Saturday, December 10, 2016

The 10 Best Books I Read This Year

I set out to read 30 books this year and it looks like I will have read 52 by the time the year ends. Here are my 10 favorites. I have to apologize as most of the books on this list deal with Karl Barth. As I am primarily studying Barth for my MDiv, I spend the most time reading his books and reading about him.

10. Night Comes: Death, Imagination, and the Last Things by Dale Allison

If you know me, you know I struggle with fear of death. This was an edifying book to read for me. Allison has clearly struggled with the issue a lot as well, and offers here some valuable insights that shouldn't be overlooked. (Also, I have a review coming out for this book in the Wesleyan Theological Journal!)

9. Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison

I started reading Batman graphic novels this year. I read about a dozen of them. I can't decide which is my favorite, but this one was the most thought-provoking. It's such a gritty, disturbing, and compelling portrait of Batman and the Joker, and provides endless opportunities for critical analysis. I even wrote an And Philosophy article about it.

8. Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts by Eberhard Busch

This is not only a great biography, but it's one of the best introductions to Barth that I've read. You really get to know Barth and his thought through this book. He led an exciting life, full of controversy and conflict, but also full of beauty. There is never a dull moment, and it paints a very full picture of Barth.

7. Against Ethics by John Caputo

Caputo never ceases to impress me with his striking way with words. He really knows how to write. He is also one of the most compelling thinkers with whom I am familiar, and one of the best theologians alive today. This is clearly one of his best works.

6. The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology by Gary Dorrien

I read this book in a week, which is odd for me because I usually read several books at once and take my time with them. I couldn't put this one down. It's a fantastic introduction to the story of Barth, his theology, and the conflicts that paved the way of his life. It's also a thrilling read.

5. Church Dogmatics, II.1, The Doctrine of God by Karl Barth

The highlighted pages in my copy of this book tell it all. It is clear to me that I will be working with this text for years to come. It is exhausting to get through, but it's worth it. You truly see his brilliance here. He was undoubtedly one of history's greatest theologians.

4. War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin by Carlos M.N. Eire

I am so glad I read this before taking my Luther and Calvin classes. It's such a great introduction to the reformers and reformation theology. Eire outlines well how the issue of worship was central to the reformation program, and his telling of the history is endlessly interesting. This is in no wise a boring read. It's funny, intriguing, informative, and well-told--a great history book.

3. Barth, Derrida, and the Language of Theology by Graham Ward

This is my favorite text of secondary literature on Barth that I've read so far. It convincingly demonstrates how postmodern Barth was, and how his theology was a sophisticated critique of metaphysics. More people need to read this, especially those critics of Barth who characterize his theology as revelatory positivism, and those philosophers who disregard Barth as fideistic or his God as far too radically transcendent.

2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

What can I say that hasn't already been said? It's a masterpiece.

1. The Epistle to the Romans by Karl Barth

For this one as well, what can I say? It was described in its time as "a bomb on the playground of theologians." The bomb explodes with the same power today.



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