Friday, January 01, 2016

Favorite Books From my 2015 Reading List

Well, here we are at the first day of 2016. I hope to make time to blog more in the near future, but I've said this before, so we shall see. For today, though, I think I'll go with what should become a small tradition on the blog and I'll mention some of my favorite books that I read during 2015. If you are interested in seeing the complete list of what I read during 2015, good, bad, and indifferent, I've put the 2015 list on the page at the top with the previous years' reading lists and cleaned up the current reading list page to prepare for what 2016 may hold. One of my criteria for which books I leave on this list for this particular post versus deleting a book but leaving it on the master list up in pages is that if I remember the book at the end of the year and remember enjoying it or gaining something  from it, it stays, but if I don't really remember the book or remember it as kind of so-so, but not remarkable or really didn't like it, I delete it from this list. So, if anyone is still interested, these are the books I liked best from my 2015 reading list, in the order in which they were read, not necessarily in the order of most beloved, with my original comments or lack thereof still attached, and additional comments added today in italics:

  • Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me - Kevin DeYoung (NF). Very good book.
  • Listening Woman (Navajo Mysteries, Book 3) - Tony Hillerman (F). Enjoying this series. This series held my attention all year. I really enjoyed the Navajo Mystery books.
  • Name Above All Names - Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson (NF). This was excellent. So much I'm still thinking about and I am very glad I read this one. On Sunday as I worshiped at church I was brought to tears thinking about what I'd just read about Jesus standing with His people when we worship and offering our worship, making it acceptable to the Father. That has changed how I sing and worship when we gather together in a profound way, causing me to think much more carefully and richly and deeply about worship. I'm planning to reread this book in January 2016 after seeing this and remembering how much I liked it.
  • Risky Undertaking - Mark de Castrique (F). My brother-in-law happens to know this author and gave me a signed copy of this book for Christmas, which is a very thoughtful gift knowing how much I love to read. I enjoyed this one and will look for more by this author. 
  • Standing Strong: How to Resist the Enemy of Your Soul - John MacArthur (NF).
  • People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries, Book 4) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • The Dark Wind (Navajo Mysteries, Book 5) - Tony Hillerman (F)
  • The Ghostway (Navajo Mysteries, Book 6) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • Law & Liberty: A Biblical Look at Legalism - General Editor Dr. Don Kistler. This was very good.
  • The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Word is Misunderstood - Eric J. Bargerhuff (NF). 
  • Skinwalkers (Navajo Mysteries, Book 7) - Tony Hillerman (F)
  • The Maze Runner - James Dashner (F). One of the benefits of being mom to teenage boys is reading books I probably wouldn't have even known about otherwise. I read this one because one of my boys is reading the series and I try to keep tabs on what they're reading. As I told a friend who asked if I liked it, I think 'like' is too strong a word for how I feel about this one. It was interesting, but frustrating and pretty violent. I'm starting the second one, but not really enjoying it very much so far, and it won't be making onto any lists of favorites for me, I don't think.  I see that I said this wouldn't probably make it onto a list of favorites, but seeing as how it stuck with me, and the boys and I still talk about it, I guess I was wrong in that assessment, after reading the whole series. It's probably not the best series I've ever read, but overall we liked it ok, enough so that it remained on this list.
  • The Scorch Trials - James Dashner (F).
  • The Death Cure - James Dashner (F).
  • A Thief of Time (Navajo Mysteries, Book 8) - Tony Hillerman (F)
  • The Kill Order - James Dashner (F). 
  • Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank (F). I debated about leaving this one on the list. It was ok, but I don't care to read it again. It's kind of on the edge. Saying it's a favorite may be a stretch, but I guess it can stay on the list.
  • The Biography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne - Andrew Bonar (NF). This was excellent. I was in tears at the end, such an encouraging and convicting life. May I strive to love Jesus and long for holiness even half as much. I loved this. I'm enjoying exploring biographies, and this was great.
