My 2015 Reading List

by Andrew Forrest

I set a goal to read 50 books in 2015. In September, I revised my goal down to 40…and I hit it! What follows is my reading list for 2015, in chronological order. (Click here to see my post on the best 6 books I read last year.)

My Ratings

★★★★★ life-changing and unforgettable
★★★★     excellent
★★★         worth reading
★★             read other things first
                 not recommended


The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience, by Kevin Watson.  Clear, simple book about the most important building block of the Methodist movement.  ★★★


Notes from Underground, by Roger Scrunton.  Novel about the dissident movement in communist Prague in the 1980s, and the way freedom was a betrayal and a disappointment for the movement’s ideals. Scruton is a very interesting philosopher and thinker.  ★★★


Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I wrote about Outliers in my Best Books of 2015 post.  ★★★★


You’ll Get Through This: Help and Hope for Your Turbulent Time, by Max Lucado.  ★★★


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell.  My least favorite of the Gladwell books.  ★★


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giantsby Malcolm Gladwell.  Some really interesting stories of turning weaknesses into strengths.  I think his reading of the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17 is right on.  ★★★


Meeting God in Mark: Reflections for the Season of Lent, by Rowan Williams.  Typically well-written insights from the former Archbishop of Canterbury.  ★★★


Mark: the Gospel of Passion (the Biblical Imagination Series), by Michael Card.  I like his creative, faithful thoughts on the Gospels.  ★★★


The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differenceby Malcolm Gladwell.  The stuff on “connectors,” “mavens,” and “salesmen” was helpful to me.  ★★★


The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy As They Do, by Cloture Rapaille.  I think the basic premise–that different objects mean different things to different cultures–makes sense, but I think he really stretches to make some of the points he does.  


The Radetzky March, by Joseph Roth.  I wrote about The Radetzky March in my Best Books of 2015 post.  ★★★★


The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry Into the Old Testament, by Sandra Richter.  I LOVE this book, which provides a cohesive vision for understanding the Old Testament.  Highly recommended for anyone who has trouble making sense of the Old Testament.  ★★★


Every Man a King, by Bill Kauffman.  Vulgar, convoluted, with a ridiculous plot: I hated this book.  (This 1 star review on Amazon does a good job capturing what I disliked–I didn’t write that review.)  


Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand.  Good, not great.  A story about a horse can only be so captivating, and I much preferred Unbroken, which I wrote about last year.  ★★★


Little Failure: A Memoir, by Gary Shteyngart.  Really funny, particularly the parts about this Russian Jewish immigrant learning to be a good American.  ★★★


To Live Is Christ to Die is Gain, by Matt Chandler.  Based off his sermon series.  ★★


Faithful: a Theology of Sex by Beth Felker Jones.  ★★


Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive, by Thom S. Rainer.  ★★


The Martian, by Andy Weir.  Might be a good movie (haven’t seen it), but not a great novel.  ★★


Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels.  Important topic, but I didn’t find the book all that helpful.  ★★


Crazy Busy:A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, by Kevin DeYoung.  Helpful, particularly the chapter on acedia.  ★★★


An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest, by Alan Fadling.  I wrote about An Unhurried Life in my Best Books of 2015 post.  ★★★


Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset.  I wrote about Kristen Lavransdatter in my Best Books of 2015 post. ★★★★★


Do Not Live Afraid: Faith in A Fearful World, by John Indermark.  ★★


Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, by Francis Spufford.  Although Mr. Spufford and I would disagree on a number of issues, his sincere devotion and creative approach won me over.  Recommended for someone who might want to think about the Christian faith from an unconventional starting point.  ★★★


The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt by Joe Loconte.  I really like Professor Leconte’s reading of the Emmaus story.  ★★★


The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan.  ★★★


Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture, by Larry Osborne.  Book never really lived up to the promise of the title.  ★★


How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, by James K.A. Smith.  People I respect were enthusiastic about this book, and though it offers some helpful insights into Taylor’s work, in general I thought it was poorly written, full of academic jargon and convoluted sentences.  If it were not for the fact that I think Taylor’s insights into our secular age are worth hearing, I would otherwise give this book a lower rating.  Very disappointing.  ★★★


Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faithby Larry Osborne.  ★★


The Jesus Cow: a Novel, by Michael Perry.  What do I say 2 stars means?  Right: “read other things first.”  Exactly.  ★★


Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth, by Adam Barr and Ron Citlau.  Honestly, I don’t remember anything about this book.  I don’t know if that’s my fault or the authors’.  ★★


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo.  This lady is weird–we’re supposed to talk to our clothes and books?–but I actually kinda liked this book.  ★★★


The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, by Eric Greitens.  ★★


The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem, by Colin Nicholl.  First of all, this is physically a beautiful book: hardback, with glossy illustrations on nearly every page.  An exhaustive study of the topic.   ★★★


The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  I wrote about The Hunger Games in my Best Books of 2015 post.  ★★★


Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins.  Better than Mockingjay, worse than The Hunger Games.  ★★


Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catcall.  I wrote about Creativity, Inc. in my Best Books of 2015 post.  ★★★★


The Means of Grace: Traditioned Practice in Today’s World, by Andrew Thompson.  Good, clear summary of ways people have learned to connect to God.  ★★★


Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins.  Not a good book.  But, to be expected: wrapping up complicated plot lines neatly is difficult.  


My 2016 Reading Goal

Once again, I’ve set myself a goal of reading 50 books this year.  What about you–do you have a reading goal for the year?

[Here are my 2013 and 2014 reading lists, respectively.]


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