My Favorite Books from 2016
Stories awaken. They draw me into another world. They help me see reality through another’s eyes. As C. S. Lewis aptly put it, “in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see.” So, stories rattle me out of my slumber. They also teach me. I learn about space and time, hope and aspiration, human longing and evil, goodness and beauty, truth and hope. I learn—especially when reading philosophy or theology—how to think better as I pull the curtain back and peer into the depth of God or the world he has made. I am challenged to live a heroic life and to push away the temptation toward sloth. All of this, and more, from reading!
This past year I read 43 books. Since June of 2009 I’ve been keeping a book log, recording for each book read the date completed, the title, author, and a one sentence summary. I’ve just finished my 300th book, after six years! Here are some of my favorites from this past year.
Best in Philosophy
- Metaphysics: The Fundamentals, By Rob Koons & Timothy Pickavance. An excellent introduction to the fundamental concepts in metaphysics.
- Philosophical Devices, by David Papineau. A survey of basic tools in set theory, number theory, probability, and logic.
- Idealism and Christian Philosophy, eds. Steve Cowan & James Spiegel. A defense of the explanatory power of Berkeleyan Idealism in philosophy.
Honorable Mention: Omnisubjectivity, by Linda Zagzebski; Returning to Reality, by Paul Tyson; Our idea of God, by Thomas Morris; The Soul of the World, by Roger Scruton; A Brief History of Thought, by Luc Ferry.
Best in Apologetics/Theology
- Our Deepest Desires, by Greg Ganssle (forthcoming in 2017, IVP). A tightly argued essay showing that the Christian story satisfies our deepest longings.
- How to Survive the Apocalypse, by Robert Joustra & Allisa Wilkinson. An exploration of how dystopian stories reveal our secular pathologies.
- You are what you love, by James K. A. Smith. Your loves determine your character and your destiny.
- Answering Jihad, by Nabeel Qureshi. A tightly argued book: we should tell the truth about Islam’s inherent violence and love Muslim’s with the compassion of Jesus.
Honorable Mention: Saving Leonardo, by Nancy Pearcey; Joy-based Apologetics, by Joel Puckett; How (not) to be Secular, by James K. A. Smith; Desiring the Kingdom, by James K. A. Smith; Imagining the Kingdom, by James K. A. Smith; Imagine Heaven, by John Burke; Heaven, by Peter Kreeft; Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, by J. Warner Wallace, An Experiment in Criticism, by C. S. Lewis.
Best in Fiction
- Silence, by Shusaku Endo. A heart-wrenching tale of Portuguese missionaries to Japan and the pressure to apostatize to end the suffering of those who they came to reach for Christ.
- Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. A moving story of John Ames, writing to his son as he contemplates his own death.
- Henry von Ofterdingen, by Novalis. A story of longing, love, and youth—and the longing for the mythic blue flower.
- Octavian Nothing, by M. T. Anderson. A story of an African American slave in the revolutionary war time, educated at the school of philosophy.
Honorable Mention: The Coffee Trader, by David Liss; Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Defending Jacob, by William Landay; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J. K. Rowling.
Best in Non-fiction
- The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. The inspiring story of Joe Rantz and the 1936 gold-medal race in rowing.
- In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides. The story of the treacherous expedition to the North Pole in the late 1800s.
- The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. The story of how the Ten Boom’s hid Jews during WW2 in Holland and suffered as a result.
Best in Devotional Reading
- My Bright Abyss, by Christian Wiman. A poet struggles win death, doubt, and finding God in life.
- Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton. A nice study of how to cultivate spiritual discipline.
I’d recommend any of these to you if you are looking to grow intellectually, spiritually, and morally in the new year. So, why not join me in 2017 and commit to the reading of books? I’d love to hear some of your favorites from this past year—feel free to add them in the comment section below.
For my favorite books from 2015 click here.
For my favorite books from 2014 click here.
For my favorite books from 2013 click here.
For my favorite books from 2012 click here.
 C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 141.