These ten nonfiction books were the most impactful I read in 2015 (not necessary published in 2015). See below for the top five in fiction, memoirs, and spiritual/social science favorites.
Top 10 Nonfiction books
1. Just Mercy
A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
If you only read one book in 2016, read this one! It’s an important work on justice (and injustice) in our current society. Author and attorney Bryan Stevenson (also the executive director and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative) will move you with his true stories about real people unfairly trapped in our legal system. A movie is also in the works.
How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
by Brant Hansen
Can we “forfeit our right to be offended”? Can you imagine how much more pleasant we’d be, if so? This book by Brant Hansen is a huge attitude-changer. We are often overly-sensitive and it leaves an ugly mark on the world (and on the name of Jesus). But we don’t have to be that way.
3. Being Mortal
Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande
Aging and dying are not pleasant topics for most of us. But that doesn’t mean they should be shunned. We can’t avoid the reality of either. This book does an amazing job of confronting quality of life as we age.
4. A Guide to the Present Moment
by Noak Elkrief
Our emotional life is a product of our thought life. And many of our thoughts aren’t based on reality. This book is full of questions to help us get to the truth behind our thoughts.
5. Some of My Best Friends Are Black
The Strange Story of Integration in America
by Tanner Colby
Another eye-opening book. This one is the story of the racial divide in America, then and now. Full integration still hasn’t happened. Tanner does a great job addressing it from four perspectives: our schools, neighborhoods, jobs, and our churches.
6. Rising Strong
The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution
by Brené Brown
Brown is the expert on vulnerability, which at times can and does lead to painful falls. But what then? She explains in this book that the next steps make all the difference.
7. Deep Down Dark
The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free
by Hector Tobar
This true story of 33 Chilean miners trapped in a mine was truly riveting (even when I already knew the ending!). The story-telling was excellent from the views of several different men trapped underground as well as from those above ground trying to rescue them. (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I want to.)
8. Falling Upward
A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr
Rohr (a guaranteed thought-provoker) encourages us here that the second half of life can be more spiritually rich than the first half. That’s good news for those of us who have made it to this stage.
9. The Untethered Soul
The Journey Beyond Yourself
by Michael A. Singer
This is another book (like #4) that reminds us we don’t have to believe everything we think. Untethering our thoughts from our egos can bring out our true depth in freedom and adventure.
10. Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian
by Paul F. Knitter
I know it’s a strange title, but as a Christian, I found great truths of Jesus here, not just about what we believe, but how we live and love in our everyday world.
Here are five more favorites in each of three categories.
Top 5 Fiction
1. The Martian by Andy Weir
2. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Top 5 Biographies/Memoirs
1. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber
2. Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller
3. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
4. Diary of a Jackwagon by Tim Hawkins
5. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
Top 5 Spiritual/Social Sciences
1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
2. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others by Daniel Pink
3. Permission Granted: Take the Bible into Your Own Hands by by Jennifer Grace Bird
4. The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that Will Change Your Life by Philip G. Zimbardo, John Boyd
5. The Question That Never Goes Away by Philip Yancey
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What did you read in 2015 that you would you recommend? Please share in the comments.
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