I read a total of 79 books in 2016. It was a good year and while not every book was a hit, there were a lot of standout volumes from the year. Here’s a brief annotated summary of my reading for the year.
1. Augustine on the Christian Life by Gerald Bray
A great introduction to the unique theological contributions of one of the most influential theologians in the history of the church!
2. Legendary Star Lord, vol. 1: Face It, I Rule by Sam Humphries
A fun read on the adventures and mishaps of Star Lord. Really a great intro this new series from Humphries.
3. Legendary Star Lord, vol. 2: Rise of the Black Vortex by Sam Humphries
Started out well, but became so convoluted and troubled by the intertwining stories with other Marvel comics.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 5: Through the Looking Glass by Brian Michael Bendis
This falls to the same issue as Star Lord vol. 2 – too much confusion with the Black Vortex story line.
5. Return to Me by Mark J. Boda
A fantastic theology of repentance, but feels more like an OT theology than a full Biblical Theology.
6. Addiction and Virtue by Kent Dunnington
One of the most important books for Christian counselors to read on the subject of addiction. Dunnington beautifully helps readers navigate the terrain between disease and choice.
7. The Compelling Community by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop
A well-written and biblically-based philosophy for developing strong community within the context of the local church. Beyond the realm of common interests and small groups, this book helps readers to think about a strong and spiritually grounded form of fellowship.
8. Covenant and Commandment by Bradley Green
I am really just not a fan of Green’s writing. The idea of this book is good, but Green just didn’t meet my expectations. Perhaps it’s the book’s brief size, but essentially Green does nothing to further the conversation of current scholarship on the relationship between works and faith.
9. Habit by Charles Duhigg
An absolutely fantastic exploration of both the development and power of habits in our lives. Duhigg uses a number of personal stories and research to support his thesis. The book is a great example of some of the best work being done presently on the subject of habits.
10. Biblical Counseling and the Church ed. by Robert Kellemen and Kevin Carson
I absolutely loved this book! The various contributors touch on both the theological foundations and practical outworking of a counseling ministry within the local church. Brad Bigney and Ken Long’s chapter on counseling in small groups, and Higbee’s philosophy of counseling ministry are both worth the price of the book.
11. False Intimacy by Harry Schaumburg
A very helpful and useful book for counseling those struggling with sexual sin. His book is unique in its focus on both the reality of sexual addictions and yet its insistence on using Biblical categories.
12. Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology ed. by Greg Allison and Stephen Wellum
A really excellent work that both honors Dr. John Feinberg and seeks to build on his personal theological contributions. An academic work, to be sure, that will require some prior knowledge to be ultimately insightful, but still a good work for scholars and professional theologians.
13. Strength in Numbers by Mark Shaw
A great case for a team approach to counseling in the local church.
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 1: Legacy by Dan Abnett
Under Abnett the Guardians really got a rebirth and this book is a fun introduction to the modern incarnation of the Guardians.
15. Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers
This was a reread in preparation for a counseling workshop this year, but Struthers’ book remains an important work on the subject of sexual addiction. Struthers offers more insight than help in recovery, but it is nonetheless significant insight, particularly in the ways in which the brain is impacted by long-term exposure to pornography.
16. Closing the Window by Tim Chester
Another reread but a great work for those who counsel sex addicts. Chester explores particularly some of the themes that lay under regular consumption of pornography. He helps readers to analyze the heart motives and seek God’s solution to them.
18. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? by L. Michael Morales
This is one of my favorite books of the year! Morales biblical theology of Leviticus often serves more like a biblical theology of the OT! It is so thorough, comprehensive, and insightful that it is hard for me to describe just how impressed I am with this book.
19. Daredevil: Man without Fear by Frank Miller
One of the most important works in the Daredevil storyline. Well written and dramatic.
20. A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free from Pornography: It’s Not Just A Guy’s Problem by Shelley Hitz and S’ambrosia Curtis
This volume deals more with individual stories than an overall philosophy for counseling women with sexual addictions. Nonetheless this volume adds some important insight into the conversation.
21. Recovery-Minded Church by Jonathan Benz and Kristina Robb-Dover
I really enjoyed this book and the heart behind it. If the authors are more convinced than I am that addiction is a disease they can nonetheless be commended for their encouraging the church to care for addicts. Because of their philosophical convictions they often limit the church’s capacity to care, and in that regard I think there’s more that needs to be said.
22. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward T. Welch
The most important theological work on the subject of addictions to date. Welch’s approach embeds addiction within a spiritual framework and evidences its idolatrous roots.
23. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
A really great discussion of the value of vulnerability. It has some weaknesses because of the author’s worldview and adoption of some psychological concepts that are not proven truths, but nonetheless a really compelling development of an important character quality.
24. Living Without Worry by Tim Lane
Lane’s little book is a great introduction to the spiritual battle behind anxiety.
25. Running Scared by Ed Welch
A great guide to navigating specific anxieties. Building on his other works, Welch develops real practical helps for addressing more nuanced aspects of common fears.
26. Bitterness: The Root that Pollutes by Lou Priolo
A really helpful, concise, and practical work on bitterness. I know of no other book as helpful on confronting the heart motivations behind bitterness and enlightening readers to the real dangers and consequences of this emotion.
27. Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure by Robert Kellemen
This concise book takes a particular paradigm and confronts anxiety head-on. I loved this book and have found it extremely useful in a number of cases, though not all. Kellemen’s grid for viewing anxiety is practical and refreshing.
28. The Black Vortex by Sam Humphries et. al.
A great crossover work combining the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The usual cosmic threats ensue, but the internal battle between good and evil is a great addition that each character in the story must wrestle with. Kitty Pryde plays a particularly compelling role in the story and I like that change.
29. Ms. Marvel, vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
Wilson continues to write a great story line with the new Ms. Marvel. It is both creative and adorable and one of my favorite unique stories. This volume adds a few crossovers with Wolverine and the Inhumans, making for some fun moments.
30. When I Am Afraid by Edward T. Welch
Welch’s workbook is good, but would be best served in conjunction with his volume Running Scared.
31. A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert
One of the best books I read this year! Lambert takes the major doctrines of the faith and seeks to relate them practically to the process of counseling. It is a superb, one-of-a-kind work. His chapter on common grace in particularly will both quell some fears about Biblical Counseling and explain its approach to extrabiblical sources more clearly.
32. When People Are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch
A standard work I use in Biblical counseling. This is a great treatment of fear of man and codependency, digging dep into the theological roots of the problem.
33. Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves
A fun light-hearted read with lots of Maul and lots of light saber battles.
34. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church by David Instone-Brewer
This book expressed in better words and better arguments what I have been leaning towards for a long time. I didn’t even know this book existed, but as our elders sought to wrestle with the subject of divorce this year we turned to this volume. It was a huge help and insight into the first-century context of Jesus’ teaching. I have a few qualms with the book, particularly its discussion on remarriage, but overall I found it very helpful.
35. Asperger Syndrome by Michael Emlet
A very helpful, tiny little booklet, on the subject by both a trained MD and a Biblical Counselor.
36. Habits of Grace by David Mathis
David Mathis uses the concept of habits to reorient our understanding of the so-called spiritual disciplines in a way that simplifies our effort and magnifies God’s grace.
37. Finding Your Child’s Way on the Autism Spectrum by Laura Hendrickson
The absolute best book a parent with an autistic child can read. Hendrickson raised an autistic child, had a background in medicine, and served as a Biblical counselor before her passing. This volume will give readers impeccable insight and help.
38. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Jeremy Lelek
This book was just okay. It had some good insights, but it failed to develop the kind of practical help I had hope. Perhaps it is the size of the book, but it did not seem to sufficiently explore the various nuances of PTSD.
39. Asperger’s Syndrome: The OASIS Guide, 3rd Edition by Patricia Romanowski Bashe
A comprehensive work on Aspergers! As a non-expert on the subject it was important for me to wrestle with the syndrome completely, and this volume does that. In conjunction with Hendrickson’s book mentioned above readers will be able to think more Biblically about what Bashe writes in this volume.
40. Warfield on the Christian Life by Fred Zaspel
Warfield has long been criticized as a too concerned with academic pursuits, and more influenced by scholasticism than Scripture. Zaspel supremely dispels such criticisms with this focused exploration of the theologian’s views on the Christian life. This was a very refreshing look at controversial Reformed theologian.
41. Theology as Discipleship by Keith Johnson
A really great exploration of the practical nature of theology. Johnson’s book sees theological study as discipleship, not some separate scholarly pursuit. He offers a great corrective to the overly-academic tendencies in some theological circles these days.
42. Civil War by Mark Millar
Far better than the movie, this graphic novel gives a captivating look at the internal conflicts of the good intentions of various superheros and the sometimes negative consequences that result from all their good intentions.
43. Avengers: Time Runs Out, vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman
Bleh…a fairly disappointing story. I was lost at various points and struggled to make sense of the story line.
44. Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney
This is the best book on the “idols of the heart” issue that I have read. I love Brad’s style of writing and his compelling theology. A must read for all Biblical Counselors.
45. The Heart of Domestic Abuse by Chris Moles
There has never been another book on domestic abuse like this one! Moles is not just a competent Biblical Counselor, but he specializes in counseling abusers. Readers will be equipped to confront, challenge, and help those who have these sinful attitudes and behaviors. Another must read!
46. Killing Sin Habits by Stuart and Zondra Scott
This was a good little booklet on the mortification and vivification. It is highly practical and yet rooted in Scripture. If it’s not the most thorough resource it’s a good starting place for thinking about the practical aspects of change.
47. The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson
A great theological study of the balance of the gospel. The true gospel helps us avoid the dangerous imbalances of both legalism and antinomianism. There are few works that address particularly antinomianism, but Ferguson does so in a compelling and helpful manner in this great work.
48. Addiction and Change by Carlo DiClemente
This is one of the best books on addiction! It is focused on the process of change and offer some of the best insights into the actualization of recovery that I have read. It is exceedingly thorough and interacts with some of the best research. It adopts some aspects of the popular secular perspective on addictions, and in that regard I found room to disagree with it, but in many ways it offered some real help to my counseling.
49. Understanding Temptation by Mark Shaw
This was just an okay resource. It offers a great introduction to temptation but little practical help in fighting it. His work is good in content but not overly helpful in practice. It serves as a brief introduction to the categories of temptation listed in 1 John 2:16, but the challenge comes in implementation of theology, and at that point Shaw’s work needs to be supplemented with other works.
48. You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith
This was one of my favorite new books of 2016. Building off of his previous work on cultural liturgies and habits, this book develops a practical theology of worship and it’s transformative power. In many ways this book offers a corrective and balance to our common approach to discipleship as a cognitive program.
49. The Election of Grace by Stephen Williams
This book was pretty disappointing. It started out strong offer a via media to the sovereignty/freedom debates with regard to divine election. But the work broke down over the chapters and failed to deliver what it promised.
50. Gospel Conversations by Robert Kellemen
A fantastic lab manual for helping individuals learn how to apply the principles of Biblical counseling in real-life situations. This is an incredibly unique resource!
51. The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia
I love jazz and I love history, so this was a particularly fun work for me. What I loved most about it was the author’s ability to weave the stories of individual jazz icons into the contextual history of the development of jazz. A great read.
52. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Hemingway’s style of prose is so compelling to me and this is such a great story about the desperate search for integrity.
53. Church in Hard Places by Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley
This is a great book written by experienced practitioners. The book serves as a clarion call for the church to be the church in difficult contexts for all sorts of broken people. Both authors have done this in their own unique way, but McConnell’s chapters are particularly interesting.
54. Citizens by Simon Schama
I am a huge Francophile and so this history of the French Revolution was purely a pleasure read. It’s THICK, but well-written and by a beloved historian.
55. Advances in the Study of Greek by Constantine Campbell
The Study of Greek has continued to advance and expand and these advances have direct bearing on how pastors, theologians, and lay Christians interact with the Biblical text. Campbell breaks the major developments down into accessible bites in this book explaining what has happened, how it happened, and why it matters. He offers direct application from linguistic scholarship to theology and preaching. A great resource and must read for all post-graduate students and professional pastors.
56. JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez
A classic crossover event that combines the DC heroes with the Marvel heroes. Superman holding Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield? That’s just awesome! This was a fun story combing the best of both worlds.
57. The Mission of God by Christopher Wright
An amazing work on missiology that offers a truly Biblical theological approach to the subject. Wright’s missional hermeneutic of the Bible is particularly compelling and worth the price of the book, in my opinion.
58. The Journey to Freedom by Dan Johnson
Dan’s workbook for addicts is one of my favorites. It offers real help in both theology and practice for recovery from substance abuse.
59. The Heart of Addiction by Mark Shaw
Dr. Shaw’s expertise in this field as both a licensed drug addiction counselor and a Biblical counselor combine to create a unique book. His ability to particularly distinguish between a Biblical faithful and secular approach to recovery is helpful.
60. Addiction and Grace by Gerald May
This book offered some helpful thoughts on grace and transformation, but the author’s lack of clarity on the gospel means that the grace he points to is not the same grace that I believe brings real transformation. His chapters on the brain were helpful, but otherwise I was disappointed with this book.
61. Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge Our Misguided Drug Rehab System by Lonny Shavelson
A journalist’s interaction with five addicts reveals the real problems within the Rehab industry. He offers some good insights into what goes on behind the scenes, the weaknesses, gaps, and failures of the treatment-on-demand approach, and also offers some thoughtful suggestions. An insightful work written in a compelling narrative.
