Top 10 Books I Read in 2016

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One of my goals for 2016 was to read a book a week and to surpass the 50 book mark by the end of the calendar year. International adjustment over the last few years has slowed me down in some reading so I wanted 2016 to be different. On the advice of a friend, I gave audible a try this year and it went a long way to helping me cover more reading ground AND keep my sanity in Manila traffic!

In the past I did top 5 lists, but since I skipped 2015 and read so much this year I need to do at least a top 10.   There’s links for each book to my previous quick review – which is not a full blown review or summary, but a reflection on the value I found in the book

1.    Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf – A tremendous theology of both giving and forgiving.

2.  Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd – A challenging treatment of the Biblical teachings related to war, violence, and forgiveness with special treatment of modern evangelicalism.

3.    Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch – A powerful and simple framework for how image bearing and power impact community, ethics, and development. And I’m going to cheat a bit because this really is the 3rd book of what I see as a 3 part “image bearing” trilogy from Andy Crouch that I read in full this year I’m also including Playing God and Culture Making, which also rank high in the books I read this year.  I’d start with Culture Making, then read Playing God, and then read Strong and Weak which pulls the theology of image bearing into a theology and ethic for partnership in community.

4.   Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma – A challenging and convicting theology and apologetic for how the gospel includes the call to work for peace and justice in this broken world.

5.   Instruments in the Hands of the Redeemer by Paul Tripp – A Biblically grounded treatment of both basic Christian counseling and personal ministry. This offers an invaluable framework for thinking about how to see personal transformation on a heart level as well as how to come alongside others in discipleship, friendship, and more. This can function as a great textbook for some vital parts of discipleship. I also read How People Change by Tripp and Timothy Lane, which I also recommend that is a more in depth treatment of his sanctification model for change.

6.   The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – I’m going to cheat here too and include also Brown’s Daring Greatly.  It’s hard for me to separate and they both had a great impact on me this year. I chose The Gifts of Imperfection as the more significant book for me because of how it resonated with me personally, but Daring Greatly is the more well-known book via Brown’s popularity through TED talks.  They both focus on vulnerability, risk, shame, and other related themes that impact identity and relationships.

7.   Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – A long and meticulous breakdown of how often we deceive ourselves and make mistakes in decision making due to the way our brain works.  This has impacted how I approach strategic planning and big decision making now that I have categories and language for where I am vulnerable to making faulty assumptions in a given situation.

8.    The Call by Os Guinness – A month long journey, if taken a chapter a day, that focuses on vocation and calling in worship to God. So many of the small chapters ministered deeply and went straight to the heart.

9.  Switch by the Heath Brothers – An enjoyable and easy framework for thinking about how to lead towards change, both in terms of training, motivation, and environment. I’ve used the concepts in my strategic planning class and the principles have stayed in my mind – and retention for me means it’s highly useful!

10. The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures by Jayson Georges. This is a short book, but it really guided me through the Scriptures in relation to how to look at the Gospel through the eyes of different cultural systems and to see different ways that the Scriptures speak to the heart of different people groups. I’m teaching and working with people from all three of these backgrounds and maybe more if you count also the purity/defilement themes as a separate category. But this has helped me get more to the heart of the people I teach and mentor so the gospel is taking deeper root in their lives.

I read a lot of other books I really enjoyed. I’ll highlight Gary Burge’s Ancient Context, Ancient Faith series which cover Jesus as Storyteller, the Festivals, and other themes. I just loved the culturally informed studies into different parts of the Scriptures. There’s a dozen of other books that impacted me too – ranging from Malcolm Gladwell to Alfred Poirier’s The Peacemaking Pastor, which I haven’t reviewed yet, but found quite helpful even for non-pastors. It’s a sequel of sorts to Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker and Resolving Everyday Conflict and it covers some much needed additional ground.

If you want to scroll through more reviews of other books reviewed in 2016 you can go here to check out more if you’re looking for good books to read in 2017.

For past years I’m including a link to my last list (2013), which includes links to previous years. 2014 and 2015 was a black hole of low personal capacity so there are no lists yet for those years.


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