Author Theologian Historian Ethicist Public Scholar Crime Fighter
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,679 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Why did I love this book?

Nicholas Wolterstoff, the Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale, is the most versatile and influential Christian philosopher of our time. His work has covered aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, religion, and more.

This book, however, focuses on education—particularly what Christian university education should be and can be in our time. As one who has spent much of his career in Christian universities, I found Wolterstorff’s concepts to help us move well beyond the “knowledge plus piety” convention to a truly integrative model that brings together the best of the Christian religion, the Berlin research university, the Oxbridge college, and the morally earnest American schools of the nineteenth century.

By Nicholas Wolterstorff, Clarence W. Joldersma (editor), Gloria Goris Stronks (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Educating for Shalom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In addition to his notable work as a premier Christian philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff has become a leading voice on faith-based higher education. This volume gathers the best of Wolterstorff's essays from the past twenty-five years dealing collectively with the purpose of Christian higher education and the nature of academic learning.

Integrated throughout by the biblical idea of shalom, these nineteen essays present a robust framework for thinking about education that combines a Reformed confessional perspective with a radical social conscience and an increasingly progressivist pedagogy. Wolterstorff develops his ideas in relation to an astonishing variety of thinkers ranging from Calvin,…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Christian Worldview

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Why did I love this book?

Bavinck was a Dutch theologian and philosopher writing a hundred years ago. Even then, it was an impressive accomplishment to keep up with the literature in both fields and in the major European languages.

This book shows that Bavinck did that and more. Politics, ethics, social science, even natural science—nothing seems to have escaped his vision. His synthesis of what a world-and-life-view (as he preferred to call it) from a Christian perspective continues to stand as a mark of wholistic and synthetic thinking unexcelled in the century since. Indeed, this book is an excellent place to start as a Bavinck renaissance is underway.

By Herman Bavinck, N. Gray Sutanto (translator), James Eglinton (translator) , Cory C. Brock (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Christian Worldview as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Herman Bavinck's Christian Worldview, originally written in response to the challenges of modernity, compellingly explores and explains why only a Christian worldview can offer solutions to our deepest needs.

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Abolition of Man

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Why did I love this book?

If I hadn’t read this book half a dozen times before, I would have put it as my top choice.

I use it to prompt discussions about religion, society, law, and education for a seminar I guest-teach at the University of British Columbia Law School. Rarely has an author addressed the issues of his day and anticipated the issues of tomorrow as well as Lewis does here.

No word in the book starts with “postmodern,” but the postmodern mood and mode are everywhere, and Lewis knows what is troublesome about it. He succinctly addresses the moral vacuity of his time that is troubling people today.

By C S Lewis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Abolition of Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Abolition of Man is subtitled "Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools." It is a defense of objective value, the pursuit of science and natural law, and a warning of the consequences of doing away with those things.

Plus, check out my book…

Can I Believe? Christianity for the Hesitant

By John G. Stackhouse Jr.,

Book cover of Can I Believe? Christianity for the Hesitant

What is my book about?

Grounded in scholarship but never ponderous, Can I Believe? refuses to dodge the hard questions as it welcomes the intelligent inquirer to give Christianity at least one good look.

This book begins by taking on the initial challenge of thinking about religion responsibly. It then clears several misunderstandings from the basic story of Christianity, which combine to domesticate this startling narrative and thus repel reasonable people who might otherwise be intrigued.

The second half of the book looks at Christian commitment positively and negatively. Why do two billion find this religion to be persuasive? At the same time, how does Christianity respond to the fact that so many people find it implausible, especially because so many Christians insist that theirs is the only way to God?