In yesterday’s post, I listed seven novels/series that I hold in high regard. Today, I wanted to recommend seven non-fiction books that I have really enjoyed in recent years. Again, this isn’t my all-time list, but I definitely appreciate and recommend these books often.
Seven Fantastic Non-Fiction Books:
Love is a Mixtape, by Rob Sheffield. I picked up this memoir, thinking it would be a little light reading on a business trip, and it left me gutted from the very first chapter. Like, crying during my flight, trying to be inconspicuous. Sheffield is a Rolling Stone writer who documents his too-brief marriage through the music that he and his late wife shared with each other. This book made me a fan of Sheffield’s writing, and each subsequent book of his has been a no-brainer purchase for me.
Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand.
I read this book two years ago
, and it still comes to mind as one of my favorite biographies. The story of Louis Zamperini is powerful and inspiring, not just for his endurance under incredible torture, but even more powerfully, the story of grace and the power of the Gospel that was underplayed by the film adaptation of Hillenbrand’s excellent biography. If you are at all interested in biographies, this one is DEFINITELY worth picking up.
Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung. I’ve loaned or given this book to more people than pretty much any other book I own. Just Do Something is the best book on discerning God’s will that I’ve ever read. It’s Biblical, practical, and approachable. If you’re involved in ministry, especially ministry to students or young adults, I would encourage you to purchase many copies of this and give them away.
On Writing, by Stephen King. This is another selection that I realize I need to re-read soon. I’ve read many books about the process of writing, but King’s contribution to the genre is a bit unusual. It’s a hybrid of sorts–half autobiography, half how-to manual. He even includes a short-story he wrote and demonstrates how he edits his own work. This book gives insight into the writing process of one of the most prolific and successful horror writers of the 20th century. If you’re interested in the craft of writing, this is a good one to check out. (Note: In my estimation of great books on writing, King barely edges out Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing, which is also a worthwhile read.)
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, by Tim Challies. The problems with books about “Biblical discernment” are generally two-fold: 1) the world of “discernment ministry” is rife with arrogant bloviators who tend to drown out or overshadow faithful exegetes and shepherds doing good work; and, 2) books too quickly appear out-of-date, as one heretical fad teaching quickly replaces another. Thankfully, Tim Challies provides a grounded, faithful approach to the question of spiritual discernment that is humble in approach, winsome in tone, and has the potential to continue being useful for many years to come. If you are seeking to grow in Biblical discernment, especially when it comes to detecting false doctrine, this is a great introductory work.
The Pastor’s Justification / The Prodigal Church, by Jared C. Wilson.
If you’re not reading the work of Jared Wilson, please just start. He blogs at For The Church
and his books are just outstanding. These two books are probably my favorites (at least at this point; he writes something like 17 books a year nowadays). The Pastor’s Justification
is a call for pastors to remember that their security and identity are found in their relationship with Jesus, not their “ministry effectiveness” or external success. The Prodigal Church
is, in Wilson’s words, a “gentle manifesto” against some of the excesses and distractions of the American evangelical church. These books are incredibly encouraging, especially for those in ministry. If you are a pastor, go pick up these books, for the sake of your own heart. If you are a lay person, find out if your pastor has read them, and if he hasn’t, love him by buying him a copy of each. So good. So, so good. (You can find my full reviews here