As of yesterday I’m all finished with my final exams and papers for the semester, so what better way to celebrate then look back on the best books I read this year?
As the title suggests, these are not books published in 2015 but rather the best that I personally read this year. So without any further ado…..The Top 7 Books of 2015!
1. Scary Close by Donald Miller
From my earlier review of the book: “Scary Close is a book of truth spoken in grace. It’s refreshing and encouraging and a must-read for any fan of Don’s, anyone seeking insight on intimacy, or anyone simply hungry for authenticity in a world where it’s far too uncommon.”
2. Home by Marilynne Robinson
The central theme of this novel may very well be summed up with the following quote from the book: “It expresses the will of God to sustain us in this flesh, in this life. Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful. He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.” p. 102.
Marilynne Robinson has been a favorite author of mine ever since I read Gilead and this follow-up was a treat start to finish. Can’t wait to dig into Lila (her latest novel set in the same town as Gilead and Home) soon!
3. S. (Or Ship of Theseus) by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
An incredibly ambitious meta-novel that works on every level. The book within the book, “The Ship of Theseus,” is a novel in the style and tradition of Coleridges’ “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and would be an excellent work in its own right. The history of its fictional author, V.M. Straka, and the question of his identity and potential involvement with a shadowy cadre of writer/secret agents is similarly intriguing and well-conceived. And the story of Jen and Eric’s in-the-margins relationship adds yet another compelling and exciting layer to it all.
S. is a one-of-a-kind story of identity, change, struggle, and love. The most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time.
4. Preaching by Timothy Keller
It wouldn’t be a list of Josh Ray’s favorite books if there wasn’t a book by Keller on it, right?
Tim Keller’s Preaching is another home-run. While perhaps not as life-changing or spectacular as Prayer, this volume is filled with insights and wisdom from cover to cover. The chapter on “Preaching and the (Late) Modern Mind” and the bibliography of the best other books on preaching are each worth the price of the book alone!
And you don’t need to be a preacher to read it. “This book,” says Keller in the introduction, “aims to be a resource for all those who communicate their Christian faith in any way.” (P.S. Here’s a post I did with some of my favorite quotes from it!)
5. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter
An indispensable guide and exhortation to not just preach to the crowd but teach to the individuals and families. It’s earned a place on my reference shelf for the future!
Baxter has written a book that doesn’t shy away from leaving you like you just got punched in the teeth with some good old gospel truth but that also leaves you encouraged and exhorted to minister faithfully. A keeper for sure.
6. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
There’s a reason that this book is perhaps the most widely-read book aside from the Bible in history. A collection of insights and meditations on Christ’s example and our proper response to it, the Imitation has much to teach us today about the Way of Christ.
7. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
I was blown away by how relevant and insightful Chesterton’s testimony of how and why he found Christianity convincing was over 100 years after he wrote it. It seems our world is not so different than it was then. Orthodoxy is a refreshing and revealing diagnosis of some of the ills of modernity and powerfully communicated defense of the faith. (It’s also intriguing for a fan of C.S. Lewis to see the ways he was influenced by and came to resemble Chesteron).
What about you? What were the highlights of your reading this year? Any on this list that you read too? Or any that now have piqued your interest?