Best Christian Books of 2015

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In introducing my ‘Best Christian books of 2015’, I have to add a huge caveat: in selecting the best ones, I was not only looking for excellent writing and insightful content, but I was particularly looking for books that would ideally suit the readership of my blog – i.e. books on the particular topics I cover here: the spirituality of suffering, doubt, relating to God in hard times, chronic illness, social justice and others. I had to exclude a number of really excellent books because they just don’t cover the topics on this blog. So if your favourite book of 2015 isn’t covered here, it’s probably because a) it doesn’t really cover these topics or b) I haven’t read it!

If you’re looking for some last-minute Christmas-present ideas, here they are, the best 11 books (for this blog community) in no particular order:

 

Embracing The body Tara Owens

  • Embracing the Body – Tara M Owens. This is an elegantly-written book exploring the theology of the body, and how our body can help us connect with God. Amongst my friends, this is the book that people have been talking about, recommending, passing to friends. It’s a game-changer. I would recommend this to anyone who has a mixed relationship with their body, including those with chronic illness. It’s one to read slowly, engage with the creative exercises, and savour the stories and paradigm-shifting theology. Get it for $12.58 from Amazon.com, £11.29 from Amazon.co.uk

 

Wearing God Lauren Winner

  • Wearing God – Lauren F Winner. I loved the premise for this book: a thoughtful exploration of the lesser-used biblical metaphors for God. We are so used to seeing God as ‘shepherd’, ‘king’, ‘light’ – but what about those other, more neglected but equally biblical metaphors? What does it mean for us to see God as our clothing (think ‘clothe yourself with Christ?’) Like Tara Owens, Lauren Winner is that rare species who combines beautiful writing with razor-sharp theology, so that the thoughtful observations are easily absorbed. This made me see God afresh and I absolutely loved it. Get it in hardback and keep forever. Get it for $18.10 (HB) or $12.23 (PB) from Amazon.com, £14.99 (Hardback) or £4.99 (kindle) from Amazon.co.uk

 

Searching for Sunday Rachel Held Evans

  • Searching for Sunday – Rachel Held Evans. Part memoir, part-reflection, part-essay, this is a beautiful, vulnerable book about finding church again when you feel like you’ve lost it. This is a book for those who’ve grown up in the church, but are now questioning their faith, or considering walking away from the church altogether. Rachel Held Evans doesn’t try to ‘fix’ her reader, but invites people to walk with her awhile, which is why, to me, it felt like sanctuary. I wholeheartedly recommend Searching for Sunday: beautiful, insightful and funny, this book will be a healing balm to many who doubt. Get it for $10.69 from Amazon.com, £10.99 from Amazon.co.uk

Night Cycles Beth Morey

  • Night Cycles – Beth Morey. In this collection of poems, Beth Morey perfectly and beautifully articulates the emotions that accompany a dark night of the soul. Raw, evocative, powerful, and (what I most appreciate in a poetry collection) intelligible rather than obscure – I thoroughly recommend this book of beautiful words. Get it for $7.99 or kindle $1.49 from Amazon.com, £6.00 or kindle £0.99 from Amazon.co.uk

 

Wild in the Hollow Amber Haines

  • Wild in the Hollow – Amber Haines. This is a beautiful, lyrical memoir about finding God in brokenness, and searching for a home. In some senses her story is a classic one (lost girl finds God, tries to be good, fails, finds God again), but it is the poetry of the writing, the depth of the truths, and the Spirit-filled energy that makes this a classic. Get it for $12.15 (hardback) from Amazon.com, £10.99 from Amazon.co.uk

 

Coming clean seth haines

  • Coming Clean – Seth Haines. This is a stunningly written, theologically rich, compellingly told memoir of a journey from alcoholism to sobriety, and from anger with God at unanswered prayer to a surrender to mystery.  What Seth Haines does superbly is deal with big questions of miraculous healing, what happens when prayers for healing go unanswered, and what it is like to live, suspended, in a state of chronic suffering. This is not just a book for those struggling with addiction, but for anyone who has ever struggled with unanswered prayer or a request for healing that was never answered. Get it for $11.72 from Amazon.com, £10.49 from Amazon.co.uk

