My Top 10 Reads of 2023

Every year, I compile a list of my favorite books that I have read. As the year ends, I reflect on the nearly fifty books I’ve immersed myself in. Despite scaling back my reading to focus on running and publishing my book, Words of the Resurrected, the literary journey has been one of my highlights.

My eclectic and whimsical strategy to pick books to read encompasses works by men and women, ancient and contemporary, fiction and nonfiction, Christian and secular. The book’s impact on my life, readability, and engagement significantly influence a book’s placement in my top ten list for the year. The Bible is the best book ever and the only divinely inspired one. So, I exclude that from my list, although I read it. 

So here you go: 

10. Peace Like A River 

Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River captures the heart of eleven-year-old Reub Land as he navigates life following his father’s death in northern Minnesota and North Dakota. The book delves into themes of family, love, and faith, earning its place as a Best Book of the Year according to the Los Angeles Times and Time Magazine in 2001.

9. Gilead 

I found Gilead by Marilynne Robinson to be deep, profound, helpful, thought-provoking, meandering, and comforting. Dr. Terhune recommended this book to me, and I am glad he did. It tells the story of a dying pastor journaling to his little son, who is too young to understand. The setting is rural Iowa and deals with different perspectives of the African American experience in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It holds the following awards: A New York Times Bestseller. Oprah’s Book Club Pick. Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. National Book Critics Circle Award Winner. 

8. Virgil Wander 

Virgil Wander is the second book on my top ten list by Lief Enger. It weaves a complex tale of two elderly gentlemen in a small northern Minnesotan town. This New York Times Best Seller combines delightful descriptions and character development, creating a subtle, suspenseful narrative. I am thankful to Dr. Dan Hayward for recommending this author to me. 

7. The Death of Porn: Men of Integrity Building a World of Nobility 

This is the second time The Death of Porn book has hit my top ten list. Ray Ortlund’s short book on pornography is powerful. It expounds on the dignity of men and women as made in the image of God. It captivates one’s vision of who God created people to be, shedding a spotlight on the demeaning, objectifying, selfish waste that pornography is. I highly recommend it.

6. Everything Sad is Untrue

Everything Sad is Untrue is the autobiography of Daniel Nayeri from a six-year-old perspective. Daniel is a refugee who fled Iran to Oklahoma with his mother and sister. I found the themes and Christian messages of perseverance, grace, complexity, and honesty to be heart-warming and inspirational. I read this because my alma mater required all first-year students to read it this year, and I can see why. This book has won many awards. Here are some of the awards: A National Indie Bestseller, NPR Best Book of the Year, New York Times Best Book of the Year, Amazon Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors’ Choice, BookPage Best Book of the Year, NECBA Windows & Mirrors Selection, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, and Best of the Year. 


5. The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a timeless favorite, filled with themes of friendship, courage, hope, and the eternal battle of good versus evil. This classic, winner of the New York Herald Tribune Children’s Spring Book Festival Award in 1938 and the Carnegie Medal in Literature in 1939, remains a must-read. I read it aloud to my ten and my seven-year-old as I put them to bed. 

4. J Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life 

Pastor Jeff Dryden gave me two books over the last few years that made it into my top ten list this year. I don’t always read things people give me. However, when one book hits the top ten, I am more motivated to read the next. J Curve was profound. What I mean is that it adjusted how I viewed life. Everything, even difficulty, tragedy, and my sin, can help in a walk with Jesus. How Paul Miller works through this demonstrates humility and puts his feet on his ideas. 

3. A Praying Church: Becoming a People of Hope in a Discouraging World 

The next book is also by Paul Miller, A Praying Church. He uses his life as an example, illustrating the power and importance of corporate prayer. As a TGC 2023 book award winner, this book is compelling for pastors and churchgoers.

2. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World  

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer hit home for me. He challenges his readers to slow down through his journey as a pastor in a hectic world. The book is short, readable, practical, and engaging. I gave all my small group leaders a copy, and we discussed the content. It was an ECPA Bestseller. 

1. Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less

My top pick for the year is Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz. While embracing the power of succinctness, this book provides well-researched insights and practical applications for effective communication in emails, meetings, and presentations. Note: The authors use coarse language.

Stay tuned for my runner-up post. If you have any favorite books from this year, share them in the comments below.

Top 10 of 2013

Top 10 of 2012

Top 10 of 2011


  1. It's been a long time since I read the Hobbit. I haven't read any others on your list.

    Some of my top reads this year:

    -The Preeminent Christ by Paul Washer,
    -God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God by Mark Jones,
    -With a Mighty Triumph!: Christ's Resurrection and Ours by Rhett P Dodson,
    -Man of Sorrows, King of Glory: What the Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Mean for Us by Jonty Rhodes,
    -The Beauty of Divine Grace by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer,
    -The Secret of Spiritual Joy by William P. Farley,
    -The Conservative Church: Preserving and Transmitting Biblical Christianity by David de Bruyn,
    -The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul,
    -The Christian Manifesto: Jesus’ Life-Changing Words from the Sermon on the Plain by Alistair Begg,
    -The Dawn of Redeeming Grace: Daily Devotions for Advent by Sinclair B. Ferguson,

    For younger readers:
    -Church History by Simonetta Carr,
    -Building on the Rock Series by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn,

    1. Thanks for your top reads. Seems to be pretty edifying. I like The Holiness of God by Sproul. My favorite book on the subject is by J.C. Ryle. Sinclair Ferguson is great. I like Begg and Washer. Thanks for your suggestions!


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