Books of the Year 2018 image

Books of the Year 2018

This is probably the best year of books that I can remember (or perhaps I've just had more practice at choosing which ones to read). Several books that would make a lot of top tens didn't quite this time around: Karen Swallow Prior's On Reading Well, Ross Douthat’s To Change the Church and Alan Jacobs's The Year of Our Lord 1943, for example. There was a bunch of very timely titles which attracted huge attention, like Jordan Peterson's Twelve Rules for Life, Jonah Goldberg's Suicide of the West, Patrick Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed and Jaron Lanier's Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, each of which I reviewed at the time, but couldn't fit in. Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally had the best title; Orwell's The Lion and the Unicorn, the best opening line. I finally read Gilead, and got properly into Graham Greene for the first time. And maybe the biggest surprise is that for the first time since I've started doing this, my book of the year is a biblical commentary: Peter Leithart's magnificent, provocative, controversial, typo-strewn, frequently brilliant, occasionally exasperating but ceaselessly thought-provoking Revelation. It's been a good year.

Top Ten Recent Books

- Camille Paglia, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism. Fiery, lucid, bombastic, polymathic and gripping. I reviewed it here.
- Peter Leithart, Revelation (2 vols). Book of the Year. It fuelled my devotional times for the best part of six months, and that’s one of the highest compliments I can pay a book. Ceaselessly original, insightful and doxological.
- Francis Spufford, True Stories and Other Essays. One of the most brilliant writers anywhere, Spufford can write on anything and make it seem compelling. A treat.
- James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Searching, moving, theologically astute and with enormous ramifications for the contemporary world. I summarised it here.
- Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years. Why the world developed as it did. One of the best books I’ve read on anything, as I explained here.
- Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. Bad title but great book, and one which I’m getting to discuss with Jon Haidt on the radio in a few days’ time.
- Tim Keller, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy. One of Keller’s best books, this opens up layers to an apparently simple book that I had never seen. We’re talking to him about it on the Mere Fidelity podcast this week.
- Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. An Asian history of the last two centuries, in which Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Liang Qichao and Rabindranath Tagore are the central characters, and Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905 is the key turning point in modern history. Marvellous.
- Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible. I’m coming very late to the party on this one, but this marvellously written and illustrated kids’ Bible should be read by most grown-ups as well, and it was the only book I read this year that made me cry. Fantastic.
- Peter Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? A brief, clear, brightly written and thoroughly compelling case for saying yes, on the basis of geography, topography, names, disambiguation, Judaism, botany, finance, language, customs, undesigned coincidences, embarrassing inclusions and omissions, and deliberate formal contradictions.

Top Ten Old Books

Homer, The Odyssey (translated by Emily Wilson)
Martin Luther King, Letter From Birmingham Jail
C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems
George Orwell, Essays
Euripides, The Bacchae
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital, 1848-1875
John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

The Rest (asterisks indicate a re-read)

Tertullian, Against Marcion
Richard Reeves, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to Do About it
John Barclay, Paul: A Very Brief History
G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism
Tim Chester, The One True Gift
Dorothy Sayers, Creed Or Chaos
N. T. Wright, Paul: A Biography
Jared Wilson, The Imperfect Disciple
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Adam Mabry, The Art of Rest
*Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr Fox
Terry Virgo, Life Tastes Better
Plato, Phaedo
John Stevens, Knowing Our Times: How British Culture Impacts Our Mission
Tim Keller, The Way of Wisdom
Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
*C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
Glen Scrivener, Divine Comedy
Origen, Against Celsus
Ross Douthat, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
Roger Scruton, On Human Nature
*T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
R. W. L. Moberly, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith
J. M. Roberts and Odd Arne Westad, The Penguin History of the World
Graham Greene, The Quiet American
Julie Melilli, Special God
Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom
Graham Greene, The Fallen Idol
William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
Amos Yong, Renewing Christian Theology: Systematics for a Global Christianity
Graham Greene, The Third Man
Mike Wilkerson, Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry
Ephraim Radner, Leviticus
*C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
D. H. Dilbeck, Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet
Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa and Asia—and How it Died
Ryan Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment
Plato, Crito
Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Boethius, De Trinitate
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress
Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed
T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
Jennifer Egan, Black Box
C. S. Lewis, Prayer: Letters to Malcolm
Andy Naselli, 1 Corinthians
John Piper, Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship
Tom Schreiner, Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter
Ben Myers, The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism
Chinua Achebe, Africa’s Tarnished Name
Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Todd Billings, Remembrance, Communion and Hope: Rediscovering the Gospel at the Lord’s Table
Ian Morris, Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History and What they Reveal about the Future
John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
*C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
Henry Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction
Larry Hurtado, Honoring the Son: Jesus in Earliest Christian Devotional Practice
Roger Scruton, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition
Jen Wilkin, In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character
Niall Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power
David Bennett, A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission
Hannah Anderson, All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment
James Baldwin, Dark Days
Nick Spencer, The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Shaped Our Values
Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence
Pete Greig, Dirty Glory
Brian Stanley, Christianity in the Twentieth Century
Ian Paul, Revelation
Jonah Goldberg, Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy
Francis Chan, Letters to the Church
Edith Bruder, The Black Jews of Africa: History, Religion, Identity
Sam Storms, The Language of Heaven: Crucial Questions about Speaking in Tongues
Alan Jacobs, The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis
Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know about Global Politics
Karen Swallow Prior, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Reading Great Books
Ben Lindsay, We Need to Talk About Race
John Le Carré, The Night Manager

← Prev article
Next article →