Here it is, a list of books; the best books we’ve read in 2022, which are different from the best books published in 2022. Why give you a list of books? Because we think reading is important and we think Christians ought to be reading books. If you have time for Instagram and Netflix, you ought to make time to read soul-shaping books. Here are a few books we commend to you.

Jason’s List

Sean McMeekin, Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II (Basic Books, 2021).

Groundbreaking is a word too commonly used to describe a book. This one is. The history of World War II has been incomplete for too long. Sean McMeekin’s new history of World War II places Stalin, not Hitler, at the center of the war. By studying newly available Russian documents, along with seldom examined material, McMeekin argues that World War II is Stalin’s war. From Japanese action in China to the German invasion of Poland, to FDR’s ultimatum that pushed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, to the American’s blank check of Lend-Lease, Stalin emerges as the common instigator. In a full display of force and fire, Stalin outdueled Hitler and Churchill. He also made a laughing stock of that sapper FDR, enlarging the Soviet empire in the process, which seems to have been the entire point. Stalin’s Marxist-Leninist view of the world called for all the capitalist countries of the world to fight each other. In Stalin’s view, this included Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States, and even Japan. He hoped they would fight a drawn-out war of attrition that would weaken each side equally, thus delivering the final destruction of the capitalist world.

Perhaps the most troubling revelation is FDR’s eagerness to help Stalin at every turn. The USA sent over $11 billion in war materials, industrial equipment, inputs, technology transfer, and intellectual property (the equivalent of well over $1 trillion today). FDR charged steep interest to the British during the Bases-for-Destroyers deal. Yet in 1951, all the Soviet debt was written off at two pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile, the USA required Great Britain to pay back all of it with interest. The British debt wasn’t paid off until 2006.


If the Pacific conflict was about anything, it was about Manchuria and north China—Japan’s successive invasions of which, in 1931 and 1937, resulted in the withdrawal of the country from the League of Nations, the imposition of sanctions, and so on. And yet the result of Roosevelt’s wartime agreements with Stalin was to assign Manchuria and north China to the USSR. The United States then approved, funded, and armed the Soviet invasion that led North Korea, Manchuria, and ultimately all of China (except Taiwan) to come under Communist rule. This was a perverse outcome of a war fought to free these areas from oppression. Even the Asian countries liberated from Japanese rule that were outside Stalin’s immediate reach—such as Thailand, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia—though long coveted by Japanese imperialists and temptingly ill-defended after the collapse of France and the Netherlands in 1940, were only occupied by Japan after Pearl Harbor. That is, they were occupied after the United States had applied a de facto oil embargo on Japan in retaliation for its behavior in Manchuria and north China, culminating in the “Hull note” ultimatum we now know to have been authored by a Soviet agent trying to goad the United States into war with Japan. If the point of the Pacific war was to free these countries from occupation, this could have been accomplished more easily at the negotiating table in 1941, before they had been occupied, than with a yearslong war of attrition culminating in the detonation of two atomic bombs and a destructive Soviet invasion of northern Asia. If the point was to liberate Manchuria and north China, then, as in Eastern Europe, the war was a failure. (p. 661f)

Gavin Ortlund, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future (Crossway, 2019).

While Crossway published books have become increasingly generic, safe, and redundant, this book is a welcomed exception. There is value in retrieving the past, and Ortlund encourages evangelicals to join the effort. More than that, he focuses on specific retrieval efforts. Evangelicalism is at an empty and dreary hour. One reason the church has struggled to remain faithful during recent challenges is she has neglected the past. Ortlund remedies that with case studies of Boethius, Torrance, Irenaeus, Anselm, Athanasius and Gregory the Great applied to such topics as the Creator/creation distinction, Divine Simplicity, and the theology of the Atonement.

One of the reasons evangelicals leave for Rome is because American evangelical theology is so tiny and unimaginative. This is partly due to evangelicalism being rootless, pretending that church history began when Luther hung the 95 theses.[1] The problem with this revisionism is that the Dark Ages weren’t nearly as dark as we evangelicals have been led to believe. The Holy Spirit was not in hibernation during the Medieval Period. You don’t have to travel through Rome to retrieve the rich theology of our theological ancestors. But you do have to travel to the past and find historical anchors. Only then will evangelicalism be free from the cultural fluctuation of feelings.