 

nonviolent action ronald j sider

  • Nonviolent Action: What Christian ethics demands but most Christians have never really tried – Ronald J Sider. This is a fascinating, inspiring and engaging book by the author of ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’ on the history of non-violent action in the twentieth century onwards. His analysis is thoughtful rather than sensational – he’s not afraid to outline the limitations of nonviolent action – but its his ability to tell a story so well that makes this book so readable. At the end, he makes a case for Christians – both pacifists and Just War Christians – to engage seriously with non-violent action, and I found myself wanting to discuss this book with everyone I saw. Get it for $17.48 from Amazon.com, £12.08 from Amazon.co.uk or £8.43 from Wordery (UK)

 

Outside In Cindy Brandt

  • Outside In: 10 Christian Voices We Can’t Ignore – Cindy Brandt. I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent, thoughtful book on the voices that are so often excluded from church for being ‘too doubtful, too sad, too old, or too disabled etc’. The whole book is full of great quotes and insight. Get it for FREE from her website.

 

Out of Sorts Sarah Bessey

  • Out of Sorts – Sarah Bessey. If you are in a wilderness of a faith crisis, and wondering where you belong, this book acts as a sort of a pit stop – not so much a map for the way out as it is a companion for the journey. Not exactly a theology book or a straight memoir, it is as if someone is sitting beside you, chatting to you over a cup of tea, sometimes telling her own story, sometimes offering theology, sometimes just describing how you’re feeling, and sometimes praying with you and for you. Get it for $9.97 from Amazon.com, £9.99 from Amazon.co.uk

 

Pray Write Grow

  • Pray, Write, Grow – Ed Cyzewski. In the first chapter he says this: “If you want to improve your prayer life, try writing. If you want to improve your writing life, try praying.” The rest of the book explores how both of these things can be spiritual disciplines and how they combine to make us more whole and healthy. It’s engaging, encouraging, and easy to read, and I wore out my highlighter with all the memorable quotes. Get it for $6.99 from Amazon.com, £3.99 from Amazon.co.uk

 

Just Show up Jill Lynn Buteyn

  • Just Show Up – Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. Written by terminal cancer sufferer Kara, and her friend Jill Lynn, this is about how friends and family can support people going through suffering. The reason this gets on the list is not so much for the writing, but for the sheer usefulness of this book – I can’t think of another like it. It is short, easy to read, and especially useful for its practical tips of how to offer help when someone is suffering. As someone who has been a recipient of help, I found myself nodding at all the suggestions with a hearty amen. Get it for $7.99 from Amazon.com, £9.99 from Amazon.co.uk

 

[And… of course, I ought to cheekily mention my own little book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty, which intertwines my own story with the biblical book of Ruth, offering a path back to God after disappointment and loss. You can get it for FREE here as a pdf or kindle file, or in paperback for £3.99 from Amazon.co.uk or $5.50 from Amazon.com.]

Over to you:

  • What were your favourite Christian books of 2015? (coming tomorrow – Best fiction of 2015).

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click through to Amazon.co.uk  Wordery.com or Amazon.com from this site and buy absolutely anything in the worldyou help this site, at no extra cost to you. I received a free advanced copy of some of the books above in exchange for my honest review, which these all are. 

15 Responses to Best Christian Books of 2015

  1. Elizabeth Bridcut 26th December, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    My favourite Christian book from 2015 was “The Life You Never Expected” by Andrew and Rachel Wilson, I am currently reading it for the second time together with a friend. I feel confident that if it didn’t feature on your list you must not have read it!!!! If you google the title you can find sample chapters on the ‘think theology’ blog for which Andrew Wilson writes. I can heartily recommend the book and it definitely fits the brief of your blog. Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth Bridcut 26th December, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

      oops – sorry for posting twice – I got a message the first time which made me think the first posting hadn’t worked!!!!

