My Ten Favorite Reads of 2013


Every December, I select the ten books that I most enjoyed reading during the year. I am not claiming these are the most important books of 2013 (since many weren’t even published this year). Instead, I choose ten books (and an honorable mention) based primarily on how much I enjoyed reading them. (See last year’s list, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.)


Incomprarable Christ

I love John Stott. He’s always clear, simple, winsome, and profound. A pastor friend recommended The Incomparable Christ, and I’m glad he did. This book didn’t disappoint. See my brief review here.



A quote from Bird’s work: “For in the gospel, God is the giver and gift all at once, a gift of life and love that comes by sharing in the life and love that is in his Son.” Read an extended quote, an interview with Bird after ETS a couple years ago, and a glimpse into his sense of humor on display in Evangelical Theology.

3. PLAYING GOD – Andy Crouch

Playing God

Crouch’s book is one of the best of the year. Playing God makes the case that power is a gift we should appreciate and cultivate, even as we guard against the idolatrous use of power that can creep into our practice, despite our best intentions. Read my brief review and an extended quote from the book.

4. THE COMPLETE THINKER The Marvelous Mind of G.K. Chesterton – Dale Ahlquist


From an extended quote of the book: “The people who cling to the dogma of tolerance of course do not know that they are dogmatic. And as a matter of fact, their dogma is a bit mushy and vague. But their basic belief is that because there are exceptions, then there are no rules.”

5. DEATH BY LIVING – N. D. Wilson


 From an extended excerpt: “The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends.” Here’s my brief review, and another quote on what kind of character you will be in the grand story.

6. THE PRESIDENTS CLUB Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity – Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy


I couldn’t put it down. Seriously.


Walking With God

This book on suffering is a major accomplishment I hope doesn’t get overlooked in the mix of all the other Keller books currently available. This book is both an apologetic resource and a pastoral guide to walking through pain. Easily one of the best books of the year. Here’s my brief review.

8. PEACE LIKE A RIVER – Leif Enger


As I wrote in my brief review, “This is a good work of fiction.” The character development is superb, starting with the Reuben – the asthmatic young man through whom we experience the world of 1962. Moments of suspense are combined with beautifully crafted passages and reflective moments that offer profound insight.

9. IMAGINING THE KINGDOM How Worship Works – James K. A. Smith

Imagining the Kingdom

From an extended quote: “With the expansion of social media, every space is a space of ‘mutual self-display.’ As a result, every space is a kind of visual echo chamber. We are no longer seen doing something; we’re doing something to be seen.” I also interviewed James earlier this year on the importance of form in worship.

10. LIFE IS MOSTLY EDGES A Memoir – Calvin Miller

Life is Mostly Edges

This is the kind of autobiography I love to read. It’s bursting with colorful memories that take you back to an impoverished childhood and it’s full of insights from decades in the tough trenches of pastoral ministry. I laughed. I cried. I took notes. How often does one do all three of those things when reading a single book?

Honorable Mention: BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death With John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley – Peter Kreeft


As I wrote in my review, Between Heaven and Hell may be marketed as a conversation between Lewis, Kennedy, and Huxley, but this is clearly Lewis’ show. Kreeft does a terrific job of giving voice to Lewis’ thought, and it’s Lewis’ view that ends up most persuasive. If you want to read an engaging book that shows the collision of three worldviews, you can hardly find a better one than this.

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