Yes, you read that right—2018. It’s popular this time of year for leaders to post lists of the best books they read in 2017. For the record, we love those lists. For avid readers like us, there’s no better gift than a great book recommendation.
But as J.D. and I (Chris) reflected on the books we read this year, we also wanted to reach out to some of our staff and other Summit leaders to hear about their best books of 2017. So we asked around: If you were to recommend a book from your 2017 reading, what would it be? Everyone had to narrow it down to just one—except Pastor J.D., who gets a special exception.
Not every book here is created equal. Some are classics worth savoring (and re-reading); others, while imbalanced, have something timely to say. We’ve read a bunch of these titles already. We’ve put many others in our queue for 2018. And we’d encourage you to do the same. Pick up a few of these and you might just end up finding the best book you’ll read in 2018.
Better yet, ask the leaders in your community for some recommendations to stretch your 2018 mind and enrich your 2018 heart.
Pastor J.D.’s Picks
A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent
This book has the most ridiculous and unattractive cover I’ve ever seen, but is one of my favorites. I am reading it again for the third time this year. It may be the best practical application of what it means to keep the gospel at the center that I’ve ever read. I find it works best if you read one small section at a time (only one to two pages) as a devotional supplement. Meditate on the words and don’t read them quickly.
I don’t know if this is a fascinating book about an exceptional man, or an exceptional book about a fascinating man. Either way, Metaxas’ Luther may be the most enjoyable and uplifting book I read this year—particularly the first half. I was moved to courage, emboldened in my struggle against Satan, and deepened in the gospel. All the while being delighted and entertained.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown
This book was passed to me by one of our church planters, and I first got into it with a ‘I know what this is going to say’ kind of attitude—focus on what you do best, eliminate clutter, free yourself from the expectations of others, etc. And his major points were, indeed, what I expected. What I wasn’t expecting was the depth and breadth of application McKeown would give to these points. I left not only with a greater understanding of why focus is essential to an enjoyable and productive life, but how to implement it. I have adopted several new habits directly from it.
The City of God, Augustine
I once asked a famous theologian the most important five books I could read. He said, ‘The City of God and one other.’ This year I went through a course on it on by Professor Mathewes of UVA in ‘Great Courses: Books that Matter.’ I was not disappointed. I couldn’t believe how closely Augustine’s critique of Rome’s idolatry and fall parallels our day. This did more to help me understand the believer’s role in the United States than any book I’ve been through.