Recommended Books from 2022
Books. I’m a reader. You should be too. I hear people protest on occasion:
“I’m just not a reader.”
"Notes from the Trail" is a reader-supported publication. When you become (or invite someone to become) a subscriber, you’re an encouragement to me, and in a sense you’re saying, “Write more! Do it again.”
But you “read” through social media. In fact, I’d bet that you 4-5 days on social media is the equivalent of reading through a 200 page book. Everyone is a reader. It’s just a matter of sustained attention.
Our culture has programmed (or deprogrammed) us to be able to focus. Studies consistently decry the shrinking attention span. The pandemic accelerated an intelligence crisis. We were already aware of rising rates (near epidemic levels) of anxiety in our country. One of the primary causes of that has been identified as social media. (Think more screen time = rising anxiety.)
A study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that young adults who spent more than 300 minutes a day on social media platforms were “2.8 times as likely to become depressed within six months” than those who spent 120 minutes or less on social media.
What happened during the pandemic? Adults and children were given permission to not only be in front of screens more, but school age children and adults alike were required to be in front of screens more.
So, fight back against what culture is doing to you, and… read books.
In January, I’ll be posting my annual “Top Books of 2022,” but this post is a collaborative post with my son-in-law Braeden and my son Sam. Both are readers (be still my beating heart).
For some context, Braeden is on church staff in Newport News, and Sam is the area director for YoungLife in Winchester. So the books they recommend are faith-based in genre.
Here we go….
Here’s Braeden’s books and a quick synopsis of why you should put them on your reading list.
Remember Death by Matthew McCullough
In Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope, Matthew McCullough does exactly what the subtitle suggests—walking through the promises of Scripture, centering on the work of Christ, he shows how a healthy “death-awareness” magnifies the beauty of gospel hope. McCullough’s writing is infused with gentleness, humor, and appropriate sobriety, and I found his honesty and compassion in speaking about such a weighty topic as death both comforting and challenging. While it certainly was an interesting title to tell people I read before bed every night, it has been largely impactful in forming my understanding of my own mortality and how Jesus meets us even in the darkest places.
The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves
Michael Reeves’ The Unquenchable Flame is an incredible primer to understanding not only the history of the Reformation, but also the spirit of the Reformers. I have found Reeves’s writing to be nearly unmatched in its ability to balance light-hearted humor with solid theology (second only to a Jeff Noble sermon), and he manages to cover a large territory of history in a concise, digestible manner. This was the first book I seriously read about the Reformation, and it is one that has left me with a much better understanding of its key ideas, people, and events, all packaged in a form that I could acceptably read in the library or the beach.
Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves
Michael Reeves returns again to my list in Rejoicing in Christ. In a sea of books about theology and the work of Christ, it was refreshing to consider at length the person of Jesus (with plenty of theology and discussion of his redemptive work included) and behold his beauty. This book felt like an easy-to-read treasure map, with gems and jewels in the form of interesting stories scattered along the way, that led me to take hold of Jesus as delightful, glorious, and gracious and to see how being united to him changes my life.
Here’s a Sam’s recommended book from 2022 and why you should read it. He swears he read more than one book last year, and that this is the one book you should read. He and Braeden can arm wrestle over which of their four recommended books gets top spot.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
In Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership, Ruth Haly Barton walks us through the crucial need and calling to care for and constantly strengthen our souls. It is a challenging yet encouraging reminder to reconnect and search the desires of our soul to ensure our souls are aligned with the Lord. For much of the book, Moses is the main focus, walking through his life and his soul chapter by chapter. This book has been highly impactful for me as I've stepped into a new leadership role in my career. The end of chapter reflections and questions are great guides along the way.
Stay tuned for my Top Books post of 2022
Thanks, Braeden and Sam for your recommendations!
My annual Top Books post will be released in January. Stay tuned! You can read last year’s (and others) by visiting jeffnoble.net, and scroll down to the magnifying glass icon and search for “Top Books” (or whatever).
Even Gen Z Influencers Know Reading Classic Books Is Better Than Social Media, by Zsanna Bodor, The Federalist, February 6, 2022
One social media influencer, YouTube sensation Emma Chamberlain has “promoted reading as a way to relax, learn, and escape the toxic world of social media… In her YouTube video, Reading Makes You Hot, (which has more than 3.8 million views), Chamberlain describes how reading alleviates her anxiety and depression. She explains, ‘Reading is harmless. Going on social media is not harmless. It makes you sad, it makes you compare yourself to other people, it makes you depressed.’”