It doesn’t feel like the new year has started until I’ve logged into Goodreads and reviewed my Reading Challenge. I set a goal of reading 52 books in 2016, and ended up with 54. A good number of those were rereads, but here are my top picks among the books I read for the first time in 2016.
The Sacred Year by Michael Yankowski
I recommend this as one of the best books on Christian spiritual practice I have ever read. It inspired me to begin new habits this year, including the Daily Examen and Sabbath prayer and rest times. I wrote a longer review too.
Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch
I read a ton of Christian marriage books before our wedding, but oddly enough the most helpful books I’ve read since then haven’t been explicitly Christian at all. Shy readers beware; heady clinical language abounds in this book. But if you can push through that, Schnarch presents a radical shift in what it means to support and be supported by your partner. I’ll do it the injustice of this summary: a bracing call to “grow up” and own yourself.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Stevenson gives a sobering look at the justice system in America, and opened my eyes to some of what is happening in my own backyard. Above all, this book showed me how truly complex questions of imprisonment and capital punishment are both in practice and long-term effects. There are no clear or easy answers here, but seeing those involved as humans is a powerful first step.
Hunting the Divine Fox by Robert Farrar Capon
Reading this was like discovering a whole new country. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so delighted with a new-to-me author, or have enjoyed a “theology” book so much. My husband and friends had to put up with me reading many passages out loud, prefaced with a “sorry, you have to hear this,” or “just one more!” Why Capon isn’t more widely known, I have no idea.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Proof that you shouldn’t neglect the classics! And I do consider this a classic in the vein of 1984 and Brave New World. One of the most stunning pieces of fiction I’ve read, and completely unforgettable. (I actually am guilty of getting the previous two books mixed up. No danger of that with Ender’s Game!)
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky