Sarah Yardley introduces her favourites reads of the year, spanning theology, biography and devotionals 

To explore the world through reading is a gift. We are transported by fresh ideas and new perspectives. The shallow edges of our lives are flooded by deep wells of truth.


In 2023, I read widely; here are a few of the books that called my heart to grace this year.

1. Invitation to Retreat by Ruth Haley Barton

I cannot recommend Ruth’s writings highly enough. She is honest, funny, wise and deep. Her books are often the clarion call to my soul to slow down, create space, and listen to the living Spirit of God.

This gorgeous hardcover creates a compelling invitation: where am I listening to the voice of God?


2. The Woman They Wanted by Shannon Harris

This book is equal parts heartbreaking and honest; the wife of the man who kissed dating and Christianity goodbye tells her own story of identity crisis and soul-searching.

Her story holds echoes of the struggles of many of those who lived through a generation of Christianity that focused on external appearances above deep soul work; there are no fairy tale endings, but she invites us into her heart.


3. The Crucified King by Jeremy Treat

For those interested in a theological treatise on atonement and kingdom theology, Jeremy takes a fresh and compelling approach to why the crucified God is also king forever, and the importance of holding these twin strands in unity rather than isolation.

Jeremy is a leader of deep impact and true wisdom, and I thoroughly enjoyed this more academic read.


4. Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools by Tyler Staton [See Premier Christianity’s 5* review here]

Tyler’s personal intimacy with Jesus is evident on every page of this book. He is a man who lives all that he writes, but the way he threads personal story with the powerful impact of a life of prayer stirred my heart to deeper conversation with Jesus. 

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5. Repackaging Christianity by Andrew Atherstone [See Premier Christianity’s 5* review here]

Andrew’s insightful, thoughtful consideration of the origin and growth of Alpha and HTB traced some of the spiritual, practical, and strategic decisions that formed the movement that has shaped much of public Anglican spirituality.

I originally thought the title was an expose, but it’s more of a conversation, gracious towards multiple perspectives. Worth the time of any Christian leader.


6. Original Sin by Matt Rowland Hill

Matt’s messy, ruthlessly honest story of wrestling with doctrine, drugs, and disappointment was one of my favourite reads this year.

It’s not for the faint of heart (be prepared for violence, profanity, and sexual conversations) but it gave a snapshot of what happens when the messy edges of theology meet the life of an addict. 


7. Stumbling Toward Eternity by Josh White

With equal honesty but a deeper experience of grace, Josh’s personal work on forgiveness, father wounds, and the faith that will not let him go reminded me what a life looks like when we stumble and even crawl towards eternal grace. 


8. Death to Deconstruction by Joshua Porter

Joshua begins his book by introducing his own suicide attempt, an unconventional choice for a church leader writing on theology.

He dismantles many of the current theological challenges of a deconstructing generation with enough honesty and experience to avoid shallow or quick answers.

This is an excellent read.


9. Timothy Keller by Collin Hansen 

The legacy of a life of faith is extraordinary, and Hansen’s book was written before Tim’s homecoming, but creates a thoughtful reflection on the work, the pastoral practice, and the strategy of one of the best Christian leaders of our generation. 


10. Perseverance by Jon Thompson

One of my greatest sadnesses of the past few years is to watch the moral decay and quiet quitting in the lives of Christian leaders.

Jon calls for a purity, a holiness, and a Spirit-filled perseverance in the life of faith.

It’s the book my soul was hungry to read.

Honorary mentions / classic reads I enjoyed in 2023:

  • Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N. D. Wilson
  • The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson 
  • Restoring the Woven Cord by Michael Mitton
  • Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
  • Domestic Monastery by Ronald Rolheiser
  • Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
  • Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
  • Turn my Mourning into Dancing by Henri Nouwen
  • Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems by Mary Oliver

Wherever you read, may you find home in the presence of Jesus in 2024. 

For more reviews of the latest Christian books, see here. Premier Christianity magazine reviews the latest books in every print issue. Become a print or digital subscriber here.