Some bloggers do their yearly book lists in December, but since the year isn’t over until December 31, I prefer to wait until January. Sports awards, after which my book awards are modeled, are usually bestowed during the postseason, so January seems reasonable. I have tried to fashion my 2009 Book Awards loosely after Major League Baseball’s awards, though my awards are decided by a committee of one. The finalists under consideration for the awards can be found here.
A brief disclaimer: The finalists are books that I read in 2009 and not necessarily written in 2009 (see the Rookie of the Year award). A book can only win one award, to keep things interesting (except for the First Team and Hall of Fame). Also, clicking some links will refer you to WTSBooks and help me get free books. Without further ado…
Most Valuable Book, Theology League
Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray (1955). One of the seminal works on the atonement and Reformed soteriology as Murray biblically, clearly, and pastorally lays out the evidence for and ramifications of the atonement. I read this after learning that it is one of my dad’s most influential and favorite books, and now it is one of my favorite books. I’ve already gone back to it multiple times.
Most Valuable Book, Literature League
Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide-eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken Word, N.D. Wilson (2009). C.S. Lewis writes that a good reader will not be the same person after reading a good work. Whether I’m a good reader or not, I was not the same person after reading this book. Wilson’s work is poetic, well-researched, witty, thought provoking, and will make you appreciate the little things in the world. He combines theology, philosophy, fantasy, poetry, science, romance, history, geography, and nature into a book that I will re-read multiple times.
All-Star Team (Next Top 9)
The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, Gregg Strawbridge, ed. (2003)
The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til (1955)
Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1559)
Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung (2009)
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy (1961)
Primer on Worship and Reformation, Doug Wilson (2008)
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs (1651)
Surprised By Hope, N.T. Wright (2008)
Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis (1956)
Rookie of the Year (best book published in 2009)
Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung. This should win by virtue of the subtitle alone: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will (Or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc.). DeYoung delivers a short, powerful discussion of God’s will and decision making, debunking popular Christian views about “finding the center of God’s will” and similar banal cliches in the process.
Gold Glove (best defense)
The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til (1955). Van Til convincingly argues that the Reformed faith offers the most biblical, the fullest, and the most effective apologetic for Christianity. Difficult at times, but the work of a brilliant mind is rewarding to read. Van Til is biblical, philosophical, convincing, sincere, and scathing throughout. I wish I could have sat under his teaching to learn more specific examples of presuppositional apologetics.
Silver Slugger (hardest hitting)
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs (1651). Convicted me again and again that I am unworthy of any of the good I have received and thus must be content, that my discontent is tied to my sin, and that contentment is not necessarily a fulfillment of my desires but a lessening of them. Each page is dripping with conviction and biblical richness.
Manager of the Year (most helpful)
The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, Gregg Strawbridge ed. (2003). Full review here. This edited collection of essays from many leading Reformed pastors/scholars was immensely helpful in explaining the evidence for, necessity of, and nuances of infant baptism. Highly recommended.
Batting Average Champ (topic with the highest number of books)
As Dr. Gordon teaches, to get just a general introduction to a subject one must read at least three to five books. I took his challenge and read several books (and a gaggle of articles) on worship this year. The three main ones included Wilson’s Primer, Horton’s A Better Way, and Muether & Hart’s With Reverence and Awe. Beale’s We Become What We Worship and DeYoung & Kluck’s Why We Love the Church were loosely related, and Calvin included many heavy sections on biblical worship in his Institutes.
Hall of Fame inductees (best literature)
I try to sprinkle several classic works of literature (or excellent modern literature) into my reading list. I didn’t read as much as I should have last year, but these three were the best I read in 2009:
Stay tuned for the 2010 Preseason Book Awards.