My 62 Books of 2016

My 62 Books of 2016

Here are the books I’ve read since January of 2016 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. 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. (Click here) to see the books I have personally written, and see below for the ones I’ve read this year. Topping the list were How to Be Here, The Sin of Certainty, Rejection Proof,  The Explosive Child, and People to Be Loved.
  1. Molina by Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan (3.5). I love baseball in part because of stories like this one. Bengie was an incredible player and he tells a remarkable story of how one family produced three major league catchers who all won world series rings.
  2. A Spoke in the Wheel by Renate Wind (4). While I do not agree with everything Bonhoeffer believed or did, his life offers us a vulnerable look at how to live out a faith in Christ amidst the most trying times one might imagine. It provides both a biographical look on Bonhoeffer’s life as well as a collection of some of his writings.
  3. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman (3.5). I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Kyle a bit and he does a great job in this book on pushing Christians to live their faith more than just in words.
  4. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (3). Some of the wisdom in this books sounds very dated and impossible to live out in a normal life. However, it also provides a great foundation for spiritual life together in community.
  5. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (3.5). This is a spiritual classic and Bonhoeffer’s most famous work. I love his stuff on nonviolence and evil but he loses me with his views on faith.
  6. Eve by Paul Young (3). This is Young’s third book and shares similarities with both Crossroads and The Shack. This one strays the furthest into an imaginative world and at times can be difficult to keep up with. Still worth reading if you like Young’s writings.
  7. The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins (3). An interesting perspective on the rise and fall of religions in different parts of the world throughout history. Serves as a good reminder that you can eradicate cultural Christianity, but the church will always live on in the varied expressions it takes.
  8. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (2). I love the fresh perspective you get with this, but the whole time I’m left wondering: what’s the point? It seems like such a self-centered existence in order to find something.
  9. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (3). This gets tedious at times, but is a fascinating perspective from Bonhoeffer’s last few years in prison and his interactions with those closest to him as he made sense out of his situation.
  10. Silence by Shusaku Endo (4.5). A gripping, disturbing, profound story about Christianity in Japan under persecution. Looks at the story of Judas in a fascinating way. A powerful read.
  11. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (3.5). A story of a man running from Jesus. It has colorful characters and a story that picks up speed as you go. Overall it had promise but was a little too odd for my taste.
  12. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (3). Lots of great material here but this was last revised (at least the version I read) about 15 years ago. Ramit Sethi offers a more current version of this material.
  13. Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (3.5). Parts of this are brilliant and cause for deep reflection. Other parts get lost in Academia. If you can navigate between them this is a very worthwhile read of a spiritual classic.
  14. The Singularity is Near Ray Kurzweil (4). I recommend the audiobook version on this one as it gets deep into the weeds on explanation. But overall this book will blow your mind on what may be coming in the future. Well worth the read to make your head spin a bit about the future with technology.
  15. God Dreams by Will Mancini (3). A practical guide on hearing from God for a vision with your church. Helps you and your team ask the right questions together. Builds the idea that growth by itself is not a vision.
  16. The Pope and Mussolini by David Kertzer (4.5). A haunting yet fascinating look at the Pope’s support of Fascism in the days of World War II. Vividly illustrates the dangers when the church relies on political power.
  17. Leadership Pain by Samuel Chand (4). A great look at the price of leadership and what you must do to lead well over time. Anybody can lead. But can you lead through the pain?
  18. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (3). An interesting story of a family of missionaries and the way their fundamentalist faith plays out over their lifetimes. Shows how each of the kids responds to the faith of their parents and how they make sense of it for themselves.
  19. #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk (4.5). Gary is like a secular version of Jon Acuff. Crazy into the value of hustle but also provides a grip of practical advice on how to use social media more strategically. I recommend the audiobook version read by the author.
  20. Waking Up by Ted Dekker (3). A little eBook on Ted’s journey with faith in the midst of his success as a writer. Offers some helpful insights in the way we wrestle with our own faith.
  21. How to be Here by Rob Bell (5). His name is still polarizing but this was a fantastic read. Talks about the need to be present in each moment and helps the reader understand their creative process better.
  22. Ridiculous Faith by Shelene Bryan (2). I read this in study for my next book. She’s a great storyteller but this book plays more to the emotional appeal than I typically prefer.
  23. The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns (5). After discovering Enns only about a year ago I’ve grown to really appreciate his voice and the way he challenges so much of traditional Christian thinking popular today. This is a great book for any Christian to read.
  24. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (3). I’ve been waiting for my kids to grow up enough to enjoy me reading older stories to them and started with this one. A great classic kids story that pairs really well with peach season.
  25. Seeing is Believing by Greg Boyd (4). Guides the reader through experiencing Jesus in a totally fresh way. While this might seem strange to a lot of Christians today, it provides a tangible way to experience God using your imagination.
  26. 438 Days by Jonathan Franklin (4). This is a gripping story about a shark fisherman surviving more than a year at sea. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.
  27. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (3). I like Duhigg’s style of writing and the way it causes you to think differently. This book explores different ways to tackle challenges in life and the depth of research keeps it an engaging read.
  28. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (4). Admittedly, I was skeptical of reading this. It looked a little too “self-help” for me. The book explains how and why you should wake up earlier in the morning, something I’ve always struggled with. But it worked on me. I’ve been able to alter my morning routine and this book was the tipping point.
  29. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (3). Read through this with my kids. My boys (7, 6) loved it but it was a bit too abstract for my daughter (4).