62. With: A Practical Guide to Informal Mentoring and Intentional Disciple Making by Alvin Reid and George Robinson
This book was more descriptive than prescriptive. The authors illustrate a helpful way to do mentoring more than they provide a “step-by-step guide.” A great introduction to the subject.
63. The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience by Jeremy Pierre
This was my favorite book of the year. Pierre offers some real corrective to the tendency of the Biblical Counseling movement to simply give a sanctified version of cognitive behavioral therapy. An amazing, fresh work, and one desperately needed for today.
64. Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David Powlison
Books on anger abound, but books like this one do not. Powlison offers some unique help in navigating our healthy and sinful anger. An exceptional guide with real practical questions to facilitate further thought and application.
65. Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments by Winston Smith
This is the best book on marriage that I have read to date. Smith approaches the common subjects with freshness and practical application. As a counselor I found this to provide so much help for my cases. As a husband I found it convicting and challenging. An excellent read!
66. The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality by Luke Gilkerson
A really helpful guide for families seeking to educate their kids on sexuality. While some may not like all the graphics and the frank discussion of the chapters, I found those things to be particularly refreshing. Being direct about the nature of these issues is crucial for helping our kids develop wisely. Gilkerson does this without being crass or embarrassed and in that regard this is a unique and helpful tool.
67. Relapse by Mark Shaw
There are not a lot of books on relapse prevention, and works that come from a Biblical perspective are almost non-existent. Dr. Shaw’s workbook, then, is easily one of the best. But it’s also one of the best because it derives help and guidance from Scripture, not simply from avoidance strategies. While giving us practical help it grounds it in a Biblical worldview.
68. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Another of my favorite books from 2016. This compelling narrative offers real insight into the white working class of Appalachia. In some ways this book explains so many of the major issues of 2016. Vance writes as an insider and as such provides a unique voice to a “culture in crisis.”
69. Ms. Marvel, vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
The new Ms. Marvel is one of the most fun stories Marvel is running right now. Wilson continues to tell funny, clever, and exciting stories that appeal to the fan-boy/girl in the average comic reader.
70. Divine Intervention by Mark Shaw
Another great resource from Dr. Shaw on addictions, but this time aimed at helping the loved-ones and family members of addicts. With honesty and practical tips Shaw guides readers into what they can and can’t do for those addicted loved-ones. A great tool.
71. The Legendary Star-Lord, vol. 3: First Flight by Sam Humphries
An origin story that was super fun and interesting to read. Humphries is continuing to develop the character in some interesting ways that both build on our expectations and expands them.
72. Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
A compelling story about the rise of our opiate epidemic in America, highlighting small towns like Portsmouth, OH (where I used to live). A fascinating expose on the layered issues at the heart of this crisis.
73. The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
A terrific guide for strategic planning within the church. The elders are planning to discuss this book this year and I was really impressed with the comprehensive and careful nature of the work.
74. The Walking Dead, vol. 25 by Robert Kirkman
A decent story about the uncertainty of Rick’s leadership within the community and the internal struggle that he faces as a result. Not the best work, more filler than anything, buts till decent.
75. Borderline Personality: A Scriptural Perspective by Cathy Wiseman
As I prepare some new counseling studies this work was a surprising find. Wiseman is a trained counselor, who worked for years in a clinical psychiatric hospital. As such, she has experience and expertise in addressing this subject, but here she offers real Biblical help in thinking through the issue(s) and the best approaches in treatment. I loved this little book.
76. Confident Pluralism by John Inazu
This was a really fascinating appeal for tolerance amidst conviction. Inazu carefully navigates the existence of convictions within a pluralistic society helping readers to discern how to exist and flourish in the midst of significant differences. He does this by looking at both the legislative and legal issues, and looking at our civic interactions. The latter part was more interesting to me than the former, but the whole book is compelling and important.
77. Amulet, vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
My son got these books for Christmas and he really wanted to read them, so we took to checking them out. The first issue was not as well written as I had hoped. The plot development left a lot to be desired, even while the story has potential.
78. Amulet, vol. 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi
The second volume in Kibuishi’s series is the best so-far. It is captivating, exciting, and the art is exquisite. The story really takes off from here and you can really enjoy and appreciate the characters. Their internal struggle is more compelling and interesting too.
79. Amulet, vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi
The most recent edition to the series was also fun, though less exciting than volume 2. You can really start to see the influence of Star Wars on his work as you read this volume.