Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Fathered by God: Learning What Your Dad Could Never Teach YouFathered by God: Learning What Your Dad Could Never Teach You by John Eldredge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great ideas…and big ones. Initiating our biys into young men, our young men into warriors, our warriors into kings and our kings into our sages. Which one are you? You’ll find yourself somewhere along this continuim, and you may recognize you have had at least one of these steps excised from your story…yet each step is important in becoming the full man God intend. Eldredge is helping us put those forgotten peocs back into our stories.

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The Good DreamThe Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am loving this book. It feels like Flanerry O'connor. I give only it only 4 stars cuz I wasn't done. Now that I am I think 4 and a half would be the rating I'd give it. I felt as if I entered into this story with the characters. And, as they are so close to my locale in real life, the settings and characters rang as true as old friends. The redemptive arc of the story, seemed to me, to hit just the right tone without getting too smarmy. In fact in some places it was down right gritty. A tough feat, as I know Miss Van Liere's audience target and they don't like real...they like sweet. This is both. But it is very carefully and lovingly written. Get this book. In fact get 2 and give one to a friend and tell them that this is what a believers art ought to look like.

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Dracula ….Misunderstood Impaler!

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Book Review

17737226A Prince to be FearedA Prince to be Feared by Mary Lancaster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good vehicle through which to tell the tale of Vlad Dracula, but more so the history of Wallachia, Hungary, Bavaria and the Ottoman Empire. Worth the read for the history lesson.

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Watch an Extended Trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug :: Movies :: News :: Paste.

The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why?The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why? by Gary L. Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What if finding your mate is more about WHY than it is about WHO? In his usual transparent and matter-of-fact style Thomas pulls back the curtain on marriage for unmarried readers. Face it, most people get married with a consumerist attitude...what can I get out of this...or I'll be here until this just doesn't work for me, the other person cheats, the other person____ just fill in the blank. Few people reach the level of maturity in their marriages where they ask how can we as a couple be a single entity that preaches the gospel and impacts our world as a single unit. Those are the ones that last. Gary Thomas is trying to help us find that other person who fits that profile.

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S'wanee: A Paranoid ThrillerS'wanee: A Paranoid Thriller by Don Winston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the indy feel of this book. While it ended rather abruptly, until that point I felt the writing was very believable. Being from the area, Swannee is just about an hour from Nashville, I can attest to the authenticity of the settings and locale. All in all a fun read, especially if you live in the SE U.S.

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The Hangman’s Daughter

Posted: June 10, 2013 in Book Review

The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1)The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this historical thriller. It gives us a snapshot into the life of medieval Germans. It just has a very authentic ring to it. Although, the translator uses some rather modern language here and there in his was originally written in German. In fact the authors family is the actual family of our hangman in the title. This hangman is a 5th generation executioner, a medicine man, and a tough guy. He and the mid-wife in the town share helpful solutions back and forth when someone is ill...midwives were notoriously suspected of witchcraft whether they partook of quackery or not. When someone starts slaughtering children of the village, one by one, she is quickly suspected, thrown in jail and tortured to our hangman, who is also trying to find the true culprit before he has to burn her at the stake. Lots of twists and turns, and much learning of Germany in the meantime. Great read.

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Prophecy (Giordano Bruno, #2)Prophecy by S.J. Parris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A peak behind the curtain of Elizabethan England, the Catholic conspiracy to overthrow her, and the House of Stewart waiting in the wings. Throw in a few bizzare murders of young beautiful courtiers and you have the basic idea of Prophecy. via

I thoroughly enjoyed S J Parris' first novel, Heresy, likening it to a Tudor Inspector Morse tale, and was delighted to be offered the chance to review a pre-publication copy of this second story starring the same protagonists.

In this story the heretical monk, Giordano Bruno, is back at the French Embassy in Elizabethan London, where he is drawn rapidly into both a catholic conspiracy to invade England, and a related murder mystery when two of the queen's ladies in waiting meet very sticky ends.

The style is very similar to the first book, with Bruno trying to both uncover the truths about the murders, and navigate complex relationships with the other characters. The tale is again told in the first person, but here it makes a bit more sense as you get to understand Bruno's concerns, guilt and frustrations, and the motivation for some of his deeds.

