My 53 Books of 2017

My 53 Books of 2017

In 2017 I read 53 books. There were some great ones this year that are definitely worth checking out. In particular, I’d say the Harry Potter series, Prophetic Imagination, What is the Bible?, Cross Vision, and Ready Player One. Very different books, but each one was so worth the read. Below is the list 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. As always, you can find this list throughout the year on the menu at the top of my blog.
  1. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (4). While I personally have no desire to go to space and feel nauseous constantly, I was very intrigued by Hadfield’s stories and the way he learned how to live more intentionally as a result.
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (3.5). Okay, I’m WAY late to this party now that this book is 20 years old, but I finally got around to reading it. I’m amazed how much I enjoyed it. After following the author on Twitter I decided I need to do this.
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (4). I’m only getting more hooked. And now I’m not quite as confused by the world introduced in the first book.
  4. You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith (3.5). A deep read on spirituality and theology from a more traditional voice than I’m used to reading. Lot’s to think about here and something I would benefit from reading multiple times.
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (4). This one gets a bit darker. I’m loving them more and more.
  6. Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer (3.5).  The book is now almost twenty years old and has become a bit of a classic when it comes to hearing from God on how we live our lives faithfully to what God has given each of us.
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (4). Continues getting darker and I’m continually hooked.
  8. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (4). I’ve started reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my kids. I definitely still love this more than they do, but I’m trying to pass my love of it onto them.
  9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (4.5). The action definitely intensifies in this one. Coincidentally, there were many parallels in this one and in the American culture at the moment.
  10. How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin (4). Martin writes as a prophetic poet. The transparency and vulnerability in which he tells his journey invites all of us to seek God in an authentic way.
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (4.5). Addicted. That’s the word to describe how I currently feel about this series.
  12. Chess Not Checkers by Mark Miller (3). We read this as a leadership team at Central. A great little parable on leadership and how we need to think differently in the future.
  13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (5). Count me in. I’m a total fan. If you had your head in the sand for the last two decades on this series (like me) then it’s time for you to take the plunge.
  14. Mirror to the Church by Emmanuel Katongole (4). A surprisingly profound read about the genocide in Rwanda. Does a great job showing the problems with mixing political power with Christianity.
  15. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston (3). This was a fun read of a modern day exploration for a lost city. The surprise isn’t that they find it, but the insights that emerge when the old world meets the new.
  16. Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann (5). LOVED this book. Brueggemann explores the role of the prophetic voice throughout the scriptures and invites the church to continue living out this role in any culture today. A much-needed read for the American church.
  17. Living Into Community by Christine Pohl (3). This was for a class at Fuller. A good overview of Christian community.
  18. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (4). Finished the second of the Narnia series with my kids. My 8yo commented on how Aslan is like Jesus in this book so at least they are grasping the bigger plot.
  19. Essentialism by Greg McKeown (4.5). I saw him speak on this topic at a conference and was instantly intrigued. The book was even better. Do less better.
  20. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (4). This was my second time through this book. The ideas are still gold and there were a number of nuances I forgot since I first read it.
  21. The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck (3). Since I’m moving to Oregon this year I figured I should do a bit of research on one of its most famous histories. This is a story about a modern trip down this historied road.
  22. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle (4.5). This is the story of doing ministry to gang members. The way it portrays the power of Jesus is breathtaking and a jolting reminder for those of us who can easily become far too comfortable with this message.
  23. What is the Bible? by Rob Bell (5). Rob is still a polarizing name, but I think this might be his best book yet. It will allow you to read the Bible with a fresh energy.
  24. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari (3). This book looks at where the future might take us. It’s all over the place but will definitely give you interesting ideas to ponder.
  25. The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferruci (3). A broad look (incorporating views from multiple religious perspectives) about the significance and need for kindness.
  26. Cross Vision by Greg Boyd – What if the harshest aspects of God in the Old Testament actually help us see the most beautiful aspects of Jesus on the cross? This book will show you how to read the Bible with fresh eyes and cause you to never see God the same way again. Easily one of the best and most transformative books I’ve ever read.
