The 2012 Pastor Matt Book Awards and the Annual Annotated Booklist


What up bibliophiles! It is that time again..that’s right, it is time for the 2012 Pastor Matt Book Awards! To heck with the National Book Awards or even the Pulitzer or Nobel prizes, those are like the Blockbuster Awards compared to the Oscars!  But enough of my yappin’, here we go:

I listed my favorite Christian books of the year last week and you can view those here.  As I stated in that post, The Best Christian Book of the Year is Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller (Zondervan 2012).  The runner-up is Matt Chandler’s The Explicit Gospel (Crossway 2012).

The Best Novel of the Year is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown 2012). There is a reason this book sold over a million copies! A true page turner. I highly recommend it. The runner-up is the biting satire of evangelicalism’s cult of personality Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson (Canon 2012).

The Best Graphic Novel of the Year is Hit by Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball by Molly Lawless (McFarland 2012).  The story of baseball’s first fatal injury is told with compassion and passion by Lawless, a lifelong baseball fan.  Runner up? My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (Abrams 2012).  Backderf attended high school with the infamous serial killer and offers his account with disturbing detail.

The Best Sports Book of the Year is  One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard (Hyperion 2012), which is the compelling story of an unlikely high school’s run at the Illinois state baseball championship.  My runner-up is Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth (St. Martin’s Griffin 2012)…if you agree Duke sucks, breath.

The Best Book on History, Politics or Public Policy is No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed by John Stossel (Threshold 2012), which is the best introduction and overview of libertarianism I have ever read.  The runner-up is The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg (Crown 2012) in which Issenberg traces the history of modern political science and how it has been implemented in winning campaigns like the Obama elections of 2008 and 2012.  A must read for hacks like me.

But The Pastor Matt Book of the Year is Why Does the World Exist: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt (Liveright 2012).  Holt travelled the world speaking to philosophers and scientists trying to figure out why there is a something rather than nothing.  A great read for a geek like me.  The runner-up is Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Viking 2012).  Harden recounts the true story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who escaped from a North Korean prison camp–a heartbreaking tale.

Here is an annotated list of all of the books I’ve read this year to help my fellow book addicts spend their time and money wisely.  Enjoy.

1. Fasting by Scot McKnight (Thomas Nelson 2010).  An insightful and balanced view of the spiritual discipline. Recommended.

2.Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul (Grand Central Publishing 2009). A cogent modern defense of libertarianism. Recommended.

3. Union with Christ by J. Todd Billings (Baker 2011). The best resource on the subject. It may very well change the way you look at your faith. Highly recommended.

4. End The Fed by Ron Paul (Grand Central 2009).  I have to admit, the odd little dude makes a persuasive case. Highly recommended.

5. Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica by Mick Wall (St. Martins Press, 2011).  A well-written overview of the band that makes the occasional error (Slayer was never named Dragonslayer). Not bad.

6. Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt (Penguin Classics 1962).  An eye-opening look at how an ordinary person can become an instrument of evil. Recommended for history buffs.

7. Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark Driscoll and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson 2012).  An honest and practical tool for married couples. Highly recommended.

8. The Fraternity by Diane Brady (Spiegel & Grau 2012).  The fascinating tale of how one priest in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. recruited and mentored a number of young African-American men at Holy Cross University including Justice Clarence Thomas and future Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Jones.  Recommended.

9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner 1925).  The greatest indictment of the “American Dream” I have ever read.  Brilliant.

10. In My Place Condemned He Stood by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever (Crossway, 2008).  Four classic pieces on the atonement by Packer and Dever. A must read.

11. Ulysses by James Joyce (Modern Library Edition 1992). The Modern Library declared this to be the greatest novel of the twentieth-century. I’m not sure I agree but it is great.  It was controversial when it was published and is still rough at times but I was touched by Stephen’s search for a father figure and Leo’s search for a son.

12. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies by Robert Sklar (Vintage, 1994). An elegantly written history of American film from the 19th Century to 1993.  Highly recommended for fellow film buffs.

13. Artemis Fowl–The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion 2010).  The weakest book in the series but, unfortunately, also the last one.  My son and I really dug these tales about a teenage criminal mastermind and the fairy underworld.  I recommend the series.