I loved the period detail, particularly the descriptions of Elizabethan versions of well-known London locations. In this book Parris also makes much more use of actual events and personalities, such as Francis Walsingham, William Cecil and John Dee. I could almost hear some of the dialogue being spoken by Geoffrey Rush and Richard Attenborough.

The story is a real page-turner with a steady pace which kept my attention right to the end. However, if I have a slight criticism, it's that some plot twists, such as the murderer's identity, seemed to be signaled very early, while at other times key actions were taken by characters who had not been introduced.

These are minor failings, and overall this is a very enjoyable romp. I look forwards to Bruno's next outing.

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One of the chief interests of this blog, should it ever get off the ground, will be to encourage crunchy young Calvinists to aspire to Chestertonian turns of phrase. Few crunchy old(er) Calvinists do this better than Douglas Wilson. And his short, pithy book Wordsmithy is a primer for those who would wed the world-shaking gospel with the well-turned phrase.


So, first off, you need to go read Wordsmithy. Go ahead, do it. Borrow it if you can’t afford it. You can get it from Canon Press or Amazon.

Have you read it yet? Good. But you probably noticed something pesky: Doug drops recommended readings not just at the end of each chapter, but at the end of each point. That’s a lot of recommended reading.

I started looking up these books to see which ones I really wanted to read. And then I thought, I bet other folks will be doing this, too… I should make it easier. Two hours later, and here we are.

All of the links below go to Amazon. Don’t forget that you can get any of the Canon Press books (and a few of the others) straight from But if you buy through the links below, (even if you go get batteries or something), I get a very small kickback from Amazon Associates. I say that for full disclosure, but also as an appeal: this helps me get books. As a full-time husband/dad/teacher who’s a part-time seminary student, I need all the help I can get. So, thanks!

An Outline of Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life with Recommended Reading

Chapter 1: A Veritable Russian Doll of Writing Tips

Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside of books. This might require joining the Marines, or working on an oil rig, or as a hashslinger at a truck stop in Kentucky. Know what things smell like out there.

Angels in the Architecture – Douglas Wilson and Douglas Jones

1. Real life duties should be preferred over real life tourism.

God at Work – Gene Veith

2. Authenticity in writing will only arise from authenticity in living.

Bobos In Paradise – David Brooks

The Authenticity Hoax – Andrew Potter

The Conquest of Cool – Thomas Frank

Stuff White People Like – Christian Lander

3. Always remember that your writing will have a message.

That Hideous Strength – CS Lewis

The Abolition of Man – CS Lewis

All Art Is Propaganda – George Orwell

Politics of Guilt and Pity – Rousas Rushdoony

4. Use your conversations to hone your writing voice, and not the other way around.

History in English Words – Owen Barfield

5. When you are out and about, you are watching the gaudy show called life and are trying to learn from it.

Tremendous Trifles – GK Chesterton

The Christian Imagination – Thomas Peters

The Substance of Style – Virginia Postrel

6. Live an actual life out there, a full life, the kind that will generate a surplus of stories.

Our Culture, What’s Left of It – Theodore Dalrymple

Life at the Bottom – Theodore Dalrymple

7. Enjoy yourself.

Orthodoxy – GK Chesterton

Chapter 2: Read Until Your Brain Creaks

Read. Read constantly. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write. Read until your brain creaks. Tolkien said that his ideas sprang up from the leaf mold of his mind. These are the trees where the leaves come from.

Loving the Little Years – Rachel Jankovic

England Swings – Rebekah Merkle (forthcoming)

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

Planet Narnia – Michael Ward

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl – ND Wilson

1. The first thing is that writers should be voracious readers.

An Experiment in Criticism – CS Lewis

2. Read widely.

The Everlasting Man – GK Chesterton

Surprised by Joy – CS Lewis

Newspaper Days – HL Mencken

Leave It to Psmith – PG Wodehouse

3. Read like a reader and not like someone cramming for a test.

The Culture We Deserve – Jacques Barzun

Poetic Knowledge – James Taylor

The Paideia of God – Douglas Wilson

4. Read like a lover of books and not like someone who wants to be seen as knowledgeable, or well-read, or scholarly.

The Screwtape Letters – CS Lewis

Mind of the Maker – Dorothy Sayers

5. Pace yourself in your reading

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

6. As a general pattern, read quality literature, and go “slumming” occasionally to remind yourself what quality is and why quality matters.

