Best books of 2019

Best books of 2019 December 20, 2019

As with previous years’ lists, these are the best books I read this year. Not the best books published this year, or even the best books I could have read this year, had I been reading different books.

Fiction

Darkness on Diamondia by A.E. van Vogt (reviewed here) This is an odd little book that rewards perserverence. Specifically, the thoughts on identity and unity are interesting and ahead of their time.

Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben (reviewed here) What happens when a local radio personality leads Vermont out of the union via a grass roots revolution? Awesomeness. That’s what.

Grass by Sheri Tepper (reviewed here) Grass is what feminism looks like when set on a planet that looks like Eastern Colorado and acts like a den of telepathic insane badgers. Don’t act like you don’t want to read it.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley (reviewed here) If Twilight has put you off vampires, kindly let Sunshine put you back on.

Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip (reviewed here) There was good YA literature before Harry Potter. There just wasn’t much of it. Patricia McKillip’s book is in that very small subset of ‘good pre-Harry Potter‘ young adult fiction.

Theology

Transhumanism and the Image of God by Jacob Shatzer (reviewed here) What’s the difference between a tatoo, a prosthetic limb, and having wings with lasers added via plastic surgery? That’s not the set-up for a joke (I mean, it’s not just the set-up for a joke), it’s the very serious question given our struggles these days to even know what somehting as basic as gender is. Which means this book is an important one for Christians to pick up and read.

None Greater: the Undomesticated Attributes of God by Matthew Barrett. I can’t stress enough how excellent this book is as a reflection on the nature of God. This should be on every thoughtful Christian’s to-read list.

Spiritual Desertion by Voetius and Hoornbeeck (reviewed here) Is a wonderful book for anyone who struggles with assurance or who is in a position to counsel those who struggle with assurance.

Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals by Gavin Ortlund. Why should modern Christians read old Christian books? Because there is a treasure trove of wisdom and faithfulness in the past that modern Evangelicals are mostly ignorant of. This little book is both a call to end that ignorance and an example of what that might look like practically.

Politics

Star-Spangled Scandal by Chris DeRose (author interview here) Remember the time that a US Congressmen shot a US Attorney in front of the White House? No? Then you should read this book.

Indispensible Remedy by Gene Healy. Obviously not every presidency involves an impeachment. But impeachment is always in the Constitution, so it’s worthwhile to know its history and how it might be applied according to the Founders, the US House of Represntatives, and the various others who have thought long and hard about the issue.

Them by Ben Sasse. Why are Americans so lonely and angry? Why do we have deeper relationships with people online than we do with people who live through the wall of our apartment? Is there any hope for a struggling nation? Senator Sasse has a few thoughts on these quesitons…

Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen (reviewed here) As Christians, we believe (rightly) that we have the answers to the political problems of the world. But what those problems are is sometimes debated, and Patrick Deneen’s book gives one of the best analyses of them that I’ve read.

Books Not Yet Finished

The year’s not over yet, so there are a couple of books that might have made the list had I finished them before the day this posted. I figured they’re worth at least an honorable mention.

Common Grace Volume 1 by Abraham Kuyper (ongoing review here).

Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom by Gregory Beale.

Happy reading for 2020!

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO


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