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Best Books of 2021


Every year I read many good books, but some stand out above the rest. What follows is my annual recap of the best books I read during the previous year. New to this year’s post, I am also including a longer list of books, which didn’t make the top list this year, but were still enjoyable or helpful.

I didn’t get to as many books as I usually do in 2021, due to having our son, and many new developments for our family. Still, this year was an excellent year for books, as the ones I did read were very enjoyable.

As a disclaimer, not all of these books were published in 2021(though some of them were). I also am not putting the list in any particular order, they all stand out for particular reasons, and ranking them amongst one another is quite difficult. I also want to clarify that just because a book is listed here does not mean I agree with 100% with it. These are not all the books I read in 2021, but represent the most engaging and enjoyable.

Shepherding Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Shepherding a Child's Heart, Revised and Updated

This was one of the first books I read in 2021, and it was incredibly helpful. As I began reading on the topic of parenting, my main goal was to learn helpful practices for raising my son in the faith. Tripp’s classic work is an easy read, jam packed with practical, and biblical insights. I have recommended this to several people since reading it, and have already found myself reconsulting it. I pray that I embody the message of the book well, as I seek to shepherd James’ heart towards Christ and the Gospel.

Corporate Worship

Corporate Worship: How the Church Gathers as God's People (9marks: Building Healthy Churches) - Merker, Matt - 9781433569821

After the initial lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic back in early 2020, many people were forced to rethink their understanding of what church is, and what Sunday’s are. I can think of no better resource, to give a robust, healthy vision of the importance, practice, and beauty of Sunday morning worship with the saints, then this book. Merker is engaging, biblical, and winsome, as he paints a picture for why it is so important to gather with God’s people on the Lord’s Day. This may be my favorite little 9marks volume, it really is that good!

Rejoice and Tremble

Rejoice and Tremble: The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord (Union) - Reeves, Michael - 9781433565328

Perhaps my favorite book released in 2021. This was truly excellent, and impactful. Reeves picks up the concept of the Fear of the Lord, which is often confusing to many christians today. How is fear a good thing? What does it mean to fear God, in a biblical way? This fed my soul in profound ways, and it should be read by every christian who wishes to deepen their relationship with their God.

The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock

Works of Stephen Charnock (5 Volume Set)

This historic work has been a treat. I have been slowly working my way through Charnock, and the reputation is well deserved. Understanding who God is, and what he is like, through study of his attributes, is a much needed area of study for christians today. Getting to know just how awesome God really is, through feasting on rich, devotional doctrine, is good for the soul. I am thankful that God blessed the church through Charnock’s writing.

Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth by Thaddeus Williams

Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask about Social Justice - Williams, Thaddeus J - 9780310119487

This probably is the most important book to come out in 2021. Williams has provided a resource for the church, which is truly invaluable. In a very timely fashion, this book takes head on the issue of social justice, and much of what we are seeing in the headlines around our country, and the world. Williams faithfully engages many of these issues, in ways which demonstrate the clear distinctions between the world’s approach, and the Bible’s. I think every christian in America needs to read this book, ASAP.

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

Holiness Ryle, John Charles cover image

Re-reading this in 2021 was much needed. Ryle’s historic work is definitely in my all time top 3 books ever (It may just be my all-time favorite, ever!). This book pierces the soul with biblically rich, convicting evaluation, pressing in to a need for greater holiness. Since holiness is often left undiscussed in our cultural moment, I find it helpful to be reading on it regularly. I will return to Ryle again and again, as I seek to cultivate a ever deepening desire for true holiness. If you haven’t read this classic work, it would be a great goal to do so in 2022.

Men and Women In The Church by Kevin DeYoung

This is a rework of DeYoung’s earlier work Freedom in Boundaries, which is no longer in print. Although there is some overlap of the material in terms of exegesis, most of the book is redone, and quite a bit has been added to it in terms of application. The church in our world is constantly needing faithful guidance regarding scriptural understandings of gender roles in the life of the church. This short book is accessible, helpful, and winsomely written. I would have no concerns handing this book to a congregant, even if I knew they disagreed with portions of it. His display of the different levels in which we draw guidance from scripture, is immensely helpful. Pastors, church leaders, and members should all read and refresh themselves on what it means to live into our God given design, complementing one another in our roles.

