Reading Guides

Englewood Books of the Year – 2008-2019

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Readers sometimes ask us for a list of the books we have picked as the Best Books of the Year. In fact, the old version of our website had a list of these Englewood books of the year on it, but we were notoriously bad at keeping that list up-to-date. Earlier this year we published this list of the dozen Books of the Year since we started in 2008 in the final, retrospective issue of our print magazine. (Get a FREE PDF of this final magazine issue!)

These twelve books are highly recommended for Christian readers, and have held up well over the intervening years.
*** How many have you read?


The Englewood Review of Books
Books of the Year


2008 Book of the Year:
Englewood BooksAcedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life
Kathleen Norris

(Riverhead Books)
Buy Now:  [ Amazon

Kathleen Norris has offered us here one of the finest books of 2008, deeply probing some of our cultural neuroses, and yet at the same time pointing us to the rooted wisdom of the monastics, which shines the light of hope in the midst of our individual and cultural brokenness. Indeed, the essence of the monastic tradition is to remind us that God is redeeming all of Creation through the formation of a contrast society. Acedia and Me is essential reading for the Church as we seek to understand the nature of Christian obedience in the present age, but it is especially important for those with a calling to (or at least a fascination with) new or traditional monasticism, in that it describes in depth one of the fundamental temptations that would shatter community and render as impotent our witness to the transforming Gospel of Christ.
– from our review by ERB editor C. Christopher Smith

2009 Book of the Year:

Englewood BooksThe Sacredness of Questioning Everything
David Dark

Buy Now:  [ Amazon

In The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark champions the power—and the spiritual necessity—of the open mind. Asking questions of our convictions, assumptions, perversions, religions, is the only way to let the light and air into them. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in,” he maintains, using Leonard Cohen’s words. Questioning our God(s), our government, our eschatology, our language or our lusts, opens them to the possibility of rehabilitation, redemption and ultimately resurrection. His chief target is the concept of God as an angry, vengeful  tyrant, an abomination who punishes the slightest doubt or faithlessness with a swift and terrible consequence, a false God he names Uncle Ben, or (via William Blake) “Nobodaddy.” Dark confesses to slipping into this conception of God every so often, and he marshals all his courage and skill to outline the means to counter this concept with truth and grace. This involves crossing carefully drawn boundaries to tip over some of the very sacred cows of the modern evangelical tradition.
– from our review by Joshua Neds-Fox

2010 Book of the Year:

Englewood BooksThe Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

(Paraclete Press)
Buy Now:  [ Amazon

We are not called to perish in the desert of our temptations but rather, as Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove notes to bloom there, and this blossoming will ultimately bear fruit. He says: “If God is faith in exile and present in human flesh, then everything—every place—is now holy. We learn to enjoy the fruit of stability as we embrace God’s mission where we are” (139). Stability is essential to our faithfulness as we share life together in our church communities, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s The Wisdom of Stability is the finest reflection on stability in the contemporary world. Through stability, we learn to mature together in a place toward the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4), becoming, by the grace of God, a vibrant contrast to the madness of our hypermobile culture.

In The Wisdom of Stability, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove orchestrates the voices of those before us who have set out to cultivate the practice of stability and poignantly calls us to the threshold of this journey of growing into stability. May we have the courage to heed his call and set out together on this journey and the even greater courage needed to weather the many demons that will assail us as we continue to be faithful in our place, day
by day and year by year.
– from our review by ERB editor C. Christopher Smith

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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