My Top 5 Books This Year

Two days ago, I wrote a post about the top 5 albums that I’ve listened to this year, so now I thought that I’d do the same for books. As with the albums, these books are not books that have been released this year, but books that I’ve read this year. There are 3 fiction books, 1 non-fiction book and 1 book that’s somewhat hard to classify, but I’ve enjoyed reading all of them for very different reasons. Maybe among these 5, you’ll find one that you fancy reading. If so, I hope you enjoy it! Anyway, here they are:

Indescribable (Matt Redman, Louie Giglio) – Anyone who’s seen Louie Giglio’s DVD by the same name will be familiar with the concept for this book. Essentially, this is a Christian encouragement/feel-good book that centres on the beauty of the universe and giving thanks to God for that beauty. I read the paperback version which only has black and white images, but Dad has the hardback version which contains the pictures in all their colour. The images, even in black and white, are stunning, making the reader’s experience slightly different from other Christian non-fiction books that I’ve read. Furthermore, it’s clear that Redman and Giglio are passionate about what they’re writing about – both God and the universe – and though neither of them are scientists, they communicate their enthusiasm clearly and contagiously. Lastly, this book is not an evangelical book trying to argue against atheists or anything; it’s a book written by Christians, to encourage Christians and should be read as such. It’s a thoroughly entertaining read.

The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis) – This book is the one that I find hard to classify, so I won’t bother trying. It’s composed as a series of letters from a ‘senior devil’ to a ‘junior devil’ as the younger of the two is struggling to keep his human target away from God. Through the warped perspective of the older demon, Lewis transmits his ideas about numerous aspects of Christian life. The importance of a Christian having other Christians that they can talk to is emphasised, and one of the most striking passages in the book, for me, was the one in which the older demon actually encouraged the younger demon to make the human look around at different churches, focussing on why they weren’t right for him. As well as communicating serious ideas, Lewis writes in a light-hearted, entertaining way that keeps the reader interested all the way through. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new insight into Christian teaching or for anyone who likes Lewis’ writing; it’s a classic.

The Last Christian (David Gregory) – the concept for this book, which I suppose is science-fiction, is that the world has moved on to a period where Christianity and religion in general have been stamped out. In fact, only one woman, Abigail Caldwell, who has lived her life as a missionary in a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea, is a Christian, and when she returns to America to find Christianity gone, she’s understandably stunned. This book takes the scenario to the extreme, but some Christians won’t find the world that Gregory has constructed completely unbelievable. This book is not the most well written that I have ever read, but the story and the ideas within it are compelling and well worth thinking about. This is perhaps my least favourite of these 5, but it is still worth a read if you’re looking for a thought-provoking yet accessible novel to read.

Wards of Faerie (Terry Brooks) – I love Brooks’ Shannara series (I own all 20-something books, including the encyclopaedia), and this latest instalment did not let me down. Brooks’ fantasy world, set far in the future, after our present world has suffered a nuclear apocalypse, is a rip-roaring fusion of magic, science-fiction and various mutant races trying to live alongside one another. If anyone likes fantasy books and hasn’t read Brooks, you’re missing out. Of course, if you want to start reading Brooks, don’t start with this one, start with The Word and the Void trilogy or the Sword of Shannara, but if you’re familiar with the series, then get your hands on this one and get stuck in. I don’t know how Brooks manages to keep churning out these masterpieces, but he does, and even if this isn’t my favourite of all the books, it’s a worthy addition to Brooks’ expanding catalogue.

All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy) – I couldn’t write about the books I’ve read this year without mentioning a McCarthy book. This one was my favourite of the three books of the Border Trilogy, a beautiful, stark tale about one teenager trying to make a life for himself in Mexico, around the early-mid 20th century. The trilogy deals with the dying way of life of the classic American cowboys and the trials and tribulations that characters like John Grady Cole go through could rend the heart of even the toughest reader. Like any McCarthy book, you’d be a fool to find fault in these pages – the writing is so beautiful. If you like books, read this one, you won’t regret it.

There were so many other books I could’ve written about here, but these 5 stood out for me for the various reasons mentioned above. To finish, make someone happy and buy them a book this Christmas.

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