10 December 2015

My Top Ten Books of 2015

As we near the middle of December, it is time again to put out my "best books" list. I have read well over 100 books this year and so my field of choices is large. I chose to exclude books from my 2015 list that were re-reads for me.

If you are looking for yourself or someone else for Christmas, you can find some solid options on this list.

10) Hand in Hand: The Beauty of God's Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice by Randy Alcorn (2014). As someone who has wrestled with the implications of Calvinism, God's sovereignty, and our ability to choose, Alcorn's book was a welcome read. The author went to great lengths to find areas of common ground between various camps (e.g., Arminianism, Calvinism) in a way that wrestles humbly and meaningfully with the biblical text.

9) The Solitary Tales (2010 to 2013)--These 4 books by Travis Thrasher tell the story of a young man with baggage who moves to an unusual community in North Carolina. The story line is compelling  and mysterious and the short, accessible chapters lead the reader to say, "just one more page."  I read the 1700 pages in just under a week because I couldn't set them down.

8) Prodigal Church (2015)--Jared Wilson offered up another gospel-drenched book in the Prodigal Church. He issues a call to the church to move away from legalism and the attractional model to the Gospel that glorifies God and revels in God's graciousness and forgiveness.

7) Reversed Thunder (1988)--If two years ago was the year of Francis Schaeffer, and last year the year of Larry Crabb, 2015 was probably the year of Eugene Peterson. I read many of his books this year. He writes with a pastor's heart, a theologians mind, and a poet's soul. Reversed Thunder explored the imaginative language used by St John in Revelation.  This book celebrates the beauty of language rather than trying to read the apocalyptic tea leaves.

6) Relational Soul: Moving From False Self to Deep Connection (2015). Rich Plass and Jim Cofield wrote an excellent book exploring the importance of human connection to our overall well being by referencing interpersonal neurobiology, attachment, and Christian spirituality. As a fan of Larry Crabb's, this book was almost like reading fan non-fiction.

5) A Loving Life (2014). Looking back through my notes, I was a bit surprised to see that I had never written a review of this book.  Paul Miller, who a few years back wrote the excellent book A Praying Life, explored the themes of love and other-centeredness through the story of Ruth. He also wrote a wonderful book, Love Walked Among Us, a few years back that was equally edifying as are most books by Miller.

4) A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss (2004). A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser was one of the most beautifully gut-wrenching books I have ever read. With each page, I was on the verge of tears, drawn in to the author's story.  I actually wrote to the author after reading this thanking him for writing it.

3) The Pastor: A Memoir (2011).  The Pastor is the second book in my list from Eugene Peterson. In this memoir, Peterson explores his own development as a pastor and along the way, invites the reader to look in on his journey, which he described with beauty.

2) The Allure of Gentleness (2015). I waited for this book, written by Dallas Willard and published posthumously. I have long enjoyed Willard's insightful, yet humble writing. He was an important contributor to the spiritual formation landscape for many years. In addition, for well over a year, I have really tried to focus on understanding gentleness because too many of us (myself included) lack it. Willard's book was a wonderful look into this Spiritual fruit.

1) Love Does (2012). Much like Barbara Duguid's Extravagant Grace from 2014, I didn't have to struggle long with my top book choice for the year.  Bob Goff's Love Does was a fun, whimsical, highly engaging book that demonstrated through several brief vignettes the effect of love upon others. I loved Love Does.

N.B. --I review most of the books I read. If you click on "BOOKS" on the right panel, it will bring you to all of my book reviews.

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