Best Books I’ve Read in 2015

At the end of the year, the lists come out. Largely pointless lists that remind you of things that happened in the past year. They can be interesting, but they’re ultimately just there to give you something to read. Joining that overcrowded bandwagon is me. I hadn’t planned on doing this, but the list fever got me and I think I’ll join the fray.

Thus, here are the top 10 books I read in 2015 (believe it or not, I actually read 10). None of them are recently published, most of them are old, but they’re all “new” to me since I had never read them before. So sit back, relax, and enjoy another year-end list! Who knows, you might see something on here you want to read…

10. Purgatorio by Dante–I’ve been slowly reading through Dante’s Divine Comedy..as in I read Inferno in 2014, and then Purgatorio this past year (meaning the final one will be read in ’16). While the translation I’m reading makes it somewhat difficult for the modern reader, the journey Dante finds himself on is intriguing from multiple points-theological, emotional, spiritual. From wandering in bleak despair at the beginning of Inferno to being on the threshold of hope at the end of Purgatorio, I think this classic deserves a spot on the list.

9. Kesrith by C.J. Cherryh–My father-in-law sent me a thick paperback called The Faded Sun Trilogy and this was the first book in the series. You might say it’s a mix between Dances with Wolves and Star Wars. The first book covers the aftermath of war as an ancient race slowly dies and two dominant races vie for political power. The storytelling style is unique and mysterious and several themes pop out, like showing mercy to an enemy and consideration for those “lower” than yourself.

8. Red Green’s Beginner’s Guide to Women by Steve Smith–A Christmas gift from my wife (I had requested it), this is a delightfully funny book about male/female relationships with some good advice/perspective as well as humorous advice you probably shouldn’t take. The only pitfall to the book is that it can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a silly relationship book or a semi-serious one.

7. The Fourth Stall-Part 3 by Chris Rylander–A friend got me started on this quirky little junior high boys trilogy and I had to see it through to the glorious end. The books follow Mac and Vince as they run an illegal school “mafia” (it’s not as bad as you might think). In the grand finale, they try to leave, but their chickens come home to roost. While this may be the funniest of the three books, the ending was a little underwhelming for me. Still, it was an enjoyable read for 2015.

6. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley–This is a delightful take on the Robin Hood mythos. It looks somewhat realistically at how someone like Robin Hood could come about and how, practically speaking, could an operation like his work. There’s plenty of adventure and good character development; worth checking out if you’re looking for a Robin Hood story.

5. The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards–Read these for devotional time over a period of months and while many of his sermons seem dry and humorless by today’s standards, that doesn’t make them any less potent. He spoke to a spiritually lethargic generation and not much has changed in the intervening years making this a worthwhile read.

4. Buckskin Run by Louis L’Amour–At this point, you’re either surprised there’s a Louis L’Amour book on the list or that it rated so high. While most of his work seems to follow the same pattern, this collection of short stories had me from the opening tale (from which the title comes), which gave me a mystery in the Old West. It was highly engrossing and enjoyable and several other stories were the same.

3. Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson–A friend recommended this book to me and while I don’t always like “how-to” books, this one was short, practical, and to the point, making for an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Wilson has a certain wit to him, and this book is a worthwhile read to anyone interested in writing.

2. The Chimes by Charles Dickens–I just wrote a blog post about this, so it better be on this list! Probably the most convicting book I read all year. It would be worth your time to read this little-known classic by Dickens when the holiday season of 2016 rolls around.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain–Believe it or not, I read the book for the first time ever this past year. After a slow start, the book takes off on a unique adventure with plenty to say about the human heart and ends in such a delightful way I was giggling like a school girl and had to stop to inform my wife what was happening in the plot. Above all the other books I read this year, Huckleberry Finn is my favorite.

So what do you think about my little list? Do you have one, too? Have any recommendations for me this coming year?

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