best books of 2005

Whoa. I’ve got practically all nonfiction on my best book reads for last year. Pride and Prejudice is on my list, but I’m not sure it really counts, beings that I had read it in high school. I just added it to balance things out a bit. I read some other fiction during the year, too, but I guess the books weren’t as powerful for my life, so they didn’t warrant this esteemed blog posting.

Hard to Believe by John MacArthur: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9.23). This isn’t a how-to manual, although there are plenty of points I could’ve added to my to-do list. MacArthur’s thesis claims that Christianity isn’t some softsoap belief system whose tenets one can pick and choose as he pleases. Rather, true life in Christ compels its followers to a lifestyle of daily surrender and worship.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller: Wowee. I loved this book. Miller is witty and talented in his essays on what he calls “Christian spirituality.” He blazes over some of the hang-ups of the modern evangelical church, pointing readers’ minds toward the love that should be central to every beleiver’s life. He’s honest and, in his own raw way, charming.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew: Okay, so you’re getting the idea that mainly Christian nonfiction has overtaken my “best books” list this year. I did read other genres; this time around, they just didn’t measure up. But back to God’s Smuggler. This book challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. Brother Andrew tells account after account of how the mighty hand of God worked miracles as he brought hope to believers behind the Iron Curtain. As a car ran hundreds of thousands of miles when it should have been in the landfill, and Bibles became invisible to border patrolmen, Brother Andrew’s message became crystal clear: God is really, really big. There is no excuse for shaky faith.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: So after groaning my way through this book in high school, I decided to pick it up again. After all, too many women had said they loved it; it was their favorite book. While I can’t claim all that, I will it say it was a pleasurable read. In high school, I only saw ball after boring ball; every once in a while, someone would get married. Yawn.
This time around, I was patient enough to pick up on some of Austen’s wit and satire. Go, Elizabeth! Way to be a normal woman, marrying for something other than money or in desperation. I’m excited to see the movie.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott: I got interested in Lamott from what I read on the back of Blue Like Jazz — that Miller was like Anne Lamott on testosterone. My sister was right about what she told me when she lent me this book: Miller is way toned down compared to Lamott. Lamott sometimes made me want to hide the book cover while I was reading in public. But she’s loving and honest and passionate. She takes a similar approach to Miller: here are some blurbs of my life and things I learned. In spite of the temptation to think I was an infinitely better Christian than she, I will admit — Lamott did teach me a thing or two.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: A must-read. Or a must-listen — however you can get to it first. I listened to this one (and for those of you who think that’s cheating, it was unabridged). Starting at the simplest stage possible, Lewis argues why there is a God, and he later delves into a rational but powerful case for Christianity in particular. A good exercise for the brain and the soul.

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