Ben’s top 6 books of 2017

Why 6? Cause it’d be disingenuous to give more than 10% the top spot. This year I tried to read in 4 categories: fiction light, fiction heavy, non-fiction light, non-fiction heavy. What made each category was a bit subjective, and sometimes I’d move an item to a different category mid-book as I found it to be mis-categorized. My two regrets are that I hardly read anything on the Reformation (and those didn’t offer much to me) and that I didn’t finish anything in fiction heavy. The Brother’s Karamazov is still going, 3 years now, and I only picked up The Illiad a few times despite it always being good when I did. Part of the problem with both is that they’re on kindle and I really don’t read as consistently on kindle as I do physical books. As we were back in the States for half the year and I had access to the Dallas library I read a lot of things I could get from there physically, and postponed many kindle things until we head back overseas (including books that were otherwise on my list and that I might have even bought on sale this year). Without further ado, here are my top 6:

  1. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church – Vladimir Lossky: Hands down the best book I read all year. Wonderfully rich Trinitarian stuff, make yourself finish the first chapter (The Divine Darkness) and maybe come back and read it again later, it’s good, but a really hard start; the rest isn’t as hard. This is one I plan to come back to.
  2. The Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan: Really fun, a look at world history centered on central Asia (mostly Syria east through the -stans and China). Made me appreciate the history and significance of this region that we live so much closer to now and why there will almost always be a land war in Asia.
  3. Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers – Donald Fairbairn: Another book this year that really stirred my heart for the Trinity and helped me to see how much the early church’s opinion matters.
  4. A Praying Life – Paul Miller: Finally got around to reading this much recommended book and one I maybe should have read a little slower so I could digest better. Very helpful.
  5. Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God – Rankin Wilbourne: Read this one twice actually, it was one of the first I read this year and really sort of set the tone for the year, a focus on the Trinity and union with Christ.
  6. I’ve found it hard to get this far actually, it’s not that I didn’t read a lot more and that there weren’t good books, but there’s not really another one that really stands out. I enjoyed reading James KA Smith and then several other things on habit or liturgy, this had an interesting interaction with my reading on Eastern Orthodoxy (a strong interest because we live in that culture), cause they are nothing if not liturgical. I recommend the 2000 Years of Christ’s Power series for anybody interested in church history (especially from a theological bent), it’s extremely accessible. Stephen King and others were great on writing, but I only had one moment of really inspired writing this year. I’d like to really improve on that in 2018. The big flop was The Romanov’s, I was really excited about it, but I quit around Catherine the Great because it’s a great book about who’s sleeping with the czar but I didn’t get much sense of the rest of ruling the empire. A couple books by Yuvan Levin regarding American society and politics were thought provoking but not as revolutionary as they were made out to be. I also had fun with fiction, especially the Temeraire books.





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