1. Pastor, by William Willimon.
Aubrey got me this one for my birthday a month or so ago, and it is excellent. The writing style alone made this book a joy to read, as Willimon is known for his delightful, well thought out, prose style. But he is not short on content either. This book is over 380 pages of Willimon's thoughts and reflections on Pastoral ministry. He clearly has a very pastoral heart, and has thought long and hard about the joys, difficulties, duties, and complications of a biblically grounded, word focused, church centered, pastoral ministry. I am already enjoying rereading parts of it, as I feel like I am sitting at the feet of a master. (pastor friends: you should read this!)
On a separate note, I enjoyed this book in part because Willimon is a Methodist, and I don't often read books from outside the reformed tradition. It was sort of refreshing to hear a voice from a different strand of Christendom.
2. Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck.
I loved this book for the same reason I love watching Cubs games on WGN, where the announcers are as big of Cub fans as I am. (Its so much better than ESPN with their "impartial" announcers!) For the same reason I love writing poems about my Aubrey. The same reason I love reading books about the mountains. That is, I love to hear people extol the virtues of the things that I love.
I already love the Church. I love it in theory, and a lot of the time I even love it in practice. So I suppose I am not the target audience of this book, but I loved it nonetheless. The book is meant as a counterpoint to a "churchless Christianity" movement. (you don't have to know anything about that to enjoy the book. I don't.) But the real strength of the book is that it extols the biblical virtues of the Church as the bride of Christ, the body of which Jesus is the head. It takes honest inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of the church, both worldwide and local, and concludes that despite various shortcomings, the Church is the God given means of renewing the world, preaching the word, saving the lost, sanctifying the saved, building up believers, and establishing God's new creation. What could be better than that?