My Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2018

This year I thought to myself, "Why did I rate the books the way I did?" So I decided to answer that question.

I came up with my list of favorite books I read this year using a spreadsheet and rating the books next to each other. Was the book I just read better than the one above it or below it? My determination was subjective. Here are some questions that helped me sort out which book came out on top:
  • Was it interesting? 
  • Did it challenge me? 
  • Did it engage me? 
  • How well was it written? 
A book that was not that wholesome moved down on my list. A book could change in my estimation over time. I could read the same book next year and think it is just okay and would not make it into my top 10. My favorite book I read is and always will be the Bible. Nothing can compete with God's divinely inspired words (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since for me, that is a given, I go to the next top book on my list and begin with that. Also, I have bumped a few up or down from time to time, thinking about what would be helpful for my friends to read.

This was a particularly fun year of reading. I read so many good books this year that it was hard to list only ten. I should plan to read many of them again. In the coming days, I will publish my runner-ups. I have reviewed more than I have listed. Moreover, I have read more than I have reviewed. I hope you find a book to your liking on this list. 

  1. Preaching and Preachers by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones. This was a wonderful book. If you are a pastor, you must read this. If you are an elder, please read this. Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones left medicine to serve the Lord as a pastor and preacher. And the church is better for it. His insight over 50 years old is timeless and timely, pointed and persuasive. 
  2. Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life by Dr. Sam Storms was another powerful book. I think of myself as open to Holy Spirit moving in my life and my church. Dr. Storms went to the Bible and pushed me further along. I appreciated what he said. I think again if you are a church leader, this is a must-read. 
  3. A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by Dr. D. A. Carson. Carson uses the prayers of Paul to revolutionize one's prayer life. I think Donald Whitney's book on Praying the Bible is a great follow up to this book. Carson introduces praying the Bible in a fresh way. If you need help in prayer, this is your book. If you want to revitalize your prayer life or hunger to meet God this year, this is your book. You won't regret reading it. 
  4. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Dr. Mark Dever. The book that captured several areas that the American church can improve even after the third edition. I love how Mark writes and teaches. He brings up very important topics for pastors and elders and church leaders to consider, (i.e., Expositional Preaching, the Gospel, Evangelism, Membership, and Church Discipline).
  5. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. This book won the NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER, the LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE WINNER, the HEARTLAND AWARD WINNER, and it was a DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE FINALIST. I was astounded what the three histories demonstrated in my own country. Life is full of suffering, and some have experiences that I could never imagine. I would encourage every adult to read this book. It is beautiful and harsh and eye-opening. 
  6. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author's biography was the inspiration for the Broadway hit Hamilton. I loved the book to end. It was long. Have you ever looked at the ten dollar bill and wondered, "Who was this guy"? I have. By the end of the book, you will appreciate that face. Hamilton has had a profound impact on America we enjoy. Centralized banking, West Point, the Coast Guard, our political structure all have been touched by Hamilton. Americans should read this story; it is the story of how we got to where we are today.  
  7. Lost in the Middle: MidLife and the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp. This book was sobering. Where do I find my value? What do I do with disappointment and frustration? How do I handle my body breaking down, finding the meaning of my work not what I thought it should be, or family passing away and breaking up? Where is my identity? This book shockingly takes a hard look at life and values. I think if you are between the ages of 40-80 this book is for you, but be prepared for a challenge. It is not one you can take without a degree of self-reflection.
  8. Gospel Eldership: Equipping a New Generation of Servant Leaders by Robert Thune. This is a short workbook for elders on their role. It has excellent questions to engage the reader, and I think it would be a fabulous tool for all church leadership. The leader of the church will explore idols, motivation, and their own heart as they answer the questions at the end of each chapter. 
  9. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. This book takes a look at the history behind the Count of Monte Cristo written by Alexander Dumas. It was a page-turning biography taking you from Hispaniola to France, to the Alps, to Italy, and Africa. The well-sourced book paints France as a progressive nation on one continent and oppressive in their island plantations. Set in the 17th century, I think you will enjoy this in the 21st century. 
  10. Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. Finally, Whitney has a way of making you stop what you are reading and act. His writing is simple and easy to apply. I have enjoyed everything he has written. Praying the Bible is a helpful book to engage God in conversation. All should read it.  
That is it for my list for the year. I hope to publish the books that almost made my list. As I look back, I realize that many of them are for pastors. None of them are novels or classics. Only one of the books was written by a woman. There are so many more books to read. My encouragement to you is to choose wisely.

If you pick one of my suggestions up to read, I would love to hear what you think of them. 


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