I READ A NUMBER OF BOOKS THIS YEAR. Some of them were necessitated by my research for writing projects. Others were for personal growth, especially given the current political and social climate. For example, I read Charles Murray’s, Human Diversity, Pluckrose & Lindsay’s Cynical Theories, Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, and Bruce Bawer’s The Victims Revolution.  These tended toward dry, academic reading, but they are important for understanding the modern Mess that is now the Western World. I’m glad I read them, but not sure I can recommend them to a general audience. 

My presumption is that you are looking for fun books that are also helpful in some way—books that might make good Christmas gifts. Here is a list of my favorites from this last year.  Click on the link if you would like more details. Also, you can get them faster, and usually cheaper, in Kindle.

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland. This book is a series of short chapters, just the right length for daily meditations, that unfold Christ’s gentleness, love, care, and compassion. It’s the perfect book for someone struggling to believe that God really loves them.  

To End All Wars by Ernest Gordon came out a few decades back and was turned into a first-class movie starring Keifer Sutherland. As usual, the book is much better than the movie. It is the true story of the author’s WWII experience of spiritual revival in a Japanese prison camp in Burma. The author recounts his conversion and the conversions of many around him. It is a riveting story of hope in the most horrendous circumstances. 

The Male Brain by neuroscientist Louanne Brizendine was another pleasant read. Written for the non-technical layperson, this book clearly explains the biological reasons for the differences in how men and women think. The feminists have it all wrong. There are massive differences between the sexes, and biology is the culprit. This book is a huge aid for the husband or wife trying to understand why their spouse thinks differently. 

Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett is the true story of the author’s work in India at the beginning of the twentieth century hunting down and killing man-eating tigers. Some had killed and eaten over 400 people and left whole districts completely paralyzed with terror. Corbett describes the tigers and his difficulties at tracking and finally shooting them. You won’t be able to put this read down, and you will emerge grateful for when and where you live. 

By Glenn Sunshine, Slaying Leviathan is a timely, short tome on the history of Christian civil disobedience. Moving from Augustine and the early church, Sunshine describes scholars conflicting opinions on when it is appropriate to rebel against civil government. The focus is on the reformers, the seventeenth-century English Puritans, and the men who led the American Revolution. This is an important book for this moment in history. 

The Daring Heart of David Livingston by Jay Milbrandt is a well-written biography of the Christian missionary that opened the heart of Africa to the gospel, his work at abolishing the slave trade, and the inconsistencies apparent in his long, fruitful life. David Livingston was a nineteenth-century British celebrity that every Christian needs to learn more about. 

Down the Great Unknown by Dolnick recounts the true story of the first descent of the Colorado River in 1868-69 by John Wesley Powell and nine other men in wooden rowboats. This is a first-class adventure story, and they didn’t all survive to tell about it. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell is another short, relevant read. If you have never read this insightful parody, now is the time because we might soon experience our own version of animal farm. The pigs lead the animals in a revolution to take over the farm and set up a socialist utopia. The initial slogan is “All animals are equal,” but by the end, it has become “All animals are equal, but the pigs are just a bit more equal than the others.” 

Last, The Pioneers by Pulitzer prize winner David McCullough covers the history of the Northwest Territory’s opening and settling from 1795-1850. Focusing on the historic town of Marietta, Ohio, the launching pad for the westward expansion of the American populace, Pioneers tells a thought-provoking story for which we should all be grateful. The pioneers were tough. Life was short, and there was much privation, but they endured it all with joy and optimism. I was personally inspired.