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“The center of all joy is Jesus Christ — the word-speaking prophet, the sacrifice-offering priest, and the peace-bringing king.” From this center, Ryken works back from Christ in this beautifully illuminating volume, a capstone to what was perhaps the best twelve months in Tolkien studies and monographs I’ve ever seen, which included Eilmann on Tolkien’s “highly distinctive Romantic longing for a lost world”; Coutras on Tolkien’s supreme articulation of majesty and splendor; and Rhone on Tolkien’s “mythopoeic” worldview which connects him to Lewis, Chesterton, and Mac Donald.

The year was rather slow for large academic commentaries, but this volume would have been the most important and significant commentary in just about any year.

And two more noteworthy titles are slated for release in 2018: one from counselor David Powlison and a memoir from Jack Deere.

The concentration of so many edifying titles, in such a short publishing season, is nothing less than a remarkable work of the Spirit.

Christian publishing continues to deliver on aesthetics across the board, both on cover design and interior design, illustrated by projects like the ESV Illuminated Bible from Crossway and the beautiful Lost Sermons of C. Closer to home, God richly blessed desiring and Bethlehem College & Seminary with seven new titles in 2017: It was a strong year for books related to singleness, marriage, and dating.

Along with Segal’s gospel-wise plea to the not-yet married, Deepak Reju helped women steer clear of man-duds; David Powlison offered healing for the sexually broken and hope forward in Christ; Ben Stuart helped to wisely navigate singleness, dating, engagement, and the early married years; and Lydia Brownback tackled the loneliness that will find us whether we “win” or “lose” at romance.

But before getting to the list, a few overall comments.Following their 2015 devotional in the Psalms, the Kellers have produced a new companion devotional on the Proverbs.As you would expect, it’s a magnificent collection of bite-sized wisdom from Scripture and from their decades of cultural engagement, church leadership, parenting, and marriage.We live in the golden age of publishing, and reading (like writing) is a way of serving others, as we link helpful books to the specific needs and interests of our friends around us. Tolkien, author of series, intentionally didn’t write allegories (like Narnia).With my gratitude for all the labors of 2017, here’s my list of the year’s 17 best books, lumped together and sorted by my scientifically subjective algorithm of intuition about what books I think (1) are broadly valuable to the most readers, (2) contribute well to a specific topic, (3) succeed in their intended aims, and (4) will endure to serve the church for years ahead. But in his letters, Tolkien tips us off that spiritual truths saturate his works.

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