14. The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson (Knopf 2012). An interesting account of the 19th century attempts to reach the North Pole.

15. The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns (Brazos 2012).  Enns argues that one must accept the conclusions of evolutionary biologists that human beings could not have descended from common ancestors, which means that we must re-read Genesis 1-3 as ancient literature rather than ancient history.  A well-written and gracious argument but one that is not quite convincing. Still, it is worth reading.

16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2008).  A well-written but dark dystopian novel for “young adults.”  Recommended but only for children over 12.

17. The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges (Navpress 2012).  A biblical, clear, practical outline for growth in holiness. Recommended.

18. Call of the Wild by Jack London (Macmillan 1903).  A dark tale for a “family book” about an ill-treated dog’s adventures in 19th century Alaska.  Very well-written but recommended for those over 12 only.

19. The Games That Changed the Game by Ron Jaworski (ESPN 2011).  Calls for a bit of knowledge of the game but for hardcore fans this is a great read. Recommended.

20. Red by John Logan (Oberon Books 2010).  An eye-opening look at the life of artist Mark Rothko.  Highly recommended.

21. The Action Bible by Doug Mauss and Sergio Cariello (David Cook 2010).  I love the artwork of this “graphic novel bible” but I thought they crafted the Old Testament stories as moralisms rather than foreshadows of Christ. Still, I recommend it.

22. The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson (Eerdmans 2012).  An incredible indictment of the mindless fascism of modern “tolerance.”  I highly recommend it.  Easily one of, if not, THE best book of the year.

23. Rich Man, Poor Man by Adam Carolla (Crown Archetype 2012).  A funny but short e-book on how the very rich and very poor share a lot in common. For example, both lounge around in their pajamas all day.  Recommended.

24. Chosen for Life by Sam Storms (Crossway 2007).  A fine exposition of the biblical doctrine of election. Recommended.

25. The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (American Ltd. Ed. 1986).  A brilliant and eccentric biography of the great-grandson and grandson of ex-presidents who records his life (including gossip) as if it were all an education.  Highly recommended.

26. Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? by Daniel Kirk (Baker 2012).  Kirk is a gifted writer and seems like a likeable chap and his argument that Jesus and Paul harmonize nicely in the grand narrative of Scripture works but his reliance on a version of the New Perspective and his conclusions, including welcoming monogamous homosexual couples into the Christian community uncritically is poorly argued.  I can’t recommend it.

27. Proof by David Auburn (Faber & Faber 2001).  Tony Award Winner for 2001.  I wasn’t blown away.

28. How To Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams (Zondervan 2012).  A great reference tool for studying the Scriptures as they were intended…all pointing to Jesus.  Highly recommended.

29. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner (HarperOne 2012).  A compelling, painful, honest read about wrestling with doubts in the midst of divorce. Highly recommended.

30. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2009).  The follow-up to the best seller The Hunger Games was a little disappointing to my son and I but we will wait to see what happens with volume three Mockingjay.

31. By The Renewing of Your Minds by Ellen Charry (Oxford 1999).  An excellent work arguing that theology is not just an abstract academic discipline but key to living the Christian life day-in-and-day out.  Recommended.

32. The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey-Bass 2012).  A challenging work arguing that Ephesians 4 provides a template for ministry.  Highly recommended.

33. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  Too long but still a compelling read that applies not just to African-Americans but to anyone who feels as if they are not treated as fully human. Recommended.

34. The Varieties of Religous Experience by William James (1905).  20 famous lectures delivered by James to the University of Edinburgh arguing that religion MAY be the product of psychological failings but may still produce an overall good for society and he breaks down each facet of religion.  I disagreed with almost all of it but was still challenging.  Recommended.

35. The Story of the World: Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer (Peace Hill Press, 2006). The first volume of an excellent history written for children.  My son and I have really enjoyed it and look forward to the other 3 volumes.

36. The Yellow ‘M’ by Edgar Jacobs (Cinebooks 2007).  A graphic novel collecting a series of  the 1950′s “Blake & Mortimer” adventures from the late, great Edgar Jacobs.  Recommended.

37. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (B&H 2012).  Jen led her family into drastically cutting down on food, clothes, media, spending, possessions, waste and stress in order to grow closer to Christ.  A wonderful, funny, challenging read that you will not be able to put down.  Highly recommended.

38. God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza.  A Tony Award winning play about two parents whose meeting about their children’s fight devolves quickly into chaos. I frankly wasn’t that impressed.

39. Righteous Indignation by Andrew Breitbart (Grand Central 2011).  A brilliant bio/manifesto by the late, great conservative activist and entrepreneur.  Highly recommended.

40. Dallas and the Spitfire by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke (Bethany 2012).  A funny and moving chronicle of a sports writer discipling an ex-con as they work together on a Triumph Spitfire.  A truly great read.  Highly recommended.

41. Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson (Canon 2012).  A brutal piece of satire about a womanizing megachurch preacher–not exactly Tom Wolfe but a compelling read.  Recommended.

42. The Avengers #1-10: Marvel Masterworks by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel 2009).  Marvel Masterworks re-publishes original issues of favorite superheroes.  My son and bought this one to prep for the movie.  Many will mock the plot, dialogue and villains as outdated but we dug it.  Recommended for die-hard comic book fans.

43. The Last Enemy by Mike Wittmer (Discovery House 2012).  With his usual warm but challenging voice and sharp theological insight, Wittmer tackles the way followers of Christ should view death.  Highly recommended.

44. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (Collector’s Library Edition 2009).  A classic portrait of the struggle to realize how messy life can be as we age.  Joyce portrays his alter ego Stephen Dedalius as a heroe for shaking off ideology and faith but, as a Christian, I read it as a sad tale.  Recommended.

45. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2010).  My son and I have read through several book series together (Narnia, LOTR, Harry Potter, 100 Cupboards, Artemis Fowl) and the Hunger Games really intrigued him at first but his interest waned as worked through books 2-3.  Not recommended.

46. Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901).  An amazing story of a man born a slave but died having founded and overseen a college for African-Americans in Alabama.  His advice? Work hard and seek to get along with everyone–what a thought! Highly recommended.

47. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson (Crossway 2012).  A great book urging churches and Christians to know the Gospel and make it the center of everything we do and arguing that one of the reasons the church is in trouble is that it has assumed the Gospel rather than preaching it.  Highly, highly recommended!  Buy it now.

48. You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black (Gallery Books 2012).  Frankly, I thought this would be funnier.

49. The Collected Works of Paddy Chayefsky: The Television Plays by Paddy Chayefsky (Applause Books 2000).  With the exception of The Goddess, this is a wonderful collection of plays.  Recommended.

50. No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails but Individuals Succeed by John Stossel (Threshold 2012). One of the clearest explanations of libertarianism I have ever read. Highly recommended.

51. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution by Thomas S. Kidd (Basic Books 2010).  A thorough but readable history arguing that the Founding Fathers were flawed and many held unorthodox beliefs but still envisioned a nation that could not exist without religion and never entertained a government antagonistic to the faith. Highly recommended.

52. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Viking 2012).  A harrowing account of the life of the only known person to escape from a North Korean “total control” prison camp. It reads like an action novel but is actually a vivid plea to help the millions living in hell under the Kim dynasty. Highly recommended.

53. Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman (Crossway 2012). A short but very helpful overview of the Biblical basis for a good church membership program. Recommended.

54.Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012).  A fascinating book that looks at the various ways people create.  Highly recommended, especially for preachers and arists.

55. Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boez (Free Press 1998). A good but dry introduction to libertarianism.  I would go with Stossel’s latest book instead if you were looking for a good overview.

56. Reimagining the Kingdom: The Generational Development of Liberal Kingdom Grammar  by Jeremy Bouma (THEOKLESIA 2012).  Bouma does a great job of tracing the way liberals have redefined key phrases and concepts within Scripture and how they were appropriated and sold as something “new” by emergent leaders like Brian McLaren. Highly recommended.

57. Sifted: Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments by Wayne Cordeiro, with Larry Osborne and Francis Chan (Zondervan 2012).  The authors argue that suffering is not just a down side to ministry, it is essential to the growth of the minister.  These three influential Christian leaders make a compelling case that heartbreak and disappointment must be embraced and viewed in a Biblical way in order for pastors to better serve our Lord. Well written and practical.  Highly recommended.

58. Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell (Believer Books 2012).  A collection of short essays on everything from the unjust randomness of publishing to an interview with the rogue writer Jim Harrison.  I had not heard of Bissell before picking this work up but now I can’t wait to read everything he has ever done. Highly recommended.

59. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929).  A feminist diatribe arguing for complete independence for women so that they may truly create art…well written for a chick.

60. Hit by Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball by Molly Lawless (McFarland 2012).  A great graphic novel chronicling the lives of two very different baseball players forever connected by one of baseball’s few fatal incidents. Recommended.

61. This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace (Little Brown & Company 2009). Wallace’s only commencement speech before his tragic death.  An instant classic and a better sermon than ever delivered by most pastors. Highly, highly recommended.

62. Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov (Penguin Edition 2010).  Eerier than most horror novels I have read. Disturbing.

63. Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle 2011).  The Bram Stoker Award winner for best novel for 2011.  A good zombie novel.  Recommended.

64. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books 2000).  A collection of Wallace’s short stories.  I prefer his essays but the prose is masterful.  Recommended.

65. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Harper 1892).  Read this with my son and he really dug it.  Forgot how much cocaine Holmes used and how Doyle really liked to use the verb “ejaculated.”  Other than that, it was a lot of fun.  Highly recommended.

66. The Rising by Brian Keene (Leisure 2004) A good zombie apocalypse novel with the evil twist that demons possess the dead once their souls depart.  Prepare yourself though, it has a cliffhanger ending leading to a sequel.

67. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Simon & Schuster 1962).  Re-read with my son after Bradbury’s passing.  He loved it at age 9 as much as I did at age 10.

68. Consider the Lobster by Daniel Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books 2007). An incredible collection of essays by the late Mr. Wallace, who I truly miss. Recommended.

69. Adventures in Churchland by Dan Kimball (Zondervan 2012).  Do you know someone burned by or just annoyed by the church? This is the book to help them re-connect.  Highly recommended.

70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (Doubelday 1950).  A brilliant collection of short stories, in which, Bradbury uses the future colonization of Mars to analyze life in 1950s America and the nation’s long, harsh treatment of Native Americans. Highly, highly recommended.

71. The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance by Susan Wise Bauer (Peace Hill Press, 2007).  My son and I are digging this series. Recommended.

72. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (Gallery 2011).  The dude takes this stuff seriously.  For example, he quotes a number of scientific journal articles as to how a zombie apocalypse could really happen.  For the truly committed.

73. Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove 2012).  Winner of the Edgar (best crime novel) and it earned it.  A good read.

74, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (10 Publishing 2012).  A great sermon.  Highly, highly recommended.

75. Defending the Free Market by Rev. Robert Sirico (Regnery Publishing 2012).  A fine introduction to the merits of capitalism.  Highly recommended.

76. Creepers by David Morrell (CDS 2005).  The Bram Stoker Award winner for best novel for 2005 and a fun page turner. Highly, highly recommended.

77. Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics by Russ Douthat (Free Press, 2012).  A dryly written call for western churches to focus once again on doctrine and evangelism, which, indeed, should be heeded but his analysis of how American churches came to their sorry current state is a bit shoddy.

78. Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life by Lois Tverberg (Zondervan 2012).  A well-written introduction to Jewish sources for help in interpreting the Gospels.  I recommend it but Tverberg fails to mention that many of the sources she quotes were possibly written a hundred or more years after the writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which means they must be taken with a grain of salt.

79. Carrie by Stephen King (Doubleday 1974).  Re-read after 30 years.  Still holds up. I love King’s voice.

80. The Keys to the Street by Ruth Rendell (Random House 1996). A good crime thriller that I picked up because Christopher Nolan has been trying to make it into a movie for years.  Well written.

81. The Walking Dead: Volume 9 by Robert Kirkman, etc. (Image 2010).  A bit slow after the pace set by the previous few volumes but I can see why Kirkman wanted to give readers a breather after the rollercoaster ride that was volumes 7-8.

82. The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson by David Barton (Thomas Nelson 2012).  A fine book that refutes a number of myths largely created by modern secularists.  Highly recommended.

83. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975).  Scarier than I remember it.  It still holds up 25 years after I read it for the first time. Recommended.

84. How Do You Kill 11 Million People: Why the Truth Matters More than You Think by Andy Andrews (Thomas Nelson 2011).  How was it that 1930′s Germany, which was one of the most educated and cultured nations of all-time, allowed a fringe party to take over and kill millions of people? Because they ignored the truth when it become inconvenient to do so and it has haunted them and their children and grandchildren ever since.  The parallels to today’s culture is shocking. An important book.

85. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage 2012).  When my son was little and decided to punish my wife and I for putting him time out, he would yell the worst thing he could think of, “You poopy sack wieners!” That is more articulate than anything in this book.

86. The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood by Algernon Blackwood (Dover 1973).  I can see how Blackwood style influenced masters like H.P. Lovecraft but, in this case, the students surpassed the teacher.

87. The Shining by Stephen King (Doubleday 1977).  I first read this when I was twelve.  It was scarier then and now the topiary animals seem kind of silly but still a great horror novel. Recommended.

88. One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard (Hyperion 2012).  A wonderful written account of the smallest school to ever send a team to the Illinois High School Baseball Championship.  Highly, highly recommended.

89.Megagifts by Jerald Penas (Emerson & Church 2005).  A bible for fundraisers.  I read it every year or two. Recommended.

90. The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf (Crossway 2009).  A very good apologetic for pro-life activism.  Recommended.

91. August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (Dramatist 2009).  Winner of the Tony Award, the play focuses on a dysfunctional family.  If one is willing to think deeply about its theological implications, it is well worth the time.

92. Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone (Abrams 2012).  A lot of fun for Ramone fans like me.  Did you know Johnny was a Republican and big fan of Rush Limbaugh? Awesome.

93. Dracula by Bram Stoker (Norton Critical Edition, 1996).  Still a stunning horror story over a 115 years after it was first published.  Highly recommended.

94. Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots by Thomas Kidd (Basic 2011).  A wonderfully written and balanced biography.  Kidd is quickly becoming one of our nation’s finest historians.

95. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (Prentice Hall 1977).  Demon pigs? Poop smells? Not buying it.

96. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Trade 2011).  Pink argues that we are more motivated by a curiosity and a creative need to do something that matter than we are by rewards and punishment. Interesting.

97. Center Church: Doing Balanced Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller (Zondervan 2012).  The BEST ministry book of the year.  Every working pastor or seminary student should own this book and work through it carefully.  It is our textbook for Revolution’s Free Seminary class on practical theology.  Highly, highly recommended.

98. Baseball: An Illustrated History by Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward (Knopf 2010 edition).  A great hybrid history-coffee table book and companion to the amazing documentary.  Highly recommended.

99. Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Crown 2012).  An interesting history although it is difficult to keep track of the various spies and their code names.  Still, a must for WWII fanatics.

100. American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood by Marc Elliot (Three Rivers Press, 2010).  A compelling read but the author makes a few basic mistakes regarding Clint’s films and, as a fan, it is never fun to read about so many of your heroe’s personal failures.

101.The Wire-to-Wire Reds: Sweet Lou, The Nasty Boys and the Wild Run to the World Championship by John Erardi and Joel Laukhaupt (Clerisy Press,  2010).  A good account of my 1990 Reds when they won it all.  Recommended for Reds fans.

102. Armchair Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer by Mark Thibodeaux (St. Anthony Messenger Press 2001).  The best book I know of dealing with easing into the alien discipline of contemplative prayer.  Highly recommended.

103. Kingdom through Covenant by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum (Crossway 2012).  A thoroughly researched and very long scholarly tome on the importance of covenant as the structure of the Biblical narrative.  It pushes back against dispensationalism and paedobaptism.  I recommend it only for raging theological geeks like me.

104. Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (Crossway 2011).  An invaluable and practical resource for ministering to those who have suffered sexual abuse. I recommend it.

105. Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount by Randy Harris (Leafwood 2012).  A practical study of living out the Sermon on the Mount.  I recommend it.

106. Anthem by Ayn Rand (University of Nebraska Ed. 1953).  A dystopian science fiction novel where individualism has been outlawed resulting in a bland existence.  A short read and a book that greatly influenced Rush drummer Neal Peart.

107. Witness by Whittaker Chambers (Random House 1952).  A long but enlightening autobiography by the man who went from Soviet agent to Christian conservative and blew the whistle on the Communist conspiracy to destroy America and, in response, was attacked by the press.  Proof that media bias is nothing new!

108. Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano, Rick Veitch, etc.  (Vertigo 2011 ed.). The reprint of the cutting edge series that began in the 1980’s about a British Bogart that deals with the paranormal.  Recommended for geeks like me.

109. Watchers by Dean Koontz (Berkley 1987).  I thought the premise was a bit of a stretch and the ending too abrupt but I still enjoyed it.

110. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (Pantheon 2000).  A postmodern haunted house tale that is beautifully written.  I highly recommend it.

111. John Dies at the End by David Wong (Thomas Dunne 2009).  A horror novel for hipsters who think Bubba Ho-Tep is a great flick.

112. Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell (Tor 2008).  I love Campbell but this one was a bit sloppy and not really that engaging.

113. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Henry Holt 2011).  Surprisingly well-written and fun.  I highly recommend it.

114. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America by Gary Wills (Simon & Schuster 1993).  I disagree with the loose political connotations Wills draws but for Lincoln geeks like me, this is a must read.

115. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster 2006).  A brilliant and beautifully written account of Lincoln and his cabinet who were also his political rivals and how he guided them to victory over the south. A must read.

116. Treason: Liberal Treachery Since the Cold War by Ann Coulter (Three Rivers Press 2004).  She’s rough but she ain’t wrong. Highly recommended.

117. The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater (Victor Publishing 1960).  A landmark book. Required reading for any conservative.

118. The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg (Crown 2012).  How did Obama win with a poor economy, mediocre debate performances, no real vision for the future and a depressed base? This book shows you how.  Recommended for every political junkie like me.

119. The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman (WW Norton 2007).  If you are looking for an overview of the modern left, this is it but make sure to investigate the stats, which Krugman plays fast and loose with in order to make his point.

120. The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins (Howard 2013).  Rollins is my favorite heretic writer but this is his weakest work. The first half of the book is great but the second half falls apart.

121. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion 2012).  The last book in one of my son’s favorite series.  Recommended for Artemis Fowl fans only.

122. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (Vintage 1998).  Perhaps not the definite biography as the numerous awards it earned would leave you to believe but still well worth the time. Recommended.

123. Rob Bell and a New American Christianity by James K. Wellman (Abingdon 2012).  A fairly uncritical piece that gushes over the former megachurch pastor.

124. Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth by Reed Tucker and Andy Bagwell (St. Martins Griffin 2012).  A classic that is well overdue.  Indeed, Duke is Satan’s team.

125. Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible Ed. by Phil Brown, etc. (Zondervan 2010).  I read a different Bible every year and this year worked through the Greek half of this one.  Often frustrating but rewarding.

126. The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Rooselvelt to Barrack Obama by Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson (Viking 2012).  A well-written (although highly partisan) history of contemporary liberalism.  Highly recommended for all of my fellow history and political junkies.

127. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown 2012).  The publishing phenom of the summer and it was well-earned.  A thriller with a great twist. I highly recommend it.

128. John Adams by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster 2001).  The only biography I have read three times.  I am on a presidential bio kick and it is hard to imagine one better than this.

129. Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller (Dutton 2012).  The best book I have ever read on how to view our employment as Christians.  Highly recommended.

130. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (Abrams 2012). A chilling graphic novel about the high school years of the infamous serial killer by a man who knew him.

131. The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung (Crossway 2012).  A great treatment on sanctification but a little light on the spiritual disciplines. Still recommended.

132. The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler (Bethany 2012).  My favorite leadership books are proverbial in nature, think Bill Hybels’ Axiom, and this one is one of the finest I have read. Recommended.

133. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (Putnam 2012).  A very funny recounting of mostly embarrassing episodes from the “bloggess.”  Recommended.

134. Why Does the World Exist: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt (Liveright 2012).  A very well-written account of a journalists world wild search for the cause of existence.  One of my favorite books of the year.  Highly recommended.

4 thoughts on “The 2012 Pastor Matt Book Awards and the Annual Annotated Booklist

  1. Great list- I’ve read some of the same books and you gave me a couple of things to add to my own reading list.

    Some of my favorites this year were DT Max’s bio on David Foster Wallace, The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy (it really is good), and Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.
    You might try Jo Nesbo as well- great crime novels.

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