Let's start with the best fiction I read this year (not necessarily published this year): Peace Like A River by Leif Enger is written in prose both springy and boundless this is among the best novels I've read in the past few years. The Last Man by Vince Flynn is the thirteenth Mitch Rapp book and he continues to impress with his pacing. Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is one that is staying with me. A novel with odd and sometimes grotesque characters that are broken in ways that we all are. The main character Sunny is a woman born with a medical condition that makes her hairless, and her baldness is used to great effect as a metaphor, as her wig is something like a fig leaf in Eden, covering her real self. It serves as a buffer to the real world: of her autistic son's problems, her husband's cold logic and distance, her mom's impending death, her fear surrounding her pregnancy. And lastly, The Snow Child by first-time author Eowyn Ivey. This is an enchanting story of a childless couple starting over in the Alaskan wilderness and their relationship with a mysterious girl. Full of wonder and a measure of sadness, this outstanding debut novel ranks with the best of Leif Enger and Gil Adamson.
For nonfiction: Leaving Yesterday Behind by William Hines is a fabulous short book on dealing with our past. It is doctrinally orthodox while being relentlessly practical. Knowing God by J.I. Packer is a classic and is worth multiple readings. Luther's Commentary on Galatians is, despite being a bit repetitive in its main theme, a 500 year-old law & gospel classic. On The Incarnation by Athanasius. The author was a 4th century Christian who wrote this as a long letter to a recent convert in order to help him understand Christ's Incarnation. It is ripe with orthodox Christian doctrine and one of the more powerful sections of the book is how he ties the passage in 1 Cor. 15:55 (O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?) to the martyrdom of the early Christian church. That in Christ's conquest of death He not only provided reconciliation with the Father culminating in eternal life, but also followers who embraced death while standing on the truth of these claims. Not to be missed is C.S. Lewis's quotable introduction where he discusses the value of old books and recommends, as a "good rule: after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between." Good advice made all the wiser when choosing classic texts like this one.
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