Ten of My Favorite Books From 2015

Each year I keep a list of the books I’ve read. I don’t let myself write the title in my journal until I’ve actually finished the book, which is good motivation if I’m puttering along. I love lists and checking things off.

This year I completed 37 books, which is more than I have in a long time. I had more time, since I was recovering from the accident, and for many months I couldn’t drive. The first few months I couldn’t concentrate well enough to read, but that improved as time passed.  In contrast, I listed 20 books in 2014, which is a reflection of how much busier life was.

Below are ten of my favorites for 2015. I’ve included the Amazon description followed by a few of my thoughts on each one.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

81HyjrK4Q3L Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose

“The True Story of One Woman’s Triumph of Faith

Newlywed American missionary Darlene Deibler Rose survived four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp set deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Thinking she was never to see her husband again, Darlene Rose was forced to sign a false confession and face the executioner’s sword, only to be miraculously spared.”

 

 

 

My thoughts: This book was given to me by a friend just two months after the accident. At that time, I wasn’t ready to read books on grief – I just couldn’t. But reading a true account of the faith of Darlene Rose encouraged my spirit, gave me hope, and was exactly what I needed.

51+UtMMPNsL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_ The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

“Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.”

My thoughts: This year I needed a break from the deep weight of sorrow and physical pain. Fiction was a healthy escape and gave me relief when I needed it. This story pulled me in, giving me a glimpse into a unique time in history. It wasn’t until the end that I realized the book is based on real people and true events.

418Cuu5QbNL A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller

“Author Paul Miller shares his insights and conclusions about how to connect the broken pieces of your life and allow prayer—even poorly delivered—to fill the gaps with meaning and substance.

Miller’s down-to-earth approach and practical nature will help you see that your relationship with God can grow and your communication with Him can get better.

Parents will find Miller’s family-life experiences especially helpful.”

 

 

My thoughts: Amazon’s description doesn’t begin to touch on the depth of this book or the encouragement I found in it. I read non-fiction with a pencil in my hand in order to underline, make notes, etc. I borrowed a copy from a friend and found myself constantly wishing I could mark up the book. As soon as I finished the book, I ordered my own copy and plan to read it again this year.

81TRTuHJSnL All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts: The Audible version of this book was a gift from a friend.  I listened as I drove, took walks, and worked in the house. A great, engrossing story and another experience of learning about historical events. This is a beautiful book written by an Idaho author – and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

 

 

51BSmWLWbZL Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin de Becker

“All parents face the same challenges when it comes to their children’s safety: whom to trust, whom to distrust, what to believe, what to doubt, what to fear, and what not to fear. In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the nation’s leading expert on predicting violent behavior and author of the monumental bestseller The Gift of Fear, offers practical new steps to enhance children’s safety at every age level, giving you the tools you need to allow your kids freedom without losing sleep yourself. With daring and compassion, he shatters the widely held myths about danger and safety and helps parents find some certainty about life’s highest-stakes questions.”

 

My Thoughts: This book grabbed me and didn’t let go. After 28 years of parenting, I learned that I’ve been giving my children the wrong instructions about how to find help when lost in a store. I also gained helpful information for teaching my children to be safe in relationships with friends, and with adults. Great stuff. I plan to read The Gift of Fear next.

711WBU9Yz1L Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

“Young Reuben Land has little doubt that miracles happen all around us, suspecting that his own father is touched by God. When his older brother flees a controversial murder charge, Reuben, along with his older sister and father, set off on a journey that will take them to the Badlands and through a landscape more extraordinary than they could have anticipated. Enger’s novel is at once a heroic quest and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.”

 

 

 

My Thoughts: It’s a rare book that I love enough to read more than once. Years ago, Russ and I read this aloud and we still remember particular descriptions and phrases. My book group read it this year, and once again, I loved it.

51zfCkoz+2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming

“Do you ever wonder what your future holds? As ministry leader Jean Fleming began pondering how she could serve God with more purpose, she created Pursue the Intentional Life, a book that will help you discover how God’s promises and instructions contain just what you need for the unknown days ahead. Whether you are facing the end of something in your life, or embarking on a new beginning, this book will help you live meaningfully and intentionally in the present while preparing well for the future.”

 

 

My Thoughts: Another gift from a friend, this book made me consider my life and how to best use it for God. Our years on this earth are a gift, and they are limited. How do we want to spend them?

 

51Yej2RGbIL Still Alice by Lisa Genova

“Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.”

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts: Once again, fiction gave me a glimpse into the mind of another person, this time a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Initially I feared the book would be too unsettling, especially given the year I was having, but that wasn’t the case. This is a very interesting and insightful book.

51F8CUfhimL Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

“The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.”

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts: This is one of the best books I read to the kids last year; I’m resisting the urge to list more since this is really about my books and not theirs. I am thoroughly enjoying reading the Narnia series aloud again and finished The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before Christmas.

 

51H8x07Fd7L The Life-Changing  Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

“Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever…

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.”

 

My Thoughts: While some of her ideas are a bit kooky, I gained new tools for decluttering and organizing that are proving to be helpful. I have some serious decluttering goals for the year and I am glad to have a little push in the right direction.

 

2016 is beginning with books on grief, spiritual growth, productivity, and more fiction. I’ll be sure to share favorites with you.

What were your favorite books of 2015? Please share with us; I always want recommendations!

Lisa

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

 

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

17 Comments

  1. Luann Yarrow Doman
    January 14, 2016

    I read "Peace Like a River" many years ago. I should re-read it! I also want to try "All the Light." I started it, but it didn't immediately pull me in. I need to give it another try.
    My favorite fiction book from this past year is Lisa See's "Dreams of Joy." I love all her books, but this one is particularly interesting. If you like historical fiction, I think you'd enjoy it.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 14, 2016

      Luann, thanks for the recommendation. Good fiction can be hard to find and I hate to waste time on books that aren't really good.

      Reply
    2. worththewait4you
      January 14, 2016

      I couldn't get into "All the Light" either. Lisa's post is convincing me to give it another try.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        January 14, 2016

        I actually listened to it rather than read it; I wonder if that format might be a good option? Unfortunately, Audibles are expensive!

        Reply
  2. worththewait4you
    January 14, 2016

    These are great suggestions! I'm going to look into some of them! My favorites from 2015 were A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker (totally different genre than his other books), Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. For homeschool mama encouragement, I gleaned a lot from Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. I used to keep track of the books I've read on a Word document but several years ago, I discovered Good Reads and haven't looked back. Thanks for sharing. Blessings! (Rachel Nystrand)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 14, 2016

      Russ just listened to Nightingale on Audible and loved it. I can't wait.

      Reply
  3. Mary Andrews
    January 14, 2016

    I agree with "worththewait4you". If you liked All The Light You Cannot See, be sure to read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Love Mom

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 14, 2016

      Thanks, Mom.

      Reply
  4. Melissa
    January 14, 2016

    Everyday Church by Tim Chester– a really good look at how the church operates in a post-church-centered culture. Really made me re-examine how I engage with the church and the world.

    For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, because she always makes me laugh and gets me fired up at the same time.

    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe- favorite fiction I read this year.

    The Space Trilogy by CS Lewis- favorite reread of the year.

    Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire- I love memoirs and this one is beautifully written and really fascinating. About a boy who was part of Cuba's policy of evacuating children to the US during the revolution. Definitely a bit crude and difficult in parts but very honest, interesting writing.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 14, 2016

      Thanks for the recommendations, Melissa. I read The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg this year and really enjoyed it. If you like Fried Green Tomatoes, you should give it a try.

      Reply
  5. Blessed
    January 15, 2016

    I eagerly went to look up a lot of these at my local library–"All the Light We Cannot See" being at the top of the list since we are studying WWI and WWII in our homeschool this spring! Alas, there are 22 holds for the book! But your description makes me think it may be worth buying–so thank you for the recommendation!

    My favorite books I discovered this past year are the Horatio Hornblower books. The first book was written in 1937, and the books influenced famous figures from Ernest Hemingway to Winston Churchhill. The main character is like a more swashbuckling Mr. Bowditch. The books are full of ship description and sailing terms and war–not at all my usual fare, but I could not put them down. I loved the character, I loved the writing. So, if you are up for something entirely different, I highly recommend them! : ) http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Midshipman-Hornblower-Sa

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 15, 2016

      I've heard good things about those books – maybe we'll read one aloud to the boys. What ages do you think would enjoy them?

      Reply
      1. Blessed
        January 20, 2016

        I think any kid old enough to listen to a story would enjoy them. The book I linked, which I recommend reading first, has some dark parts at the beginning, which really surprised me for the time in which it was written. The main character is being verbally and emotionally abused while he is a teen and gets in such despair he even considers ending his life. But then he has a life turning and things just explode with action and all kinds of victory for him as the book goes on. I confess while I knew you might think of the kids, I didn't read it to mine–I read it for me! It was not an easy year for me, and those books became my happy place. : )

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          January 20, 2016

          Thanks for more details. I've heard of these over the years and never read them. I bet Russ would like them too.

          Reply
  6. khthorn
    January 16, 2016

    Although it's not a happy book, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is excellent. Would be a great book for a book club, because she raises many different interesting issues. I also enjoyed Station Eleven and The Martian. An excellent non-fiction book I'm recommending to anyone who will listen is Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. SO so good for any person concerned by the issue of race in the US.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 16, 2016

      Wow – so many great suggestions. Thank you!

      Reply
  7. Tina Greenwood
    February 8, 2016

    I would recommend Tara's Halls by Tom Gallagher.
    A beautiful memoir of an inspirational life journey that sees Gallagher step out of poverty in a large, farming family in Ireland to working international finance in America. It shares some similar themes to Frank McCourt's writing with a deeply personal tone that makes it just impossible to put down once you start reading.
    I strongly recommend checking out some of the reviews for this one.
    http://thegallagherplace.us

    Reply

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