If you’re like me, you want to jump straight to the list! A few disclaimers, I’ve just included books I read for the first time in 2015. And second, I’m sorry (but not really), I’m a non-fiction nut!!! The new-to-me fiction this year was okay, but not list worthy. So, fiction nuts, we need your recommendations in the comments! If you missed my list last year, here’s 9 Books I Loved in 2014Finally you’ll notice I read at least three of these books because you emailed me and said, “Amy you must get this books!”  I take you at your word and did. Keep ’em coming!

10 books I loved 2015

Red Bird (Small)Gift of the Red Bird: The Story of a Divine Encounter by Paula D’Arcy—Kimberly Todd recommended this book. While pregnant with their second child, Paula and her husband were hit by a drunk driver, killing her husband and child. In this spiritual memoir, Paula chronicles the spiritual lessons of the next twenty years. A key lesson is that she is loved by God simply because she is . . . not because of anything she does. A message many in this line of work need to hear repeatedly to counteract other messages we hear.

Amazing Grace (Small)Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas—I like Metaxas’ writing style and vast vocabulary. Probably many of you are familiar with the basics of Wilberforce as he was instrumental in ending the slave trade in the United Kingdom. He wrestled with himself whether as a Christian he’d be better suited to be a clergyman or a politician. Wilberforce believed “God almighty has set before me two great objectives: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” (Manners here refers to “habits” or “attitudes” he wished to bring civility and self-respect into a society that had long since spiraled into vice and misery. This is why I love history: Life isn’t as bad as we think now and a person can make a difference for the good of society.

Thanks for the Feedback (Small)Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone  and Sheila Heen—I saw this book at the library and am so grateful for “impulsive checking out.” In my notebook I wrote nine key lessons I gleaned and will share one here. In general, feedback falls into one of three categories: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Often we are disappointed by the feedback we receive is because it’s a mismatch; you might be looking for evaluation and instead are given appreciation. If you’re a supervisor, don’t mix up these three and be clear which you are giving. If you are receiving feedback and there is one particular area you want, be clear in asking for what kind of feedback you’d like. Isn’t that simple, but profound? And that’s just one gem.

Embracing the Body (Small)Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone by Tara M. Owens—In my notebook I wrote Tara helped me think more theologically about my body than I have been trained to do. I like what Amazon said, “Our bodies teach us about God, and God communicates to us through our bodies. Our bodies are more good than we can possibly imagine them to be. And yet at times we may struggle with feelings of shame and guilt or even pride in regard to our bodies. What is God trying to do through our skin and bones? In Embracing the Body spiritual director Tara Owens invites you to listen to your thoughts about your body in a way that draws you closer to God, calling you to explore how your spirituality is intimately tied to your physicality.”

My Life In France (Small)My Life in France by Julia Childs and Alex Prud’Homme—Who doesn’t love Julia Childs? I enjoy hearing how people (in this case Julia) become interested in a subject (in this case French cooking, making cooking shows, and writing cookbooks). While she didn’t convert me to liking French foods, I do wish I could have enjoyed a meal with Julia and hear some of her stories in person. Any other Julia fans out there? (If you haven’t read “Julie and Julia” don’t. It was an utter disappointment compared to the movie.)

Sticking Points (Small)Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart by Haydn Shaw—a fellow Velvet Ashian recommended this book to me (thanks Beth!), saying that every organization needs to read it. I agree! For the first time in history, four generations are in the workspace together (it had been three before). Shaw looks at each generation and what’s formed them, fascinating and helpful! He then explored 12 areas: communication, decision making, dress code, feedback, fun at work, knowledge transfer, loyalty, meetings, policies, respect, training, and work ethic. With each area he provides helpful ways to get unstuck. This book helped me understand myself and others around me better!

With (Small)With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani—my friend Hannah gave this to me! Yay for friends buying books. Jethani explains for possible ways people can relate to God: Life under God (sinner), Life over God (manager), Life from God (consumer), or Life for God (servant). Many in full time ministry struggle especially with “Life for God,” but what God really wants from us is life with Him. I found myself saying again and again as I read, “This is what I believe! But I couldn’t have said it as articulately.” Now I’ll just tell people to read this.

Wearing God (Small)Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren F. Winner—Lauren explores the idea of metaphor in the Bible. If you’re like me, you’ll finish this book asking yourself, “How can I be so familiar with something—the Bible—and yet have missed so much!” She writes on clothing, smell, bread and wine, laboring woman, laughter, flame, and the poverty of expression. Of especial interest to me was the chapter of God as a laboring woman and how unexpected and disturbing it is. I love, love, love metaphors and hope to write a series on modern metaphors and God.

Soul Keeping (Small)Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg—If I could buy one book for everyone in the whole world, it would be this one. Soul Keeping is now on my top 10 most significant books and is one to be read every year. If I really understood how important my soul is, I’d “keep” it better. This is what the soul needs: it’s in it’s nature to need, it needs a keeper, center, future, to be with God, rest, freedom, blessing, satisfaction, and gratitude. This will be a Velvet Ashes book club book some day!

Rising Strong (small)Rising Strong by Brené Brown—If you’re willing to risk at all, you will fall. This happens to all of us, the question is what do we do after we fall? Brené Brown illustrates the three step process with relatable and real examples, her ideas aren’t just for the laboratory, they are for the kitchen (or the living room, if you don’t tend to cook!). She calls the three parts the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution. While most people have the story, “I’m not enough,” I shared that mine is often “I’m too much.”

Whew! There are so many good books, aren’t there? And guess what, I just finished one I’d add to the list: Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home  by Amber Haines. Spectacular! It’s Velvet Ashes’ January book club book if you’d like to read it with a community. We’ll do four chapters a week and next Monday afternoon will be the first post. What did you read in 2015 that was a keeper? What are your reading goals for 2016?

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Categories: Book



Leave A Comment

  1. Jody Collins December 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Wonderful list…many of these I’ve heard of, many are new. I’ve read My Life in France… What a delight. Thanks for the new recommendations!

  2. Carolyn Stent January 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on the publication of your book, Amy! I’ve just purchased it on my Kindle and look forward to reading it.

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