Continuing the tradition, here are the books I read this past year that not only gave me new concepts and tools, but changed how I live my life and how I see the world.


  • The Art of Dying (Rob Moll). The Christian tradition contains great practical insights for how to approach the end of life in a way that glorifies God and enriches human life. Unfortunately, in the past 100 years, the church has lost touch with this body of wisdom. Rob Moll does an amazing job recovering this knowledge and applying it to our lives today. An invaluable resource for believers seeking to die well or who want to accompany disciples who are facing the end of life.
    • Verhey’s The Christian Art of Dying is great, too
  • The Dark Night of the Soul (Gerald May). Christian psychiatrist Jerry May unpacks the great tradition of those times when God seems hard to find, labeled “the dark night of the soul” by the 16th Century Spanish poet and theologian John of the Cross. May does an amazing job biblically, theologically, historically, psychologically and spiritually, all while writing clearly and approachably. A very useful book, especially for those who have been in church for a few decades.
    • Nick Page’s The Dark Night of the Shed is great, too
  • Mindset (Carol Dweck). Richard Rohr once wrote that “Success has nothing to teach you after the age of 30.” To learn how to truly embrace failures as opportunities for growth – at work and in your personal life – read this amazing book. The move from a fixed mindset (where one’s capabilities are perceived to be set and unchangeable) to a growth mindset (where setbacks are relished as opportunities to grow) is related to the move from the false self to the true self that occurs in the dark night of the soul. An entirely non-Christian book that contains a very Christian message.
    • Angela Duckworth’s Grit is great, too
  • Life without Lack (Dallas Willard). Although Willard died in 2013, this book was published this year from a set of talks he gave at a church in 1991. It presents the life described in Psalm 23 – namely, that “I shall not want” because “the Lord is my shepherd” – as a real, daily experience possible for people in this life. Willard makes the sometimes extravagant promises of Scripture approachable and practical.
  • Awareness (Anthony de Mello). In this collection of notes from a retreat he hosted, de Mello gives us a piercing view into what most sabotages our happiness and how to live an awakened life. As a South Asian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, he has a different view on many questions, but I found it refreshing and disarmingly honest. He gets to the heart of our addictions and the lies we’ve bought into that make our lives a misery, and instead encourages us to become aware of what is going on within us and around us.
    • I read de Mello’s The Way to Love later, but it might be an even better introduction to his thought.
  • Sensible Shoes series (Sharon Garlough Brown). This novel (and the three that follow it in the series) paint a wonderfully realistic picture of the journey of deeper spiritual formation for a group of four ordinary women. A great story, with lots of exercises you can join in with. You’ll find parts of yourself mirrored in one (or more) of the ladies and their struggles to embrace the calling of following God more closely.
  • Happiness (Randy Alcorn). Alcorn does an amazing job of demonstrating how God is happy, and He wants His people to be too – not only in the life to come, but now! Avoiding the excesses of the “health and wealth” prosperity movement, he makes his case from Scripture, theology, Church history and modern psychology. He also includes practical ways we can train for happiness. An excellent companion to Willard’s Life without Lack.
  • The Road Less Travelled (Scott Peck). Peck describes the process of spiritual growth from a psychiatrist’s point of view. While not an explicitly Christian book, it is very compatible with the Bible’s teachings and he even cites Scripture now and then. I found the book very insightful, until I got to section 4 on grace, when it got great. I was especially impacted by his approach to ceasing moments of serendipity as gestures of love from God, and his diagnosis of why (and how) people resist grace (and spiritual growth).
  • The Sacred Enneagram (Christopher L. Heuertz). While I found Rohr’s The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective and Cron and Stabile’s The Road Back to You very helpful resources for understanding this personality typing system, Heuertz went beyond describing the 9 types and explored what growth looks like for each type and how to integrate the classic Christian practices of contemplation to foster that growth.