[toggle]There’s a funny graphic making the social media rounds that confirms a truth universally acknowledged, at least by bibliophiles. Under the heading “Do I need more books?” sits a pie chart partitioned into a big slice (in teal) and a much smaller slice (in yellow), representing the dueling impulses in play. Predictably enough, the teal portion depicts the overwhelming urge to answer with an emphatic “YES.” But then we confront the nagging, still small voice of conscience, whispering ever so delicately, “also YES, but in yellow.” [/toggle]


[toggle]As someone who owns a perfectly appropriate, not even slightly excessive, but still fairly large number of books, I know the feeling. Several years ago, I was part of a book club at church. We were discussing a book about books (Tony Reinke’s Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading). At some point, I asked whether anyone else ever felt guilty about devoting too much time to reading, given all the other callings God places on our lives. One young woman in the group thought the question revealed more about the bookworm bubble I inhabited than any spiritual dilemma Christians commonly face. And of course she was right! (Thank goodness that levelheaded young woman later saw fit to become my wife.) [/toggle]


[toggle]If only through gritted teeth, you can usually get me to concede the sinful temptations that bookaholism encourages. Like any good gift, reading can be overindulged. But each year, as I set the table for another book awards banquet, I try to ease up on the introspection, adopting the literary equivalent of the “calories don’t count” mindset that fuels so many satisfying Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner binges. [/toggle]


[toggle]During book awards season, at least, the answer to “Do I need more books?” is always yes. That applies whether you’re someone who likes to read a reasonable amount—or someone who also likes to read a reasonable amount, but more. —Matt Reynolds, books editor[/toggle]




Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News About Jesus More Believable
Sam Chan (Zondervan)
“For every generation, or maybe even every decade, a book comes out that will become a standard reference for evangelism and apologetics. This book has the potential to become the leading manual for Christians engaged in outreach for many years to come. Chan discusses a wide set of issues ranging from the theology of evangelism to how to give evangelistic talks to the place of apologetics in evangelism, all geared to the mindset of our contemporary culture.” —Winfried Corduan, professor emeritus of philosophy and religion, Taylor University [/toggle]



[toggle]Award of Merit
The Morals of the Story: Good News About a Good God
David and Marybeth Baggett (IVP Academic)

“The Baggetts are convinced that the moral argument for God’s existence and nature is among the most resonant and persuasive arguments available in contemporary society, and they do a masterful job of pooling the relevant resources. They highlight the inability of secular ethical theories to account for objective good and evil and human moral obligation. They also demonstrate the rich explanatory power of the Christian worldview in accounting for those same moral realities. If humanity’s deep and unshakable moral intuitions are correct, then The Morals of the Story demonstrates that the rational observer should embrace Christian theism in response.” —Tawa Anderson, professor of philosophy, Oklahoma Baptist University[/toggle]




[toggle]Biblical Studies
Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels
Edited by Barry Beitzel (Lexham Press)

“This is a very helpful resource. None of the current ‘background commentaries’ offer quite the same level of detail on geographical places. Particularly when studying the Gospels, geographic context is helpful. One of the strengths of the book is that it doesn’t just discuss geographical places in isolation but interweaves them with the Scriptures themselves, producing insights that help clarify our understanding of specific texts. One great example: the book’s discussion of Nazareth and Sepphoris, which sheds light on the probable boyhood context of Jesus.” —J. Daniel Hays, professor of biblical studies, Ouachita Baptist University[/toggle]



[toggle]Award of Merit
Introducing Medieval Biblical Interpretation: The Senses of Scripture in Premodern Exegesis
Ian Christopher Levy (Baker Academic)

“This book offers a fascinating tour of the ways our forebears in the faith read the Bible. Before the historical-critical method became our modern norm, interpreters commonly wrestled with the historical and spiritual meanings of God’s Word. Many modern readers are ignorant of the trends and methods that permeated this period that occupies the majority of church history. While Levy does not imply that we should abandon the historical-critical method, he does raise the question of what may be learned from our theological predecessors. Remembering that we are members of a 2,000-year-old community of readers may enhance and enrich our own reading of the Bible.” —Constantine Campbell, professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School[/toggle]




[toggle]Children and Youth
The Friend Who Forgives
Dan DeWitt and Catalina Echeverri (The Good Book Company)

“Going by the cover alone, the artist’s style reminded me of the cartoony illustrations for The Beginner’s Bible. But there’s more here than obvious child-grabbing appeal. The illustrations are very clever and contribute greatly to the story. I liked the way motifs repeat—for example, Jesus calling Peter at the beginning of his ministry and again at the end, and Jesus’ prediction of Peter becoming a ‘fisher of men’ later fulfilled. The story is well-suited for children, with its effective echoes and repetition. It’s a book I can see children asking for over and over.” —Janie Cheaney, YA novelist, columnist for World magazine[/toggle]



[toggle]Award of Merit
The Edge of Over There
Shawn Smucker (Baker)

“Smucker nimbly weaves common experiences that teens face—shifting relationships with parents, the desire to become socially active, and the yearning for connection—into this almost dystopian fantasy. On the other side of a door that leads to the afterlife, and before a bitter battle begins, adolescent Ruby reflects on her relationship with her father: ‘Her father’s manner toward her had been changing recently. He was letting go of her, or pulling away, she couldn’t tell which.’ She enjoys the freedom this affords her, but feels ‘empty, anxious.’ Full of profound wisdom, The Edge of Over There is a lyrical exploration of the good and evil that reside in all of us.” —Jennifer Grant, writer and speaker, president of INK: A Creative Collective[/toggle]



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