The Top Ten Books I Read in 2019
Written by Bob DeAngelo, Pastor of Youth and Outreach
My love for reading (and more than that, for learning) took me through 55 books in 2019. I try to read a diversity of books – books on subjects such as theology, counseling practice, marriage, technology, and spiritual growth…but also books on history, politics, productivity, fiction, coaching, and leadership, and this year, even a book that was made into a Hallmark movie. (Yes, I read the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder in 2019.)
I came across a tip in another blog recently, a tip that I have practiced for several years: read three books at a time. I read more as I read three books at once, preferably three different kinds of books. If I am reading a book that is little heavier, I will combine that with a book that tells a story or a fiction book that just seems to move a little more quickly. Just a thought from a person who really enjoys learning through reading.
So here are my top 10 books from 2019, along with a few honorable mentions:
1. What is a Girl Worth? by Rachel Denhollander – I can only recall shedding tears while reading one book this year, and this was the one. Of the 55 books that I read this year, this is the book that I enjoyed the most. What is a Girl Worth? is the story of a young gymnast (now a grown wife and mother) who is a sexual abuse survivor, having been abused by famed USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The story of Rachel meeting her husband, working through the struggles of her abuse, and confronting her abuser was just incredible. You can get this book at your local library and I highly recommend it.
2. Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer – This book is short…but it is a thorough look at your church (I am a pastor and obviously a churchgoer) through the eyes of someone who has never been to your church. As Rainer says, most of us think that our church is more guest friendly than it really is…which is why this is a very important read.
3. The Accidental President by AJ Baime – Having lived in Independence, Missouri for five years, I see Harry Truman as a fascinating individual. The story of Truman going from a fairly vanilla vice-president who President Roosevelt barely even talked to…to meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin and navigating the country through the end of a World War and all that entailed…made this a hard book to put down.
4. Counseling the Hard Cases by Heath Lambert and Stuart Scott – I honestly am not a big fan of many of the authors who are connected to the biblical counseling movement, but Heath Lambert is becoming a favorite of mine. (He also wrote Finally Free and Theology of Christian Counseling, both of which I have read). This book tells the true stories of counselors who believe in the sufficiency of the Bible as they help people with problems such as sexual abuse, OCD, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, anorexia, multiple personality disorder, and a few others. It is a powerful, powerful book.
5. Change of Affection by Becket Cook – I love to read stories about people who God has saved and transformed, and this is a fun one. Becket Cook was an accomplished set designer in Hollywood who had been involved in a number of gay relationships…when a follower of Christ invited him to church where he heard the gospel. (Another story that I enjoyed this year was Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry).
6. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham – This is a bit of a longer book, and it took a little while to get going, but I really enjoyed reading the account of the nuclear disaster that took place in northern Ukraine during the 1980s.
7. Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – Both of these books are mainstream bestsellers on the topic of technology and its potential negative effects. As much as we love our smartphones, the pushback regarding possible harmful impact continues to come…and it certainly seems to be escalating. (If you would like a simpler read, check out The Teen’s Guide to Social Media by Jonathan McKee).
8. Top of the Hill: Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s Rise to Football Greatness by Manie Robinson and Tahj Boyd – I am not a massive college football fan, but unless you subscribe to “Roll Tide,” I think you will enjoy reading about the ascent of a program known for “Clemsoning” to what is becoming a college football dynasty…under the leadership of a man named Dabo!
9. Doing Life with Your Adult Children by Jim Burns – If you are in this stage of life as I now am, this book is a readable and helpful resource. (The subtitle is Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out).
10. The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield – If you have not read a book by Rosaria, I would encourage you to do so. She is a brilliant writer, and this book will challenge your thinking and practice when it comes to hospitality.
1. Bringing the Gospel Home by Randy Newman
2. Killing the SS by Bill O’Reilly
3. Three Days in Moscow by Brett Baier
4. God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel by Costi Hinn
5. Budgeting for a Healthy Church by JP Dunlop and Tim Challies
6. Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
7. A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington
8. Make Time: How To Focus on What Matters Every Day by JP Knapp and John Zeratsky
9. Set Your Voice Free by Roger Love