Why Children Matter by Doug Wilson

This was one of my favorite reads in the area of parenting over the past year. It is short, and gives one of the most helpful frameworks for understanding discipline, parenting, and family life that I have come across. Doug and his wife also have several hour long Q&A videos on Youtube which are immensely helpful. My wife and I both read this, and have really enjoyed the discussions sparked by it. We have already begun planning what it looks like to implement it’s insights into our own family’s life, and we are very thankful for it.

With All Your Heart by Craig Troxel 

With All Your Heart: Orienting Your Mind, Desires, and Will Toward Christ

I am very thankful to Troxel for writing this book. Looking at how we orient our entire lives (Mind, Desire, and Will) towards Christ was refreshing for my soul. This book was convicting in so many areas, but encouraging and inspiring in even more. I walked away refreshed in the love of Christ, and renewed in my soul to follow him in all that I am. Woven throughout this book are helpful applications, biblical insights, and rich reformed theology. A treat to be savored! Read this during your rest on the Lord’s Day over a few weeks.

Slaying Leviathan by Glenn Sunshine

In 2020, Covid-19 changed everything. Many assumed that changing over to a new year, 2021, would fix most of our problems. This turned out, shockingly, to be dead wrong. As we have gone through this pivotal moment, we have seen christians needing to think through the topic of resistance to local governments in ways which we have never quite seen before. We have both sides arguing voraciously, one for unquestioned submission to the government appealing to Romans 13, and the other advocating for resistance to government intrusion into church and family matters, no matter how trivial they may seem. Most, however, on both sides, are arguing ignorant of much of the history that came before them. This little book is such a help, tracing through how christians have thought about the issue of government, resistance, and how we can best think about these things today. Buy this book, get a picture of the historic landscape, and then continue to dive deeper into reformed resistance theory, you’re going to need it!

Providence by John Piper

Providence - Piper, John - 9781433568343

This has been called Piper’s Magnum Opus, and for good reason. This massive work, both in size (~700pgs) and scope, is an excellent representation of John Piper’s ministry. I loved devouring this over the course of the year. In my life and ministry, the doctrine of providence has proven to be sweet, truthful rebar support for my soul. I commend it highly, and anytime I references books written by Piper, this will be among the first named.

R.C. Sproul a Life by Stephen Nichols

R. C. Sproul: A Life  - 9781433544774 Nichols, Stephen J

I loved R.C. Sproul and I miss him tremendously. This biography, informed by a deep personal friendship between Nichols and the Sprouls, is loaded with hilarious stories, insights into the behind the scene workings of Ligonier, and the overall character of a tremendous man. Reading this was so much fun, as I was so eager to learn even more about the man who’s minister has had a profound impact on my life, and so many others.

Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness Paperback Edition  By Kevin DeYoung cover image

This book isn’t new, but people should know about it. DeYoung wrote this book, almost like a smaller, more accessible version of Ryle’s classic work, to showcase the church’s shortcomings on the doctrine of holiness. This book convicted me, of what I watch, to what I say, to how I obey God’s word, and why. You should read this book, and then go read Ryle. Your faith, and life, will never be the same.

Some other notable books I read in 2021:

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

1776 by David McCullough

What Does God Want From Us Anyway by Mark Dever 

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers

Bavinck: A Critical Biography by James Eglinton 

Encouragement for the Depressed by Charles Spurgeon

Reformed Resurgence by Brad Vermurlen

Data Detective by Tim Harford

Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament by Dirk Jongkind

Shepherd Leader in the Home by Timothy Witmer

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham 

The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple 

Wisdom Pyramid by Brett McCracken 

With A Mighty Triumph by Rhett Dodson

Hope in Times of Fear by Tim Keller

The Pastor as Counselor by David Powlison

Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

Call The Sabbath A Delight by Walter Chantry

Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton 

Small Preaching by Jonathan Pennington

Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler

How Should Men Lead Their Families? by Joel Beeke

Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis 

Covenantal Baptism by Jason Helopoulos

Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor

Tactics by Greg Koukl

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman

The New Reformation by Shai Linne

Rediscover Church by Collin Hansen 

God, Technology, and The Christian Life by Tony Reinke

Power in the Pulpit by Henry Clay Fish

The Priority of Preaching by John Cheeseman

Reading the Bible and Praying in Public by Stuart Olyott

What’s Wrong with Preaching Today? by Albert Martin

Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture by Albert Mohler