2022: A Year in Reading

A few years ago, I decided to read more. 2022 ended up being my most book-filled year yet. While I didn’t match the number of books my beloved wife read (seriously, it’s astounding), I did end up reading 55.

Here’s a list of the books I read with a brief description. I share these in case any of these books sound interesting to you. But first, I want to highlight a few books I enjoyed most..

THE AWARDS

Nathaniel’s Book of the Year

Everything Sad Is Untrue
by Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido, 2020)

What an absolutely remarkable book. I could try describing it, but I don’t think I’d do it justice. Nayeri weaves together beauty, tragedy, sorrow, and hope, with gems of wisdom (and gospel!) hiding just beneath the surface. It’s my favorite book of the year, and it’s one I want to read again.

Sadly, being named my book of the year won’t guarantee any more book sales or golden stickers on the cover. But I do hope you’ll take time to read this gem for yourself.

Best Title (and Guaranteed to Change Your Life)

Everything Happens for a Reason: and Other Lies I’ve Loved
by Kate Bowler (Random House, 2018)

Everything Happens for a Reason is brutally honest book about cancer, faith, and hope. There’s no Christianese or empty platitudes here — just a powerful, heart-wrenching memoir. Bowler says out loud what everyone who’s suffering is thinking. Her willingness to do so is almost therapeutic, as it lets the reader know they’re not alone in feeling this way. She put words to things I’d felt from my own suffering. It’s a remarkable, beautiful book.

The Book That Finally Convinced Me to Read a Parenting Book

Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms
by Justin Whitmel Early (Zondervan, 2021)

I’m generally not one to read parenting books, but this book from Justin Earley was refreshing and grace-filled. I particularly enjoyed his chapters on work and play. He succinctly lays out theology of these topics which are often sorely neglected.

The Best Sportswriting I’ve Ever Read

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero
by David Maraniss ( Simon & Schuster, 2005)

I knew about Roberto Clemente, but I came to appreciate the man, the player, the humanitarian, the legend so much more through this book. Maraniss’ writing is superb, as this book contains some of the best sportswriting I’ve ever read. In particular, Maranniss’ multi-page description of Clemente’s batting was pure poetry. I read it once, then read it again, and then read it out loud to Katie, marveling in the vivid imagery Maraniss evoked. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a Clemente at-bat, but I felt like I did after reading it.

Most Mind-Blowing Book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot (Crown, 2011)

Wow. This book was jaw-dropping in so many ways — the amazing feats of science, the tragic treatment of Lacks and her family, and the ethical questions inherent in medical research that few are willing to talk about.

THE REST OF THE 2022 READING LIST

Books I Read with my Kids

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown and Company, 2007)

I read this book after reading the Disney+ adaptation. It’s a modern-day children’s classic. While the plot is captivating, but it’s the characters who stand out. We all know (or are) a Constance Contraire.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown and Company, 2008)

In the second book, the Mysterious Benedict Society is back in action in a decidedly different tale. Season 2 of the Disney+ show was loosely based on this book — very loosely. The book is far better in every way.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma
by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown and Company, 2009)

I found this to be the weakest of the Benedict books, though I did enjoy another adventure with these delightful characters.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages
by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown and Company, 2019)

This book jumps forward many years, and the characters are all coming to grips with the inevitability of change. New addition to the team, Tai Li, is a joy and keeps things fresh.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C. S. Lewis

What is there to say? This book is required reading every few years for our family. I loved re-reading it to the little ones, seeing them get tense as Tumnus plans his betrayal, seeing their grief as Aslan sacrifices himself, and their joy when he returns. I also love them seeing the connections. As my oldest said, “Hey, that’s like Jesus!”

The Horse and His Boy
by C. S. Lewis

This foray into the world of Narnia isn’t filled with as much child-like wonder, but its reflections on providence and suffering are superb.

Winnie the Pooh
by A. A. Milne (Troll, 1926)

It’s an absolute classic. No matter how young (or old) you are, you will be delighted by this jaunt through the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin, Pooh, and their many friends.

When We Were Very Young
by A. A. Milne

This collection of poems are whimsical and aimed at children. Most importantly, Pooh bear makes his first appearance in this book.

The Risen One: Experiencing All of Jesus in Easter
by Scott James (B&H, 2021)

We read this book as a family during the leadup to Easter.

Fiction

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte Press, 1995)

Somehow, I was one of the few who didn’t read this book in middle school. So I was shocked when a book that seemed like a light-hearted story about a young Black boy suddenly turned into something much, much more. This book brought me to tears, and it humanized history in a powerful way.

That Hideous Strength
by C. S. Lewis (Scribner, 2003)

Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, the first two books in Lewis’ space trilogy, are superb in every way. That Hideous Strength feels like Lewis lost the plot. (When Merlin shows up — yes, the old bearded wizard — I knew we were in for a wild ride.) Many people adore this book, if for no other reason than its prophetic foreshadowing. But it’s simply not my cup of tea.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
by Andrew Peterson (Waterbrook, 2008)

So many people love the Wingfeather saga books by Andrew Peterson, so I was eager to try the series. However, this first book took a while for me to get into. The book has all the ingredients, but it doesn’t quite seem to come together in a satisfying way.

