Favorite books



I can still remember how exciting it was for me when I learned to read. Ever since, reading has been a central part of my life and a major use of my time. Here are some of my favorite books from 2016



Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke

Reinke draws from Newton’s bountiful writings (primarily his letters) to present Newton’s theology of the Christian life

One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm

A short book that presents the use of one to one Bible reading as an outreach tool

Habits of Grace by David Mathis

There are many books on the disciplines of the Christian life. This may be my favorite.

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

A top book of the year.  Kaltenbach was raised by a militant lesbian mother and a homosexual father.  His book helps us understand how Christians come across to those outside the church community, and how to touch lives that are broken.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Eswine uses the writings of Charles Spurgeon and the Psalms to bring help to those who suffer from depression

Everyday Church by Tim Chester

Helping churches become Gospel communities on mission

Awe by Paul Tripp

Another excellent book by Tripp on living with a Biblical perspective through remaining in awe of God



Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson

Thoughtful messages on the birth of Christ

The Christ of the Empty Tomb by James Boice

Thoughtful messages on the resurrection of Christ

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

This is an exceptional collection of writings on the person of Christ.  One of my favorite books of the year, which I have given to my children.

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper

I highly recommend this book on Piper which helps the Christian understand how the Bible was put together and how it reveals its glory and truthfulness



Not Forgotten by Kenneth Eae

The powerful story of a Korean American believer who was imprisoned in North Korea

God Took Me by the Hand by Jerry ‘Bridges

Jerry Bridges uses his life story to teach truths on the sovereignty of God

 J. C. Ryle by Iain Murray

An excellent biography on an influential pastor and writer of the 19th century

The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard Davids

The story of Bob Childress, who was a pastor in the rough and wild mountain communities of Virginia.

 J. I. Packer by Leland Ryken

A biography on one of the most influential Christians of the last fifty years.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Christopher Catherwood

This book is part biography and part description of the impact of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life written by his grandson.

The Diary of a Forty-Niner by Chauncey Canfield

A description of what life was like during the California gold rush in the 1850’s

A Pastor in New York by John Thornbury

A biography on Spencer Houghton Cone.  Cone was not someone I had heard of, but I love biographies on pastors

Darkness Visible:  A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

An accomplished author gives us an inside view of his struggle with mental illness.

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuel Sson

The memoirs of a world-famous chef born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and cooking in America.



The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The fascinating story of the brothers who invented the first airplane that worked.

Dinner With Churchill by Cita Stelzer

An interesting look at how Winston Churchill used dinners to conduct policy, particularly during World War II

The Greatest Knight  by Thomas Asbridge

The true story of William Marshal, the most famous and powerful knight of the Middle Ages



Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Gaffigan captures the humorous idiosyncrasies of parenting, especially with multiple children.  It’s a book best listened too.

The History of Diners in New Jersey by Michael Gabriele

Diners and history in one book, what more needs to be said?



The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

A classic that was fast paced and enjoyable. What I never knew is that this is the first in a series on that character.

One Man’s War by P. M. Kippert

An accurate description of what it was like to be a rifleman on the front line during World War II.  Be warned:  foul language abounds.


 I Think I Have a Book Problem

by Eileen Arentz

The first photo of Eileen with an open book

Books are a big problem for me.

Overstuffed shelves, bulging boxes, precarious piles… yes, I have to confess that my lifelong affinity for books appears to have become an addiction, at least to my family.

I don’t quite see it that way, but they have a point; do I really need every one of my oft-neglected books that sit dusty and forlorn, day after day, hoping to be opened and read?

Sadly, the answer is of course not! But before I get on with the painful business of sorting, then tossing or shelving my avalanche of books, please allow me to introduce you to several books that have deeply impacted me, and are already labeled KEEP.

A Praying Life  by Paul E. Miller
My favorite book on prayer! It is a deeply personal, convicting and motivational praying life memoir. I found the most challenging chapter to be Following Jesus out of Cynicism, especially because I had stopped praying for a situation that I had concluded to be hopeless. When I responded with tearful repentance God did something dramatic that revived my hope.

Nothing is Impossible with God (Reflections on Weakness, Faith, and Power) by Rose Marie Miller
Rose Marie is Paul E. Miller’s mother. She writes with warmth and honesty and models a life of daily repentance. At nearly 90 years old, widowed, and still traveling to and from London to minister with East Asian women, Rose Marie is a remarkable woman with an earnest prayer – not to depart from a simple and pure devotion to Christ.

