These are my favorite ten books of 2013 (with a few extras thrown in). Each made an impact on me and are ones I can recommend to you to read, too.
In no particular order:
1. Transforming Grace
Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love
by Jerry Bridges
His grace is always bigger, greater, stronger. Bridges explains why it’s God’s grace that can change us. Not our performance, not our self-confidence, not our achievements. Grace sets us free. His grace is sufficient.
I also recommend: Grace Walk: What You’ve Always Wanted in the Christian Life by Steve McVey
2. Spy the Lie
Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception
by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero
A fascinating look from three former CIA officers on how to detect lies. Filled with their own stories from the field, it also shows how to spot lies when they’re being told to you. Because I can be too trusting at times (surely no one would ever lie to me!), this book was also disturbing in some ways, but overall it was far more interesting than troubling.
I also recommend: The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely
3. What We Talk about When We Talk about God
by Rob Bell
Rob Bell is a spiritual storyteller. I connect with his view here of God as with us, for us, and ahead of us. He explains each concept in short chapters, and as is typical in many of his books, allowing plenty of white space for you to rest in the words without rushing through.
4. A Whole New Mind
Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
by Daniel H. Pink
Daniel Pink explains why those who tap into right-brain thinking will be more prepared to succeed in the future. He walks you through these six essential abilites: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.
I also recommend: The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
5. The Pressure’s Off
Breaking Free from Rules and Performance
by Larry Crabb
You’ll never get everything right. Give it up. This book helps you see the joy that comes from letting go of your self- and culture-imposed pressure of trying to make life work out. Instead of working to keep every rule, enjoy being loved by your Creator, letting him guide you into obedience.
6. Transformational Architecture
Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative
by Ron Martoia
We take in so much information, but does it change us? This book is about living through a spiritual conversation model instead of the old evangelism model. About moving from having to know all the right answers to being comfortable talking about the questions. I found it paradigm-changing and want to revisit it again soon.
I also recommend: The Bible as Improv: Seeing and Living the Script in New Ways by Ron Martoia
7. Nothing to Envy
Ordinary Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick
We’ve all seen news reports about North Korea. But this book takes you into the lives of six “ordinary” citizens who live(d) there and tells what it’s like from an inside view. It is eye-opening. And a nice side effect is it makes you more grateful for how good we have it anywhere else.
Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate
by Justin Lee
Regardless of your stand on LGBT issues, you’d probably benefit from reading this book. Justin Lee grew up in a great Christian home and was surprised when he discovered he had same-sex attractions, and more so that God wouldn’t take them away. He’s written this book explaining his journey and his growth to understanding that “Gay Christian” is not a misnomer. And that helps us all–gay or straight–understand and respect each other in more loving ways. I encourage all to read this as well as Justin’s blog, crumbs from the communion table.
9. An Altar in the World
A Geography of Faith
by Barbara Brown Taylor
Oh, how I love the twelve spiritual disciplines (of sorts) in this book! I’ve been working through one chapter each month this year, and it’s been enlightening. I have much more to learn from those like Barbara Brown Taylor who embrace Jesus in strong but sometimes unconventional ways, daring to step outside our traditional religious modalities.
I also recommend: Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
10. Tattoos on the Heart
The Power of Boundless Compassion
by Gregory Boyle
This priest doesn’t preach it to you in his book; he demonstrates it–how to love the unlovable. Boyle runs Homeboy Industries among the gangs of Los Angeles, showing the precious boys and girls there that they are loved and that there is hope. He inspires me to to keep loving on those that can be repulsive in the flesh, but who are just as valuable as the most lovely and kind among us.
I also recommend: Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins
And there are so many more!
Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton, Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson, Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott, The Bible (and the Gospel) According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short, Love Does by Bob Goff, Jesus: A Theography by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis, on and on . . . .
But I’ll stop here for now.
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What’s a favorite book you read this year?
- He still wears flesh
- More blesssed than Mary?