Like the magazine that now sports a bold new look, the 25th edition of Christianity Today’s Annual Book Awards has also been given some new life: two new awards, an awards seal, and a new twist on the presentation. The awards started in 1989 as selected by a reader’s choice poll. It has developed throughout the years into an annual staple of the magazine.
The biggest addition to this year’s book awards is the first-ever CT Book of the Year, based on the book the judges agree upon the most unanimously. The winner this year is God’s Forever Family, Wheaton professor Larry Eskridge’s history of the Jesus People movement, which also won the History/Biography award. This year’s awards also introduce a Her.meneutics award, named after Christianity Today’s popular women’s site. This year’s winner was Amy Simpson’s Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission, which recounts Simpson’s experience growing up with a schizophrenic parent and discusses how the church can best address mental illness.
On top of the new awards, the book awards will include a “2014 Christianity Today Book Award Winner” seal, which will be given to publishers to place on their award-winning book for future pressings. This was created to give additional recognition to the winning books.
Matt Reynolds, books editor for Christianity Today, is running the book awards for his third year. “I have learned that every year, there are going to be a number of worthwhile books, any number of which that would be fine candidates to bestow awards upon,” said Reynolds. “Year after year I am amazed at the number of quality books. It increases your appreciation for the amount of good book writing being done.”
The final change is that Christianity Today has lifted the veil of anonymity from the judges’ comments on the winning books. The editorial team decided it wanted to recognize its judges—who include best-selling authors, experts in their fields, and simply thoughtful people—for their hours spent reading and evaluating thousands of pages.
When asked about the reason for all the new features, Matt says, “CT has changed in the past year in terms of the redesign, so it is fitting that the book awards have changed as well. But despite all that change, the core mission (for the awards) has stayed the same: it’s still all about recognizing the books that most shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.”
Other winners in 2014 include Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic in Apologetics/Evangelism, Eat With Joy by Rachel Marie Stone in Christian Living, and Lisa Samson’s The Sky Beneath My Feet in Fiction. Read a full listing of the winners here.