Tuesday, December 14, 2021

2021's Top Three Books

Believe it or not, it's that time of year again!  All you bibliophiles/list-lovers know exactly what I'm talking about.  

For how do you begin to whittle a year's worth of reading down to the bare bones?

Content that causes you to raise your eyebrows and shake your head.  Yet invites you to bravely ponder.  Carefully consider.  Say 'ouch.'  Freely reject.  Tentatively embrace.  Pray over.  Honestly wrestle with.

Start off with eight favorites.  Add four more to make twelve.  Slowly whittle it down to six.  Take a deep breath and go for the final cut.

Right off the top, I'll tell you that the first two titles are downright controversial.  Don't be afraid!  You probably won't agree with every or even any observation.  But, boy, these page turners made me think, weigh my beliefs, and cause me yet again to reach for THE BOOK and THE AUTHOR to bring renewed clarity and perspective to my biblical worldview on church and gender, politics, culture.

And the third book will most likely stir all kinds of emotions, and help you better understand why this author is one of the most beloved Christian writers of our time.  You won't put it down, except maybe to catch your breath.  Or grab a few tissues.  

Maybe once every year or two, I'll ask my husband to read something that's really hit home.  I handed him Philip Yancey's story last week.  

I highly recommend these fascinating, provocative reads, but don't get too comfortable, friends.  They'll shake you up, that I promise you, and push you straight out of your comfort zone.  Blanketing your reading in prayer would be my encouragement to you.

Beth Allison Barr, PhD 
'Biblical womanhood ... pervades North American Christianity.  From choices about careers to roles in local churches to relationship dynamics, this belief shapes the everyday lives of evangelical women.  Yet biblical womanhood isn't biblical, says Baylor University historian Beth Allison Barr.  It arose from a series of clearly definable historical moments.

This book moves the conversation about biblical womanhood beyond Greek grammar and into the realm of church history--ancient, medieval, and modern--to show that this belief is not divinely ordained but a product of human civilization that continues to creep into the church.

Interweaving her story as a Baptist pastor's wife, Barr sheds light on the #ChurchToo movement and abuse scandals in Southern Baptist circles and the broader evangelical world, helping readers understand why biblical womanhood is more about human power structures than the message of Christ.'
BUY Paperback - $16.24
BUY Kindle -  $9.99

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
Kristin Kobes DuMez, PhD
'A sweeping, revisionist history of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, revealing how evangelicals have worked to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism ...

As acclaimed scholar Kristin Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the centrality of popular culture in contemporary American evangelicalism ... books, films, music, clothing, and merchandise shape the beliefs of millions.  And evangelical culture is teeming with muscular heroes ... who assert white masculine power in defense of “Christian America.” 

Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Trump in fact represented the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values.' 

BUY Paperback - $12.93
BUY Kindle - $11.49

Where the Light Fell: A Memoir
Philip Yancey
'Raised by an impoverished widow who earned room and board as a Bible teacher in 1950s Atlanta, Philip Yancey and his brother, Marshall, found ways to venture out beyond the confines of their eight-foot-wide trailer.  But when Yancey was in college, he uncovered a shocking secret about his father’s death—a secret that began to illuminate the motivations that drove his mother to extreme, often hostile religious convictions ...

Yancey dives into his family origins, taking us on an evocative journey from the backwoods of the Bible Belt to the bustling streets of Philadelphia; from trailer parks to church sanctuaries; from family oddballs to fire-and-brimstone preachers and childhood awakenings through nature, music, and literature.  In time, the weight of religious and family pressure sent both sons on opposite paths—one toward healing from the impact of what he calls a “toxic faith,” the other into a self-destructive spiral.

In piecing together his fragmented personal history and his search for redemption, Yancey gives testament to the enduring power of our hunger for truth and the possibility of faith rooted in grace instead of fear ... "I truly believe this is the one book I was put on earth to write,” says Yancey. “So many of the strands from my childhood—racial hostility, political division, culture wars—have resurfaced in modern form. Looking back points me forward.”'
BUY Hardcover - $24.99
BUY Kindle - $13.99

I'd love to hear all about your favorite books of 2021 ... be sure to include a link to your review!

*   Please note that these book reviews are quoted from Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a financial benefit when you make a purchase using the links on this site at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for supporting my work and keeping my online home ad free.  

*   Merry Christmas and thanks for hosting in 2021 - RichellaLisa, and Jeanne / Lisa J.


