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The ECC Blog

My 2021 Reading Year


If you are expecting profound reflection on the past year, I am sorry to disappoint you. What I have instead is some thoughts on what I read during 2021—my top picks (and maybe a couple of honorable mentions). Like some of you, I keep track of what I read and want to read on the Good Reads app. As I was reflecting over my list of books for this calendar year, I was surprised by how many aren’t worth reading again—some because of poor writing (author’s fault), some because someone else has said the same thing in a better way somewhere else (publisher’s fault), some because it didn’t have real purpose for me (my fault). But then, there was much that is valuable and edifying, and that is what I want to share with you.

Best new fiction The Mission House by Carys Davies

This was a real find for me in my continual yearly quest for excellent modern fiction; Carys Davies has crafted a heart-rending look into the human soul's need for purpose and love. With beautiful language that is not overdone, with poignant motifs and an underlying intensity that grows as the plot moves forward, she pulls us into the hearts of the characters. Without sentimentality, she causes us to both hurt and hope with them.

 This story is one of love and sacrifice, but not necessarily of redemption. In it I see the hopelessness of human effort outside of a God who sees and understands all and intervenes to redeem what otherwise will be meaningless. If you pick it up, stay with it past the slower opening chapters (they are like that for a reason).


Best classic fiction Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I read several classics this year. Mansfield Park was a re-read, my annual return to Jane Austen. It has always been my least favorite of her works, but this time I was struck more deeply by Sir Thomas, and I’ve come to believe that he is the true hero of this novel and to appreciate the story more because of him.

The book is about Mansfield Park, the place, even more than it is about Fanny Price, the main character. Mansfield Park represents home, beauty, stability, love, knowledge, and moral foundation. Away from it everyone and everything is unstable, but there all wrongs are righted. Sir Thomas is the head of that home and its representative.  He, in a sense, forces Fanny forward, brings her “out”. He causes her moment of self-realization (that is faced by every Austen heroine) by sending her to her original home, and he has his own crisis of self-understanding that changes his outlook and brings him into right relationship with the heroine. Good stuff.


Classic fiction honorable mention: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Very funny, with humor similar to P.G. Wodehouse.  It is the commonality of the humorous experiences that make this book so endearing. A thoroughly amusing look at the ordinary life--marriage, parenting, household maintenance, friendship, and work.


Best children’s: The Promise by Jason Helopoulos, illustrated by Rommel Ruiz

I cried when I read this “amazing story of our long-awaited savior.” This stunningly illustrated book takes us back to the garden to remember why we need a savior and then through the patriarchs of the Old Testament who only foreshadowed the One they could not be. Then we see how Jesus fulfilled everything in which they fell short. It will stir you to worship Him.


Children’s honorable mention: Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb

Absolutely delightful! For middle grade readers (and adults like me).


Most encouraging God is Able by Priscilla Shirer

An uplifting application of Ephesians 3:20-21 to our seemingly “impossible, impenetrable, unchangeable” circumstances and struggles. I listened to the excellent Christianaudio version read so feelingly by Lisa Renee Pitts.


Top Two: These are both so good, I can’t choose between them.

Ten Words to Live by: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin

Jen Wilkin is an insightful and gifted Bible teacher; she is also a very good writer. Her books are always rich in theology and its application. In this one, she shows us “how the Ten Commandments come to bear on [our] lives today, helping [us] to love God and others, live in joyful freedom, and long for that future day when God will be rightly worshiped for eternity. Ancient and timeless, these words cannot be overlooked. They serve as the rightful delight and daily meditation of those who call on the name of the Lord.” (from Goodreads summary)


Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age by Tony Reinke

Reinke has given us a 21rst century reflection along the lines of C.S. Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory.” With compelling prosaic language he outlines our modern obsession with the spectacles provided us by technology. Had he stopped there, the book would’ve been a bore, just another treatise on the dangers of social media and television.

In fact, I almost stopped after the first few pages, but I am so glad that I continued, for Reinke goes on to look at the human heart, which has in every age hungered for spectacle. And best of all, he shows how the God of spectacle, the creator of such a magnificent universe, gave us the ultimate spectacle in the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and in the resurrection.

But the book is also very practical. Reinke allows us to enjoy the human achievements of our day while living as worshipers of Christ. In his “summations and applications” he gives us ten “thoughts”—challenges really—that walk the road between pharisaic legalism and antinomianism and show us how we can turn our eyes away from the spectacles the world has to offer so that our hearts can be satiated with the glory of Christ.


Just remembering these books has made me look forward to a new year of reading. I’d love to hear what has blessed you and what you plan to read in 2022. I’m starting with Jackie Hill Perry’s, Holier than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him. You are welcome to join me (maybe a little easier than Michael’s journey through Dante)!








Thanks. are any of these in the church library.?Now that I am retired looking forward to reading more.
I just finished Max Lucado's new book "You Were Made for this Moment. courage for today and hope for tomorrow." Well worth the time to read.

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