it)


4) Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President (great book on James A. Garfield. I got this because of Garfield’s connection to the SCM but this is hands down a wonderful book).


5) Gerald Hiestand & Todd Wilson, Pastor TheologianThere is no conflict between being a minister and being a theologian.  Indeed without being a practicing theologian we have simply become self-help coaches.  This is a wonderful and inspiring book for ministers casting a great vision of what it means to be a minister.

6) John Goldingay, Do We the New Testament? Letting the Old Testament Speak for Itself. (I had ordered this before it came off the press. There are few people that can challenge our myopic disregard for 76% of God’s Word than Goldingay. I think every preacher needs to wrestle with this book. His chapter “The Loss of First Testament Spirituality” is one of the most profound things I have read in a long time). This is, as far as content goes, the most challenging books on this list.  Goldingay does not hesitate to challenge common Evangelical and Restorationist positions on the basis of the biblical text.


7) Larry Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness (I have grown up on the lingo of being “a distinct people,” but I could not have told you what that meant in the first, second and third centuries of Christianity. Hurtado has lobbed an atomic bomb into the world of early Christian studies by arguing that Christianity was hardly a hodge podge of mystery religions and other such things but was in fact the destroyer of the gods. What did it mean for these Christians to be “atheists.” An important book)


8) Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (winner of the National Book Award and finalist for the Pulitzer, Coates has written a profound book in the form of letters to his son but is really what I would call a memoir. Through Coates I enter into a world that I am a complete stranger and yet strangely one of the primary actors. This is both history and sage wisdom on living within an America that has race imprinted on its collective DNA)


9) Kevin Ott, Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey Into Joy and Healing. (Ok this book was a little unexpected for me and is hard to categorize. But when you have a book that combines C. S. Lewis with the music of U2 then you are simply required to look. And Ott does it! He takes us on a journey to discover that illusive thing called “joy” by looking at 16 works of Lewis’s and songs by U2 at the same time. I loved it! Great sermon fodder here!!)


10) Reggie Williams, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance. (This is a major contribution to Bonhoeffer studies. Most who know anything about Bonhoeffer know that he was at Union in NYC but many do not know that he immersed himself in the black churches of NYC during that time. Williams takes us on a brilliant tour of theology in the black churches of Harlem that Bonhoeffer was in and traces how this impacted his contribution to the confessing church in underground Germany. Two of my favorite subjects in this book, the Harlem Renaissance and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is an important book).


11) And one to grow on … Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman. (This is a remarkably insightful work on women in America through the story of a comic, Wonder Woman. WW was the creation of William Moulton Marston, the man who invented the Lie Detector. Marston was a rather controversial fellow and had some character traits that probably are less than desirable. But it is interesting how he shaped the “feminist movement” through a comic! Don’t agree with everything but talk about an education. And Wonder Woman just rocks and always has.

There you have it. The best books I have read in 2016. They may make a great Christmas gift for some one

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