  30. Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang (5). Absolutely loved this book. Speaks volumes into the creative process. I even gave it to a handful of my creative team to read and they have really enjoyed it as well.
  31. Christian Meditation by James Finley (3). This book complemented book #25 from this year’s list. Not something I’ve read or experienced a lot of, but I enjoyed growing in this area and learning from Finley’s perspective.
  32. The Spirituality of Wine by Gisela H. Kreglinger (4). A really interesting look at a Christian view of wine and how to enjoy it from a healthy point of view. She explores a lot of intriguing aspects of wine that I was unfamiliar with and incorporated them well into the Biblical narrative.
  33. The Explosive Child by Ross Greene (5). One of the top two books on parenting I’ve ever read. For kids who don’t respond to “normal” parenting techniques, this book provides a new philosophy and strategy that helps immensely.
  34. The Uncontrolling Love of God by Thomas J. Oord (3.5). I love Open Theology and this book explores an interesting nuanced stance of it. I didn’t agree with Oord’s premise in the book but I enjoyed his research and the thinking behind it.
  35. Red Notice by Bill Browder (3.5). An interesting story about an investor in Russia and the politics and power struggles that followed.
  36. The Return of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks (3). The second book in this series I’ve been reading to my kids (see #29 in the list). My boys absolutely love the story and it’s pretty hilarious to read out loud with the different voices.
  37. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen (3.5). I really have come to enjoy Larsen’s style of writing. This looks at the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany and explores the question of how seemingly ‘normal’ people could support it.
  38. The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly (4). I’ve followed Kelly for a number of years now and he provides Christians with a way to view and anticipate technology in ways that few other do. This book causes you to wrestle with many interesting ideas of our changing culture.
  39. Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek by Thorleif Boman (4). This book reads far too academically for the typical person to enjoy but chapter three on time makes the whole thing worth reading.
  40. Perv by Jesse Bering (3). A look at sexuality from a liberal, non-Christian point of view. Helps to illustrate why a faith in God matters so much in the ways we think of sexuality. While it’s quite a ways from where I am, I appreciated his arguments and the ways it challenged me.
  41. As You Wish by Cary Elwes (4). An incredibly delightful read about the making of the movie The Princess Bride. If you read this you will love the movie even more and you’ll obviously have to watch it again (a few times).
  42. The End of Religion by Bruxy Cavey (4.5). This book provides a great way to see Jesus, the Church, and spirituality in a fresh way. Bruxy says things in a unique way and causes you to see familiar things differently.
  43. The Secret Life of Words by Anne Curzan (4). This is another nerdy one about words but I absolutely loved the perspective I gained from it. Covers a variety angles on the English language. It’s available as a lecture series on Audible.
  44. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Dale Hanson Bourke (3). This is a dry read but also very informative on what’s currently happening in the Middle East. Serves as a great primer to help get you up to speed.
  45. Drinking Water by James Salzman (3.5). I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but it proved surprisingly fascinating. Looks at the historical, cultural, and subjective views on water over the years.
  46. How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill (3). Not exactly what I was expecting, but it tells an interesting history of Ireland after the Roman empire.
  47. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (2). Considered by many as a classic on racism, I found that the story dives way too deep into certain parts and found myself getting lost. Nonetheless, it did open my eyes to a perspective very different than my own.
  48. People to Be Loved by Preston Sprinkle (5). This is a great and balanced view on what the Bible says about homosexuality. Gives good context to it without getting lost.
  49. The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (3.5). This sucker is super long (great to go through on Audible) but tells an interesting perspective of the Civil War from Grant’s point of view.
  50. Simply Christian by N.T. Wright (3.5). This was my second time through it and I enjoyed it more. Wright is brilliant and brings a fantastic perspective, but I often struggle to resonate with his style of writing.
  51. Called by Mark Labberton (3). Written by the President of Fuller Seminary, this is a great overview on faith and a Christian’s calling in the world today.
  52. God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis (4). This is a lesser known collection of Lewis’ writings. It’s an assortment of essays on numerous subjects and feels like reading C.S. Lewis’ blog (I wish such a thing existed).
  53. Long Story Short by Margot Leitman (4). Leitman has plenty of experience in storytelling and now teaches it to others. As a communicator—or just a lover of good stories—this book is well worth the time.
  54. Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford (3). I enjoy thinking about how technology will shape the future once AI invades everything and this book dives into it. It takes a much more somber approach however.
  55. Gut by Giulia Enders (3). This is a helpful exploration of the way our stomachs affect everything else in our bodies yet it also slightly turned me into a germaphobe. Sometimes you wish you didn’t know how certain things worked.
  56. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (4). Rachel goes into extreme stances on certain things. While I don’t follow her on all of them, I do sincerely appreciate her heart and her honesty and the way she causes me to ask difficult questions of my faith.
  57. Hamilton by Jeremy McCarter (3.5). I read this book primarily because I didn’t understand what all the hype was about this play. Now I have a glimpse of its brilliance and also badly want to see the play for myself.
  58. Quiet Power by Susan Caine (3.5). A follow up to Caine’s other book about introverts. Nothing revolutionary here but a great way to dig deeper on how to thrive as an introvert.
  59. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue (4.5). “Science Mike” does a great job unpacking the Christian faith from the point of view of an honest doubter. I appreciate his vulnerability and the way he sees Jesus today.
  60. Grounded by Diana Butler Bass (4). A creative look at spirituality in Christ today without much of the baggage we often associate with it. I particularly liked the way she frames the conversation around some of the elements of nature.
  61. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (I read it yearly). Those of you who have read my lists before know that I read this book every Christmas. Dickens is gold, and this is my favorite of his books.
  62. The Bible by Jesus and His friends (I read it yearly). This year I primarily read using the NLT version and especially enjoyed using the Jesus-Centered Bible.

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.