Top Shelvers of the Allright Aughts – So Far

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Second in a series of pre-emptive favorites (really, most influential). The official lists should be up in Jan/Feb, but this is my way of thinking about the lists beforehand and just having fun with it.

I try to limit these lists to one work per artist/author (though for movies, two of my definite favorites are from the same director. Since movies are more collaborative, I may have to break my own rule on that one. Not sure yet.) and to works released in this decade. Which, in the case of books, gives me a bit more leeway than the typical year list, as I rarely read a work in the year it was written…

In no particular order:

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church
– N. T. Wright
Overview of the crusader’s singular work against Gnosticism and escapism which has pervaded the Protestant churches (especially American Evangelical churches), especially in regards to heaven, the Resurrection and all that.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
Hilarious and poignant young adult novel about a high school freshman who decides to attend an all white school that’s literally and figuratively miles and miles removed from his reservation.

What’s So Amazing About Grace – Philip Yancey
(I can’t tell when this book was first published based on the Amazon reads, so it may be disqualified…)
What sets apart Christianity from any other philosophy or religion in the world? I’ll give you a clue – it’s in the title of this great set of meditations from my favority Evangelical writer.

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay
– Michael Chabon
Ooh, comic books! A novel! Amazing and epic!

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
– David Sedaris
-or- Me Talk Pretty One Day
Ok, so this is a cheat, but I’ve got a couple months to make up my mind. Contrary to popular belief, I truly believe that Flames is Sedaris’ strongest work yet. The Smoking Diaries at the end alone are worth the price of admission. However, Me Talk is one of the most influential books I’ve ever had the privilege to crib.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians
– Rob Bell and Dan Golden
I can’t decide if this book or Velvet Elvis is more important to me. I actually think Elvis in that it helped me work through some transitional things and definitely provided a juncture for me. But if Elvis is the bridge, Save is a road map to the destination: Liberty for all, in the name of Jesus.

Searching for God Knows What – Donald Miller
As of print, I don’t have his latest book, but I still think that Searching is miles ahead of his breakthrough Blue Like Jazz.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
– Lauren Winner
In a world where Christians rarely talk maturely about sex (if at all), this book really helped me to look at sex as an issue of love and openness springing from the bedroom, through the home and then outwards.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation
– Jeff Chang
A social history of oppressed people framed by their music. There’s nothing new there, but the first half of this massive book is so intriguing and yet comprehensive that much else fails by comparison – including its own second half.


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