2011 was a great year for books. While I did not read as many books in 2011 as I have in previous years, I still read quite a few. Today I want to share some of my top picks from the year that was. Let me offer the usual caveats that these are almost certainly not the 10 best books of 2010 in any objective sense--but they are my favorites. Also, these are not necessarily books written in 2011, but books I read in 2011.
Here they are, in no particular order (except for the final one which is my top pick for 2011):
A Meal With Jesus  by Tim Chester - This book shares a compact biblical theology of hospitality, focusing on meals. Chester makes the compelling argument that we would do well to view our meals through a biblical lens and to see each one as an opportunity to discover grace, community and mission. Since most of us eat 3 meals per day, we have endless opportunities to put into practice what we discover. This is a book that celebrates something many of us consider mundane and unremarkable, and I always find myself drawn to books that sanctify the ordinary. [my review ]
Going Public  by David & Kelli Pritchard - As a dad who has chosen to place his children in public schools, I have found very few resources to help me as I seek to lead them well. This book was just what I needed. The most valuable lesson of all, at least in my view, is that public schooling is a family affair. The decision to place children in the public education system is a decision to have the whole family involved in this system. They say, "We should not think in terms of sending our child off by himself to 'the mission field.' We go there together. This is a family expedition. When we show up each August to enroll our kids for another school year, we are enrolling our family into the life of this institution. This is a joint venture." This means that mom and dad are involved not just with the children, but with the school and teachers and leaders. This book has been an invaluable help to my family as we seek to public school to the glory of God. [my review ]
Steve Jobs  by Walter Isaacson - This is one of the bestselling books of 2011 and for good reason—it’s a well-written biography of a fascinatingly odious individual. Jobs is one of those people who is admired just as much as he is reviled, and both are well-earned. Jobs was a very complex individual and Isaacson has succeeded in creating a fascinating character study. He doesn’t shy away from what made Jobs so hated. Yet the strange paradox is that even though he was so hated by many of those who were closest to him, it seems that history will remember him as a hero. [my review ]
John MacArthur  by Iain Murray - I am accustomed to waiting many years after the death of one of my heroes to read an account of his life. It was a real joy to be able to read of the life of John MacArthur while he is still here and still ministering to us. It was with some trepidation that Murray prepared this biography but in doing so he has done a service to the church. The book moved me to praise and gratitude--gratitude to God for blessing the church with this man whose ministry has so powerfully impacted not only the thousands who call him pastor, but the millions who have encountered him largely or exclusively through his books, his sermons or his radio program. Murray makes it clear that all that MacArthur is, all that he has accomplished, is due to the One he serves. [my review ]
Tempted and Tried  by Russell Moore - This book taught me that Russell Moore can flat out write. What Moore seeks to do in this book is demonstrate how the ways in which Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness reveal strategies he will use to tempt all of us. He applies these lessons to contemporary situations, showing that Satan's designs have not changed much and, in fact, have not had to change much. He and his minions have made a long and thorough study of human nature and are well-versed in our weaknesses. And so they continue to attack through temptation. This book arms the Christian to identify and overcome that temptation. I enjoyed it every page of it. [my review ]
Written in Tears  by Luke Veldt - Several years ago Luke Veldt suffered the unexpected and devastating loss of his thirteen-year-old daughter. After Allison's death, Veldt turned to Psalm 103 and he read it again and again. He read it every day for more than a year, and through that psalm he experienced God's presence. This book, a short but powerful little volume, shares many of the lessons the Lord taught him through his grief. It makes for valuable reading for those who have suffered loss or those who are seeking to help others who have experienced loss. It’s profoundly moving and deeply biblical. [my review ]
The Meaning of Marriage  by Tim Keller - I have not yet reviewed this book. You will need to check in next week to read a full review, but for now, suffice it to say that this is my favorite book of 2011. It was the last one I read and without much doubt, the best of the best. The book is drenched in the gospel and it powerfully elevates marriage to something sacred and holy and beautiful. Of all the books I’ve read on marriage and of all the books I read in 2011, this is the best!