Best Books of 2023

We’ve found that a lot goes into making a “best” book—stellar editing, excellent writing, significance, careful citations, sometimes an index—and in the books presented here, opportunity and timing. An attentive reader helps too.

In that respect, we noticed that many of the “best” this year have been books that expanded vision or opened new perspectives—reading that invited standing in a different place, and proved its worth by how exciting and transformative the view became, and the patient and reverent attention such reading could inculcate.

Happy New Year & Happy Holy Name of Jesus!

 

We Are the Middle of Forever. Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth

Dahr Jamail, Stan Rushworth, eds.

This is a powerful book of interviews with 19 Indigenous persons from across Turtle Island (North America) speaking about concerns and issues related to the climate crisis both as this affects Indigenous populations and the entire world. Each gives “tools of understanding, of thought, of greater connection,” offered “in the aspiration that they may provide the same” for the reader.

 

As I Please, 1943-1945, Volume 3 of the Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell

Sonia Orwell, Ian Angus, eds.

Over four volumes covering 1920 to 1950, the entries are arranged sequentially by date so that one can see both the evolution of Orwell's ideas, and the breadth of the manner in which he expressed them. With one eye on Orwell 1943-1945 and the other on events and controversies 2023, it is astonishing how current Orwell's observations and arguments still are; the matters he was dealing with—of truth-telling, deception, the machinations of governments and how to make a decent cup of tea—are still very much with us.

 

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut. Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem

Bradley Jersak

The existence and nature of hell is still a theologically live question; there are no end of books from across the spectrum of infernalists, annihilationists, and universalists that unabashedly offer an opinion. This book is different. Jersak surveys these three general positions, laying out the relevant Scriptural and major non-scriptural writings in defense of each one so the reader may compare and consider the evidence side-by-side. Quoting another author, ultimately Jersak plants his flag on the ground of hope, saying theology "cannot do otherwise than hope for the reconciliation of all...in Christ. Such hope is...not just permitted, but commanded."

 

Thérèse de Lisieux La conversion de Noël. Du récit à l’histoire

Claude Langlois

This book is a welcome examination of several crucial aspects that make St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul an often puzzling text, centering on a curious declaration: in her autobiography, how can Thérèse speak of her conversionwhile classifying herself, not as a converted sinner but as, quite opposite, a faithful cradle Catholic—and moreover without any reference to ongoing conversion? With his customary attentiveness to the text and its construction, Langlois draws out numerous illuminating facets that have been obscured by unchallenged narratives, whether dismissive, hagiographical, or even the uncritical reception of Thérèse’s own account.

 

Honorable mentions

Rest is Resistance. A Manifesto      Tricia Hersey

Project 562. Changing the Way We See Native America         Matika Wilbur

Burnout. The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle      Emily Nagoski, PhD., Amelia Nagoski, DMA

Defining America. A Christian Critique of the American Dream          Robert Benne, Philip Hefner

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