Last year I posted my top five books of 2014 and thought it’d be good to do the same this year. However, because 2015 was such a good year for reading (in terms of both quality and quantity) I figured I’d share two separate lists: one for my top five religious books and another with my top five nonreligious books. While the religious ones outnumbered the nonreligious ones, I still felt I read more secular books this year than ever before. In total I completed 52.
I’ve also compiled a list for honorable mentions. Any and every one of these books deserved to be in the lists above it but I had to cut down somehow. The list, in no particular order, is as follows:
- The Best Yes – Lysa TerKeust
Anyone who knows me knows I am the king of indecision. Terkeust argues that more often than not, the choice isn’t between something good or bad, but good and good. We have to decide not just between “no” or “yes” but our “best yes.” This book freed me up to be more decisive and trust with God with my decisions.
- Culture Making – Andy Crouch
Crouch asserts that in order to change culture, more than condemn or copy, we need to be create more of it. Crouch is one of those guys that make you feel and sound smarter while reading him. If you want to sound cool when people ask you what you’re reading, this is definitely the book for you.
- Theirs is the Kingdom – Robert D. Lupton
I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: if this book doesn’t break your heart, you’re either spiritually dead or Mother Teresa. I don’t know how you read this book without grappling with the poor and God who identifies with them.
- The Insanity of God – Nik Ripken
Can faith survive in a hostile environment? Ripken, as a result of his own hardship, goes on a journey to find out. Detailing stories of both hope and loss, this book will shake up your faith and make you wonder what you’re doing with your life in the best way imaginable.
- Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey
Quite simply, this book showed me why it’s imperative that we listen to our sisters and mothers in Christ. Bessey goes absolutely bananas on women in the Bible, patriarchy, “trouble text” and so much more all while loving Jesus. Don’t sleep on this book.
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Typically with classics one of two things happen: either you have a hard time understanding why it’s a classic or you are completely taken by it. To Kill a Mockingbird was definitely the latter. Not only was it ahead its time upon release, I would argue that in light of current events it still is.
- The Paleo Solution – Robb Wolf
The Paleo Solution taught me that I actually enjoy reading books about subjects I know absolutely nothing about. Each chapter was an a-ha moment, explaining the science behind the way some of my closest friends eat. Wolf can get nerdy but it’s engaging. Want a change in your life and diet? I highly recommend this book.
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
I don’t know if I’ve ever been more thankful for the voice of a writer. Diaz is a genius. This book has so many strands running through it it’s ridiculous. There’s language, culture, mythology, pop culture, and so much more. This book will make you laugh, cry, and keep turning the pages as you learn the story of Oscar and his family.
- Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand singlehandedly reminded me why I love nonfiction. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fabrication.
- The Innovator’s DNA – Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen
I’m not much of an entrepreneur or a business guy, it is helpful to think about innovation and see what principles can be applied to ministry. Dyer and Gregersen look at innovative companies and analyze their leaders to discover the common traits true of all innovators. Another good book if you want to sound cool at a social gathering.
- Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
Another classic. I don’t know what else to say. Read it.
- Redeeming Sex – Debra Hirsch
Sexuality is such a hot button issue in the church right now that it can be hard to know where to stand. Debra Hirsch kills it, analyzing the connection between sexuality and spirituality with humor, compassion, and grace.
- Lessons in Belonging – Erin Lane
She doesn’t just call me out on my junk in regards to how I view the church, she does it while writing so beautifully I can’t even be mad.
- The New Parish – Paul Sparks and Tim Soerens
I love learning about different expressions of church. It shows me what the church can be. The New Parish is a solid look at how church can ban together for the betterment of the neighborhood.
- Soul Graffiti – Mark Scandrette
I had the pleasure of walking the streets of San Francisco with Mark back in May and as a result of our conversation he handed me this book. This book found me at a time when I was searching desperately for what it meant to really follow Jesus. Read this book and then do some of the experiments with me.
So there you have it. My top books for the year.
Full list: Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Fast Forward to Mission, Beyond Awkward, Sentness, The Best Yes, Follow Me, On Guard, Humility, The Paleo Solution, Culture Making, Exponential, The Beginning of Everything, Theirs is the Kingdom, Revangelical, Western Christians in Global Mission, Unbroken, Organic Leadership, Am I Called?, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Simple Student Ministry, The Insanity of God, The Grand Paradox, The Pastor’s Justification, The Highly Sensitive Person, Insanity of Obedience, Soul Graffiti, Shadow Lands, Invisible Man, Daring Greatly, Lessons in Belonging, On Writing Well, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Innovators DNA, Death by Living, This Is Where I Leave You, Writing Down the Bones, The New Parish, The Pastor’s Kid, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Harry Potter 1-6, Jesus Feminist, Redeeming Sex, Creating a Missional Culture, A Poetry Handbook, Young Restless and No Longer Reformed, The Artisan Soul, Searching for Sunday