West London Alliance Church

A Year of Reading: 2016

This post is intended to share the books I read this past year. I read a lot by some people’s standards. But then again, I know quite a few people who read more, in some cases considerably more, than I do. Either way, before you see my list of books I thought I would share a few reasons why I intentionally read as much as I do.

  1. I have a big appetite. That is, I really desire to read a lot of books. It doesn’t feel like work when I read and I often find myself thinking about the next book I will open up. I attribute this to God. It seems to me that this is yet another gracious work of his in my life. I didn’t wake up one day and resolve to become a prolific reader; it just happened. I’m thankful for this desire to read and I take no credit for it.
  2. The second reason is aptly summed up with these words from puritan John Flavel, “And even for you that are enlightened in this knowledge [of Jesus], how little do you know of Jesus Christ, in comparison of what you might have known of him.” After many years of minimal reading about all things pertaining to the Christian faith in general, and Jesus in particular, I have a burden (I use that word in a positive sense) to “catch up.” What might I have known about him had I pursued knowledge of Him in a more urgent way since I came to faith in Him?
  3. The last reason (for this post anyways) pertains to one way in which I am very intentional about my sanctification–growth in godliness–and my mortification–putting sin to death; I read to replace other less profitable practices. I quickly found out that if you read a lot of books you don’t have time for hours of surfing channels or websites. I probably still surf the web and Netflix more than I should, but reading theological books keeps my mind and heart occupied with things that Jonathan Edwards says “are of superlative excellency, and are [so] worthy that all should make a business of endeavouring to grow in the knowledge of”.

I’m hungry to read. I have a lot of catching up to do. I read to fight and to grow. Those are a few important reasons why I read as much as I do. Now, one more brief delay before getting on to the list. It is necessary for me to give a caveat in regards to the number of books I read this year. It is not as much reading as it seems. I read quite a few short books this year. Though the total number of books is more than I have read the past couple of years, the actual word count may well be less than other years. Enough said. Here are the 50 books I read in 2016:

  1. The End for which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards
  2. Philippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew Harmon
  3. Sacred Rhetoric by R. L. Dabney
  4. Church in Hard Places by Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley
  5. The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney
  6. What's Best Next by Matt Perman
  7. The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
  8. When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey
  9. God's Kingdom through God's Covenants by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum
  10. On Being a Pastor by Derek J. Prime and Alistair Begg
  11. Risen by Steven D. Mathewson
  12. Communion with God by John Owen
  13. Sounds from Heaven by Colin and Mary Peckham
  14. To Live is Christ by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson
  15. The Grand Design by Gavin Peacock and Owen Strachan
  16. Preaching by Timothy Keller
  17. Proclaiming Jesus by Tony Merida
  18. A Peculiar Glory by John Piper
  19. The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson
  20. Discipling by Mark Dever
  21. Theology and Practice of Mission ed. B. R. Ashford
  22. A Camraderie of Confidence by John Piper
  23. Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles
  24. Understanding the Great Commission by Mark Dever
  25. Understanding Baptism by Bobby Jamieson
  26. The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper
  27. Apostolic Church Planting by J. D. Payne
  28. Choose the Life by Bill Hull
  29. Are We Together? by R. C. Sproul
  30. How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman III
  31. The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter ed. by J. Clinton McCann
  32. Interpreting the Psalms by Mark D. Futato
  33. Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle
  34. Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
  35. The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
  36. The Atonement of Christ by Francis Turrettin
  37. Church Planting Is for Wimps by Mike McKinley
  38. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
  39. What Does God Want of Us Anyway? by Mark Dever
  40. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
  41. Do More Better by Tim Challies
  42. Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne
  43. Can I Smoke Pot? by Tom Breeden and Mark Ward
  44. The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
  45. Making All Things New by Benjamin L. Gladd and Matthew S. Harmon
  46. Understanding Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman
  47. Glory in the Face by Mike Wilkins
  48. Understanding Church Leadership by Mark Dever
  49. Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
  50. Faith Alone by Thomas Schreiner

I would like to call attention to five of the books on this list and one of the authors. The following five books were books that I might label the top books of 2016. I say “might” because there are books, such as Edwards’ The End for which God Created the World or Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied which are not in my “top 5” mainly because they are re-reads. But books like those, and others on the list, are perennial top books. Nevertheless, here are in no particular order my top 5 books of 2016:

1) Philippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew Harmon – an incredibly helpful and accessible commentary which profited me greatly as I preached through Philippians.

2) Risen by Steven D. Mathewson – the subtitle of this books says it all; “50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changes Everything.”

3) A Peculiar Glory by John Piper – I will be re-reading this book this year. A very profound and atypical explanation of why the Scriptures can and should be believed.

4) The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson – this is another book I will re-read this year. It addresses the issue of a believer’s assurance. I need this for pastoral reasons; we all need it for personal reasons.

5) Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller – a thorough and thoughtful dealing with the subject. This is one I will recommend to unbelievers if they are serious about understanding Christianity’s approach to the topic.

Finally, one author bears mentioning. I confess to bias in this choice but that can’t be helped because the author is such a fantastic guy. I bestow upon the author of Glory in the Face the label “top author of 2016.” And that prestigious title holder is Pastor Mike Wilkins. The book is a wonderful accomplishment and a helpful and instructive work that I recommend with admiration.

For any that would like to share their list of books from 2016, I’d love to see them in the comments. Or, alternatively, you could share with me your top books of 2016. What have you been reading?


On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Jude St. John said:


i will read my first book by her this year: None Like Him.


On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Barbara Postma said:

I have loved reading "None Like Him" by Jen Wilkin this year. She is a very easy-to-read writer but not in a shallow "this didn't make me think" kind of way. Her description of ten of God's attributes, and how as humans we try to take on those traits so that we don't need God, and why that is a ridiculous endeavor all adds up to being very helpful in both exalting God and humbling myself. That's a win-win scenario if I do say so myself. Highly recommended.


On Monday, January 9, 2017, Jude St. John said:


I'm not sure. I will ask.


On Monday, January 9, 2017, Kathy Kopac said:

Great list, thanks! Is the book by Rosaria Butterfeild available in the church library?


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