Not to be outdone by all the other “best of 2015” lists coming out, I give you Bob on Books Best of 2015! This is different from many of the lists which just list books from 2015. This is the book blog of a reader who happens to review, and so some of my best books of the year weren’t actually published this year, and I’ve just gotten around to reading them. I happen to think there are a number of really good books out there, and they weren’t all published this year!
One other thing I’ve done this year is segment my list into fiction, non-fiction, and Christian. I do read a number of Christian titles, which connects to my work in collegiate ministry, and I think my choices are worthy reads, but skip over this if it is not your cup of tea!
I should also mention that the weblinks here are to my full reviews. Those reviews include full publication information and a link to the publisher’s website, if this was available at the time of the review.
- All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. Hands down my Book of the Year. Incredibly beautiful writing, finely drawn plot that brings together a blind French girl and a German orphan become soldier during the invasion of St. Malo. Written by an Ohioan!
- The Book of the Dun Cow, Walter Wangerin, Jr. A contest between good and evil in a barnyard, a modern animal fable.
- Bel Canto, Ann Patchett. A dinner party held hostage in a Latin American embassy and the relationships that emerge. Patchett’s best.
- Brendan, Frederick Buechner. An account of the life of St Brendan the Navigator as he confronts both external and internal limits.
- Beowulf, unknown, translated by Seamus Heaney. I’ve read but not reviewed this yet. Heaney’s translation of this classic work brings it to light in all its power and pathos.
- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough. Outstanding account that highlighted their engineering and experimental skills honed through bike-building, and their work ethic.
- The Road to Character, David Brooks. An effort to initiate a conversation about “moral ecology” by exploring the quests for character of a diverse group from Augustine to Bayard Rustin.
- The Fellowship, Philip and Carol Zaleski. A fourfold biography of the literary lives and influence of the four principal Inklings.
- Buffalo for the Broken Heart, Dan O’Brien. Part memoir, part nature writing on restoring life to a Black Hills ranch by converting to herding buffalo.
- The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Not only great for accounts of Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and their relationship, but also the “muckraking” journalists brought together by Sam McClure.
- Playing God, Andy Crouch. An important book that looks at power, considering not only the possibility of corruption, but also the redemptive uses of power, which we cannot help but wield in some measure, as creatures in the image of God.
- A Glorious Dark, A. J. Swoboda. A marvelous set of reflections on the darknesses of life and our glorious hope organized around the Triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
- Suffering and the Search for Meaning, Richard Rice. A concise, clear, and pastoral exploration of some of the ways Christians attempt to address evil and suffering.
- Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill. This books seeks to restore to the church a high view of friendship, and its importance for those seeking to live single and chaste lives.
- Slow Church, C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison. Modeled after the “slow food” movement, the authors call for an embrace an ethic of quality, an ecology of reconciliation, and an economy of abundance.
Those were my “best of the best”. Since this medium is interactive, I’d enjoy hearing what yours were. That might give each of us all some good ideas of something we’d like to read in 2016!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Bob on Books!