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Ten Most Beautiful Books I Read During the Last Decade
As we enter the second decade of the second millennium AD, Q is pausing to look back on the last ten years. Other contributors in this series include
by H. Stephen Shoemaker
In a series of compelling narratives, Shoemaker tells the story of Scripture in a way that’s colorful, earthy, unexpected, and winsome. When a book garners endorsements from the likes of Garrison Keillor and Fredrick Buechner, you know it’s going it’s not only going to be good, it’s going to be beautifully written.
Art of the Commonplace
by Wendell Berry
Though the urban world dazzles us with its accoutrements, the agrarian world gently invites us to rediscover who we are and the what’s most meaningful. Wendell Barry offers a series of twenty-one feisty essays (including an unforgettable piece on how computers have made us all worse writers) that will challenge the lenses through which you see your world and help you recognize the hidden beauty that’s inherit in the earth.
Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes
by Kenneth E. Bailey
If you’re looking for true beauty, it’s impossible to trump Jesus. With a childhood in Egypt and a career that allowed him to more than six decades in the Middle East, Bailey’s perspective of the life of Jesus is likely different than any you’ve seen or encountered before. This book is rich with insight and leaves Jesus more stunning that you’ve seen him before.
The Elegant Universe
by Brian Greene
The beauty of science and the wonder of creation are on display on every page of this volume. Though the book doesn’t have anything to do with God, per say, it reflects the delight and play and quirks of creation that reveal more about our Creator. Who knew string theory could be so fabulous?
A Walk through the Bible
by Lesslie Newbigin
Countless pilgrims try to read Genesis through Revelation but never make it past Leviticus. Those needing to grasp the big story of the Bible will find themselves delighted in a tiny 84-page offering from Lesslie Newbigin.
A Walk through the Bible
is more like a sunny afternoon stroll and is so delightful you’ll want to take it again and again.
Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The life of faithfulness and sacrifice is a work of beauty in itself. Few lives demonstrate as much beauty and inspiration as Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin’s book—all 916-pages of it, gulp—is packed with haunting moments from Lincoln’s life that will transform the way you live and lead.
After You Believe
by N. T. Wright
I’m becoming increasing convinced the question of faith is not as much “What have you been saved from?” as it is, “What have you been saved for?” Indeed, a life of faith is a beautiful endeavor when lived well. N. T. Wright will shift the way you embrace the beautiful message of salvation.
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth
by Walter Brueggemann
God loves poets, the beauty of their words, the thoughtfulness of their prose. Brueggemann is a poet-theologian-scholar who isn’t afraid to ask the most terrible of questions and sit in the most painful of silence waiting for the answer. In the darkness, he discovers hidden gems of faithfulness, love, companionship reminding us that beautiful treasures are often found in life's most difficult moments.
Jesus Driven Ministry
by Ajith Fernando
Few books have haunted me this decade like this work by a Sri Lankan pastor who ministers on the other side of the globe. His language to describe Jesus, faith, church are so, well, un-American, they’re refreshing and bounding with life. Ajith Fernando is a minister and writer whose work you’ll have a hard time not falling in love with.
The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
We must never lose our ability to see ourselves or our world through childlike lenses.
The Velveteen Rabbit
is a lifelong reminder that our personal worth isn’t found in being bigger, stronger, or better, but in becoming real, becoming who we are really meant to be. This beautiful, timeless story is one that needs to be read on a regular basis—no matter your age.
In your opinion, are any books on Margaret's list that you think shouldn't be? Which books would be on your list?
Editor's note: The artwork above is from
I'd actually add Margaret's book The Organic God. I know she can't name her own book, so I will.
I like some of the titles on this list, but I would add some more secular stuff: Jonathan Safran Foer, Dave Eggers, David Sedaris, Yann Martel, etc. Oh well. At least you didn't include The Shack in your list. Bleh.
Awesome, I have new books to add to my "to read" list!
john van sloten
Great list. Just ordered four new books! Thanks Margaret.
I would add Frank Viola's "Pagan Christianity".... but it won't make a consensus
I thought about getting Viola's book. Why would you recommend it?
secular: the help
sacred: the barbarian way
"God of the Possible" by Greg Boyd
"The God Who Risks, revised edition" by John Sanders
I read a book called "In the Land of Believers", by Gina Welch. Absolutely amazing book. A definite must read.
"Friendship at the Margins" written by Heuertz and Pohl gave words to a lot of my impulses and kind of freed me up nicely. I've recommended it at every opportunity.
My Reading Life - Conroy
Challenge of Jesus - Wright
A number of the titles on the list are secular--including Elegant Universe, Team of Rivals, and Velveteen Rabbit among others...one doesn't need to read a "christian" book to find the wonders of God scribbled on pages.
Great list; I've been wanting to read Bailey. Thanks for reminder.
I'd add Good Value by Stephen Green (with an "everyone needs to read it" endorsement) and Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton.
"Gilead" and "Home" by Marilyn Robinson.
Her realism is stunning. It captures beauty in the most common elements of midwestern life and faith. Her words put awe into the simple and faithful, church life.
Please don't get away from thankfulness for "what you have been saved from." It's just as important as "what you have been saved for." It's not an "either/or," it's a "both/and."
Thanks for the adds to my "to be read" list! I've read and re-read The Velveteen Rabbit but it's time again.
I'd add Margaret's The Sacred Echo to the list but as mentioned above she probably shouldn't include her own works. :)
I agree, Margaret, all truth is God's truth (Augustine) and it emerges in the most "unlikely" of places throughout the creation (nature and culture). The sacred-secular distinction is, therefore, to my mind, an unhelpful one.
And, Will, yes, I find Marilyn Robinson's writing exquisite -- breathtaking! -- both conceptually and stylistically. From my very limited perspective, Robinson is peerless in literary witness to and honoring of God. Really. Every phrase simultaneously simple, profound, stunningly beautiful. Wow. Thank you for the reminder, Will.
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