For 2017, 2018, and 2019 I’ve been listing the books I have read, noting books that seemed especially well-written in each category. It is interesting seeing threads in these lists. 2017’s runner-up in one category, The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran, is obviously why I read I started reading the Qur’an, including “The Night Journey“, in 2019. In a similar way, Console Wars lead to The History of the Future, and N.T. Wright’s How God Became King lead to me reading Paul, by the same scholar.
This year the stand-out book was Joseph Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI’s)’s Principles of Catholic Theology. Ratzinger presents an amazing overview of the Catholic faith, resolving (seemingly without effort) long-standing conflicts with Protestantism and Orthodoxy and modern philosophy. He is such a clear writer prior reading was not necessary for understanding him, but I am glad I had previously read books like Medieval Christianity, The Orthodox Christian Church, The Shepherd of Hermas, Maps of Meaning, Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?, and Ratzinger’s own Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives — I am sure I appreciated Principles of Catholic Theology more with this background.
The hardest choice for “winner” in these categories is between Cold Vanish and Veritas. Cold Vanish is about a real-life mystery, next door to me, concerning a man with the same favorite sport, who I may have actually met. Veritas is basically the story of the gamergate of academic theology. Instead of a coin flip, I will just say Cold Vanish is better because the people in it are better people.
In addition to these books, I am currently reading Testing the Boundaries: Windows to Lutheran Identity (a history of Lutheranism beliefs in America), Secrets of the Bible People (a revisionist geography of the Old Testament), and chapter 32 of the Qur’an.
The Holy Bible
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis
The Fourth Cup: Unveiling the Mystery of the Last Supper and the Cross, by Scott Hahn
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
Principles of Catholic Theology, by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
The Trial of Jesus Christ: And The History Behind It, by David Shaneyfelt
The Way of Chuang Tzu, by Thomas Merton
Politics and Political and Government History
All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class, by Tim Shipman
Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness ad the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson
The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency, by Annie Jacobsen