  2. Elizabeth Bridcut 26th December, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    This was my favourite Christian book from 2015 and I feel confident that if it didn’t feature on your list you must not have read it!!!! I can heartily recommend it and it definitely fits the brief of your blog. Elizabeth

    http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/the_life_you_never_expected

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. Thank you for this – it looks like it really does fit the brief of my blog! I shall have to check it out!

  3. christina 16th December, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    Thanks Tanya for introducing this books. I just ordered pray,write,grow… sounds really good. (and because of you blog I`ve read this year the fantastic book from Tara Owens).
    One of my best books this year: accidential saints – Nadja Bolz Weber. I just love her honesty and her offensive understanding about grace… and there are some good german books- but it won`t really help if I mention them:-).
    Love! And a wonderful christmastime to you and your family!!!
    christina recently posted…Selig die Ausgebrannten.My Profile

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 11:57 am #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I always get really excited when I see people from other countries reading my work! I really enjoyed both of those books – and I’m so glad to have introduced you to Tara Owens’ work!

  4. Rebecka 16th December, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    Well, I want to read all of these and I really wish I had more energy to read! Actually, I am currently (slowly) reading Embracing the Body and I really like what I’ve read so far.

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. It’s like a really good meaty meal, isn’t it?

  5. Liz Eph 16th December, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    I thought I should just mention that I bought and read Wearing God earlier in the year on your reccomendation. I really enjoyed most of it. However she adds a rather odd PS at the end in which she quotes some passages in the Old Testament where she reads God to be an abuser where as in fact if you read carefully it’s the other way round and he’s the abused who pushed to his utter limits finally reacts. Far from not understanding her women’s prison friends, he understands more than any. I was rather shocked at a theological mistake with such serious implications for these poor women’s image of God.

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 11:56 am #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. I’m glad that you enjoyed most of Wearing God. I can definitely see why you would have had a problem with that section of the book. I think the thing with the Ezekiel passages is that, for those who have been in abusive relationships, they may well read that passage and see God as an abuser. My lecturer on Ezekiel at college made a similar point – because it does use some shocking imagery of what God is doing. It is helpful to remember that it is a metaphor, but still some find it problematic. As someone who hasn’t been abused, I am not too bothered by the Ezekiel passage, but I do respect those who, because of their history and experiences, really struggle with those kinds of passages, and benefit greatly from people like Lauren Winner validating their reaction and pointing to other clarifying passages in the Bible which explain what God thinks of abuse. I hope that makes sense.

      • Liz Eph 24th February, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

        absolutely, it does make sense, but the way i read the whole is that it’s not the woman who’s being abused in this situation. he should have had her stoned years back but he keeps on putting up with it. codependency ? devotion ? yes he drags her out in the end but exposes her only to …; people she’s already exposed herself to. yes i don’t like the image of her being raped by her old lovers any more than anyone does but i think it’s a very vivid picture of how god feels about israel – they’ve been abusers of him and adulterous with “the nations” and he’s handing her over to the people she already chose. the other image is the one of them being bullies to those weaker than them so they’re finally, as a last resort, because they won’t listen to hundreds of years of warnings, being handed over to bigger bullies to teach them a lesson.

        the women in prison are those who’ve finally taken justice into their own hands because they were the victims. i think with proper exegesis of this passage it could really help them understand that even god sees himself as being pushed to the very limits of coping too by the abusive behaviour towards him. there comes a point where you don’t have to be a doormat in the face of absolutely all behaviour, and church leaders who send people back to abusive partners are expecting something of their congregation that god didn’t even expect of himself !!

  6. Ed Cyzewski 16th December, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    Thanks for the mention Tanya! I can’t recall if I read enough current books in 2015 to make a list, but if i did read any new books this year, most were on this list already. Although I’m biased for Outside In since I helped with some edits on it. 😉
    Ed Cyzewski recently posted…Can Parents Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry from Their Lives?My Profile

    • Tanya 24th February, 2016 at 11:52 am #

      So sorry for my delay in replying. You’re always so good at editing! I was really impressed by Outside In.

      • ed cyzewski 24th February, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

        You mean the sight of my comment didn’t prompt you to leap from your bed in order to reply immediately??? 😉

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