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Best Books Read in 2017

I read a lot of books in 2017 and, as it turns out, I read a lot of really good books in 2017 (also some not-so-great books).  Below you’ll find a list of the ones I particularly recommend, either because they were exceptionally good, or because they’re good-but-not-well-known or were unexpectedly good.  (They’re listed in the order in which I read them, not by any hierarchy of value.)


Deep Nutrition

Deep Nutrition (see my review here) is an exploration of the common features among traditional diets, and how these positively impact our health.  There’s also a lengthy discussion of how modern “vegetable oils” damage health.  If you only read one health-related book, this is a good choice.

Cultured Food for Health

Cultured Food for Health is primarily a cookbook (although there’s a lot of information at the front).  It focuses on three primary categories of fermented foods: fermented vegetables, kombucha, and kefir.  It’s very practical.  So far, this is one of the two “general-purpose” books I’d recommend for those wanting to get started with ferments.  (The other is Real Food Fermentation, which I’d “rank” above this one.)

Grace-Based Discipline

I reviewed Grace-Based Parenting years ago.  It’s still one of my top-recommended parenting books.  Grace-Based Discipline just came out this year (read my review), and is a more practical follow-up to its more theoretical predecessor.  It’s excellent.  Very well-balanced, both in its overall content/philosophy, and in being practical without being formulaic.

50 Human Studies

This is, admittedly, not going to be for everyone.  But it is to everyone’s benefit to know about it, even if it isn’t up your alley.  50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New Bibliography (what a mouthful!) summarizes the results of 50 studies that were done in China to investigate the effects of prenatal ultrasound.

This type of study has never been done in the U.S., for (legitimate) ethical reasons.  China lacks the same ethical restraint — something which is unfortunate (I don’t want anyone to think I’m in favor of that type of research), but has resulted in some pretty compelling evidence that ultrasound is not as safe as we generally presume it to be.  (It isn’t just “taking a picture.”)

The Gospel for Real Life

Sometimes as Christians we can be guilty of failing to preach the Gospel to ourselves.  The Gospel for Real Life focuses the reader on the Gospel and what its implications ought to be for the regenerated believer’s everyday life.

Dissolving Illusions

I like to think of this as “the rest of the story” where vaccines are concerned.  Dissolving Illusions is, at least for the most part, not an “anti-vaccine” book, per se (although it is pretty clear in portions that the author is not a fan).  Rather, the bulk of the book presents the history of infectious disease, vaccines, hygiene, etc., allowing modern vaccines to be placed into a more accurate, broader context than we typically are offered.

The last section of the book offers additional insight into vaccines and “vaccine-preventable diseases” themselves — what we know about the illnesses, how they work, ways they’ve been treated over the years, etc.  (And don’t miss what the author has to say about the natural immune response to measles vs. the vaccine-induced response.)

Understanding Comics

I have to confess, Understanding Comics is not a book I would have freely chosen to read.  It was required reading for a class.  But I was surprised by how deep and insightful it was — and I even have a greater appreciation now for comics as an art form.

If you want to really get philosophical, read the section about symbols and faces, and consider them in the context of the creation of man in God’s image.


Although Uncomfortable had a couple of sections I felt were a little out of balance (or perhaps just worded poorly), overall, this was an excellent read.  It’s well worth reading for every Christian in America.  The book is challenging, calling Christians to get out of our comfort zones in order to truly be what the Church is called to be.  This will look different for every person and every church fellowship, but McCracken offers plenty of practical examples to give us an idea of what we, as the Church, could be.

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional FoodDeep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional FoodCultured Food for Health: A Guide to Healing Yourself with Probiotic Foods Kefir * Kombucha * Cultured VegetablesCultured Food for Health: A Guide to Healing Yourself with Probiotic Foods Kefir * Kombucha * Cultured VegetablesGrace Based Discipline: How to Be at Your Best When Your Kids Are at Their WorstGrace Based Discipline: How to Be at Your Best When Your Kids Are at Their Worst50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New Bibliography50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New BibliographyThe Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross...Every Day (Now Includes Study Guide)The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross…Every Day (Now Includes Study Guide)Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten HistoryDissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten HistoryUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtUncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian CommunityUncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community


The House of Closed Doors

The House of Closed Doors is (I believe) an indie Kindle novel.  Best categorized as a mystery, it’s a complex and well-written story.  It is not a typical “whodunit” type of story.  It does contain considerable heavy, mature themes, so I would consider this adult reading only.

