My 51 books of 2015

Here are the books I read in 2015 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Topping the list this year was The Bible Tells Me So and The Grand Paradox. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. In addition to this list you might also check out my reading lists from previous years as well as my recommendations on how to become a better reader. A lot of people resolve to read more in the new year and if that’s you I hope this list gives you something to get you started. This year I also released my book Redeeming Pleasure in September.
  1. On Immunity by Eula Biss (3.5). At its base level it’s a book about our fear of vaccines. Why I enjoyed it is because it looks deeper at the moral sense we have of contamination and how something as simple as vaccines shows us the way we value and treat those around us.
  2. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (4). A totally deceptive title as this is a fictional story. The story itself is actually really good and shows the emptiness of a life searching for wealth alone.
  3. A Living Alternative by various authors (4). This is a collection of essays and as such, some are more on point than others. Overall, it provides a great look at Anabaptist theology and raises the questions that need to be asked in our post-Christendom country today.
  4. Lynchpin by Seth Godin (4.5). Seth shines in this one. Not only does he point out how you need to work differently for the future (be a lynchpin instead of a cog), but he also motivates you to do it. Caused me to see some things in my own life differently.
  5. I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi (4.5). Unlike #2 on my list, this book actually is about money. It’s also the best book I’ve ever read on managing your money as he teaches you how to set up your accounts to work for you and in a way that you don’t have to be obsessive about in managing it. And he’s absurdly funny (do the audiobook if you can).
  6. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (4.5). Nabeel tells his story of growing up as a devout Muslim and his journey with the God of the Bible. His story is courageous, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
  7. Let’s Talk About Love by Carl Wilson (2.5). Wilson examines his detailed loathing of Celine Dion’s music and why we like the things we do. While some of the chapters are great social commentary, most of it causes you to wonder why Wilson has put this much effort into a person he apparently dislikes.
  8. Live From New York by James Andrew Miller (3). It walks through the creation and evolution of Saturday Night Live. The book is longer than I realized and also proved tougher to read. That’s because it’s quote after quote from different people. While it’s tricky to get into the flow of reading it, taken together it provides loads of behind-the-scenes perspective into a cultural icon.
  9. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (4.5). I loved this classic piece of literature and the dark future it depicts. In the story, firemen start fires instead of putting them out. In particular, they burn books. But what happens when one firefighter cannot stomach the way everyone is taught to think by the media he launches into a journey to find out how books can enable him to think for himself.
  10. The Divine Magician by Peter Rollins (3.5). Like all of his books, this one challenges the status quo and asks deeper questions to arrive at a more substantial faith at the end. His method of doing this through the three parts of a magic trick is creatively engaging. He unpacks the elements of the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige, and makes connections to Biblical faith with each.
  11. The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz (3.5). This book gives a great perspective on how we are all connected together in the world and explores one person’s journey to learning how to best help others.
  12. Unhooked by Laura Stepp (4). A bit disturbing of a look into the hookup culture among teens and college students today. For anyone with kids that age, or who works with kids that age, this is a must read.
  13. Marriage Rebranded by Tyler Ward (3.5). My favorite part of the book is how he shifts the focus off of expecting marriage to make you happy, and instead focuses on the ability of your marriage helping you become the person God designed you to be.
  14. Black by Ted Dekker (4). Dekker creates an interesting dual world with a character who goes in between them each time he dreams. It has moments of a Narnia feel but also adds in the suspense of a modern day thriller. This book doesn’t stand alone as it’s obviously just part one of four.
  15. Red by Ted Dekker (4). Book 2 of 4. Dekker’s story picks up speed.
  16. White by Ted Dekker (4.5). Book 3 of 4. By this point the story is really getting good.
  17. Green by Ted Dekker (4.5). Book 4 of 4. Loved the way Dekker ended it. Even includes quite the artistic conclusion.
  18. Deep River by Shusaku Endo (3.5). A very interesting look at spirituality. It’s a fictional story of a group of Japanese tourists visiting Hindu and Buddhist sites in India.
  19. You Married the Wrong Person by Tim Lucas (4). A great, short little book from my friend Tim. His humor and brevity make this a punchy little read that will leave you thinking and reset your eyes on Christ.
  20. Autopilot by Andrew Smart (3). Smart does a terrific job arguing that idleness may be far more beneficial than we’ve ever thought. I only wish he would have outlined tangible ways to practice doing this well, especially because what he writes about is so foreign to us.
  21. Scary Close by Donald Miller (3.5). A book about relational intimacy from a guy willing to actually be vulnerable in the book. Miller’s writing has always been fantastic and this book allows you to learn not from an expert, but from a humble author who tells you how he hasn’t done it well.
  22. Do Over by Jon Acuff (4). As with all Acuff books, this sucker is packed full of humor and practical wisdom you can apply to your career. Jon continues to deliver solid content with each new book and only adds to his experience and personal stories each time.
  23. The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (5). Peter has become one of my new favorite authors. How have I not heard of this guy sooner? Read his book. Seriously, do it.
