Top 10 Books from 2015 (+ a few extra)


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


[my review here of Just Mercy]

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.
(copyright 2014)

2. Unoffendable
How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
by Brant Hansen


[my review here of Unoffendable]

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.
(copyright 2015)

3. Being Mortal
Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande


[my review of here Being Mortal]

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.
(copyright 2014)

4. A Guide to the Present Moment
by Noak Elkrief

A Guide to the Present Moment

[my review here of A Guide to the Present Moment]

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.
(copyright 2012)

5. Some of My Best Friends Are Black
The Strange Story of Integration in America
by Tanner Colby

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

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.
(copyright 2012)

6. Rising Strong
The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution
by Brené Brown


[my review here of Rising Strong]

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.
(copyright 2015)

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.)
(copyright 2014)

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.
(copyright 2011)

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.
(copyright 2007)

10. Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian
by Paul F. Knitter

without buddha i could not be a christian

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.
(copyright 2009)


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

* * *

What did you read in 2015 that you would you recommend? Please share in the comments.


20 thoughts on “Top 10 Books from 2015 (+ a few extra)

  1. Ifeoma Samuel

    Hi Lisa, lovely to have a view into what your library has been like this year. Oh boy! You are such a reader…I admire that..
    I have read quiet a lot but I have more than four still left to be read. Just skimmed through..
    Thanks for sharing you list can’t wait to see what your book shelf looks like in 2016.
    Hugs and Merry Christmas to you

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I do love to read, Ifeoma. I find myself with a book almost everywhere I go. 🙂 But yes, I do skim some too. I’ve been skimming through one book this week that is a little too good to put down, but not good enough to read every word. ha. May you have a blessed Christmas!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by The Book Thief (unless we’ve built it up too much!), not only because the story is engaging, but the writing is so beautiful. I’ll look forward to reading your end-of-the-year lists.

  2. Sandra J

    Lisa, I can’t wait to read some of these! I appreciate your book recommendations and like the way you’ve given some in many categories. Good reading to you and Merry Christmas!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, those top two books are the ones I’d recommend first, Floyd. Excellent books, both of them! Unoffendable is shorter than Just Mercy, if that matters to you. 😉 But Just Mercy reads almost like a novel, so it seems like the reading flies by.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not sure how many books I read, Jean, probably somewhere around 100. Depends on how many trips we make. 🙂 We did a lot of on-the-road travel this year, so I got more reading done. I always love your lists too!

  3. saleslady371

    Hi, Lisa!
    I think it’s cool the way you share about the books you’ve read. So much insight here. The last one caught my attention…because my newest friend told me at lunch recently that she has a confession: “I’m not a Christian. I’m a Buddhist.” This is a whole new dynamic for me!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mary. When I read a good book, I just have to share it. 🙂 Yes, that last book might be very insightful for you to read to understand where your friend is coming from. Of course the book is still written from a Christian perspective because the author is Christian, but it’s enlightening about Buddhism too.

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