My Favorite Books of 2015
Developing intellectual virtue in an Internet age challenges me. The beep, swish or yelp of an incoming email, Facebook message, or the favoriting of a Tweet constantly pull my eyes, and with it, my heart, into the mediated world of the smart phone.
With all these distractions, intellectual habits leading to a life well lived droop. I need an antidote to this frenetic 21st century flourish of information, images, tweets, clips, and newsfeeds. I have found such an antidote in the reading of books. Books helps me learn the discipline of focus, the art of seeking understanding, and the ability to view the world from another’s perspective. As C. S. Lewis puts it:
Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences not our own. . . . In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in a Greek poem, I see with a thousand eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself: and am never more myself than when I do.
This past year I read 48 books. Through the eyes of others, I tasted the sublime, the mysterious, the painful, the inspiring, the good, the true, and the beautiful. I recommend the following, from my reading list of 2015, to you:
Best in Philosophy:
- The Golden Cord, by Charles Taliaferro. A defense of Christian Platonism and the goodness and beauty of life leading to God.
- Free Will in Philosophical Theology, by Kevin Timpe. An account of virtue libertarianism as it relates to man’s four states of being: Pre-fall, Fallen, Redeemed, and Perfected.
- On the Intrinsic Value of Everything, by Scott Davison. Davison argues that all concrete particulars have intrinsic value to some degree, and maybe everything that exists does too.
Honorable mention: A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, by Robert Kane; Free Will: The Basics, by Meghan Griffith, The Soul, by J. P. Moreland; Rethinking Human Nature, by Kevin Corcoran; Properties, by Douglas Edwards; Being as Communion, by William Dembski; God and Time: Four Views, ed. Greg Gannsle
Best in Apologetics/Theology:
- Joy-Based Apologetics, by Joe Puckett Jr. A defense and elaboration of C. S. Lewis’s argument from desire.
- Apologetics Beyond Reason, by James Sire. An exploration into literature as an apologetic tactic.
- From Nature to Creation, by Norman Wirzba. All that God has made is sacred, a gift, and when we view it as such, we will find delight.
Honorable Mention: Soul Cravings, by Erwin McManus; Creation out of Nothing, by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig; C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea, by Victor Reppert; The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis; A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis; The Historical Jesus: Five Views, ed. Paul Eddy & Greg Boyd; Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting, by John Cooper; Culture Making, by Andy Crouch
Best in Fiction:
- All the Light we Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. A tragic story of a young blind girl and a German boy in WWII.
- Phantastes, by George MacDonald. A tale of Anados and his adventures in fairy land.
- Perelandra, by C. S. Lewis. An exploration of a world that doesn’t fall to Satan’s temptation.
- The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff. An excellent tale of a Roman legion in search of the lost Eagle of the 9th in Roman Britannia.
- Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. A story of love, vicious character, and hope in England and the moors near Chatow.
- The Conspiracy of Paper, by David Liss. An 18th century London Jew investigates the corrupt stock jobbers’ murder for money.
Honorable Mention: The Last Battle, by C. S. Lewis; The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis; That Hideous Strength, by C. S. Lewis; A Place of the Lion, by Charles Williams; The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff; The Silver Branch, by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Martian, by Andy Weir.
Best in Non-fiction:
- The Sacred Disease, by Kristin Seaborg. A moving memoir of my sister’s struggle with epilepsy.
- The Narnian, by Alan Jacobs. A biography of the life and imaginative development of C. S. Lewis.
- American Sniper, by Chris Kyle. The Story of American’s most famous sniper and the trauma of war on his family.
Honorable Mention: American Jesus, by Stephen Prothero
Best in Devotional Reading:
- Tranquility, by David Henderson. An exploration of how to cultivate a restful soul in the midst of a busy life, by my friend and pastor.
- Rejoicing in Christ, by Michael Reeves. A devotional to see and savor Jesus Christ as our past, present, and future.
The writings of C. S. Lewis and his friends interest me. Teaching on C. S. Lewis in Oxford highlighted my year. Additionally, my wife and I went on a literary tour of Great Britain. Read about our adventure here.
Do you want to grow intellectually? Do you want to nourish your soul? Are you unsatisfied with the lack of depth in your Facebook newsfeed? Join me this year: pick up a book and allow yourself to be encouraged, challenged, and captivated by story. As you do, make connections between the story you read and the greatest possible story, which is the gospel.
To see my favorites from prior years, click here: 2014, 2013, or 2012.
 C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 140-141.