  • If I Should Die Before I Wake: What's Beyond This Life? - K. Scott Oliphint and Sinclair B. Ferguson (NF). I very much liked this. It is biblical and well-written, and as our family is in the process of grieving the death of a young cousin and praying for her family daily as they walk this difficult road, I found this book quite encouraging and comforting. 
  • Talking God (Navajo Mysteries, Book 9) - Tony Hillerman (F). Another good one in this series that I'm continuing to read my way through.
  • The Transforming Power of the Gospel - Jerry Bridges (NF). 
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Iriving (F). This was a reread, and I'm glad I did. I liked it when I read it years ago, but I understood it much better and liked it better this time. It is very well-written and quite a story. I had to sit and cry for a bit when I finished it.
  • Coyote Waits (Navajo Mysteries, Book 10) - Tony Hillerman (F). I'm very much enjoying this series.
  • Trail of Broken Wings - Sajal Badani (F). This was good, but very sad.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly (F). Connelly is one of my favorite crime/detective fiction writers. Plus, he's a University of Florida graduate. Go Gators!
  • Sacred Clowns (Navajo Mysteries, Book 11) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • The Fallen Man (Navajo Mysteries, Book 12) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • Who is Jesus (Crucial Questions Series) - R.C. Sproul (NF).
  • The First Eagle (Navajo Mysteries, Book 13) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • A Murder is Announced (A Miss Marple Mystery) - Agatha Christie (F). Agatha Christie - what more can I say?
  • Hunting Badger (Navajo Mysteries, Book 14) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • The Forgotten Trinity - James White (NF).
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (F). This was a re-read (don't know how many times I've read this book!) because I thought I wanted to read the new sequel that's just been published, but after reading some reviews, I decided I don't want to read it after all. One of my all-time favorite books. I'm still not planning to read the new one, as I don't want to spoil this beloved book for myself, and I'm pretty sure Harper Lee didn't really want that new one out there. This book is an example of just how powerful a good editor can be in helping an author write well and making sure the right book gets published. I'm so committed to not reading the new book that I sold it to Half-Price Books unread, even though I'd foolishly bought it before reading the reviews.
  • Loving Jesus More - Phil Ryken (NF). This was very good. I found it through Truth for Life, and I very much recommend it.
  • Amazing Grace - Eric Metaxas (NF). William Wilberforce is one of my heroes, and this was a great biography.  I was in tears at the end. Another biography that I loved. 
  • The Wailing Wind (Navajo Mysteries, Book 15) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • The New Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan, with notes updated text and notes by Judith E. Markham and Warren Wiersbe (F). This was a re-read of a favorite. 
  • The Sinister Pig (Navajo Mysteries, Book 16) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • Skeleton Man (Navajo Mysteries, Book 17) - Tony Hillerman (F).
  • The Shape Shifter (Navajo Mysteries, Book 18) - Tony Hillerman (F). I very much have enjoyed this series. This was the last book Mr. Hillerman wrote in the series before he died, and his daughter took up the series later.
  • Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness - Edward T. Welch (NF). I very much needed this one. I found it extremely helpful, especially as I was surprised by a slip into what I think must be minor depression this year. I will be keeping this one on my shelf for future reference. It is biblical and wise and practical counsel.
  • Spider Woman's Daughter (Navajo Mysteries, Book 19) - Anne Hillerman (F). It will take a little getting used to Ms. Hillerman's different style of writing, but I think she did a nice job taking over this series.
  • Judge Not - Todd Friel (NF). This one I definitely recommend.
So there's the short list for 2015. Currently I am reading Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall (1783-1787) by Winston Graham (F). Since I haven't finished it yet, it will have to grace the 2016 list, but I wanted to give it an honorable mention here because I am enjoying this first book in the series so much. I decided to read it because I had recorded the miniseries on PBS and finally got around to watching it recently and liked it so well that I wanted to read the books it is based on. The books came first, and general rule is that the books are almost always better than the movie. I have to say that from what I've read so far, they did an outstanding job with the series keeping to the spirit of the books and I'm looking forward to the next season. I'm also looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the 12 book series, so I imagine they will be appearing regularly in the 2016 list.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!