What did we read in 2015?
Not everyone likes books, but I do! So, I thought it would be fun to survey the SOS staff team and see what books made to the top of their lists in 2015. I asked them: What were 3-5 of your top reads in 2015? Here's what they had to say. -Jonathan
Big Dog Brown
Reconciliation Blues, Edward Gilbreath I thoroughly enjoyed the history and some of the current issues regarding racism in the evangelical world through the lens of a black man operating mostly in a white Evangelical setting . So much of it mirrors the experiences that I've had and continue to have.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates This book it's basically a letter from a black father to his black son about the condition of our world and some of the privileges not afforded his son because he is black in a racist world . It also speaks to the sad reality that his father having knowledge of these conditions still cannot protect his son from them.
Room Full of Mirrors, Charles R. Cross This book is the biography of Jimi Hendrix's life. I enjoyed it because he is my favorite musician of all time.
Kelly Pitts Coon
Holy is the Day, Carolyn Weber
Reflecting on finding holy, quiet moments in each mundane and hectic day is the subject of this poignant and funny book. I fell for Carolyn Weber's writing in Surprised by Oxford (still my favorite), and she doesn't disappoint here. She has a way of telling uproariously funny and can't-look-away-from-the-
A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken This is my favorite book and I read it at least once a year! It's the true love/life/tragedy story of a young couple and how their friendship with C.S. Lewis brought them to personal relationships with the Lord. Towards Zero, Agatha Christie I've always loved classic murder mysteries and Agatha Christie brings the best! In Towards Zero, she analyzes the psychology of a particular murder and lays out all of the events leading up to it, looking forward in time towards the murder, rather than standing at the time of the murder and looking retrospectively to solve it.
Unbroken, Lauren Hillenbrand This is the true story of an olympic runner turned soldier who managed to survive 47 days at sea followed by a harrowing 2 years in Japanese POW camps before finally coming home to the states. His life story, the struggles he faced and his testimony of the Lord's work in his life is incredible.
Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller EGE goes all the way back to the Creation and Fall of Man to evaluate work and discover what our approach towards it should be. Work was created to be a good thing but because of sin, we often find it difficult and struggle to find joy in the labor of our hands. Tim Keller lays out a healthy, well-rounded perspective which helps us see the gift that God intended work to be.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates This book gives a raw yet poetic account of being black in America. Letters to a Birmingham Jail, Bryan Loritts & various others MLK Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ and responses from current, prominent Christian leaders gives a beautiful perspective of the diversity and justice within a Gospel lens.
An Autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt Teddy’s autobiography gives hope that someone can navigate and excel in a political context while still being respectable, righteous, and unwavering.
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis Unfortunately, I don't know that I have read that many books this year! Other than the Chronicles of Narnia, of which I read 5 1/2 in 2015! I love reading those books; they are great stories that are easy to identify with and there are such strong gospel themes throughout.
What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, Matthew Perman Also, it was my second reading in 2015 with my first read through being in 2014, but What's Best Next has remained such a solid influence in my life and work. Specifically, it has given me a renewed vision for what "good works" mean and how working hard in our vocation is one of the things we are designed for and one of the things that bring God most glory.
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson A really hard narrative about a young lawyer who gives witness to huge gaps in justice among wrongly condemned -- mostly black and mostly poor -- death row inmates.
Season of Life, Jeffrey Marx Beautiful story about living and working in community with a vision of being built for others, empathy and the value of relationships, as told through a high school football team and their coaches.
On These Courts, Wayne B. Drash Binghampton, Lester basketball, and an NBA great. A lot of history and insight into the neighborhood I get to call home.
Unbroken, Lauren Hillenbrand I see that Emily also listed this book in her top five. It's hard to overstate how powerful this brilliant, biographical work is in its scope and depth. Louis Zamperini's legendary life as an athlete, Air Force pilot and POW, his dramatic conversion and subsequent obedience to Christ will leave you in a heap as you encounter the worst and most despairing evil on earth and the furthest reaches of God's grace. Few books have stirred emotions within me like this one!
Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Tony Reinke Admittedly, the title of this book will not likely stir many to put it at the top of your reading list, but this was a fun book! Whether you are an unashamed bookworm, an aspiring reader, a parent of young readers or just someone who is curious about literature, Reinke will guide you on a tour to aid you in making wise decisions with your reading choices and will introduce you to many tips for absorbing rather than consuming books. He makes a good case for the Christian to survey a wide range of literary genres in order to stir our affections for God and his truth, beauty and goodness and also awaken our hearts to the full scope of humanity's situation. If you've ever found yourself getting distracted by every book you see in Borders or compulsively adding books to your Amazon wishlist without a sense of conviction and direction, this book is definitely for you! This book will help you become a wiser, discerning reader, and for that, I would place it at the top of your 2016 list!
To Live is Christ, Matt Chandler Philippians has long been a favorite epistle of mine, so I was eager to see what Chandler had to say in this part-devotional, part-pastoral, part-Biblical exegesis of Paul's potent, pastoral letter to the Philippian church. I enjoyed his introduction to the book in which he retells the story of the first believer in Philippi, Lydia (also the namesake of my second daughter!). Chandler calls us to heed Paul's passionate plea for Christ to be the focus of our lives on this earth, as we simultaneously long to be with Christ.
Awe, Paul David Tripp With his characteristic pastoral tone, Tripp calls attention to an all-too-common state for many Christians: our awe-of-God amnesia, which leads to our worship of self, materialism, complaining, anxiety and every related symptom that arises from a heart which has lost its fear of the Lord. Tripp makes a compelling case for our need to reclaim awe-of-God in a world gone mad with misplaced and amnesia-induced awe. In particular, I was admonished by his chapter "Complaining" in which he provides some fantastic diagnostic questions to interrogate our hearts - labeled "Five Questions that Seal or Steal Our Hope."