I thought I’d follow in Kieran’s footsteps and reflect on my top books of 2018.
Two of my favourites were also in Kieran’s top 5: Jack Deere’s personal memoir, Even in our Darkness (a complete page turner) and This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax (so good that I read/listened to it twice in a few months).
I had a year of series/authors. Here are three authors / series that had me engaged through 2018:
Rosaria Butterfield: I started with Rosaria’s most recent book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radical Hospitality in a Post-Christian World and I loved the way her head, heart and actions came together, so much so that it encouraged me to read her conversion story in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, then her sequel to that Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ, the story of how the grace of God and radical hospitality gradually brought an avidly anti-Christian lesbian professor to faith in Jesus, then her early growth and transformation as a Christian. Having Rosaria reading these books on audiobooks probably heightened my enjoyment of them!
Sensible Shoes Series by Sharon Garlough Brown: Recommended to me by a friend who’d discipled me as a teenager, these books are about the spiritual journey of four women who join a spiritual formation group at a retreat centre. As well as showing the way the women’s lives are transformed by God’s work in their lives and their companionship with each other on the journey, it also puts legs on a range of spiritual practices through the fictional story of the women’s engagement with them.
Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling: I must admit, I started reading the Harry Potter series last year because I decided that since it’s influence was remaining strong it was about time I read it and worked out what I thought of it. (I’d got stuck half-way through the series fifteen years ago). I loved it and could barely stop reading. There are so many great themes and they are just such good stories. I loved being able to use Harry Potter characters and other book characters that our kids know when we were exploring Jesus as Redeemer in KidsChurch last year. But while I really appreciated and enjoyed it, I could also understand the questions that some Christians have had about the Harry Potter books. Alongside my reading of the series, I’ve read some of the Christian books and articles about it. I’m very up for a conversation about it with anyone who’s interested! In short, I think it is a fantastic series but I do think that there is wisdom in caution, particularly with regard to the age of kids reading them (especially the later ones) and the potentially unhelpful direction it might influence some kids. Parents (and grand-parents and friends of kids), I’d really encourage you to be reading some of what your kids/young friends are reading, considering how it is shaping them and being ready to engage with them about it, using it as an opportunity to speak about the gospel and shape them in faith and life.