2015 Book List


“I didn’t need proof from a theologian or a tip from a church practitioner. I needed a piece of story, something real and full of life and blood and breath and heartache, something that someone had lived through, a piece of wisdom earned the hard way. That’s why telling our stories is so important.”
…from Savor by Shauna Niequist

And thus the magnetic attraction to reading. Be it fiction or non, memoir or poetry, it’s all the stories contained within the covers that keep me hungry for more. Another year of books and I continue to be so grateful for authors who do the hard heart work of sharing their stories.

Last January, Anne Bogle who writes at Modern Mrs. Darcy shared a 2015 reading challenge to encourage choosing books outside of our typical pattern. I think I managed 10 of the 12 on her list, which is better than I thought I’d do. If you are looking for a fresh method here is her 2016 challenge.

I rarely pick up a book nowadays without some sort of recommendation. Life’s too short and there are just too many good books. Some of the best bets come from avid readers and my favorite books from 2015 all came highly recommended.

Favorite Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is sheer brilliance. The storytelling is magical, characters unusual yet so relatable. This one easily jumps onto my all time favorites list.

Favorite Non-Fiction: Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think these two jewels, released within a month of each other this past fall, should be read in tandem. I gulped them both down, hardly chewing, so I’ll probably need to reread this year with a little more grace. Such wisdom and the timing was perfect.

Memoir: Amber C. Haines is one of my favorite kind of authors.  A poet who tells stories. Her Wild in the Hollow was breathtaking.

A few waiting for some attention this year

“We’re all hardwired in moments of empathy to see ourselves in another. Hearing each other’s stories actually raises our levels of the feel good hormone oxytocin….it helps to join us together in some tribal way.”
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Ding ding ding! Of course. Thank you, Ms. Karr, for further explaining the undeniable pull of a good book. So here’s to another year of magical story hormones.  (Please comment with your must reads from last year!)

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa Terkeurst
Beautiful Battle by Mary DeMuth (audio)
Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life by David G. Benner
The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson
The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-standard Text on Writing and Life by Marion Roach Smith
Let your Life Speak: Listening For the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer
Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett
All the Places to Go by John Ortberg
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (audio)
Manifesting Your Spirit by Graham Cooke
What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith
Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time by Jeremy Courtney
The Nine:Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin (audio)
Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction by David Benner
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker
Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene Peterson
Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary A. Haugen
Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast Moving World by Emily P. Freeman
Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer
Rising Strong: The Reckoning, the Rumble, the Revolution by Brene Brown
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner
Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere (audio)
Jesus > Religion: Why He is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough by Jefferson Bethke
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Home Behind the Sun: Connect with God in the Brilliance of the Everyday by Timothy Willard and Jason Locy
Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist
Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs
The Inspired Room:Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Saving Cee-Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline
Miss Willie by Janice Holt Giles
Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (audio)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (audio)
Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
Paper Towns by John Green
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes
I Am Forbidden: A Novel by Anouk Markovits
Eve by William P. Young
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (audio)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (audio)
Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott
Scary Close by Donald Miller (audio)
Wild In the Hollow by Amber C. Haines
The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle

Why I Wake Early: Poems by Mary Oliver
Blue Horses by Mary Oliver

8 thoughts on “2015 Book List

  1. Thank you for these wonderful recommendations! I LOVED Amber Haines’ memoir and I have Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert’s both on my must read list for the year. I just finished up a series of fiction books written by KE Ganshert called “The Gifting”. They are captivating!

  2. Thank you for the list, and for the link to the reading challenge (no titles, only unique categories). There are several I will taste, I think. Here’s a thought for you: most authors on your list are female. This past Christmas, my 27-yr-old son, when asked for gift ideas from my 24-yr-old daughter, requested book recommendations from her favorite female authors. His goal was to expand his literary and experiential repertoire. I found that an intriguing idea. I discovered that most of my own favorite or frequent authors are male, and I struggled to come up with female authors! So, I have determined to pay more attention to the feminine vantage point this year. I might offer a reverse challenge to you–explore more from the guys 🙂

  3. Great list! As a lover of story I am always looking for new books, however, I need to find the time to read them. I loved Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman, Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs and Dear Mr. Knightley by Lisa Reay. I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction. Thank you for visiting my blog and being in community with me at Hope Writers!

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