North! Or Be Eaten
by Andrew Peterson (Waterbrook, 2008)

In part 2 of the Wingfeather saga, things get more complicated for the family. This book is still uneven, but the conclusion is powerful and satisfying.

My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George

I don’t think I’d survive very long if left by myself in some remote mountain. But reading this beautiful little novel made me think that maybe — just maybe — I could.

The Deal of a Lifetime
by Fredrik Backman (Simon and Schuster, 2017)

Backman is known for his magnum opus, A Man Called Ove. While this book is shorter and less impressive, the protagonist shares a remarkable similarity to Ove.

A Christmas Story
by Jean Shepherd

This book compiles the stories from author and humorist Jean Shepherd that inspired the movie, A Christmas Story.

The Prince and the Pauper
by Charles Dickens

Before, everything I knew about the prince and the pauper I learned from Mickey Mouse. This year I decided to read the actual book.

Christian Nonfiction

The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom
by Andrew Peterson (B&H, 2021)

This book is about trees. And creativity. And community. And all the ways God breaks into our hardened hearts with his love and grace. Peterson is a gifted songwriter and author, and I so appreciate his vulnerability in telling us about his life and his creative process. (And, of course, his love of trees.)

How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor
Richard J. Mouw ( IVP, 2022)

The title of this book probably makes you think it fits into one certain camp of evangelicalism. But it doesn’t, at least not cleanly. I reviewed this book for Christianity Today, and I found it to be a welcome reminder to love the place where we are.

Truth Over Tribe: Pledging Allegiance to the Lamb, not the Donkey or the Elephant
by Patrick Miller and Keith Simon (David C. Cook, 2022)

Like Mouw’s book, I came into the reading expecting one thing. The end-result was surprising and refreshing. The anecdotes and stories in the book are worth the price of the book.

Political Gospel: Public Witness in a Politically Crazy World
by Patrick Schreiner (B&H, 2022)

Another of the many public theology books I read in 2022. Much like the other books I’ve mention, Schreiner will likely make you nod with agreement at some points — and make you uncomfortable in others. But maybe that’s what we need more of — thinking more critically about our political engagement. And, as he told us in a podcast conversation, “Christians aren’t political enough.

Plain Theology for Plain People
by Charles Octavius Booth (edited by Walter R. Strickland II, Lexham Press, 2017)

Dr. Strickland at Southeastern Seminary has done us a great favor in republishing this edition of an early African American theology book. Booth’s theology is simple, pastoral, and to-the-point. You can tell it was born not in the academy, but out of a burden for fellow churches, pastors, and believers.

Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters
by Carmen Imes (IVP, 2019)

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Imes while she was at Southeastern for a conference, and I picked up her book. The highest praise I can give this book is that after reading it, I wanted to study and preach Exodus. So well done, Dr. Imes.

Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image
by John Behr (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2013)

John Behr was a speaker at the Center for Faith and Culture’s spring conference, and he proved to be the most out-of-the-box thinker at the conference. This book is a brief reflection on theological anthropology.

Meditations on Preaching
by Francis James Grimké, selected and edited by Caleb Cangelosi (Log College press, 2018)

Grimké was a leading African-American pastor in the early 20th century. This book is a collection of some of his best thoughts on preaching, including gems like this: “What the people need to know is not what we think, what we have to say, but what God thinks, and what he has to say.”

Born Again This Way
by Rachel Gilson (The Good Book Company, 2020)

Rachel Gilson shares her remarkable testimony of going from a lesbian atheist to Christ-follower. Along the way, she points to timeless truths about God’s vision for marriage and sexuality.

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
by Dane Ortlund (Crossway, 2020)

I read through this book for a second time, this time in a study with our church’s Wednesday night group. The book provoked wonderful conversation, and it made a lasting impact on many in our group.

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion
by Rebecca McLaughlin (Crossway, 2019)

Rebecca McLaughlin has become a leading apologist and Christian thinker, articulating Christian beliefs to people not naturally disposed to accept them. The most helpful part of this book was her defense of a Christian view of gender against critiques that it’s outdated or patriarchal. Much of her wisdom helped me in a particular sermon on the role of men and women in the church. (Also, check out our podcast conversation with Rebecca on recovering friendship.)

Making Faith Magnetic: Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can’t Stop Talking About… and How to Connect Them to Christ
by Daniel Strange (The Good Book Company, 2021)

Another apologetics book, Making Faith Magnetic is a form of cultural apologetics. Dr. Strange (yes, that’s actually his name) looks at a series of key shared values across all cultures and reveals how the the gospel both subverts and fulfills them. (His podcast conversation was particularly fun as well.)

