- For Men Only by Shanti and Jeff Feldhahn: We read this and For Women Only with our small group a couple years ago and I felt it was time to read it again. These are must reads for any married couple. That is not an understatement, it’s a fact. Even if you’re not married, if you want to be some day, the applicable book for you is worth the read.
- The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman: This was a
companion book to a marriage seminar of the same name and covers most of the same content. I highly recommend seeing Dr. Chapman speak; he is highly intelligent and entertaining. If you can’t make it to the live event, though, this is a good substitute.
- Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson: I figured since our fourth son was due this year, I should finally get around to reading this. There was some good information. Dobson is a bit extreme in his conservatism for me at times, but overall it was a helpful read.
- The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman: This is another book Chapman mentioned at the seminar, it was an interesting look on the different places a marriage can be. There are better marriage books (see above) but I definitely appreciated the new perspective here.
- Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender: I reviewed this earlier in the year, but as it’s at the top of my list I’ll mention again this book is extremely well done. It brings unique perspectives to both the life of Jobs and the companies he impacted. He was much more than most people realize.
- Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris: This was a very close second. Writing an autobiography as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story is borderline genius. Even listening to the audio version (read by Harris) the format was engaging. His story was interesting, especially considering I wasn’t familiar with the earlier part of his career.
- 7 Men And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas: While this is third on my list, it’s probably the one I’d recommend reading the most because this book will plant seeds to get you interested in reading more about most, if not all, of the men he discusses. Especially with some of the issues we still face regarding race, there are some very important stories here.
- Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller: Reading Scary Close (See #8) earlier in the year put me off from reading more of Donald Miller’s word for most of the year. I decided to still read Blue Like Jazz late in the year after seeing it was read by Scott Brick (from Jurassic Park) and was thankful I did. I enjoy his perspective on faith and God. And there were some insights that were very relevant to one of my dearest friends that I was happy to be able to share.
- You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day: This was a good read, it’s only lower on the list because I had much higher expectations than what it ended up being. If you’re a Felicia Day fan, check it out. If you don’t know who Felicia Day is, start with Dr. Horrible.
- Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe: Like NPH, I wasn’t familiar with the early career of Rob Lowe, so learning about how he got to be on my radar (starting with Austin Powers) was really interesting. I also enjoyed his stories about the rest of the actors he came up with and how they grew up together. It was really an enjoyable book.
- Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy: This is as much a book on leadership and manhood as it is a memoir. I enjoyed listening to this one.
- Scary Close by Donald Miller: As I mentioned before in this post and in an earlier post, this book was really disappointing for me. As someone who has a hard time opening up to people, I was expecting more of a guide on how to do so better and why it’s good, but really it was just Miller talking about himself and his now wife. I really didn’t take anything away from it.
- Love Does by Bob Goff: This is the 2nd time I’ve read this one, this time I listened to the audiobook. It’s probably my favorite overall book and I’ll continue to reread it on a regular basis.
- The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tower: Very powerful book, I’ll probably need to reread it as it’s a lot to absorb.
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: A classic, for good reason.
- Why Suffering by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale: This book does an extremely thorough job of explaining how suffering can exist in a world with a loving God. If you have questions, concerns, dogmatic ideals, etc about how God loves us and allows suffering, this book will set you straight. And if you’d someone that needs more help knowing how to explain it, this will help.
- Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard by Johnnie Moore: I learned a lot from this not only about what ISIS doing, but about the Middle East in general. Very informative and helpful resource.
- The Gospel According to Breaking Bad by Blake Atwood: If you’re a Christian, or have interest in the Bible, and have watched Breaking Bad, read this book.
- Fight: Winning the Battle That Matter Most by Craig Groeschel: This is a book for Christian men. It’s good, not great.
- Rising Above the Toxic Workplace by Gary Chapman: This is probably a pretty good book. I read it out of curiosity after hearing it mentioned at a conference where we heard Chapman speak. I am not in a toxic workplace, so it didn’t really stick for me. Although I could see how it would have been help in past work environments.
- Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catcall: So. Good. For leaders, for creators, for fans of Pixar, this has something for everyone. As someone that’s all three of those, I was enthralled by this book.
- Sous Chef by Michael Gibney: This books walks you through 24 hours in the life of a… you guessed it… Sous Chef at a super fancy restaurant. It was really interesting and well done. It’s like Food Network, only super-detailed and authentic. And you have to read it instead of binge watch it on Netflix. Well, technically I listened to it, but still.
- Stiff by Mary Roach: Fascinating and a little icky. This is a book about what happens to our bodies when we die.
- Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry: For a 15-year player of fantasy sports, I really got into this. It was a bit fluffy at points, and a bit too TMR-centric at others. But it was still a fun read.
- So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: I still feel exactly the same as when I originally wrote about it, so go back and read that.