The Red Door Inn

Another indie Kindle novel, The Red Door Inn is perhaps most accurately described as a Christian romance.  Don’t let that throw you, though, because it’s a deeper, more complex story than a stereotypical “romance.”  There are themes here of finding faith and finding family, with the romance serving merely as the line that holds these things together.  It is a nice “feel good” story, though, for when you want a happy ending.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars outstrips many of the classic novels I’ve read, for quality.  It’s a young adult novel and, being secular, does not embrace all the same values our Christian family does.  There is some “language” in it, and there is a single sex scene (between unmarried older teens, albeit in not-quite-ordinary circumstances).  With that said, there’s a lot to recommend it, too.

In terms of the story itself, it’s enjoyable reading.  Considering the protagonist is a teenager with late-stage cancer, that’s quite a feat.  The characters are lovable — and smart.  That’s one of the things I appreciate about it.  They’re teenagers; they cut up and have fun and do teenager-y things, but they’re not “dumbed down.”  In fact, they’re both intelligent and often quite wise.  The vocabulary is strong (despite the occasional appearance of vulgarities).  Author John Greene makes use of one of the most brilliant literary devices I’ve ever seen.  I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

The book raises important questions and proposes some intriguing answers about life and death and the meaning of life.  Of course, this can only go so far without the underpinnings of a biblical worldview, but it’s thought-provoking and can further discussion.  And real love — even when it’s hard, even when the loved one is fighting against that love, even when it hurts — is exemplified.  The characters in this story are good, faithful friends, and they love well.

I rarely re-read a story, but this is one I find myself drawn to re-read, because there is so much here.  (The movie is also good, by the way, in terms of enjoyable, thought-provoking content.  But some of the literary quality is lost.)

The Last Librarian, The Lost TreeRunner, The ListKeepers

The Last Librarian is yet another indie Kindle novel.  I actually discovered it when it was being promoted and was, therefore, free, and I’m so glad I did!  In a nutshell, it’s basically the modern Fahrenheit 451 and/or 1984.  It’s a bit difficult to follow for the first several chapters, as the various characters are introduced, but once you’re solidly into the story, it gets easier.  This was a can’t-put-it-down book for me.  Bibliophiles will appreciate all the great quotes and other literary references throughout.

There’s a bit more dystopian-meets-fantasy/sci-fi in the sequels, with less of the “fantasy” sort of aspect in book one.  The entire series is good, but The Last Librarian is my favorite.  This series (in The ListKeepers, I think, ‘though I don’t remember for certain) also has one of the very few “shocking revelations” I’ve ever seen in a story that was truly unexpected.

A Tangled Mercy

A Tangled Mercy is an excellent book, but I have trouble articulating how and why.  The protagonist is a 21st-century woman who, like her mother (a Charleston native), studies Civil War-era Charleston.  Mysterious family secrets lead her to Charleston itself to seek answers, and the story begins to alternate between the 19th-century story and her own modern one, weaving a web increasingly between the two.

I have a great appreciation for the way race is handled in the story.  The realities are racism are not in any way brushed under the rug but, rather, confronted head-on.  We’re painted a picture of how far we’ve come in this area since the 1850’s — and yet also of the ugliness that still lingers.  I appreciate that both sides of that coin are portrayed: that we don’t have racism today like we had racism in the Civil War, and also that we still see egregious racism.

The author also does a fantastic job of taking a positive approach, with the main characters (both black and white) confronting such harsh realities and yet meeting them with dignity and grace and unity rather than bitterness or malice.  This somehow manages to be a major message of the book, without ever being a major focus of the book.  It just was beautifully handled, in my estimation.

The House of Closed DoorsThe House of Closed DoorsThe Red Door Inn: A Novel (Prince Edward Island Dreams)The Red Door Inn: A Novel (Prince Edward Island Dreams)The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our StarsThe Last Librarian: An AOI Thriller (The Justar Journal, volume 1)The Last Librarian: An AOI Thriller (The Justar Journal, volume 1)The Justar Journal: The Last Librarian complete seriesThe Justar Journal: The Last Librarian complete seriesA Tangled Mercy: A NovelA Tangled Mercy: A Novel

I’d love to know what you read in 2017, or plan to read in 2018!

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Best Books Read in 2017 is a post from: Titus 2 Homemaker

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Best Books Read in 2017


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