According to Torrance, the ascension transforms our view of “God’s place,” or heaven: “The ascension of the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus Christ inevitably transforms ‘heaven’: something quite new has been effected in the heavenlies which must alter its material content in our understanding of what heaven is.” Specifically, because the ascension does not subtract or dilute any of God the Son’s creaturely reality, it reveals heaven as the place of God that is friendly to creaturely existence as creaturely, for instance, bodily and spatio-temporal existence. Some theologians have expressed discomfort with the notion that heaven can accommodate a body, therefore interpreting the ascension as a kind of dematerialization of Jesus’s body. In contrast, Torrance insists that neither Christ’s resurrection nor his ascension involves any diminishing of his physical, fleshly existence. Torrance distinguishes this exaltation of the incarnate Christ from mysticism and pantheism, while insisting that because Christ is our forerunner (Heb. 6:20), we are exalted into the divine life with him. (p. 111f)

Matt’s List

The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben

If you’ve ever been fascinated by Tolkien’s imagery of “Ents” and the trees they shepherd in The Lord of the Rings, this book is for you. Peter Wohlleben is a forester in Germany, caring for a forest that’s hundreds of years old. In studying forests, he has gleaned a lifetime of wisdom and unique facts about trees and their ability to “communicate” with each other. For instance, some trees, when invaded by pests, release a chemical that attracts birds with a “come and get it” signal. The birds come and eat the pests and the trees are protected. I also learned that trees “communicate” with each other through fungal connections at their roots. They decide how they will share nutrients with other trees, protect the trees that are their “offspring,” and much more. I learned more about trees in this book than any anything I ever read – and I enjoyed it, too. Now for a word of warning: this book is not from a Christian perspective. Sometimes his anthropomorphism is over the top, and the environmental applications at the end are unnecessary, but there are quite a few good lessons we can learn about everyday life from these strange, interesting beings outside our doors.


Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species, and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? Th reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together.

The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis – Jason Baxter

Jason Baxter is a professor at Notre Dame and an all-around enjoyable guy to talk with. He manages to be scholarly without being tedious. He analyzes how Lewis was formed by famous Medieval thinkers like Boethius, Augustine, and Dante, as well as lesser-known thinkers of the time, like Bernard Silvestris, and Macrobius. In Lewis’s inaugural lecture at Cambridge, he called himself an “Old Western Man,” and “the last of the dinosaurs.” How did he develop this timeless mindset? Because he was taught by some of the best thinkers the world has ever known. This book is not just about the past. Each chapter details a different element of Lewis’s thought and how it applies to us today.


In the age of exile – modernity – we don’t have the option of resting in an enchanted landscape, and this helps reveal to us, again, that our deepest desire is not just to witness beauty but to hold it within. Without exile, we might have been contented with too little. Thus, the sentiment of nostalgia we get from reading books from the past is not necessarily misplaced, provided we understand that they are merely symptoms of a greater longing for something that has not yet come.

Letters to an American Lady – C. S. Lewis

Speaking of the good Cambridge don, one of the most pastoral books I read this year was by Lewis himself. The title refers to a particular lady with whom he corresponded from 1950 until his death in 1963. It is obvious this lady did not write delightful letters. Frankly she sounds like a hypochondriac, complaining regularly of pains and other ailments. Yet Prof. Lewis is always gracious, patient, and wise in his responses. He is never condescending, but treats her with dignity and care. He even sent her some money toward the end of his life, which he was known to do for many. We also get glimpses of his humor, as in his comment that, “he who looks upon a plate of ham and eggs, to lust upon it, has already committed breakfast in his heart.” But what makes this gem glitter is the kindness with which he points a normal, sinful person to the grace and perfection of Christ.


We must beware of the past, mustn’t we? I mean that any fixing of the mind on old evils beyond what is necessary for repenting our own sins and forgiving those of others is certainly useless and usually bad for us. Notice in Dante that the lost souls are entirely concerned with their past. No so the saved.

The Life of Moses – Gregory of Nyssa

Now to go back in history a bit. The Life of Moses by Gregory of Nyssa is an interesting and helpful book of meditations. Gregory is one of the three Cappadocian Fathers, along with his brother, Basil of Caesarea, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Gregory was significant in establishing Trinitarian orthodoxy at the first Council of Constantinople, that cemented the Trinitarian interpretation of the Nicene Creed. But his emphasis on theology was never divorced from his role as a pastor. This work summarizes the story of Moses’ life, and then the interesting part begins. Gregory takes the various events in Moses’ life and applies them metaphorically to the Christians of that day. It is a unique way of teaching and exhorting, but it works. While some of the applications are a stretch, it is a sound and easy-to-read book for those growing in the faith.


In reference to Moses’ rod becoming a serpent: Because if the serpent is sin and the Lord became sin (2 Cor. 5:21), the rational conclusion is apparent to everyone. That is, by becoming sin he also became a serpent, which is of course sin. Because for us he became a snake that he should consume the Egyptian snakes made by the magicians.

