Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 non-fiction

As promised, I'm back with my favorite non-fiction books of 2015. In no particular order, here goes:

The Big Short by Michael Lewis. I'm a big fan of Lewis, who also wrote The Blind Side and Money Ball, as well as the next book on this list. I just finished The Big Short, which profiles the personalities and institutions involved in the 2008 financial crisis precipitated by the mess with subprime lending. As a lawyer and banker who has had some limited (thank goodness) exposure to, and fair amount of knowledge regarding, the subject matter (although even with that, a lot of this was over my head), this was a fascinating story for me. I have not yet seen the movie but plan to do so in the near future.

Home Game by Michael Lewis. Another great one by Lewis, this is a comical yet poignant narrative of his experiences as a dad of three. Anyone who has had the privilege of raising children is likely to laugh and cry at Lewis's honest account of fatherhood.

How God Became King by N. T. Wright. Any Christian would benefit from a very slow reading of this Anglican's priest's perspective on the holiness and deity of Jesus. I say slow because much of this is so deep that I had to read parts of it a couple of times to let it sink in. You might also have some long-held assumptions challenged.

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. Oh my gosh, Jen Hatmaker is one of my new favorite people I have never met. She is hilariously funny but her convictions regarding the church brought me to my knees. This is the story of the church she and pastor-husband Brandon started in Austin, Texas, a radical and vibrant congregation that is leaving an indelible imprint on the community. I believe God has been trying to teach me about social justice for most of my adult life. Jen's book is one of His latest tools.

Scary Close by Donald Miller. I've been a fan since Blue Like Jazz. This latest installment chronicles Miller's personal journey of allowing himself to be loved. He and wife Betsy, the subject of much of the book, now live near me and I'm hoping someone will introduce us before I have to stalk them.

My Southern Journey by Rick Bragg. This Alabama native and resident has outdone himself with this compilation of essays about life in the South. I had the privilege of hearing him speak and read from this at the Southern Festival of Books a couple of months ago in Nashville. Of all the adjectives I could use to describe Bragg's writing, one stands above them all: beautiful.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team and its quest for gold. I don't know the first thing about rowing but I loved this book.

You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado. A couple of years ago, while serving as chairman of the board of a local non-profit, I made opening remarks at a dinner where Max spoke, a day after the release of You'll Get Through This, which contains practical advice for making it through challenging times, applying sound Scriptural principles. He also includes stories of those who applied those principles and "made it through." He gave copies to all of us in attendance. Some two years later, when I hit a rough patch of my own, I read the book. Max was right -- I got through it. It wasn't necessarily painless and it wasn't necessarily quick (which Max writes in the book), but with God's grace and kindness, I got through it.

Jesus, Bread and Chocolate by John J. Thompson.  I met the author at a local brewery last spring. He was sitting next to me and had a pre-release copy of this book, which has as its subtitle, "Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World." Thompson shared with me a bit about the book's content, which includes an account of his personal faith journey, as well as stories of friends he has made who have abandoned "mass market" products in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, hand-made furniture, specialty dark chocolate, craft-brewed beer (a portion of the book describes the brewery where I met Thompson) and boutique coffee shops. And believe it or not, he weaves in an interesting parallel with the Gospel -- and it works. It was a few months after meeting him that I finally got a copy of Thompson's book and read it, but I am very glad I did.

So that's it for non-fiction in 2015. It was a good year of reading and I already have a stack for 2016. And as always, I'm open to suggestions and recommendations.

Happy New Year to all.


Kelly said...

Well you've seen my recommendations throughout the year at my blog. Maybe I'll see a few of them here this time next year. ;)

You captured my interest with several of these. The Rick Bragg is already on my wish list since I always loved his columns in SL (which I've quit taking for personal reasons, but won't go into that right now...)

I've enjoyed Max Lucado in the past and still have one of his books (unread) sitting on the shelf. Perhaps this one needs to join it for future reference, as we all have those times when we face things we need to "get through".

"Social Justice" is one of those terms that has popped up on my radar several times over the past year and here it is again.

I'm off now to find out more about the N.T. Wright book. It sounds fascinating.

Happy New Year, Bob!

Ed said...

I already own a couple of these books, the Lewis ones, though I have not read them yet. I can't wait to especially the one about fatherhood. Another one is on my wish list the next time I get a gift certificate to a book store and I will probably add another couple of these to that list. Once can never have too many non-fiction books waiting to be read in my opinion. Thanks for taking the time to compile such a list for people like me.