Top 10 Books of 2015

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Top 10 Books of 2015

January 30, 2016


Alec Hill, President Emeritus of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, joins God Centered Life Ministries today to share his Top 10 Books of 2015. 

1.  Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar (Picador, 2015)
In 2010, a Chilean mine collapse trapped 33 men for more than two months. Though the rescue story is exciting, the essence of the book is how the men bond together when all seems hopeless. My favorite character is Jose Henriquez, an introverted 54 year old laborer, who becomes known as “el pastor.” Gathering the men for daily confession, prayer and Scripture teaching (from memory – he had no Bible), Jose becomes the quiet glue that holds the community together.  
2.  A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter by Michael Card (InterVarsity Press, 2007)
Full disclosure: I love everything that Michael Card writes. In this simple – and short – book, Card traces the life of the apostle Peter through the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the two epistles that bear Peter’s name. Though I’ve studied the apostle for four decades, many of Card’s insights opened new doors of insight. An excellent daily devotional.    
3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (Knopf, 2007)
Set in 1930s Germany, this amazing novel focuses on a young orphan named Liesel. Beautifully written, it recounts her life during a time of great deprivation and suffering. Her foster family – a doting father and a crabby (but soft-hearted) mother – secretly shelters a Jew named Max from the Nazis. Her best friend, Rudy, becomes her first romantic interest as they move into puberty. As the story unfolded, I laughed, wept and grieved.  
4. The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament by Kenneth Bailey (InterVarsity Press, 2014)
Providentially, I began to read this book just before I was diagnosed with cancer last spring. Through his words, Ken Bailey pastored me through some very difficult days. Starting with the image of the Lord as shepherd in Psalm 23, he takes readers on a “thousand year journey” through nine passages of Scripture – Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Luke, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and 1 Peter.   5. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler (Vintage, 2007) Walt Disney was a force of nature. Raised in a poor and unsettled household, he willed himself to become an innovator, entrepreneur and a global brand. His rise is stuff of the American dream – anyone can become anything. But Disney paid a price for his achievements – isolation, ill-health and a deep chasm between his public persona and real self. Creating an alternative fantasy world, he tried to elude reality – including his own mortality – never allowing staff to use the word “death” in his presence.   6. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin, 2014) This account of nine Seattle area rowers has a touch of everything: overcoming childhood depression-era poverty; outperforming sons of privileged families at the University of Washington; coping with Seattle’s unpredictable choppy waters; and winning the Olympic gold medal despite Nazi German cheating. A thoroughly uplifting book.     7. Ben Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2004) This is my third Isaacson biography (Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein) and it doesn’t disappoint. Franklin was America’s first renaissance man – publisher, scientist and diplomat. Sadly, I found him to be oddly disappointing character-wise:  amiable to strangers, but neglectful of his family; brilliant, but awed by his own cleverness; self-reflective, but oddly blind to his own flaws.     8. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton (Hendrickson, 1950) Martin Luther defies description:  priest, professor, author, reformer, family man. Five centuries later, we continue to feel the impact of his world-changing life. We rightly honor his courage in confronting a corrupted church, his genius in translating the Bible into the vernacular and his incredible zest for life. But we also rue his drift into anti-Semitism and his naiveté regarding the impact that his message of liberty would have on peasant social movements.   9. The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century by Alan Brinkley (Vintage, 2011) Many boomers will recall the heyday of Time and Life magazines and their famous publisher, Henry Luce. What most don’t know is that Luce’s parents were active in the Student Volunteer Movement (InterVarsity’s predecessor) and were called to serve as missionaries in China. Sadly, Luce discarded their faith and, despite great professional success, ended up miserable – tragically exemplifying Jesus’ warning not to gain the world at the expense of our souls.   10. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Crown, 2014) For a multi-tasking, randomly-focused, data-overloaded culture, this book appears at the perfect moment. McKeown challenges us to live simpler and more focused lives. “Essentialists” define their primary goals and decline 90% of the opportunities presented to them. They know how to balance work/family priorities and they regularly seek time alone (“without solitude, no serious work is possible” – Pablo Picasso).   Honorable Mention: Florence Nightingale by Cecil Woodham-Smith Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter The Message of Lamentations (IVP commentary) by Christopher Wright The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman The Nightmare of Reason: A Life of Franz Kafka by Ernest Pawel A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion by Gary Burge James (IVP commentary) by Douglas Moo A Curious Madness: An American Psychiatrist, a Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery from World War II by Eric Jaffe]]>


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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