Pen of Iron – Robert Alter

The Western Canon – Harold Bloom

7. Read widely enough that you are not provincial, but not so widely that you become some sort of deracinated cosmopolitan.

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

Chapter 3: Word Fussers and Who-whomers

Read mechanical helps. By this I mean dictionaries, etymological histories, books of anecdotes, dictionaries of foreign phrases, books of quotations, books on how to write dialog, and so on. The plot will usually fail to grip, so just read a page a day. If you think it makes you out to be too much of a word-dork, then don’t tell anybody about it.

The Art of War for Writers – James Scott Bell

The Art of Fiction – John Gardner

Save The Cat! – Blake Snyder

1. Read boring books on writing mechanics.

Plot & Structure – James Bell

The Elements of Style – Strunk and White

Clear and Simple as the Truth – Thomas and Turner

Thinking Like Your Editor – Rabiner and Fortunato

Our Mother Tongue – Nancy Wilson

2. Collect and read dictionaries.

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang – Jonathon Green

Words – Paul Dickson

Forgotten English – Jeffrey Kacirk

Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary – Mrs. Byrne

3. Read books of complaint about the decline of our language by the word fussers and who-whomers, and read the hilarious refutations of those word fussers by word libertines.

American Tongue and Cheek – Jim Quinn

Paradigms Lost – John Simon

Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss

4. Read etymological histories, histories of idioms and phrases, and dictionaries of word roots.

Dictionary of Word Origins – John Ayton

A History of the English Language – NF Blake

Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories – Wilfred Funk

The Origins of English Words – Joseph Shipley

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology – TF Hoad

The American Language – HL Mencken

5. Read books and manuals that help you gain mastery of your word processing program, whatever that is.

The PC is Not a Typewriter – Robin Williams

6. Read books of quotations and anecdotes.

Baseball’s Greatest Quotations – Paul Dickson

2,500 Anecdotes for All Occasions – Edmund Fuller

Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations – Ned Sherrin

Churchill By Himself – Richard Landworth

The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes – Clifton Fadiman

7. Read wordcraft books.

Dare to Be a Great Writer – Leonard Bishop

The Seven Basic Plots – Christopher Booker

My Life as Author and Editor – HL Mencken

Spunk & Bite – Arthur Plotnik

Chapter 4: Born for the Clerihew

Stretch before your routines. If you want to write short stories, try to write Italian sonnets. If you want to write a novel, write a few essays. If you want to write opinion pieces for the Washington Post, then limber up with haiku.

The Seven Laws of Teaching – John Milton Gregory

1. This helps to keep the content vibrant.

Poets’ Handbook – Clement Wood

The Book of Forms – Lewis Turco

2. If you are in a position to do so, which usually means that you are young enough, make sure to get a thorough and broad liberal arts education.

The Case for Classical Christian Education – Douglas Wilson

3. You may discover that your wordsmithing gift was centered in the wrong spot.

The First Clerihews – E Clerihew Bentley

4. Trying your hand at different forms helps to fend off flattery.

The Poet’s Handbook – Judson Jerome

5. The gift of language is one of the most versatile tools imaginable.

The Complete Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan

Selected Poetry of Ogden Nash

6. Allusion is lovely, and experience with other forms brings the ability to use that device persuasively.

The Code of the Woosters – PG Wodehouse

7. I have long said that good teaching consists of loving the subject you are teaching in the presence of students whom you also love.

A Preface to Paradise Lost – CS Lewis

Chapter 5: The Memoirs of Old Walnut Heart

Be at peace with being lousy for a while. Chesterton once said that anything worth doing was worth doing badly. He was right. Only an insufferable egoist expects to be brilliant first time out.

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning – Rene Girard

1. Concert pianists can do what they do because they practiced scales for years.

The Message in the Bottle – Walker Percy

2. If a striking expression hits you, don’t hold back because you are writing an email to your sister.

Money, Greed, and God – Jay Richards

The Good of Affluence – John Schneider

3. Make sure you don’t have a faulty and deterministic view of talent.

Freedom of the Will – Jonathan Edwards

The Genius in All of Us – David Shenk

4. If you are good with practice runs, if you are okay with not being as good as you are going to be, if you see the need for playing in the minors, then it should follow that you are emotionally prepared for negative feedback.

