I’ve never made a “Top 10 best books I’ve read this year” list, but it seems like all the cool kids are doing it (including Sara). This was a good year for reading, though not my most prolific. I’ve included the theology books that have had the greatest impact on me, as well as some non-fiction, history and even fun reading (fiction) that I’ve enjoyed in my list.
Many of these books weren’t released this year (or this decade), but they were among the best that I read or listened to in 2015. I do end up listening to a lot more books than I “read”, as I have nearly 2 hours in the car every weekday that I tend to put to good use listening to books at 2x speed.
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Here are my top 10 books, in no particular order:
1. Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney – No book on this list had more impact on my life this year than this little volume by Dr. Whitney. This is the second time one of his books has dramatically changed my spiritual lifestyle. I’ll never be the same after picking up the practice of daily praying through the “Psalms of the day”. I can’t recommend this little book with any higher praise and thankfulness.
2. Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards – This book sat on my shelf for years, but I finally listened to it this year during my morning commute. Brainerd’s devotion, piety, and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel were inspiring. No wonder this book was a major motivator to many generations of missionaries, including the well-known martyr, Jim Elliot.
3. Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon – Why had I never heard of this book before? An astounding history of the enslavement of thousands of black men and women in the south after the American Civil War by state governments and big business, like U.S. Steel and other companies. Rocked me back on my heels and filled in huge gaps in my knowledge of racial issues. Every high school student should read this book. Every student of race relations should read this book. Staggering.
4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – One of three Dickens novels that I
listened to this year. I could hardly pick just one for this list. I listened to David Copperfield most recently, but I loved Bleak House as well. Dickens had such an astute understanding of the human condition. His novels are immensely enjoyable and make the commute home fly by.
5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – I can hardly believe I hadn’t read this before. I cried after virtually every chapter. Unbelievable suffering and persecution experienced by Corrie’s family, and yet Christ shines through so brilliantly in these pages. This was truly an experiential picture of the goodness and mercy of God in the face of unspeakable sin.
6. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield – This book shines as the book to read and to understand how the Gospel can transform the heart of any sinner. Rosaria’s conversion story was touching, powerful, and challenging. It helped especially to reinforce to my heart the degree of my own sinfulness and need of a Savior.
7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – Wilbur and Orville Wright were
truly remarkable men. This new biography helped me to appreciate both their genius and their contribution to our world. What these men produced truly changed the world forever—for better or worse. They won the race to make flight possible. I loved this book and could hardly put it down.
8. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson – As a former Naval submarine officer, I really got into the hunt by the German submarine crew. Larson made the people involved come alive, making this history feel like reading a novel. Brilliant and helpful for understanding the United States’ entry into WWI.
9. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – This was the second biography I’ve listened to by Chernow (George Washington being the first…). I had no idea that Hamilton had, perhaps, the most significant impact on the early years of our country, more than any other founding father. His tenure as the first Secretary of the Treasury set the stage for the growth of the federal government into the behemoth it is today. You don’t know anything about early American history if you don’t know about Alexander Hamilton.
10. The Martian by Andy Weir – Just fun. I basically listened to this book non-stop once I started it. Brilliant, funny, entertaining—I simply enjoyed this one so much that I had to include it. It added virtually no value to my life other than entertainment. Warning: a few crass words & thoughts, but great story.
And a couple of bonus books…I came very close to including Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet, as well as Prayer by Timothy Keller on this list. Both books have had a major impact on my thoughts and plans for 2016.
While we both read a lot of good books this year, we also both started a few books we didn’t finish and finished a few books we should have stopped reading. That list probably deserves it’s own post…