- Cutting a Dash (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) by Lynne Truss: I’ve read Eats, Shoots & Leaves and enjoyed it. This is the radio program from which the book was birthed. It was an audiobook, technically, so I counted it. Don’t judge me.
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves: I vowed not to read any empty calorie, read-it-and-immediately-forget-it self help books this year after wasting so much time with them last yet, but alas, I got assigned to read this at work. And alas, I can’t tell you anything that was in it.
This has become my favorite genre over the last two years. I read enough in 2015 to merit a separate posting. Books are listed in order of most enjoyed to least.
- The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons: This was my favorite book of the year. I picked it up through Amazon’s program of introducing books early, which is free for Prime members. I cannot believe how good this book was. I loved it. Well-written, well-executed, it was a perfect thriller. I will probably read it again this year.
- Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith: Fantastic third book to the series, can’t wait for the next one.
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I really enjoyed the different perspectives in this book. It was different in a good way without trying too hard to be different.
- Finders Keepers by Stephen King: The original, Mr. Mercedes, was my favorite fiction book last year. I really liked this one until the end when it took a hard left from being in great thriller territory into Stephen King territory. I’m scared for Part III.
- Joyland by Stephen King: Kind of the same thing as Finders Keepers, I enjoyed the mystery/thriller part, but there was some Stephen King paranormal stuff that didn’t jive for me. Still a good read.
- A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block: This was the first Matthew Scudder novel I read and my favorite. It’s a very well done mystery.
- In the Woods by Tana French: This book was extremely frustrating for me. It was on all kinds of “can’t put it down” lists, but I struggled to get through it. It took several tries throughout the year to finish it. I don’t know why, it was just really slow. The mystery was well done, I just couldn’t move through it.
- A Long Line of Dead Men by Lawrence Block: These final three were all fine books to pickup and read and be done with. Nothing spectacular. Nothing terrible.
- Witness to Myself by Seymour Shubin
- The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block
My first list this time around will be fiction. I pulled out Mystery/Thriller since that has become my favorite genre and there’s a significant enough list to merit a separate post. Books are listed in order from most enjoyed to least.
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman: This was the first book I finished for the year and remained a favorite. I’ve been a fan of the movie since I was a kid, but had never read the book. I also didn’t know the premise of the book, and refused to let myself research it while I was reading it to figure out what was real, which added to the magic of the book, even knowing the movie so well.
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: This is another movie I’ve enjoyed for a long time but had never thought to read the book. This one I actually listened to and it was by far the best audio book I’ve ever listened to. The reading was so good I actually started looking for other books read by Scott Brick. He’s phenomenal, as is this book.
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: I have a few dear friends that I see on a weekly basis that also read quite a bit and we regularly trade notes. This book came out of those conversations. I also listened to this one, and it was also well done. It’s a fun story that pretty much anyone can enjoy.
- Harry Potter Books 5-7 by J.K. Rowling: No commentary needed here.
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Or here.
- Calico Joe by John Grisham: This was on the shelf at our beach house on vacation. It’s perfect beach reading. If you like baseball you’ll like this book, but it’s also much deeper than that.
- Armada by Ernest Cline: Cline’s follow-up to Ready Player One, which was one of my favorite books from last year was good… not great. I’ve talked to some others that liked it less than I did. It was much more… movie-ready… than the original, if that makes sense. It’s an enjoyable story, but not enough of a departure from Ready Player One.
- Annihilation by Jeff BanderMeer: This book… ugh. Right after I finished it I was all gung-ho on reading the rest of the series, and I started recommending it to other people. But the longer I was away from it, the more I realized I didn’t care about reading more and that it wasn’t that great of a story. It’s an empty calorie story. A lot of energy up-front, but it doesn’t last. I’m not going to read the others.
- A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk: Exactly what you’d expect from a book by Bob Odenkirk. Pro Tip: listen to the audiobook, it’s much more entertaining than the actual book.
- My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg: Forgettable. I can’t remember any details about it.
- We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler: This is the worst book I’ve ever read (at least that I finished).
As is my pattern, I once again failed at regular blogging. I had been doing pretty well with the monthly books posts, but life got in the way again. However I am back with another look at my year in books.
After deciding to dedicate myself to reading in 2014 and getting through 58 books, for 2015 I decided to focus on quality more than quantity. In ’14 I read quite a few books by bloggers-turned-“authors” which only took a few hours to read. I also read quite a few teen series. While I did continue my reread of Harry Potter, and reread The Hunger Games trilogy, I did much less of both this year.
I still managed to read 52 books in 2015. The driving force behind this was instead of listening to mindless sports talk radio in the car, I started listening to books. My commute is generally only 10-15 minutes one way, but I’ve found even that 25 minutes a day, along with any errands I run, can get me through books pretty quickly. I only listened to one or two fiction books in the car, generally it’s easier to follow non-fiction.