The Reactionary Mind – Michael Warren Davis

Michael Davis is bright, young, and wise beyond his years. He has written a book that will raise some eyebrows due to the title. He goes a long way towards rehabilitating the term “reactionary,” not as calling for a return to a pristine order, but to reorient our lives towards what is eternal. He is an open admirer of many unpopular things: the Middle Ages, Savonarola, and the Puritans (which is interesting because he is Roman Catholic); few modern idols are left standing. In fact, the few negative statements in the book against Protestantism were inserted by his editor, not originally by him. In the end, he calls people to practices that make life more meaningful – learn to do/make things, turn off the news, and embrace the joy of food and drink. The biggest reason I enjoyed this book is because Davis makes a case for the superiority of the Christian way of life, supplemented with ample historical and political information. His writing reminds me of G. K. Chesterton, John Betjeman, and a dash of Gary North thrown in.


The great evil of progressivism is that by denigrating the past, it raises ingratitude to a virtue and blinds us to the lessons of experiencing. The great evil of conservatism today is that it is willing to surrender the past as long as the markets are “free” …But is it really ‘progress’ in any worthwhile sense?

Tales from the Perilous Realm – J. R. R. Tolkien

This book is a delightful series of 4 short stories/novellas (Leaf By Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, Roverandom, Smith of Wooten Major) and one section of poems (Adventures of Tom Bombadil). They are all good, but Farmer Giles of Ham is my favorite. You have a farmer who wants to mind his own business thrown into the task of fighting a giant and eventually facing off with a dragon, merely because no one else will do so. In this story we find much of Tolkien’ conservative or even reactionary political perspective. It is a joy to read and much lighter than his more famous, The Lord of the Rings.

David’s List

Grace Upon Grace: Nine Decades of Stories from a Farm Boy, Midshipman, Officer, and Evangelist – Jim Wilson (2020)

Grace Upon Grace is an autobiography by Jim Wilson who is the father of pastor/theologian Doug Wilson. Following a chronological approach, Jim tells childhood stories of growing up in poverty, joining the Navy, becoming a Christian, more military stories, and then ministering for the rest of his life as a bookstore owner and pastor. Each chapter opens up with a passage on grace and God’s graciousness is the theme throughout the book. 

While many of the stories are humorous and endearing, I found this autobiography enlightening on how influential his life is on the CREC. The main line to draw would be that his son, Doug Wilson, who has shaped the CREC, has been shaped by his father.

Jim’s very practical approach to applying biblical truth has infiltrated much of what happens in Moscow. Unfortunately, this direct application is missing in many corners of presbyterianism, where pastors and theologians desire to stay in the abstract. Some notable examples in the book would be how often specific prayers for physical and spiritual needs are not only answered, but that Jim and his colleagues had real expectations when offering up the prayers. More examples of this practical theology are on display in his many counseling sessions with other midshipmen.

Jim also rubs shoulders with well-known Christian leaders of his days (Corrie ten Boone, Louis Zamperini). These stories as well as others about various nationwide para-church ministries provide a historical account of mid-20th century evangelicalism.

Overall, the book is edifying through and through. What we do at TRC is downstream of his ministry. This book was published two years before his death in 2022. Thus, within these pages, we get to witness nearly 93 years of the life of a man used mightily by God . 

Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World —Matt Parker (2019)

Math is but yet another language that God has given us to develop and explore. Admittedly, it is different than English or Spanish, yet it exists to communicate the physical reality we have been born into. Humble Pi is a book primarily focused on recounting stories of when that language isn’t communicated properly and, thus, the subsequent fallout. Parker is a mathematician and comedian by trade, which is an unusual combination. Yet, his ability to take the math seriously while not taking himself seriously is a welcome fresh breeze in an (unfortunately) dank academic room. 

As Huntsville is a place full of STEM people, we ought to be lights in the depths of a classified lab when hashing out the code changes in a controversial merge request in just the same manner as when we are delivering cookies to the neighbor next door. That is, Jesus is the Lord over all things… Including awkward coworkers and tunnel-visioned bosses.

When it comes to teaching math, Parker also is fantastic. Here’s an excerpt that could be used to rouse a depressed or stubborn child following a particularly confusing lesson: “We all make mistakes. Relentlessly. And that is nothing to be feared. Many people I speak to say that, when they were at school, they were put off mathematics because they simply didn’t get it. But half of the challenge of learning math is accepting that you may not be naturally good at it, but if you put the effort in, you can learn it… Mathematicians aren’t people who find math easy; they are people who enjoy how hard it is.”

Lastly, the stories themselves are worth the read: a numerical typo upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to go down, or somebody dividing by zero that stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean. Other stories include “mathematical mishaps that involve the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman empire, and an Olympic team. “

[1] Another reason is that evangelicals present the Sacraments as obligatory insignificant nothings. 

Published by Jason Cherry

Jason Cherry is an elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a teacher and lecturer of literature, history, and economics at Providence Classical School in Huntsville. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion and is the author of the book The Culture of Conversionism and the History of the Altar Call and The Making of Evangelical Spirituality (Wipf and Stock).