After curling up with dozens of books this year, here's my own personal game-changing choices. These thoughtful authors would make fine traveling companions on your journey in 2016. If you're ready to ponder, savor, question, and somehow integrate what you're reading into your life, here's what I'm recommending. And a good classic novel, too!
Deepest Soul Searcher
Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference - Yancey
Yancey reflectively sits with the hard questions of the impact of prayer on suffering and evil. He doesn't lob Scripture at you, he doesn't preach, and he tosses no pat answers your way. His own yearning, failures, doubt, and joy all mix together and provide you with a kindred spirit guide for your own journey of faith.
Give yourself plenty of grace and space to savor his gentle, hope-fueled wisdom ... this book will sit on your nightstand for awhile. And that's a very good thing.
Best Small Group Conversation Starter
Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity - Hatmaker
When it comes to the future ministry of your church, if you're looking for a jumpstart into some heavy-duty considerations, this is the book for you. And even though the subject is deep, Hatmaker's writing style is light and conversational and fun.
When all is said and done, here's one woman in ministry's compelling invitation to dare to toss business as usual to the side, step out of our worn comfort zones, and figure out where we need to go next. Good stuff.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End - Gawade
Sooner or later, we've all got to face soul-searching questions about the end of our lives and how we want to be cared for. I say let's do it sooner rather than later. Why wait til your family's marking time over your hospital bed, frantically trying to figure out what your truest wishes would have been?
Today's tremendous medical advances make our choices more incredibly complex than ever. So Dr. Gawade asks these kind of questions - What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes? What are your biggest fears and concerns? What goals are most important to you? What trade offs are you willing to make, and what ones are you not?
Bottom line? As maudlin as it may sound, every family should read and talk through this book ... before the need arises.
Best Classic Novel
The Shell Seekers - Pilcher
By the end of the first page, I was hooked. I'm partial to huge tomes, those gigantic sagas and complex stories that span the generations.
Set in the English countryside and by the sea, spanning three generations, this is the subtly stormy saga of Penelope and her family. Throw some priceless artwork and a variety of interesting characters into the mix, and this novel makes for some fascinating reading.
At a time when I needed it most, this huge book was a wonderful escape, a splendid piece of fiction.
Most Helpful Homekeeping Tool
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Kondo
Because I'm still hip deep in unpacking and tossing and organizing all those extra post-move belongings that still don't have a space, I love Kondo's emphasis on gathering ALL of one category at a time ... and the subtle distinction to joyfully claim what we want to keep, instead of simply focusing on what to get rid of.
And I fully embrace that 'a dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective.' Ain't that the truth.
This book's message continues to impact me right where I live. Literally.
What's your favorite book of 2015?