A Few Good Books

A Few Good Books

January 2016

Last week, I reviewed the list of books I read in 2015. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better year of reading. Below is a list of some of my favorites. If you’re looking for a good book or two to read in the coming weeks or months, maybe this list will help. Here, in no particular order, are my ten favorite books of 2015:

 

  1. One Shot at Forever, by Chris Ballard. This is a baseball version of the movie. It’s the true story of a baseball team from Macon, Illinois, which makes it to the state finals against all odds in 1971. If you like “David and Goliath” stories, this book is for you.

 

  1. Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, by Ruth Haley Barton. This is a wonderful introduction to the spiritual practices of solitude and silence. Ruth’s work started me on a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life. In a very noisy world, how do we begin to quiet ourselves that we might better hear God? This book equips us to start that journey.

 

  1. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler. Ms. Tyler has been a favorite novelist of mine for years. In what is reportedly her last novel, she is in typical form. Tyler has a way of conveying the complexities of family life with clarity and insight. Her skill as a writer is exceptional.

 

  1. The Road to Character, by David Brooks. We live in a culture that so highly values success that qualities like kindness, service, integrity, and courage get tossed aside. Here is a book that lifts up a different way of life, the way of character. Brooks does so by telling the stories of some famous, and some not-so-famous, people who, while flawed, lived a life of character. This book would be great for a small group study.

 

  1. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. I came away from this book in awe of the ingenuity, character, persistence and hard work of the two brothers from Ohio who changed history.

 

  1. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides. In the late 19th Century there was a huge push among explorers to get to the North Pole. This is the incredible story of one of those attempts. As remarkable as it sounds today, at the time it was believed there was a ring of water around the North Pole because of warm ocean currents. Needless to say, there was no such ring. This book was hard to put down.

 

  1. A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson. My favorite novel of the year. Simply put, this is the story of an honorable man who lived his life for others in harrowing times. Ms. Atkinson’s style of writing is creative and compelling.

 

  1. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson. This is the story of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine in 1915, an event that helped push the United States into World War I. Larson is able to present his thorough research so that it reads like a page-turning novel. I was struck by how easily this tragedy could have been avoided if something as simple as fog had remained over the ocean a bit longer, or if the ship had not been delayed out of New York, or if persons would have just done the right thing. A tragic but gripping story.

 

  1. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande. This book was recommended to me by a couple of colleagues. Dr. Gawande’s book, along with the one that follows, affected me more than all my other reading in 2015. He rightly believes that we need to change our thinking and practices around end of life issues.

 

  1. Joy the Journey: Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death, by Steve and Sharol Hayner. A pastor and seminary President, Steve Hayner died of pancreatic cancer last year. This book is a collection of posts Steve and his wife Sharol put on the CaringBridge website over the course of his end-of-life journey which lasted nine months. Honest, moving, inspiring.

 

If you decide to read one of the books listed above, let me know what you think. I’m always up for conversation about good books.

 

Keep pressing on,

 

Steve

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