My Ten Best Books of 2013 (#5)

Now that several of my "pastor type" friends have generously posted their "10 Best Books" of 2013 on this blog, I thought it was time I ponied up and listed mine. Of course, I have done this in past years here on the Desperate Pastor (see 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009) so this is not exactly a surprise.

Rather than trying to rank these from 1-10 (which is much too daunting a task for me), I will post them here in the order in which I read them:

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham. This biography of the seventh President of the United States won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The fascinating story of a fascinating man.

N. T. Wright's book, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, is a portrait of Jesus that both confirms the central tenets of the historical faith and challenges the sloppy thinking, talking, praying, and practice of which many of us are guilty. Wright always challenges and deepens my thinking (my full review is here).

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne is a gift to the church. Everyone should read it. Especially those of us who don't think they need to (read my full review of this book here).

Stephen King's 11/22/63 is the story of Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town who discovers a way to change history--specifically, to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. And believe it or not, that's only part of the story.

The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight (the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park College in Chicago) goes to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and experience his kingdom (read my full review here).

From the Garden to the City (The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology) by John Dyer. I have recommended this book to many for its expert discussion of technology, philosophy, history, and theology in a thoroughly and constantly engaging way. His call to control technology instead of letting it control and shape our lives continues to speak to me.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith encourages evangelicals, instead of trying to make the Bible say things and do things that it does not (e.g., approaching it as a "handbook for living," even to the extent of providing dating or dieting tips), to let the Bible be what it is: a a collection of "irreducibly multivocal, polysemic, and multivalent texts" that nonetheless powerfully points to (and only makes sense when understood in relation to) Jesus Christ (read my full review here).

Wendell Berry is one of my favorite writers. And Jayber Crow is now one of my favorite books. One of Berry's "Port William" novels, it is absolutely wonderful.

Profound. Profane. Honest. Humble. Hilarious. Hopeful. Raw. Revealing. Insightful. Beautiful. Nadia Bolz-Weber's book, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, is all of those things (read my full review here).

Surprised by Hope, another N. T. Wright book, seeks to answer two important questions: “What are we waiting for?” and “What are we going to do about it in the meantime?” (read my full review here).

Pat Conroy's My Reading Life details the books that have not only entertained him but also shaped his life.

Okay, so that's eleven, not ten. So sue me. It's hard enough to narrow down the 100+ books I read in 2013 this far to the eleven best. And while only a few of them were recent releases, they were all worth my time but also my admiration and celebration.

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