Best Reads of 2015: Part 1

Best Reads of 2015: Part 1

2015 was (is) a good reading year. I was able to return to a decent pace (i.e., pre-wedding planning pace). These are the top 5 of my personal best reads of 2015.


1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is a powerful account of Stevenson’s lifework in the criminal justice system. He represents those on death row, women, children, and the mentally disabled—those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to good defense. It is both a hard criticism to the criminal justice system, as well as a hopeful voice for change, for giving mercy a chance.


I’ve written a lot about this book—this one was the most impactful book this year for me.



2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read! And the best one in its genre—psychology and neuroscience—too, I think. Thinking deconstructs how we make judgment and how biases and heuristics influence—sometimes negatively—our decisions. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about his/her thoughts being coherent.





3. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario

Addario works in conflict regions of the world as a war photographer. This book is an impassioned account of her experiences—including 2 kidnappings—that she went through, her commitment to tell nuanced stories of war, and her reflections on the relationship between her work and life. She was a recipient of the “Genius Grant,” the MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.


Her photographs are absolutely stunning and provoking. Check them out here.



4. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal is Gawande’s reflection as a medical professional on mortality, a given fact of human life, and end of life care. His insights on how we do medical training are profound, how it often treats human lives and dying as technical problems instead of human problems. Consequently, doctors, while skillful in prescribing treatments for the elderly or terminally ill, are not as well-versed in talking patients through deeper life questions, such as what matters to them the most at the end of their lives. The most admirable part of the book for me is Gawande’s courage in exposing his own personal experience with his father—his end of life care and death—that encapsulates the essence of the rest of the book. I highly appreciate the message of this book!



5. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Nerdy and hilarious! You can’t have a better combination than that. Munroe, ex-NASA roboticist turned cartoonist, is exceptionally skilled at combining absurdity and science. In this book, he answers those ridiculous questions that we used to generate while we were kids—and as adults too—using physics and true principles. The result: something really awesome.


What were your best reads of 2015? Would love to hear your recommendations! List them out in the comments below.



Favorite Books Lists

2023: Best Books of 2023 Part 1

2022: Best Books of 2022 Part 1, Best Books of 2022 Part 2.

2021: Best Books of 2021 Part 1, Best Books of 2021 Part 2.

2020: Best Books of 2020 Part 1, Best Books of 2020 Part 2.

2019: Best Books of 2019 Part 1, Best Books of 2019 Part 2.

2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.

2017Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.

2016Best Books of 2016 Part 1Best Books of 2016 Part 2.

2015Best Books of 2015 Part 1Best Books of 2015 Part 2.


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2012: My Book List

Year in Review, part 2.

I did not quite hit the 50-book target in 2012, but I’m happy with 45. This is the filtered list of books I read, separated into four tiers, the first one being super-duper-highly recommended.books_stack

First tier

  • Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller
  • Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
  • The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Second tier

  • The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
  • Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas
  • Can Intervention Work? by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus
  • Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke
  • The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Third tier

  • Graffiti in the Holy of Holies by Clifford Goldstein
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
  • Welfare Ministry by Ellen White
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Fourth tier

  • The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley
  • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
  • A Praying Life by Paul A. Miller
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Book List: My Top 20

Book List: My Top 20

My favorite books, in no particular order. May change in the future.

  1. Education by Ellen White*
  2. The Places in Between by Rory Stewart*
  3. The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel*
  4. Man Is Not Alone by Abraham Joshua Heschel*
  5. God, Gödel, and Grace by Clifford Goldstein*
  6. The Remnant by Clifford Goldstein
  7. The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons*
  8. The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe*
  9. The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
  10. Knowing God by J. I. Packer
  11. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  12. Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
  13. No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice
  14. Lessons on Faith by A.T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner*
  15. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey
  16. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes*
  17. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
  18. The Spirit of Sacrifice & Commitment – Experiences of Seventh-day Adventist Pioneers by James R. Nix*
  19. The Desire of Ages by Ellen White*
  20. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

(* – very very highly recommended)