I Only Say This Because I Love You – Deborah Tannen
5. Speaking of criticism, your enemies will sometimes be more accurate, more perceptive, and more to the point than your mom.

The Girard Reader – Rene Girard

6. Openness to criticism is not the same thing as that faux-humility that prepares to inflict itself on everybody with absolutely no reason to do so.

Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey

7. Remember that relative competence cannot be universal, and that this applies to your critics, reviewers, editors, and publishing houses as much as to you.

Agents, Editors, and You – Michelle Howry

The Black Swan – Nassim Taleb

Chapter 6: Ancient Roman Toddlers

Learn other languages, preferably languages that are upstream from ours. This would include Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon. The brain is not a shoebox that “gets full,” but is rather a muscle that expands its capacity with increased use. The more you know the more you can know. The more you can do with words, the more you can do. As it turns out.

Archaic Words and the Authorized Version – Laurence Vance

1. God approves of translation, and by this I am referring to the process of translation.

Latin for People – Paul Humez

2. Learning languages is a very good way to learn your language, even if you don’t go on to speak fluently whatever language it was you thought you were learning.

Latin for All Occasions – Henry Beard

Amo, Amas, Amat and More – Eugene Ehrlich

Les Bons Mots – Eugene Ehrlich

Veni, Vidi, Vici – Eugene Ehrlich

The Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases – Jennifer Speake

3. Learning different languages helps a writer get a firm grasp of grammar in the abstract.

The Paideia of God – Douglas Wilson

4. At the same time, be judicious and thoughtful in what you transfer from one language to another.

The Idea of Decline in Western History – Arthur Herman

Heaven Misplaced – Douglas Wilson

5. All this is being recommended as an aid to English.

Who Killed Homer? – Hanson and Heath

6. One key to good writing is to have a wide-ranging vocabulary.

Lingua Latina – Hans Orberg

7. This certainly involves extra work, but it doesn’t take up extra room.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue – John McWhorter

Chapter 7: Uncommon Commonplaces

Keep a commonplace book. Write down any notable phrases that occur to you, or that you have come across. If it is one that you have found in another writer, and it is striking, then quote it, as the fellow said, or modify it to make it yours. If Chandler said that a guy had a cleft chin you could hide a marble in, that should come in useful sometime. If Wodehouse said somebody had an accent you could turn handsprings on, then he might have been talking about Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Tinker with stuff. Get your fingerprints on it.

The Clicking of Cuthbert – PG Wodehouse

1. The writer’s life is a scavenger’s life.

Carry On, Jeeves – PG Wodehouse

2. It is dishonest to take the wit and wisdom of others and represent it as your own.

Right Ho, Jeeves – PG Wodehouse

3. These concerns have led to the saying that if you steal from one person, it’s plagiarism, but if you steal from many, it’s research.

Lord Emsworth and Others – PG Wodehouse

4. Having a commonplace book does not mean that you will use everything in your commonplace book.

Galahad at Blandings – PG Wodehouse

5. Don’t be afraid to learn from your own typos.

Uncle Dynamite – PG Wodehouse

6. Don’t shy away from a striking phrase, even if it has been promoted into a cliché.

Blandings Castle – PG Wodehouse

7. When you collect phrases, points, metaphors, and what-not in this way, you are, as Cicero used to put it, loaded for bear.

Uncle Fred In The Springtime – PG Wodehouse


by Tony Reinke

For seven years I’ve had the honor of tracking non-fiction books released by Christian publishers, and in that span of time I would say 2012 was the most fruitful year of them all. Recently I gathered up my favorite titles of the year — everything from theological works and commentaries to marriage and children’s books — and chose what I think were the 12 most important books published in 2012. The task was incredibly difficult this year, but eventually I settled on the following.

1. Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything (Credo). Pastor Steve DeWitt saw a need for a book on beauty, decided to research and write the book, and then floated it to eight Christian publishers. He was rejected eight times. A book on beauty for Christians is not a book anyone will buy, he was told. We can be glad a little publisher named Credo House caught the vision for the book. Page-by-page this book opens eyes to God-centered beauty. This is not merely a book about aesthetic appreciation. The true brilliance of this book is that it first looks at the beauty of Christ and the beauty of God’s holiness, then shows how it is through divine beauty and through Trinitarian beauty that all lesser created beauties of the world are illuminated. Of all the books released in 2012, this is in my opinion the most remarkable, and perhaps the most needed, and for those reasons it is my choice for the book of the year. On Authors on the Line episode 11 (tonight) we will talk more about beauty with DeWitt. And if you’d like a sample of the book, I pulled my 30 favorite quotes from it and posted them here.

2. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (IVP Academic). This was not the only book on the Trinity published in 2012, but it was by far the most delightful and soul-nourishing. Reading this is truly a rush for your head and your heart, with orthodoxy and doxology colliding page after page. Reeves writes, “Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.” And later he writes, “In the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy. In other words, in the triune God is a God we can heartily enjoy — and enjoy in and through his creation.” Along with Eyes Wide Open, this is one of my favorite books of the year. It is a beautiful book and we posted two excerpts on the blog (here and here). Reeves also appeared on the Authors on the Line podcast to talk about it (episode 2).

3. Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Crossway). This is a painful, slicing, surgical kind of book, the kind of book that divides intentions and thoughts in the heart of anyone whose life is dedicated to ministry. It is a surgical book, and Paul Tripp is a skillful surgeon, a self-disclosing brother, and a wise hope-giving counselor. If you are a pastor, lay elder, ministry leader, or Christian writer — if you are involved in ministry in any way — this is essential reading. It is a masterpiece, if such a thing can be said of such a painful and exposing book. Of all the books published in 2012, this is essential reading for pastors. And if your pastor has not read it (it’s worth asking), this will make a possibly life-changing, maybe even life-saving, gift for him this Christmas. Not to end on a trivial note, but from an aesthetic perspective — board design, dust jacket, art, page layout, fonts, paper, overall feel, size, and weight — this is the sharpest book I saw all year.

4. Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters (Bethany House). Mohler set out to write a book to influence all types of leaders, not just pastors. And he succeeded. This book is for any Christian who has been positioned in a place where leadership decisions are required — from CEOs, to managers, to pastors, and to husbands. In this book, all Christian leaders will find direction and encouragement for their calling. This is the best book on leadership of 2012, and perhaps my favorite book by Mohler to date. He appeared on the Authors on the Line podcast to talk about it (episode 5).

5. Kyle Strobel, Jonathan Edwards’s Theology: A Reinterpretation (T&T Clark). Scholars can spend their lives studying the writings of Jonathan Edwards, and many do. It seems Edwards’s scholarship develops along three lines or stages. Stage one is the gathering and making all of Edwards’s works accessible and available, work that is largely done thanks to the folks at Yale University. Stage two is getting arms around the many different branches of Edwards’s thought, and that is being done in books by authors like McClymond and McDermott. And finally, stage three considers whether Edwards’s theology can be held together by a certain center. This work is being done now, and most notably in 2012 by a young scholar named Kyle Strobel. In this book he argues that the Beatific Vision is at the center of Edwards’s thought. The Father dwells on, and delights in, the beauty of the Son, and this then shapes everything else for Edwards. “In short, I propose that Edwards’s trinitarian theology forms the overall contours of redemption by focusing on the redemption of persons by God’s self-revelation of his inner life. God’s glory, as the reality of his own beatific-delight, is the grounding of creation, redemption and consummation, determining the kind of redemption that must take place. Ultimately, God redeems by revealing his beatific-glory in Christ, through the regenerating activity of the Spirit, so that the elect experience God’s own personal delight and thereby truly know God” (19–20). At $80 this book will be outside the scope of affordability for many readers, but no worries. Strobel has a more popular-level (affordable-level) work coming out next summer that echoes these same conclusions, Formed for the Glory of God (IVP, 2013). He appeared on the very first episode of Authors on the Line.

6. Constantine Campbell, Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study (Zondervan). I did not expect to see in my lifetime an exhaustive study of every mention of union with Christ in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Such a job would require an intensive amount of research, clear categorical distinctions, and unimaginable organizational creativity. But in 2012 Constantine Campbell pulled it off. At 480 pages, the book is surprisingly concise for all the ground it covers. The book is also encyclopedic, and is certain to become the standard work on understanding the various ways Paul engages the theme of union with Christ as a web to connect his entire theology. A really incredible feat, this book does require familiarity with Greek, although no Greek is needed to enjoy our Authors on the Line discussion (episode 7).

7. Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Reformation Heritage). This year we saw more public criticism directed at the Puritans than any year I can recall. And yet the Puritans emerged from the dust to continue serving as spiritual lights for the modern church. As a follow-up to Beeke’s Meet the Puritans (2007), which was a series of biographical sketches, A Puritan Theology is historical theology at its finest, systematizing the Puritan’s theology (and modern Puritan scholarship) in a way to make them even more accessible to pastors and lay readers in the church. This large project was developed along themes of systematic theology, but with a heavy emphasis on piety and application. If it was important to the theology and spiritual life of ye olde Puritans, you will likely find it somewhere in this 1,060-page tome.

8. Ray Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works (Crossway). Look up proverbialist in a dictionary and you are sure to find a mug shot of Ray Ortlund. And while some will think the choice of best commentary of the year should have gone to thick books like those from Schnabel (Acts) or Pao (Colossians) or Block (Deuteronomy), I chose Ortlund. Through his proverbial writing style he models to modern readers an interpretation of the ancient book of Proverbs through a Christ-centered lens. His commentary is loaded with relevant points like this: “Twitter and blogs and emails would be cleared of much conflict if we humbled our opinions before Christ. What are we here for, really? What does God want to be stirred up in our hearts? He says, stir one another up to love and good deeds.” This 224-page commentary is a gem from 2012. Ortlund brilliantly models for the modern Christian how to interpret and pastorally apply the book of Proverbs in light of Christ’s finished work. It’s one of those rare commentaries best read cover to cover.

9. Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing (Zonderkidz). This is the devotional follow-up to the 2007 release The Jesus Storybook Bible, and is every bit its equal in quality of storytelling and visual illustrations. And it may actually be superior in content. In a devotional style, we see again Lloyd-Jones’s excellence in how she skillfully translates complex and abstract theological categories (like glory) through story to young children. But what I have noticed in reading this to my two youngest children (7 and 5) is how incredibly easy it is to finish the story and be led right into a conversation with them about God. There are some really priceless stories in this new book, including one titled “Dance!” that explains to children God’s inter-Trinitarian delight (19), and one called “Glorify!” to essentially introduce Christian Hedonism in 135 words (52). This is another masterpiece from Sally Lloyd-Jones for parents who want to provoke Godward thoughts in the minds and hearts of their children and families.

10. Jared Wilson, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (Crossway). Few young authors can drive the gospel into the modern life like Jared Wilson, and in 2012 he released what I think is his best book yet — Gospel Deeps. The title is taken from the writings of Puritan Thomas Goodwin (+10 points). This book, like its author, is endlessly tweetable: “If holiness makes you a sourpuss, you’re doing it wrong.” “If Christ is true, then boredom is a sin.” “We are saved from God to God by God through God for God. The godhead works in concert so that salvation will engulf you in God.” Any church with one of those removable letter signs will find all sorts of inspiration from this book. This is a serious book about the depths of grace in Christ, and it’s an edifying and enjoyable book on the rich delight of the gospel. Slowly reading through it two times are sweet memories I take from 2012.

11. Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst: Abundance Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Canon). If you liked Rachel’s first book you will like this follow-up, and in my opinion you may even like it more. In this second book, I think she does an even better job centering motherhood on the perfect work of Christ. It was one of my favorite reads of the year, if such a pronouncement can by made by a guy about a book by a woman for women. The book will be released from Amazon in late January 2013. Until then it can be ordered and shipped from the publisher, Canon Press.

12. Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway). This book navigates two erroneous views of sanctification, namely sanctification by over-introspection and sanctification by self-forgetfulness, while managing to be a firm and gentle corrective to a third popular error, sanctification by mere justification-recall/refresh. In avoiding these errors, DeYoung is able to firmly set the pursuit of holiness within the framework of gospel hope and (something that I think is particularly needed today) within the context of our living and vital union with Christ. Although the book has gotten quite a lot of press this year, it remains one of the brilliant books of 2012 and is very much worth reading if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s worth noting the book is a finalist for the CBA book design of the year award.