Books: Grant's Top Ten

Culture | WORLD's book critic lists his 10 favorite reads in 1996

Issue: "Year in Review 1996," Dec. 28, 1996

10. Wendell Berry is one of the finest writers working today. His prose styling is crystalline, his cultural vision is penetrating, and his down-to-earth message is provocative. I love his novels. His poetry is a delight. But perhaps his best work is contained in a small collection of essays titled Home Economics (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, ISBN 0-8657-275-0), about freedom, patriotism, and our ever-more tenuous connection to the land.

9. More often than not John Gerstner's greatest impact throughout his lifetime was felt during animated conversations--with students, friends, and skeptical inquirers. The spirit of those free-wheeling encounters has been admirably captured in the provocative Theology in Dialogue (Soli Deo Gloria, ISBN 1-57358-038-4). Be ready to laugh, cry, think, and argue.

8. Last year, one of my favorite books was Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas. This year, his sequel makes my list. Sacred Pathways (Nelson, ISBN 0-7852-7959-8) is a biblical examination of the valid differences between the various ways we approach the throne of grace. Avoiding the all-too- typical trap of saccharined soppiness, this was one of the most engaging devotional books I've read in years.

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7. For several years the prolific and controversial Gary North has been working on Crossed Fingers (Institute for Christian Economics, ISBN 0-930464-74-5). It is an exhaustive and encyclopedic study of how liberals captured the Presbyterian church during the first half of this century. In addition though, it is a stunning portrayal of the cultural drift that has borne the bitter harvest of modernity.

6. These High Green Hills is the third volume in the marvelous Mitford series by Jan Karon (Viking, ISBN 0-670-86934-1). This is a novel to enjoy over long hours as you curl up in an overstuffed easy chair by a cozy fire--but don't forget to put on a big pot of Starbucks.

5. Are you as overwhelmed by the tangled web of the Internet as I am? If so, you need the new Homeschool Guide to the Online World by Mark and Wendy Dinsmore (Homeschool Press, ISBN 1-888306-16-5). It is one of the best roadmaps to the electronic super highway.

4. Beyond the Quiet Time by Alister McGrath (Baker, ISBN 0-8010-5708-6) is a practical guide to a deeper spiritual life by one of the most articulate and incisive theologians in the Reformed world today. I really needed this book--to shake loose my devotional doldrums.

3. Gary DeMar and Fred Young have practically reinvented the history book with their volume titled A New World in View (American Vision, ISBN 0-915815-19-2). The graphics are stunning. The text is accessible and inviting, and the content is insightful.

2. Apologetics for the Glory of God by John Frame (P&R, ISBN 0-87552-243-2) is a very balanced presentation of how Christians may defend the faith in our often hostile culture. We need all the help we can get--and the help contained here is substantial.

1. The Kingdom of Matthias by Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz (Oxford, ISBN 0-19-509835-8) is a history book that reads like a novel of suspense and intrigue. Detailing the revivalistic utopian years during the years before the War Between the States, it affords us a rare glimpse into a much-misunderstood time. I was enthralled. Indeed, I simply couldn't put the book down--it gets my vote as the best book I've read all year.


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