One of life's privileges must be the ability to read - or listen to books. There is something quite beautiful about a well-crafted and presented book whereby you feel enriched simply by holding it! And there is something quite amazing about Audible and the ability to listen to books on the move - which without doubt has increased my capacity to enjoy more of them this year. So, with this in mind here are some of the books I've enjoyed either reading or listening to during 2022 with a sentence or two as to why.
When Everything's on Fire - Faith Forged from the Ashes by Brian Zhand
I've very much enjoyed reading the work of Brian Zhand in recent years - his desire for a robust and historic faith that draws deeply on orthodox tradition has been a source of comfort and especially as I continue to question the fundamentalism of my early adulthood. Here Brian does a great job of questioning and then reconstructing a faith around the centrality of Jesus - a real blessing. The first half of the book is exceptional in my mind.
Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Made the World by Tom Holland
For those familiar with the Rest is History podcast Tom Holland will be no stranger. His amazing work Dominion is a fascination trace of the development Western Civilization and the role Christianity played in this and provides fuel for the debate around how society will fair in the future. For those who enjoy picking holes in the negative impact of faith on society would do well to read his work as part of a considered response to the current progressive debate lest we end up throwing out babies along with the bath water.
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
I never learned much about philosophy at school - this was my introduction presented in narrative style. I'd had the book for some years and it was the Audible option that hooked me in this time.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
This is a fascinating insight into the progression of humanity from ancient civilizations to the current day. The inevitable evolution of humanity is clear from the book - the power of culture is unforgiving and the advent of the modern era is both enlightening - and I guess terrifying in equal measure.
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall
I started to read this book prior to the war in Ukraine and so when that happened the geography of the region and the politics around it made so much more sense. On completing the book I was left with one outstanding conclusion: the world is determined by geography as much as it is by money - I did not clearly understand this before I read this book.
Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis
With the world clearly focused on the horrors of Ukraine I had to read this book! It is a truly fascinating insight into the world as it is rather than how we might wish it to be. If you watched McMafia you know what you are getting into with Kleptopia.
How Not to Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind by James O'Brien
O'Brien's ability to think clearly and express himself thoughtfully is a true gift for a journalist - but to take that gift and apply it personally to previously held positions demonstrates a level of curiosity and vulnerability that is heartwarming. It's not that you might agree with all his conclusions but to see how he arrived at them is a gift he now offers to us all.
A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson
Peterson was known as the Pastors, Pastor - and not without reason. Godly, humble, consistent - yet not without flaw, this biography is a true step into his life and what flowed from his heart and brain. A legend in his own lifetime, we see few of this caliber. If you ever read the Message version of the Bible then you are reading his work - and if you enjoy his work you'd do well to read about his life.
Living An Examined Life: Wisdom for The Second Half of The Journey by James Hollis
This book was a gift to me during a season when I really needed it and I’ve read it again this year. Finding the courage to face your demons and fears is the most anyone can offer - and Hollis does it in shed loads. I will never be without this book.