Choosing the best books of the year each year is never easy, and my 2022 Best Books of the Year is no different. Nevertheless, here’s my top ten books of 2022 to consider adding to your 2023 reading list.
At the beginning of 2022, I had no idea I would be starting seminary mid-way through the year. Of course, it was a deep desire of mine to complete my Masters of Divinity, but I couldn’t see how it was possible given my current life season (homeschooling four kids including a toddler). However, God knew, and He guided me every step of the way. It’s been such a wonderful journey, and I can’t wait to dive into Winter Term in January.
As I reflected on the 55 books I read this year, I was pleased with the diversity in my reading. Some books I read because of seminary, but I also had a healthy dose of fiction and personal interest books thrown in as well.
Most of the books I read this year were books I actually held in my hands, and only one or two were read on my Kindle. This was a big change from years past for me. I just couldn’t bring myself to read on a screen this year. I’m not entirely sure why. However, I did have a healthy dose of audiobooks, which was also surprising but it worked really well for me this year.
If you’re interested, I did a few blog updates on my reading this year:
Overall, it was a good reading year, and I’m already looking forward to what 2023 will bring. After much contemplation, below are the best books I read in 2022. Perhaps one or two will show up on your reading stack in 2023!
The Best Books I Read in 2022
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After having this one recommended to me several times, I downloaded it on Hoopla from the library. This is a much-needed book for our time. Alisa Childers is well researched, thoughtful, and engaging communicator. I ended up buying the book and reading it a second time with my husband. I’m not sure her experience of progressive Christianity is an accurate representation of the wide-ranging spectrum of those who consider themselves progressive, but I do think in the end she represented both “sides” pretty fairly. Honestly, it was this book that made me crave seminary all the more. The idea of digging deeper into what I believe and why alongside other thinkers and ministry leaders was something this book solidified deeply for me. Another Gospel? is a great launching pad book for anyone interested in one person’s intellectual journey to questioning her faith and seeking answers for herself.
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James
Women comprise at least half the church, and in some places, they make up more than half the church! However, so often Christian teaching fails to address women as whole person’s made in the image of God. Cultural Christianity is being rocked a bit right now, as men and women begin questioning what’s biblical and what’s cultural and how to tell the difference when it comes to womanhood (among other things). I think this is a good, good thing. This is a great book to whet your appetite for the conversation, and James’ question on how the western church’s Christian message combats the rampant suffering of women around the world was one I’m still chewing on. This book will be on my recommended reading list for 2023.
We’ve lost a sense of relationship in our culture, so it’s not surprising that the global church is facing a deep discipleship crisis. Discipleship is rooted in relationship – relationship with self, with God, and with man. This book makes the case for slowing down in order to give space for cultivating a deep, personal relationship with Jesus. I listened to this book on Audible, and my husband has listened through it twice this year, and we talked about it off and on for the better part of the summer and fall. This is an absolute must-read for Christian leaders, but truly anyone will benefit.
I read this book at the recommendation of my coach/therapist. I read it very slowly and spent many of my sessions talking about what came up for me. We all carry some sort of “baggage” around, the broken pieces we aren’t sure what to do with. But the good news is that there is someone who does know and His name is Jesus. I used this book to help me honestly assess and expose what’s been buried and hidden, hurt and traumatized, so I could bring it to the feet of Jesus and let Him heal these broken places. It was a wonderfully healing journey, but it only scratched the surface. I think I might re-read it in 2022.
I read this book because it was part of my seminary class, On Being Human. One of the things I love about Fuller is the merging of theology with psychology as often as possible. This is such a practical and compassionate perspective on what it means to live in a body, a concept largely ignored in the church. I love how this book looks at both our individual and collective communal need for healing and embodied living. This is not a book you will fly through, but one you will work through slowly. I highly recommend writing a letter to your body exercise. I had to write one at the start of the summer term and then again at the end of the summer term, and wow! what a change!
Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood by Patrick B. Reyes
Admittedly I threw this book across the room a few times. It wasn’t until I was two-thirds of the way through it that something clicked, and I can honestly say I will never be the same. I don’t know if this is the case for everyone with this book, but his thesis that everyone’s first calling is the call to life moved me somewhere deep inside. This book helped me to cement why I’m in seminary, but it also exposed to me a culture and context very much removed from my own. This is a good book to read if you’re looking for resources to expand your thinking regarding racism, colonialism, and prejudice.
The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel
This is a book I will read over and over and over again. The Sabbath isn’t very long, but it is profound. Abraham Joshua Heschel argues that Judaism is the religion of time where it extracts its meaning not from material things or in space, but in the sanctity of time and the eternity it beckons. I think every single Christian should read this book. Truly. If you struggle to embrace rest, then this is a book that could help unlock some of the mysteries of sabbath rest for you. This isn’t just something for those who practice Judaism. It’s for everyone. Plus it is beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down.
Holy Hygge: Creating a Place for People to Gather and the Gospel to Grow by Jamie Erickson
This one came to me as a gift from the author. I confess I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened it up, but the title drew me, and the by-line hooked me (creating a place for people to gather and the gospel to grow). My only complaint about this one is that it’s written to women when this isn’t a woman’s topic, it’s a Christian topic. I read many sections aloud to my husband, and I found myself discussing the content of the book with all sorts of people around my table (young, old, male, and female). I think the book could have reached a broader audience with a little bit of ingenuity, but it’s written directly to women so a male reader would just need to consider his own examples and application. However, we women have been doing that for a long time, so I don’t think that should be a problem. 🙂 Anyway, I loved the heart of this book, and I think it’s exactly what the church needs right now. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!
Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life by Henri Nouwen
I came across a Henri Nouwen quote in Brant Hanson’s book, Unoffendable (still one of my favorite books), a few years ago about the value of presence that literally changed my life. It’s now one of my often referred to, quoted, and meditated upon quotes to help set the course of my days and focus my heart when I lose track of my purpose. I use it to counsel others with, and I even have it saved as a note on my phone to pull out when discussions lend themselves to the moment. Therefore, I figured if one quote could leave me with so much to chew on, what could a whole book do? It took me several weeks to get through Reaching Out, it’s not a quick read at all, but it was so rich. The premise of this book is something I have been pondering all my adult life (solitude, hospitality, and prayer). It’s not a solutions book, but a book you will ponder, think, and wonder about. I’m going to re-read it in 2022.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
It took me longer than I expected, but I was so sad when this one ended. Sci-Fi isn’t a normal read for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I’ve heard the audio version has a great narrator; I bet I would have loved it dramatized! I never really had that “can’t put it down” vibe, but I did have the “I wonder what my friends are up to” vibe. It was a comfortable read, intriguing enough to stay involved, but not so much that I read too far past my bedtime each night. All I can say is: this book was absolutely fascinating! Also, it had very little “language” in it. There were appropriate spots where it was needed for the believability of characters, but overall this was a pretty clean book. I just loved it.
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What were your favorite books of 2022?
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