The vast majority of my time is spent reading or writing. Someone just suggested I tell about the books I’ve read so far this year. (I’d love to tell about the articles, too, but they’re far too many—typically a dozen or two a day, five or six days a week.) Perhaps others will be inspired to read some of them, too. So, here goes, in no particular order—which reflects my typical reading habits:
- Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is, by Michael Novak and Paul Adams, an excellent study of the difference between real social justice and the egalitarian redistributivism for which it is typical code. Those who enjoyed my booklet Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Poverty will find Novak and Adams disagreeing with my blanket equation of “social justice” with egalitarian redistributivism, but their substance is still excellent, and I highly recommend the book.
- Dreams of Earth and Sky, by Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s leading physicists and an amazingly creative thinker who is unafraid to speak and write boldly against unscientific fads (including fears of dangerous manmade global warming).
- The Lukewarmer’s Way: Climate Change for the Rest of Us, by Thomas Fuller, which argues that anthropogenic CO2’s warming effect is significantly less than alarmists fear but more than many skeptics think and that the appropriate response is a mix of mitigation and adaptation. He doesn’t persuade me that climate sensitivity (warming from doubled CO2 concentration in the atmosphere after all feedbacks are accounted for) is higher than the roughly 0.9˚F I think it probably is, but it’s an interesting book and far more sensible than those by the alarmists.
- A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships, by Paul Miller, a truly outstanding, inspiring, and tremendously practical, instructive study of the meaning and practice of love based on the Book of Ruth. Really enjoyed reading this aloud with my wife.
- Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make their Case, by Frank Turek, in which a sharp Christian philosopher explains all the ways in which anti-Christian thinkers presuppose truths that can’t be justified apart from the Biblical worldview.
- Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale, by Ian Morgan Cron, a fascinating, heartwarming, challenging novel about a pastor who’s lost his faith and how he regains it during an unintended time with Franciscan monks in Italy. Yes, I’m a committed Protestant, and yes, we can learn things from others.
- The Father’s Tale, by Michael D. O’Brien, a huge (over 1,000 pages) novel reminiscent of those by the old Russian novelists about a father’s love for his son and his many experiences while looking for him all across Russia. I realize this is a subjective judgment, but I consider it the best novel I’ve ever read. Every father should read this. So should every son. There would be much more understanding between them if they did.
- A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, by Ted Cruz, a political autobiography pretty clearly intended to help with his presidential campaign. I found it refreshingly candid about mistakes he’s made in the past and what he’s learned from them and how he’s learned it. It reveals a person of character, faith, faithfulness, and surprising humility, as well as brilliant intellect and considerable political prowess coupled with what I, anyway, generally think to be sound policy instincts.
- The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech, by Kirsten Powers, a member of the liberal intelligentsia/elite communicators class who became a Christian (an outspoken one), has (so far) retained many of her liberal beliefs, but has come to recognize the uncivil tenor and anti-liberty (and hence anti-liberal) tactics of much of America’s Left/Progressive movement. She documents incident after incident of that throughout the book.
- The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom, and a Culture of Life, by Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak, a very thoughtful, constructive, balanced discussion of how Christians can be salt and life in our decaying society, with good correctives to both Left and Right.
- The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri, re-reading this for the first time since high school, finding it far more comprehensible now than then, appreciating its poetic grandeur and, because I’ve learned so much more about ancient and medieval history in the last 45 years, really enjoying Dante’s lampooning of many of the most famous, and infamous, people of his day, including plenty of religious leaders. Also appreciated the many sound moral lessons. Now, if only Dante had also understood the gospel: Romans 3:19–28: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”
- Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, by Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, a wide-ranging exposé of the Left’s anti-scientific embrace of all kinds of fads, such as resistance to genetically modified crops and life-saving vaccines, and affirmation of dangerous manmade global warming. The extent to which most people today simply don’t know what real science is all about—especially that skepticism is its absolute hallmark—is ominous, and reading this book could help a lot of folks restore proper understanding and deliver our society from many dangerous errors.
- An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, by the Rules of Evidence administered in Courts of Justice, by Simon Greenleaf, a classic book demonstrating the historical reliability of the four Gospels of the New Testament, eviscerating the cynical (not health) skepticism of many critics.
- The Toxicity of Environmentalism, by George Reisman. Okay, this is actually more of an article (but a long one) than a book, but it’s on Amazon Kindle as if it were a book, so gimme a break! Outstanding concise and clear examination of the false worldview, bad ethics, and pervasive illogic of the environmental movement.
- The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Timothy Keller, another that my wife and I enjoyed reading together. The wife of one of our beloved former pastors recommended it as the best book on marriage she and her husband had ever read (among probably hundreds). I’m not sure I’d say the very best I’ve read, but certainly among them, and very encouraging and heartening for any couple from newlyweds to veterans.
- Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism, by Peter Foster, a fascinating defense of capitalism marred by Foster’s embrace of evolutionary psychology, which he uses repeatedly as part of his defense despite the fact that in those cases the arguments often are logically fallacious.
- Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom, by Larry Bell, which reads like an anthology of this excellent scientist/writer’s many highly readable articles on the subject.
- The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, by Alex Epstein, a self-educated philosopher who argues cogently, generally with excellent logic, in support of the use of fossil fuels to provide the abundant, affordable, reliable energy without which no society can rise and stay out of poverty. Perhaps Epstein’s most valuable point is the distinction between environmentalism’s “no impact” standard and his own “human thriving” standard.
- Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case, by Kathleen Hartnett-White, a shorter but perhaps even better book than Epstein’s, by a profound scholar, that explains more clearly than anything equally concise that I’ve seen precisely why fossil fuels have been, and should continue to be, such a boon to mankind.
Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, by Sam Storms, a very able defense, by a former Dispensational Premillennialist, of Amillennialism. It’s been about 30 years since I last read a lot of books on eschatology, and I wanted to brush up, so I asked one of my favorite New Testament scholars, Rev. R. Fowler White, for his recommendation, and this was it. It’s very helpful indeed—clear, peaceable, altogether excellent.
- How to Think Seriously about the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism, by Roger Scruton, a very able British conservative philosopher/social commentator, builds broad principles for environmental stewardship that are market friendly but not market obsequious.
- Environmental Markets: A Property Rights Approach, by Terry L. Anderson and Gary D. Libecap, explains how markets can protect the environment—usually much better than regulation.
- Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation, by Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, an update and revision, with particular attention to communicating clearly to younger citizens, of the classic Free Market Environmentalism, must reading for all college students who take any environment courses, for it corrects the almost universal assumption that government regulations are better protectors of the environment than private property and free markets.
- Should Christians Be Environmentalists, by Dan Story, a multifaceted book one important part of which is Story’s refutation of the charge that Christianity is guilty for giving rise to environmental degradation.
- Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry, by Gregory Alan Thornbury, the new president of King’s College, in New York City, an inspiring and highly persuasive argument that Carl F. H. Henry’s method of defending and explaining the Christian worldview, theology, and ethics for private and public life is extremely valuable and that more Christians today should be learning and applying it. (I had the great privilege of knowing Henry personally, though we were only together a few times. He was one of the greatest giants of Christian intellect of the last hundred years.)
- Environmentalism Gone Mad: How a Sierra Club Activist and Senior EPA Analyst Discovered a Radical Green Energy Fantasy, by Alan Carlin, an excellent, insider’s critique of the scientific malfeasance permeating the federal EPA that underlies the federal government’s obsession with fighting global warming.
- Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, a case for moderation in the climate-change debates.
- Climate Change the Facts 2014, edited by Alan Moran, a good anthology of clear, layman-friendly essays by outstanding scientists undermining the case for dangerous manmade global warming.
- For the Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem, by G.A. Henty, a historical novel about the Jewish rebellion against Rome leading to the fall of Jerusalem in d. 70, surprisingly good history mixed with good story telling, geared for a teenaged audience when written over a century ago (one of a large number of such books by the author, a great way for young people to learn some general history and biography while enjoying a good yarn).
- None Dare Call It Islam: Why the President and the Media Ignore the Truth about Our Radical Enemy, by John Rabe, a close friend and long-time researcher for DJK Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries), the book demolishes the Obama/mainstream media case for refusing to blame radical Islamic terrorism on radical Muslims. (So new it’s not on Amazon.com yet.)
- Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation, by Patrick M. Wood, a fascinating discussion of the resurgence of a movement powerful in the 1920s and 1930s that went largely underground because of its discrediting association with Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s—a movement that aims to put everybody under the authority of experts. The book’s not well written, but the substance is mostly sound. (Glad to see it’s free on Kindle.)
- The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century, by Ronald Bailey, a wide-ranging, thoroughly documented demolition of the many catastrophe claims of the environmental movement—a book that every environmentalist should read but that hardly any will. Want to know how to debunk environmentalists on population, resource depletion, the “precautionary principle,” epidemic cancer coming from modern industrial life, genetic engineering, global warming, and species extinction? Here’s your source.
- The Global Warming Deception: How a Secret Elite Plans to Bankrupt America and Steal Your Freedom, by Grant R. Jeffrey, a book that attempts to integrate a pretty well-informed discussion of the scientific cases for and against dangerous manmade global warming with an end-time scenario rooted in Dispensational Premillennialism and a conspiratorialist interpretation of history and politics. Too bad the latter two got added in; the rest is actually pretty good.
In addition, I’m working my way slowly through Deirdre N. McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World and The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce and have pre-ordered her Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, three volumes in her growing history of economic development that turns many long-dear theories on their heads; W.G.T. Shedd’s massive Dogmatic Theology, edited by my friend Alan Gomes, volume 2 of Edward J. Young’s The Book of Isaiah: The English Text, with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes, and various other commentaries, reviewing some of Jaroslav Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300), and various other books.
What books have you read this year? We’d be interested to know. You can post comments below to share.