December 5, 2017

Last year (or longer?) I retired my thing of doing posts about individual books. But as a book lover, christmas elf, and list maker, I can’t not show some love to my favorites of the year for you to consider for your eyeballs to gaze upon and possibly make a little addishy to your christmas list. Up top I give a blurb to my very favorites. Then a list of all the books I read that were good. Also let’s be clear there are best books I read in 2017, different than best books published in 2017 which I am entirely not well read enough to make a meaningful list of that.

1. Good and Angry by David Powlison: One of the books that most immediately made real change in my life. I actively thought about and could every day apply what I was learning.

2. Upgrade by Kevin Swanson: The reason this book will be one I often recommend is it covers ten principles that should apply to the raising of every child, while maintaining freedom for families to tailor those concepts to their individual children. We loved it! Some of my favorite chapters were: Build on the Right Foundation, Doing the Basics Well, and Quality One-on-One Instruction. I will re-read it routinely to stay sharp and refreshed on how to raise my children because it was that influential to me.


3. Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle: Definitely a top spot to this delicious treat. This is my new go-to recommendation for a book on biblical femininity. Merkle is excellently nuanced and not inappropriately prescriptive, while still being clear and unshrinkingly scripture-based. The book gives a historical overview of the feminist movement and then discusses four Genesis mandates for women – to subdue, fill, help, and glorify. So nice I read it twice. David also read it because a man needs to know what it means to be a woman for many reasons, not the least of which is counseling me in life choices and helping me see what to prioritize.

4. Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower: With stopping the aforementioned individual book posts, this is my one inclusion from 2016 that slipped through the cracks but I can’t not mention because it was my best book that year. This would be very helpful for teaching any sort of class for young people, but also very relevant for the work I do in the home as a parent. I loved it! Finally, I don’t know this man, but we affectionately refer to him as Klumpy.

5. The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson: I became convicted that in my roles where I teach bible (to my children and youth at our church) I was often getting by with superficial sunday school knowledge, especially the old testament. There are a million things to see in the scriptures that let you enjoy Christ more. And if you don’t deep dive into them you are missing out. The book overviews the Bible’s entire narrative with “The God Who…” chapter titles. My favorites were The God Who Reigns (about the books on Israel’s kings), weeping through the chapter The God Who Dies (on the crucifixion), and shuttering through The God Who Is Angry (one of two chapters on Revelation).

I’m realizing this ranking is meaningless because how can I have Bonar or Machen not in a top five, so I retract that this is a ranked system because it got too hard and I am weak. This countdown is really going to the dogs. Okay, I’ll just give you the rundown on each and awkwardly transfer to cop out bullet points instead of numerals, like a coward.

  • Let the Children Worship by Jason Helopoulos: Necessary. I was very into it. To pass the faith on to the next generation, work starts long before trying to make a fun youth group for high schoolers. If we don’t want to lose teenagers, we start the day they are born. This book on children participating in corporate worship, along with his A Neglected Grace (on family worship in the home) are thoughtful and practical help for raising godly offspring.
  • God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper: Nothing to say; it was nice.
  • Christianity & Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen: I’m not bold enough to review a classic. I guess I will just say what Matthew McConaughey said of his competitor’s performances in his 2014 Academy Awards acceptance speech, “I didn’t see a false note anywhere.”
  • Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney: An old favorite of many, but after my second pass I am ready to re-up that this book can hold it’s own against anybody. Her chapter on wifery specifically is 100%, but for real the whole thing. And Carolyn is a strong, concise writer which isn’t always the case with female christian authors. Zing!
  • Be Still, My Soul edited by Nancy Guthrie: This is the oxygen mask I grab when I am facing hard times. It is a compilation of the greats on suffering.
  • Running Scared by Ed Welch: A book on fear.
  • Give Them Truth by Starr Meade: I mix this title up with the Show Them Jesus one. This one is about how while rightly focusing on the heart and not just behavior in raising kids, you also need to teach your children’s minds a la memorizing lots and lots biblical information and theology. A good read for moms of young children like me because now is when their little brains are so good at memorization.
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon: Not actually about real stealing. A fun, fast book for creatives.
  • The Everlasting Righteousness by Horatius Bonar: Another re-read. I’m not bold enough to review a classic. I guess I will just say what Matthew McConaughey said of his competitor’s performances in his 2014 Academy Awards acceptance speech, “I didn’t see a false note anywhere.”
  • Sex, Dating, & Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas (which I feel like should be the name of someone who signed the declaration of independence but it isn’t): I read this book initially because some high school boys we know were reading it and I wanted to be able to talk to them about it. It’s main point is that the Bible has only three types of male female relationships – neighbor, family, spouse. “Boyfriend/girlfriend” is a category of relationship we invented and then wondered at god’s lack of direction of how to behave sexually in that category. But the bible is clear, sexual relations for family members: prohibited. Sexual relations for neighbors: prohibited. Sexual relations for spouses: commanded. There’s one part in the kind of loose ends “Integrated Life” chapter on things like modesty, entertainment, flirting, etc. that I have a problem with but I don’t want to write the word out because I am already told that my website gets flagged as pg-13 by the covenant eyes web filtering software (probably because I write chicken breast a lot), but I just needed you to know there’s one brief sub-heading in one chapter I think they get sorely wrong (starts with an “m”), but I will certainly use explanations from this book to guide my children or other singles I have relationships with.
  • A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin: Really good editing and translation. I’m not bold enough to review a classic. I guess I will just say what Matthew McConaughey said of his competitor’s performances in his 2014 Academy Awards acceptance speech, “I didn’t see a false note anywhere.”

I mentioned this previously, but we discovered goodreads this year and my husband and I love it for keeping track of books we have read and organizing what books we want to read next.

This is the most unconventional book list you will read this year because I actually, literally just wrote “nothing to say; it was nice” as a review for a John Piper book, didn’t in fact rank the books, and quoted Matthew McConaughey three times. (And used the phrase “make a little addishy” in the first paragraph, which should not go unpunished) but I guess we will hope these raw comments say more than if I pretended to be formal and wordy. K, Merry Christmas!

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  • I promise I didn’t copy you, but I just posted something similar on my site. No crossover books on our lists, but I’ve added a couple to my to read list next year!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Haha. Thank you for staying ahead of the accusation.

  • Keegan Griffith

    Haha! I love this “unconventional” list and your presentation of it. ;) I haven’t read any of these but you make me want to! I think reading more will be on my list of resolutions for the new year…how do you make time for reading so much with 3 little kids?! This amateur mama would love any practical tips you have! So many books I want to read, but I have to work hard just to get in my Bible daily! Miss you, friend! xoxo

    • Rachel Schultz

      Thanks Keegs! I miss you! I read when they’re asleep mostly. Trying to think of any other tips I have but I’m not sure! I work hard to find good books that I will really want to read so that makes me reach for them more. Don’t usually read a book unless I know from recommendations, endorsements, or the author’s other work that it will be at least 8/10.

  • Ashleigh E.

    I truly appreciate these posts, thank you!!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Awesome, thanks Ashleigh!

  • Hahaha I love your transition paragraph! I always find it so difficult to rank books, when I do a recap of 2017 books I’m totally going to cop out and use bullet points, too. No shame!

    • Rachel Schultz


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