  1. I read so many books that came out this year its hard to say which I liked best but I will name three in no particular order:
    The Hope We Hold -Jeremy and Jinger Vuolo
    Fault Lines-Voddie T. Baucham
    Christianity and Wokeness- Owen Strachan

    1. Regina, hi and Christmas Blessings to you!

      I'm off to check out your recommendations! Thanks so much for kicking off our conversation today ...

  2. I have been meaning to order that book by Philip Yancey for months now. Think I'll do it based on your review, Linda.
    I've read lots of books, but don't know that I can choose a favorite. :)

    1. Oh it's so good on so many levels, Martha. My favorite read of the year.

  3. I have read many books this year, but don't really have a favorite! The Phillip Yancey book sounds interesting! I will add that to my list. Happy Holiday reading!

    1. I'd love to get your updated Book Club List to share here again, Marilyn. Can't wait to get your take on what you've read this year!

  4. I've just started reading The Making Of Biblical Womanhood and I'm also in the middle of listening to the audio version of the Philip Yancey book and loving it so far! I'm intrigued by the John Wayne one too. I need to think back over the books I've read this year but I hope to share a post in the next couple of weeks.
    Also, update on the Thanksgiving dinner: the green bean casserole was ok - I would eat it if I was given it but probably wouldn't choose to make it again. However one of the Americans said it was her favourite part of Thanksgiving dinner and it reminded her of home, so I'm definitely glad I gave it a try. And we didn't have the sweet potato with marshmallows, but sweet potato with a sweet pecan topping. It was very different from anything I've ever tried before but I liked it!

    1. Or how 'bout sweet potatoes with marshmallows AND sweet pecan topping?!

      I love that you and your American friends could share fresh traditions together. Did you get to offer them the haggis?!

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the books as you read them, Lesley. Iron sharpens iron.

      Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to you, friend. My heart joins yours there in Scotland ...

    2. That sounds like a lot of sweetness, but it would probably be good! We haven't given them haggis yet - maybe for Burns Night in January... Hope you have a Merry Christmas too!

  5. Thank you very much for sharing your top three reads, Linda. That level of recommendation gives us great confidence in purchasing a copy for ourselves. Might have to get all three--eventually!!

    1. It's so much fun to exchange favorite titles, isn't it, Nancy!

      May you find some bookish treasures under your Christmas tree.

  6. I am so glad you shared HOW you whittled down your list to three. I was wondering that and to find Beth Barr's book listed here as one of best as also on Lisa Burgess top ten list. How did I miss this book earlier? Just ordered it from the library thanks to your recommendations, Merry Christmas Linda!!

    1. Lisa does the best reviews, doesn't she, Jean! She's brought alot of good reading into my life.

  7. I have yet to read her book, but I take belligerent exception with Du Mez' titular thesis that white evangelicism corrupted the faith and fractured the nation.

    This country is and has been far from perfect, but gleeful iconoclasm can do nothing but deepen the divides, throwing out the unassailable good with the unquestionable bad.

    Explorers in a wilderness,
    the vast plains broke by iron plow,
    a crime against the world unless
    you ask who could have freed Dachau.
    Slaves laboured in the cotton fields,
    a stain upon a hated nation
    whose young came home upon their shields
    in the name of liberation.
    On that dreadful Yom Kippur
    with Israel against the wall,
    there was one friend, to be sure,
    to throw a lifeline, save it all.
    At times in this dark history
    you just need John Wayne's cavalry.

    1. You absolutely may take exception, my friend! And may I be the first person from Massachusetts to wish you, Barbara, and your 4-footed companions a wonderful Christmas despite the pain and suffering.

      Bless you ...

  8. Always glad to get your recs, Linda.

  9. Best memoir for me this year was Forty Autumns byNina Wilner. I never thought much about Germany after WW2 and saw such family unity in Nina’s story.

    1. I'm off to check this out! You've never led me wrong!

      But meanwhile, I'm missing you, ol' friend. I hope you and the gang have a wonderful Christmas celebration together. God is good.

    2. Missing you too! Can’t wait to see Kory and Scoop, my other grand puppy. Hope your Christmas is full of merry

  10. Yay! I love your three picks, Linda! I concur with The Making of B.W. and also with Philip Yancey's book. I had such trouble picking my list this year; there were so many I could have chosen as my favorites, depending on the day. And just this week I've begun reading Jesus and John Wayne. I borrowed my sister's copy and am eager to read, read, read.

    1. We seem to resonate on books about 95% of the time! That makes me smile, Lisa! Yep, after the holidays are over, may there be plenty of time to curl up with all those books we're longing to page through.