I generally read close to 50 books a year, but this year has been different. As 2018 ended I was personally struggling. I was stressed, burnt-out, and mentally exhausted. At that time I was encouraged by a wise older friend to slow down, take a break, and pick up a completely different hobby. I followed the counsel given and it has helped me tremendously to unwind, and relax. It has also meant, however, that my reading list has shrunk substantially. At present I have read about 18 books this year, which is quite a few off the pace. I am okay with that.
Still, I have read and enjoyed reading a number of great works this year. So, here is my selection of favorite books on the year, so far:
1) Untangling Emotions by J. Alasdair Groves & Winston Smith
This is most likely going to be my favorite book on the year. Groves and Smith do an excellent job of developing a theology of the emotions. In particular they help readers understand how to experience and respond to the so-called negative emotions. This is the most thoroughly developed exploration of emotions from a Christian perspective that I have read, and it will be a reference tool for years to come.
2) Counsel for Couples by Jonathan Holmes
This book has been desperately needed for many years. This is the best, perhaps the only, manual for Biblical Counselors that helps them navigate the complexity of issues involved in marriage counseling. Jonathan gives readers a great introduction to the types of marital problems they will see in the counseling room, identifies dominant issues to address, and provides a road map for addressing these dominant issues. I know of no other book like this one.
3) Unstuck by Tim Lane
Balancing theological truth, Scriptural testimony, and modern psychological research well Tim Lane provides readers with a great guide to navigating a host of problems. The nine-steps provided walk readers through self-awareness, God-awareness, and practical change. This is a simple if not simplistic tool that can be used well in either personal study or group study.
4) God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America by Larry Eskridge
While not a 2019 publication, I loved reading this historical analysis of one of the most fascinating and significant theological movements in American history. This monograph has been called the definitive work on the Jesus People in America and in reading it I certainly understand such high praise. I loved reading this book. Eskridge looks at both key individuals and major themes within the movement. He gives fair critique to people and issues, and provides a wholistic look at the development of the movement. As someone who is personally fascinated by the movement and finds much to appreciate within it, I loved reading the stories of God’s movement in the lives of individuals. This was both an informative and exciting book to read.
5) Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
This is another older book, published originally in 2006, that has caught my attention this year. The book has set on my shelf for years and I have referenced it or thumbed through parts of it, but I had yet to sit down and actually read it front to back. I wish I had read it sooner! This is a fascinating look at what has been called the “emotional brain” and the development of personal emotional self-awareness. The book is well-written and insightful, groundbreaking in the psychological analysis of intelligence. If there is too much evolutionary psychology in part one, I can look past that to see the overall benefits of Goleman’s research and synthesis.