Top 5 Books We Read Last Year

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Last week’s episode came out on Christmas Day and this week’s episode is coming out on New Year’s Day! Happy 2024 (wow that’s weird to say)! What better way to celebrate the New Year than to look back wistfully on the previous year? By talking about the books we read…

Nathaniel’s Top Five

Before I start, these are in order from my #5 book to my top, #1 book of the year.

5) Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

Super solid book. It talks about the difference between anxiety and fear and how we can cast our fears on Him who cares for us as believers. 

Considering that 50% of adults aged 18-24 experienced symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder last year, this book is a phenomenal read. 

Also, to be honest, I went into this thinking that it would help me minister to friends who have anxiety, and I walked away from it having learned and grown so much. I was also greatly challenged and convicted by it. 

4) When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

This was all the rage a few years ago, but I decided to re-read it this year. And it’s just so, so good.

As Christians, we should desire to genuinely help people. But if we’re not careful, even if we have great intentions, we can cause terrible outcomes when we seek to help others. This book sheds light on how to help others without harming them in the long run. It’s an easy, but challenging and convicting read.

3) Between Life and Death by Kathryn Butler

This was a book I read in my Ethics of Life and Death class. As a Christian and young person, I hadn’t really thought about the ethics of death, dying well, etc…

This is written by someone who was a former ER surgeon in Boston, and who became a Christian while she was a surgeon. It is an incredible read, and honestly exposed me to a topic that I knew very little about. 

2) Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn

By far the best book about money and finances that I have ever read.

Honestly, Dave Ramsey just offers secular financial advice with a Christian twist. Randy Alcorn tells us how our faith should radically change the way we view and handle money. This book was phenomenal. I know that books on money sound boring, but I could not put this book down!

If you are a Christian wanting to dive into topics of money, stewardship, finances, etc… then don’t start with Dave Ramsey, start with Randy Alcorn (hot take!).  

1) Living Life Backwards by David Gibson

This may be a top three book that I’ve ever read.

It’s kind of like a non-academic exposition on the book of Ecclesiastes. “Exposition” sounds scary, but it’s a really easy read.

If there was one must-read book from my list, this would be it.

Basically, the premise is that we should live in light of the reality that we will one day die. This is so counter-cultural: we like to pretend that we will not die, and we never think about our own deaths. Gibson argues (very convincingly) that living in light of the reality that we will one day die allows us to truly live. 

Jonathan Edwards had a resolution to never do anything that he would be afraid to do if it was the last hour of his life. 

Having this massive perspective change allows us to be thankful for the life we have, live with meaning, and not be scared of death.

Xan’s Top Five

I’m just gonna go straight in order. Also, you’ll easily be able to tell how much I love historical books now.

1) Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Historical fiction – I discovered Kristin Hannah this year and she’s quickly becoming my favorite fiction author! She’s just such an incredible researcher and writer. I learn so much about history from her books.

It’s a story within a story. The modern-day story is of a mom with a strained relationship with her daughters. But, without spoiling it, you get more and more insight into why as the book goes on.

The historical aspect of the book is set in Leningrad (modern-day St. Petersburg, Russia) in WWII. It gave alarming insight into how rough the conditions were then.

2) The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

This was one of the first books I read in 2023 after hearing it on someone else’s top books from the year before.

It was a big leap for me because I never used to read fiction books and it was pretty much my first exposure for the year. And then it sent me down a whole rabbit hole of historical fiction for the rest of the year.

It’s set in WWII in England and the main characters are code breakers. It goes through the years of WWII and is seriously just so fascinating and captivating of a story.

3) Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley

I read this because I realized I was just greatly lacking in church history knowledge.

It’s what it sounds like – plain language, and easy to follow. But I learned SO much.

Nathaniel was in a Church History class at the same time so we got to have some chats, so that was nice.

4) The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

Nathaniel read it for a class and then went down a Randy Alcorn rabbit hole (I kinda did too). He focuses on where we store up our treasures and how that affects how we live our lives. He encourages being radically generous and how that brings so much joy.

5) Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Another historical fiction read! It’s about a 16-year-old girl that was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. When it was liberated, she was sent to a Siberian prison camp.

It tells the story of her survival there and it’s gut-wrenching. It’s based on true stories and is just incredible.

One Degree Shift

Read some good books this year. Even better- read one of these books and then tell us about it! Happy New Year!

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