  24. The Bible in a World Context by Walter Dietrich (2.5). This is unique read. It includes chapters from different authors showing radically different ways of interpreting the Bible based on other cultures around the world.
  25. Seized by Truth by Joel B. Green (3). One of the books assigned for my NT class at Fuller. Explores how to read the Bible as Scripture.
  26. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (4.5). I thought this book was fascinating. So much to think through about human nature. Ronson does a terrific job giving you detailed behind the scenes looks at recent stories.
  27. Purple People Leader by Chester Goad (2.5). I really liked his premise except he only applied it to politics. The nature of his discussion about how to lead while including multiple groups would be great if it applied to more areas of leadership than just politics.
  28. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg (4.5). This was a surprisingly good read. I’m not sure why I was surprised, but it might have been because of how often this book caused me to reflect deeply on my own life.
  29. Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson (4.5). This is a fun and gripping read. Very well written both for the historical and modern stories that are expertly blended together. Way better than the Pirates of the Caribbean movies!
  30. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (4). I’ve really begun to enjoy Hamid’s writings (#2 from this year is also from him). This is an intriguing and unique story told in an engaging way. His books also cause you to reflect on different perspectives of life.
  31. All Groan Up by Paul Angone. Paul has become a friend of mine and does a great job speaking truth into twenty-somethings. If you are trying to navigate the season of adulthood, Paul is a voice to listen to. This book has an incredible amount of humor and transparency.
  32. Dead Wake by Erik Larsen (4.5). The heartbreaking and gripping tale of the sinking of the Lusitania. Larsen does his homework and this gripping tale of history reads like a bestselling fictional story. In fact, you find yourself so engaged in it you root for it to end differently!
  33. Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly (3.5). Book #29 of this year launched me into a bit of a pirate phase and this one did a great job at unpacking fact from fiction.
  34. Debt by David Graeber (4). There isn’t really one main point to this book but it’s a great look at the nature of economies, money, and obviously… debt itself.
  35. Two Ways of Praying by Paul F. Bradshaw (1.5). A pretty dry read but had some good insights on different forms of prayer.
  36. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen (4). I loved book #32 of this year so much I decided to read another one by Larsen. In this one he takes the reader on a fascinating journey contrasting the guy that built the world’s fair in Chicago and a notorious serial killer who thrived on his victims nearby. Larsen sometimes gets lost in the minutia of building details, but overall it’s a fascinating read.
  37. Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg (3). Feinberg does a good of awakening each reader to see fresh things of God all around them. Writes a bit like a female Donald Miller.
  38. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis (1). This is a spiritual classic that’s loaded with Proverbs-style wisdom. However, it’s also steeped in moralism and legalism and probably won’t work for you unless you are considering becoming a monk.
  39. Evangelical Versus Liturgical? by Melanie C. Ross (2). This was assigned reading for one of my classes. It’s a very niche topic and while it offers some helpful distinctions about worship, it’s likely not applicable for the typical reader.
  40. The Grand Paradox by Ken Wytsma (5). Ken is one of those guys I’ve never heard of before this book, yet instantly felt a connection with him as I read. This book is a great holistic way of looking at your faith.
  41. How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson (4.5). I love creative ways of retelling history, and Johnson does a great job at framing some modern inventions and showing you their importance in our lives today.
  42. A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley (3). Oakley focuses on math and science learning, but also shows how we learn in general. It’s a bit geeky to learn about how to learn, but if that interests you then check this out!
  43. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (4.5). This is a FASCINATING story about the HeLa cells. It’s one of the stories that when you hear it you will be amazed you’ve never heard this story before.
  44. Simple Rules by Kathleen M. Eisenhardt and Donald Sull (4). This book shows you how to tackle complex problems without resorting to complex responses but instead developing a list of simple rules to follow. A very compelling argument that can be applied in a myriad of ways.
  45. The Fellowship by Carol Zaleski and Philip Zaleski (3.5). An interesting look at C.S. Lewis’ group called the Inklings. Focuses on four of them and is very interesting if you desire to write.
  46. Between You and Me by Mary Norris (3). This will show my level of geekiness, but this is a book about grammar. As such, there were a few moments it reminded me of being in over my head in an advanced English class in high school. But as a person interested in improving my craft of writing it was beneficial. Surprisingly funny.
  47. The Virgin Way by Richard Branson (4). An interesting look at Virgin’s leadership model. Packed with insights, stories, and humor from the CEO who birthed it into existence and has managed it along the way.
  48. The Martian by Andy Weir (4). I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I definitely want to after this great story. It’s an inspiring (although fictional) story of survival, ingenuity, and the will to keep fighting.
  49. The Perfect Theory by Pedro G. Ferreira (3). This book chronicles the story of the history of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Because it’s focused on the story of it, it doesn’t get too bogged down into details. As such, it still lost me at numerous points where I was glad I had the audio version to keep me moving.
  50. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (4.5). My favorite Dickens’ novel that I read every December. So, so good. If you’ve only watched it in movie form you owe it to yourself to experience the original.
  51. The Bible (5). Because of getting my Master’s degree I’m currently reading a lot of translations and in no particular order.

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.