Morning Exercises by William Jay
A hefty reprint of vintage Bible studies/devotions written by one of the most outstanding pastors of the nineteenth century and a contemporary of Charles H. Spurgeon, who once exclaimed;

“O for More Jays. We would gladly give some two or three dozen of the general run of doctors of divinity for one such a Master in Israel as William Jay of Bath.”

This is a daily devotional, no longer in print, that I would not trade for two or three dozen others!

The Insanity of God, A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripkin with Gregg Lewis,
The book I’ve read most recently. Although the first half was harrowing and painful to read, the second half shifted my focus to the triumph of Jesus over sin and death, and his saving and enabling power in the face of great evil. Considering the sacrificially obedient lives of persecuted believers around the world has flooded me with Biblical hope and motivation to pray.

The Insanity of Obedience, This sequel, sits at my bedside waiting to encourage and challenge me to further trust and obey my Lord Jesus.

Sad Mrs. Sam Sack by Aileen Brothers and Morton Botel
A treasured book from my childhood. Rereading it as an adult has given me a clearer picture of its theme by vividly reminding me of the Biblical admonition to Do all things without grumbling or disputing, Ephesians 2:14

ESV Study Bible, published by Crossway
This is my most treasured book, and I often use it as resource for my personal Bible reading and study. In fact I have several copies so that I can share it with others [including you, just let me know].

Before I get to work let me share a great idea…why doesn’t someone develop an app for a book-sitting service [modeled after Airbnb] that would connect people who want to rent out empty bookshelves to bibliophiles like me who cannot bear the thought of their orphaned books ending up in a recycling bin somewhere? Perhaps call it Bookbnb or Shelfbnb?

What comfort that would bring, and perhaps someday, if my dream of an entire library room in my home comes true, we will be joyfully reunited… until then I need to stop musing and start sorting.

Thanks for listening.


My favorite book in 2014 was also the most influential book I read last year. 

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

Reeves book has encouraged me to think and pray in a more Trinitarian way. But the truly great thought is how our salvation brings us eternally into the loving relationship among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You can read my earlier review of it

The rest of my favorite books from 2014 are listed by category.  I hope you enjoy reading some of them yourself.

Christian Life

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

Watson is one of the more readable Puritan writers. This short book is on the great promise of Romans 8:28. Many Puritan classics are available thru Vintage Puritan and can be purchased on Kindle very cheaply (enter Vintage Puritan in your Kindle or Amazon search).

Resisting Gossip by Matthew Mitchell 

I will speak more about this excellent book in a review next week

Worship Worthy by Tim Shorey

A great little book for encouraging us in our thoughts about Christ

Enjoy Your Prayer Life by Michael Reeves

A very brief book on prayer that actually gives encouragement to our prayer life

Does God Listen to Rap? by Curtis Allen

A helpful discussion on how we should approach matters of culture and Christianity

Pastoral / Church

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Meetings that Work: A Guide to Effective Elders Meetings by Alexander Strauch

An outstanding resource for how we interact with one another in the church

Church History

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves

A overview of the major characters and themes of the protestant reformation

Hear I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton

Considered the classic biography on Martin Luther


Communion with God by John Owen

One of the giants of theology, recently some of his works have been edited to make them more readable

Taking God at His Word:  Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary and Enough by Kevin DeYoung

A popular book from 2014 that encourages us in the importance of scripture

A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin by Thomas Goodwin

Goodwin is another Puritan giant that is rarely read. This excellent book gathers brief excerpts from his writings that reflect on the glory of Christ

Found in Him:  The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union With Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick

One of the best books you can read about our union with Christ.  It has been popular with many small groups at Greentree


The Siege of Washington:  The Untold Story of the Twelve Days that Shook the Union by John Lockwood

The Last Battle:  When US and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II by Stephen Harding     

A fascinating story for those interested in World War II

1781:  The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War by Robert Tonsetic


First Man:  The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James Hansen

To be honest, the book was often tedious, but the description of Armstrong’s trip to the moon and walking on it make the book worth reading

Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service by Joseph Petro

The author led the Secret Service security team for President Reagan. 

Wilson by A. Scott Berg

Exceptionally well written biography on President Woodrow Wilson

A Thousand Shall Fall:  The Electrifying Story of a Solder and His Family Who Dared to Practice their Faith in Hitler’s Germany by Susi Hasel Mundy

An amazing story of a German soldier who was a deeply devoted Christian and lived by his convictions

A Life of Gospel Peace:  A Biography of Jeremiah Burroughs by Phillip Simpson

I was excited when this biography came out on my favorite Puritan writer. 

Days of Grace:  A Memoir by Arthur Ashe


Books from the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian

If you enjoy historical fiction, many consider this twenty volume series the best there is.