The Best List 2013
Best Fiction Book I Read
The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
My wife’s brother-in-law encouraged me for years to read this book. He’s a lawyer and an exceptionally busy man who somehow makes time every year to read this book. I finally listened to his suggestion, and I could not put down this “detective mystery,” that is, in fact, so much more.
The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor
It’s a twisted Southern Gothic novel (after all, it is Flannery) that tells the story of Francis Tarwater, a fourteen year old trying desperately to escape his destiny: to become a prophet just like his great-uncle. It’s about the battle between knowledge & faith, destiny & the will. Like all Flannery, it is brilliant, bizarre, and often disturbing. A must read (but, if you’ve never read her before, read a short story like “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to get a taste of her style).
Best Non-Fiction Book I Read
The Triumph of Christianity by Rodney Stark
Rodney Stark is a historian at Baylor University that is often quoted by Tim Keller in his sermons. This book was fascinating to me. In it, Stark traces one major reasons for the rise of Christianity (Christians’ willingness to die taking care of their pagan neighbors during the Roman plagues), a fair defense of the Crusades, proofs that the “Dark Ages” weren’t dark (and certainly weren’t dark due to oppression from the church), and more.
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
I love everything that Malcolm Galadwell writes. This collection of essays is excellent, though not as strong, I felt, as some of his books like Tipping Point or Outliers.
Best Christian Book I Read
Jesus the King by Tim Keller
In this book, Tim Keller walks through the Gospel of Mark in a way that brings both incredible depth & freshness to Jesus’ life and ministry. This is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite Christian books and one I would recommend to absolutely everyone.
Basic Christianity by John Stott
From now on, this will likely be the book that I first give to skeptical friends. In it, Stott explores clearly and concisely a defense for the uniqueness of Jesus, a defense for the resurrection, and what following Christ actually looks like.
Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington
Let the Great World Spin by Collum McCann
A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (a re-read)
Best Movie I Saw in the Theater
Inside Llewyn Davis
I’m a Coen brothers junkie, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this movie. It was along the lines of their movie A Simple Man, in that it captures a time period and a hopeless feeling of being unable to escape one’s own life, pathology, etc. The movie was great, but it’s just not my favorite kind of movie (I also still need to see Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Captain Phillips, and a few more…)
Best Documentary I Saw
I can’t believe I ever went to Sea World.
Album of the Year
Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
This is Vampire Weekend at their absolute best, writing short, insanely catchy pop songs. I haven’t stopped listening to this album since I bought in September.
The 20/20 Experience, Vol. 1 by Justin Timberlake
Yeah, the 16, 20, and even 25 year-old me is incredibly embarrassed to list a former N’SYNC member’s album as my 2nd favorite of the year… but it’s just so… good.
Top Fifteen Songs of the Year
I also made a spotify playlist that includes a larger selection of my favorite songs of the year. In no particular order…
- “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend
- “Song for Zula” by Phosphorescent
- “Trouble Town” by Jake Bugg
- “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray
- “Youth” by Daughter
- “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake
- “I Stand Alone” by Robert Glasper Experiment
- “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood
- “Ways to Go” by Grouplove
- “Ohio” by Patty Griffin
- “You Never Need Nobody” by The Lone Bellow
- “San Francisco” Foxygen
- “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams
- “The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES
- “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend
Worship Album of the Year
The Water and the Blood by Dustin Kesnrue
Dustin Kensrue, the worship pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle and former frontman of the band Thrice, has written some amazing songs (if you can look past the distortion and post-grunge feel), including “Suffering Servant” and “Grace Alone.” I love this album.
Worship Song of the Year
“Man of Sorrows” by Hillsong Live
Hillsong is very hit-and-miss for me… except when Brooke Ligtwood writes a song. This is one of the richest songs I’ve heard in years.
Best Concert We Went To
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at Iron City in Birmingham, AL
I thought that Edward Sharpe would be good and fun, but I had no idea how engaging they would be and how much more I would enjoy their songs live. Plus it didn’t hurt that Erin and I were hanging out with Lauren Barry and Trevor Starnes during our first adventure into Birmingham’s newest and finest venue.