It's unusual for good Christian books to published in the run up to Christmas (some irony there?!)
Today I took delivery of Tom Wright's Surprised by Hope (SPCK £12.95). This is a semi-academic book - based on lectures in various places, including the 2005 Didsbury lectures - looking at what Christians hope for. As with everything Wright writes, it looks essential reading.
Michael J Gorman's Reading Paul (Cascade books - though being published by Paternoster in the Spring of 2008) is an introduction to the apostle by one of the most creative and stimulating Pauline scholars I've encountered of late. His Cruciformity: Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross is a fabulous book, brimming with fresh insight into familiar texts as well offering a rich overview of Paul's spirituality. This new book is an introduction to Paul's gospel written for pastors and undergraduate students and looks really good.
Rob Warner's Reinventing English Evangelicalism 1966-2001 (paternoster - Studies in Evangelical History and Thought) is a revised version of his PhD written under Andrew Walker. Those of us caught up in the roller coaster ride of the past 25 years - with Spring Harvest and Toronto, restorationism and the rise and rise of the Evangelical Alliance in the 1980s - will find a companion to their memories here that helps us makes sense of our lives. I've only dipped into it, but already I put it alongside Pete Ward's Growing Up Evangelical as essential for any understanding of our lives, if, like me, you were converted into free church evangelicalism in the 1970s.
Each of these would be a great gift to a reader you know or even yourself (because you always ought to buy yourself something for Christmas - then at least there'll be one thing you'll actually want under the Christmas tree!)