  27. The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (3.5). A great fictional story for allowing the reader to see racial tensions in an intimate light.
  28. I Can’t Make This Up by Kevin Hart (3.5). This is great as an audiobook as Kevin reads it himself. The life lessons aren’t super deep but Hart is a master storyteller.
  29. Memory Man by David Baldacci (3.5). I listened to this series on my drive from Phoenix to Portland. Not my normal genre but tells the interesting story of a detective who has a perfect memory.
  30. The Last Mile by David Baldacci (3.5). This one was easier to get into since I knew what to expect. It’s a great follow-up to the first book.
  31. The Fix by David Baldacci (3). It might be because I did all three books of the trilogy so close together, but this one seemed a bit tedious at times. Worth finishing the series if you enjoyed the first two though.
  32. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (4.5). I watched Noah’s Netflix stand up and was blown away by his depth of humor and profound take on life. The stories of his childhood are just as interesting.
  33. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (4). Elon is a fascinating case study of brilliance and eccentricity. Does a great job looking at his life and his work.
  34. What the F by Benjamin K. Bergen (3.5). Bergen explores the nuances of swearing and how we culturally get to our conclusions about what words are “bad.” Gets into some nuanced grammar but I’m geeky enough to enjoy that stuff.
  35. Reunion by Bruxy Cavey (3). Bruxy is a voice that I enjoy regularly listening to and this book is a great summary of the Gospel message without the religious baggage often associated with it.
  36. Astoria by Peter Stark (3.5). Similar to #21 on my list this year, this was another book to help acquaint me with the history of my new home in the Pacific Northwest. This book tells the gripping story of how dangerous and costly it was for the early people of this region.
  37. Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood (4). The main topic of this book is what to do with the violence of God in the Bible. Flood explains how our common sense and our experiences need to shape what we conclude today.
  38. Fortune’s Children by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II (4). A fascinating story of the legacy of Cornelius Vanderbilt and what happened to his financial empire with the generations after him. Shows an interesting perspective on money.
  39. Essentialism by Greg McKeown (4.5). Yes, this is the same book as #19 on this list. I originally listened to it on audiobook and loved it so much that I’m having my elders and some of my staff go through it together. I reread the print version this time and found it even more applicable as I have a better grasp of these concepts. I think this sets the record for quickest reread of a book for me.
  40. Printer’s Error by J.P. and Rebecca Romney (4). This is a collection of stories about the history of books and is surprisingly witty and fun to enjoy. I wish all history books were this funny and engaging.
  41. This is Portland by Alexander Barrett (3.5). A hilarious, quick little read about my new home. Does a great job providing some insider culture and history in a way that makes you laugh and appreciate the city.
  42. One Nation Under God by Kevin M. Kruse (3). Shows how corporate America invented Christian America in the not-so-distant past. For those who think America began as a Christian nation, this book offers a helpful history to show otherwise.
  43. How to Think by Alan Jacobs (4.5).  How do we navigate our opinions and those of others around us that we disagree with? How did we even develop the opinions we currently have? This book explores these ideas in a profound way.
  44. The Revenge of Analog by David Sax (4.5). Makes a compelling case for how analog things such as albums and books hold a new value in the digital world. It isn’t an argument against digital, but rather a new way of including both digital and analog in our life.
  45. Forgotten Among the Lilies by Ronald Rolheiser (3). Written by a Catholic Priest, this is a book that invites deep thinking and a chance to consider life from a unique vantage point.
  46. How to Fight by Thich Nhat Hanh (1). This is written by a Zen Master who I’ve seen referenced in other books. It’s an interesting perspective on dealing with conflict from a Buddhist point of view and also interesting to see where it aligns and differs from Christian thought.
  47. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (3.5). Yes, I’m reading this again. I’m hooked. This time I went through the illustrated version with my son Gavin.
  48. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5). This was such an enjoyable story. Takes place in a future where the online world feels more real than anything else. Also has a fun emphasis on the 80s.
  49. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (2). This book was recommended for my Enneagram number (8) so I decided to give it a try. I like the concepts but ultimately I think her style resonates more with others.
  50. Jacob T. Marley by R. William Benett (4). Takes a look at Dicken’s Christmas Carol from the point of view of Jacob Marley. Since I love A Christmas Carol so much I decided to check this out and I sincerely enjoyed it. I think I’ll read this along with Christmas Carol each December.
  51. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (4.5). I read this every December and I’m still noticing new things in it. Such a perfect story.
  52. Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James (4). A powerful look at the role of women in the church. It tackles the subject in sometimes surprising ways but makes some great arguments and provides powerful perspective.
  53. The Bible. This year I read this version of the NLT (see: Jesus-Centered Bible) and lately I’ve been using a new Bible reading plan I made (see: plan).

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.