Digital Dominion: Five Questions Christians Should Ask to Take Control of their Digital Devices
by Jeff Mingee (10publishing, 2022)

Jeff has been one of my most consistent, faithful writers at the Center for Faith and Culture, and this book of his is the culmination of his meditations on faith and technology. For more on this topic, check out our podcast conversation with him.

Following Jesus in a Digital Age
by Jason Thacker (B&H, 2022)

I read this book right after reading Mingee’s. I was expecting significant overlap, but I was surprised how different and complementary they are. Thacker’s book looks at the big-picture issues of following Christ in an increasingly digital age. (Are you seeing a pattern here? Listen to our podcast conversation.)

Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and Mothers
by Andrew Arndt (Navpress, 2022)

This is a book, in part, about spiritual disciplines. But Arndt looks to an oft-neglected group of people — the desert fathers and mothers.

Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth
by Andrew Greer and Randy Cox (Worthy Inspired, 2017)

I probably would have enjoyed this tribute to Rich Mullins if I were more familiar with his music and life story. Nevertheless, I appreciated the words and anecdotes from those who knew and loved him.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy
by Tim Keller (10 Publishing, 2012)

A short, simple book rooted in the gospel.

Talking Social Justice: Stories and Questions for the Worried, Wistful, and Woke Evangelicals
by Howard Lawler (Salpizo, 2020)

Few topics are more divisive among evangelicalism than social justice. In this book, Lawler seeks to provoke thought and help us think outside the box when it comes to these issues. He doesn’t really reveal his own angle until late in the book, and he always wants to keep you thinking.

A Trail Guide for Church Ministry: A Proverbial Journey
by Howard Lawler (Salpizo, 2021)

A veteran pastors’ collection of tips and proverbs to others following the same path of ministry.

Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential
by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman (Crossway, 2021)

Does being a part of a church community even matter anymore? Can’t we just live off virtual sermons and podcasts? This book answers these important questions.

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith
by Michael Reeves (IVP, 2012)

I finally read this brief classic on the Trinity. I’ve heard people reference and adore it for almost a decade, so I was glad to finally read it myself.

Praying the Bible
by Donald S. Whitney (Crossway, 2015)

A simple, helpful book to improve your prayer life. But Whitney doesn’t prescribe self-help tricks or gimmicks. He’s pointing us right back to the scriptures.

Sports

Attack the Day: Kirby Smart and Georgia’s Return to Glory
by Seth Emerson (Triumph, 2020)

Seth Emerson is among the best beat writers covering college football, and we Georgia fans are lucky enough to have him covering the Dawgs. This book chronicles the end of the Richt years, the beginning of the Smart years, the miraculous 2017 season, and the ups and downs of 2018 – 2019. Needless to say, Emerson probably should write a sequel.

Top Dawg: Mark Richt and the Revival of Georgia Football
Rob Suggs (Thomas Nelson, 2008)

Much like Emerson’s book for Smart, this book gives a summary of Mark Richt’s rise to becoming Georgia’s head coach, his early years, and recounts all those glorious moments (like the “hobnail boot”). What’s remarkable are the similarities between Richt’s and Smart’s early years; both took over good-but-not-great programs, instilled an increased toughness, and saw immediate improvement.

Leo Mazzone’s Tales from the Braves Mound
Leo mazzone with Scott Freeman (Sports Publishing, 2003)

If you grew up with 1990s Braves baseball (as I did), Mazzone’s peak inside the bullpen is simply a delight. The stories about Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, and the like are gold.

General Nonfiction

I Have a Dream: Writings & Speeches that Changed the World
by Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James M. Washington (Harper One, 1992)

We published an article at the Center for Faith and Culture which challenged people to read MLK honestly. In editing the piece, I was convicted. I’d read a lot *about* MLK, but I’d read very little of what he actually wrote and said. So I bought this book. I read it. And I’m incredibly glad to have done so.

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Crossway, 1984)

Katie has read so many books on homeschooling, and she thought I’d enjoy this one. I honestly did. She shares many wise reflections on the importance of reading and literature to a child’s education.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace
by Sarah Mackenzie, 2nd ed. (Classical Academic Press, 2015)

Katie loves the Read Aloud Revival podcast, which she has gleefully shared with me. I was delighted to read this brief encouragement to homeschool parents.

Liberty’s Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World
by Michael I. Meyerson (Basic Books, 2008)

The American Revolution is my favorite period of U.S. history, so when I found this book for free, I had to take it. This book is focused mainly on the Federalist Papers, which Hamilton and Madison wrote to promote the Constitution.

Commentaries

I read several commentaries in 2022. Here are the ones I completed:

  • Genesis Vol 2: A New Beginning – James Montgomery boice
  • NAC Genesis 11:27-50:26 – Ken Matthews
  • Eexploring Genesis – John Phillips
  • Genesis Vol 3 – James Montgomery boice

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