Runner-up Favorite Books of 2021

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I read many good books this year. Here are 17 books that I thought I should mention in addition to my top 10 list of 2021

11.   An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

Atomic Habits by James Clear was a book worth another read. It has short motivating suggestions to adjust your behavior. This is easily in the top books. Although I tried to compare it to others, it is hard to pit it against a different book. I didn't like in the later chapters that the author relies on his naturalistic ideology. This behavior modification falls short of real, lasting change. It misses the more profound work of the heart and theological motivations; however, he offers some beneficial tips for adjusting one's behavior in the short run. The stories he shares are also fascinating and entertaining. This book came to me by recommendation from a consultant Greg Allen from Shepherd Staff. 

12. Jonathan Leeman and Collin Hansen

Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential by Jonathan Leeman and Collin Hansen. I got this book for free and was impressed. It was an excellent primer on the value of the church. 


Dane Ortlund by CrosswayGentle and Lowly: the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. This was a fantastic set of meditations on who Jesus is. It was well written easy to read. It was a balm for the soul and worth a second read. It came extremely highly recommended. 


Ben Macintyre Book
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre. Woah! Are you in for a roller coaster? This details the rise of what some say is the most significant double agent in modern history - it begins with a crazy story about the KGB. It ends with you hanging onto your seat as the double agent tries to survive. You won't be able to put this book down.


Lynne Olson Author Spy World War II

Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

by Lynne Olson. This book is an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the life and mission of the top French Spy network during World War II. It follows the biography of one woman who held it all together. 


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. What a fabulous development of characters! Dickens deals with moral dilemmas, man's search for meaning, and class strife. I found it unpredictable and well-written. I can see why it is a classic. 

Classic Literature

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Amazing book. Dumas is a masterful storyteller. However, I thought it fell flat in depicting humanity. For the most part, people were either all good or all bad. It fell short in the view of the man's purpose of being: "wait and hope," instead of finding hope in Jesus's death on our behalf. The author was so close to the Christian hope but missed the mark. On the other hand, I found it riveting, sophisticated, thoughtful, well done.

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High. by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This was a secular humanistic perspective on communication in highly dynamic and challenging environments where the stakes are high. It has some insightful suggestions. This is a book I must re-read and seek to apply when it comes to talking through emotional conversations.

Translator of the Message Winn Collier

A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of The Message by Winn Collier. Woah! Peterson comes across as humble and inspiring. I could not put the book down. It motivated me as a father, pastor, and follower of Jesus. This does not depict Peterson as perfect by any means. However, that is part of the book's appeal. Peterson is a genuine person. 

Adam Higginbotham

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham. Very informative. Be aware that there is language in this book. It was a transparent look at communism, nuclear power, and a disaster that has left its mark in history. WOW. You won't be able to put this book down. 


Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp. He did it again. Great book. It had loads of thought-provoking questions and lots of scripture. I found it easy and fast to read. It would be a good book for a church leadership team to work through. 


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by by Harriet Jacobs. What a horrible life. This book is not for the young or young at heart. I think it is necessary for the American to know our history in America.

John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. This is a riveting true story of a biomedical company committing fraud in the last decade. The book has some foul language but is hard to put down. 

Thomas Watson Puritan Thoughts Comfort

All things for Good: An Exposition of Romans 8:28 by Thomas Watson. This book was very encouraging to me. Watson based this book on Romans 8:28.

Darby a. Strickland Forward by Ed Welch P&R Press

Is It Abuse?: A Biblical Guide to Identifying Domestic Abuse and Helping Victims by Darby Strickland. I must say that after Midnight in Chernobyl, this could be right up there. It had a lot of helpful things to say about abuse. But, on the other hand, I felt like the author could have dealt with the children of abusers and the abusers themselves. He also could have dealt with the topic of sin more in general. But, overall, I highly recommend this resource.  

By Michael A. Graham

Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller  by by Michael A. Graham. This was not a hagiography. While Jack Miller was a prayer warrior and evangelist, he sacrificed his family for ministry. He was prideful and arrogant. I don't want to be like that. Yet, the good news is that God helped him work through his weakness, and God can use this book to help you and me too.


United States Presidential Biography

James Monroe: A Life  by Tim McGrath. What a great book. I found it hard to put down. But I had to because it is over 500 pages. He lived a long life. One word that I would use to summarize his strength: judicious. He helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase and acquire Florida. Under his leadership Missouri and Maine became states. 

If you missed my top 10 list of 2021, here it is. 


  1. Thanks for these lists. I'm always interested in good book recommendations. I put several on my to-read list.

    1. Well, I am glad you appreciate it. I love looking at other people's lists as well. That is where I pick up many of my reading suggestions for the year.


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