Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: a Response to Contemporary Challenges by C. Stephen Evans
I wrote a review of this book in the spring, and as I look back over the 40+ books I read this year, C. Stephen Evans’ exploration of the Christian faith really stands out to me. I’ve especially noticed its impact during the past several months, where I have been pushed to ask and wrestle through difficult questions about my faith. It’s critical to understand the theological and philosophical basis of one’s faith, otherwise one ends up throwing around “Christian-ese” -isms and calling it a day. Evans’ accessible, 140-page book is designed to help Christians start thinking about what exactly they believe and how to share that with others, while also addressing doubts even mature Christians may have encountered.
Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Montgomery Boice
This is a much, much, much bigger commitment than the aforementioned text. It actually took me over two years to work my way through it, and I only just finished it in August! This work is most memorable in how much it stretched my faith. Boice does an incredible job laying out the basic beliefs upon which Christianity is founded, looking at the grander picture and taking significant time to discuss issues that often, sadly, divide churches. The book, which is actually a collection of five, smaller works, is not an easy read, but I still highly recommend it and believe it is definitely worth the time and effort.
This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe
Crowe wrote this book when she was 18 as a comprehensive, practical, and gospel-centered guide for young adults to understand what it looks like to follow Jesus, day-in and day-out. From family to friends and social media to their role in the church, Crowe seeks to encourage teens and young Christians to take their faith seriously. Jesus works through youth in very unique and powerful ways, but He can’t if they’re not willing to wholly sacrifice every part of their life to following Him. This book places a huge emphasis on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and what that looks like for young adults in a world heavily-driven by media. The gospel is not just something we, young or old, can tack onto our lives and keep living the way we have been. Rather, it is something that swoops in and completely turns our lives around. Once our eyes are fixed on Jesus, everything else falls into place.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I must admit that I held off on reading this one until late in the year. Everyone (and I mean everyone, everywhere) was talking about it, and I was suspicious of a bandwagon effect. But just a few pages into the novel, which follows the lives of two young children during WWII, I realized how very misled I was. This is a beautiful piece of literature, and rather reminds of The Book Thief by Mark Zusak (which is one of my most favorite books – if you have not read it, you really should). The words are so very artfully pieced together, like a poem in prose. My only qualm was its organization. The author switches back and forth between multiple perspectives every chapter, which forced me to go back and re-read chapters long gone in order to remember where a specific character was in time (excepting the many times I was too lazy and just read onward without knowing what was going on). That being said, I realize this style has become quite popular among authors, and it wasn’t so distracting that I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the book (pardon the double negative).
Othello by Shakespeare
I sadly do not have the bandwidth nor the intelligence at this point in time to write any sort of review on Shakespeare. However, this tragedy incredibly altered my view of the famous playwright. The first two Shakespearean tragedies I ever read were King Lear and Hamlet, neither of which I particularly enjoyed. But Othello truly grasped my attention, though it took a while for me to grow re-accustomed to the language, and I found myself immensely appreciating Shakespeare’s wit and ability to weave such intricate word plays into the otherwise serious topics of honesty, identity, and loyalty. As a result, I can now say I look forward to reading more of Shakespeare’s work in the near future.
What have been some of your favorite books? I’m always on the lookout for recommendations!