• Cole Feix

Best Books of 2018


Everybody gets excited this time of year. Christmas is only a few days away, the lights are up across the city, and Christmas parties are in full swing. There are the classic holiday favorites like the smell of real Christmas trees, family recipes, and Christmas Vacation on loop.


But you're not here for that! One of the best things about this time of year is the endless stream of book recommendations. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I decided it would be more fun to talk about books than write about all of them this year so check out this morning's podcast episode for the full list! Here's the link to Google Play & Podbean if you're holding out against the Apple empire.


I had my dad on the podcast and we went through every category we could think of. If you need a recommendation or you're buying for someone in the family, look no further.


Even if you don’t love reading, head to the 55-minute mark for the most overrated books of the year - including some shots fired over David Foster Wallace.


For those of you who prefer to read, here are my picks for the best 5 books I read this year:


Fooled By Randomness - Nassim Taleb

Taleb is my favorite author of the year. Even more than his books, I just really love his mind. He's a polymath with a voracious interest in everything under the sun. This book is technically about how prone we are to mistake randomness for success, but you'll dive into the ancient Greek myths, thought experiments, economics, politics, and everything in between. Taleb styles himself a flaneur, which Walter Benjamin defined as, "a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city." Nothing could be more accurate. This book is pure delight.


Spurgeon on the Christian Life - Matthew Barrett

This book sent me into a 3 month Spurgeon binge. There are just so many things I love about the Prince of Preachers and this book captures almost all of them. From the opening scene when Spurgeon's casket is carried through the streets of London opened to Isaiah 45:22, "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth," to his conversion as a young man to his prodigious output in the pulpit and as a pastor, Barrett conveys the tremendous duality of gravity and joy that Spurgeon possessed. He was at once the world's greatest preacher, the crown of the Puritans, and the world's greatest philanthropist, starting and running dozens of charities and orphanages in his lifetime. This book inspired, challenged, and encouraged me. Everybody should read it!


Paul and the Faithfulness of God - N.T. Wright

There's nobody I love to read more on the apostle Paul than N.T. Wright. Even in the places I don't agree, I'm always impressed by his breadth, his grasp of scholarship, and his ability to get straight to the soul of what he's talking about. In these two volumes, he really ushers you into the life and mind of Paul. For a shorter version that has the same effect, check out Paul: A Biography.


Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

I haven't actually finished this book yet, but I can already tell it's going to be one of my favorites for the year. Knight does two things really well. First, he makes you feel like you know him and you're on the journey with him. This is a hard book to put down because he is such a good writer. Second, he's able to tell his story without any sense of inevitability. Of course, you know how the story ends. He makes it; he achieves his goal. But you never feel that as you're reading. You really feel like this company could fail at any moment. That's a real gift. Be careful when you read this one - you're going to want to go out and get a new pair of Nikes.


Revelation - Peter Leithart

I've mentioned these commentaries so often I'm sure everybody's tired of hearing about them, but they truly were the best books I read this year. I'll warn you, they're fairly technical in places, but they will change the way you read your Bible. Because of the price and the barrier to entry, I've had to relegate Leithart to number five. I also really enjoyed his commentary on 1 & 2 Kings in the Brazos series this year.



For more recommendations, check out our podcast. Here's the entire list.


How do you like to read? Reading habits, trends, and paper vs. plastic when it comes to books (0:00)


Christian books (12:45)

Terry’s Picks:

The Hauerwas Reader - Stanley Hauerwas

The Work of Theology - Stanley Hauerwas

Are the Gospels Reliable? - Peter Williams

Lectures to My Students - Charles Spurgeon

To Change the Church - Ross Douthat

Love Thy Body - Nancy Pearcey

Working the Angles - Eugene Peterson


Cole’s Picks:

God Took Me By the Hand - Jerry Bridges

Love Thy Body - Nancy Pearcey

Spurgeon on the Christian Life - Matthew Reeves

Unbreakable - Andrew Wilson


History, Biography, and Politics (19:14)

Terry’s Picks:

A History of the Jews - Paul Johnson

Napoleon - Paul Johnson

Hamilton - Ron Chernow

Belichick - Ian O’Connor

The Second World Wars - Victor Davis Hanson

Scalia Speaks - Christopher Scalia

The Point of It All - Charles Krauthammer


Cole’s Picks:

Churchill - Andrew Roberts

Winston Churchill’s Wartime Leadership - Martin Gilbert

John MacArthur: Servant of Word and Flock - Iain Murray

Brave Companions - David McCullough

The American Spirit - David McCullough

Identity - Francis Fukuyama

The Coddling of the American Mind - Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff


Academic (39:22)

Terry’s Picks:

Collected Writings on Scripture - D. A. Carson

Exile - N. T. Wright

The Steinsaltz Humash - Adin Steinsaltz

The Spurgeon Study Bible - Crossway


Cole’s Picks:

Sanctification - Michael Allen

Where Mortals Dwell - Craig Bartholomew

Memes in Digital Culture - Limor Shifman

Thinking in Tongues - James K.A. Smith


Commentaries (51:44)

Terry’s Picks:

Romans - Thomas Schreiner

Stories With Intent - Klyne Snodgrass

Cole’s Picks:

Revelation - Peter Leithart

1 & 2 Kings - Peter Leithart

Proverbs - Derek Kidner


Most Overrated Books (55:08)

Terry’s Picks:

What Happened - Hilary Clinton

Lies Christians Believe - William Paul Young

The David Foster Wallace Reader - David Foster Wallace


Cole’s Picks:

10 Commandments - Kevin DeYoung

Paul and His Team - Ryan Lokkesmoe

Suicide of the West - Jonah Goldberg

Jonathan Edwards Lover of God - Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney

Spirit-Filled Jesus - Mark Driscoll

Atomic Habits - James Clear


Leadership and Business (1:07:43)

Terry’s Picks:

Deep Work - Cal Newport

12 Rules For Life - Jordan Peterson

The Way of the Seal - Mark Divine

Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


A Hilarious Conversation About Faxing (1:08:15)


Fiction (1:09:24)

Terry’s Picks:

The Collected Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie


Cole’s Picks:

The Cold Dish - Craig Johnson

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie


Top 5 Lists (1:15:13)

Terry’s Picks:

The Work of Theology - Stanley Hauerwas

Lectures to My Students - Charles Spurgeon

Love Thy Body - Nancy Pearcey

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Napoleon - Paul Johnson


Cole’s Picks:

Revelation - Peter Leithart

Fooled By Randomness - Nassim Taleb

Spurgeon on the Christian Life - Matthew Barrett

Paul and the Faithfulness of God - N.T. Wright

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight



Cole Feix is the president of So We Speak and a regular writer. Follow him on Twitter, @cfeix7.

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