Best of 2016 – The books

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After a couple of years of floundering in my reading, I finally was able to right the ship in 2016 and get back to reading really great books.

I have even bigger reading plans for 2017. My Goodreads challenge is to read 50 books, but I’m hopeful it might be more.

Here are my ten favorite books that I read for the first time in 2016, listed in no particular order.

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Best of 2014 – The books

Normally I am a steadily prolific (bordering on voracious) reader. However, in 2014 I entered a frustratingly unfamiliar head space as I found myself with either too little time or too little energy to devote much to reading. I was doing well most days to read some passages out of the Scriptures and that was about it. Our family had a lot going on with a baby who wouldn’t sleep, some heavy decisions to make on a house whose foundation was crumbling, and a few other challenges. Sometimes seasons in life are that way so you keep calm and carry on. One of my resolutions in 2015 is to turn my reading drought around.

That’s not to say that I read only the funny papers and the back of cereal boxes in 2014. Here are a few things that caught my reading fancy during the past year.

The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
I was very late in coming to Lewis’ trilogy, but I’m so glad to have discovered it. Lewis’ description of life within the National Institute of Co-Ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.) offers a chilling foreshadowing of life under our current United States federal government.

Live Like a Narnian – Joe Rigney
I thought I loved I loved Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles before. Then I read Rigney’s book and went further up and further into my love for Lewis’ books.

A Small Cup of Light: A Drink in the Desert – Ben Palpant
A paradigm changing book that all Christians should read. Palpant was a college professor that, in the period of a few short weeks, went from perfect health to a massive health collapse that crippled many of his faculties nearly overnight. How does one respond when the unthinkable happens? Does one respond like Job with “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” Or does one respond like Job’s wife in saying, “Curse God and die.” Palpant works through many of those issues in his little book.

Imitating God in Christ – Jason Hood
Imitation of Jesus is the highest form of adoration. This book teaches us how. An amazing, humbling read. Hopefully will be a paradigm shifter for many folks.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself – Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Part of “imitating Jesus” is in caring for the orphan, widow, sick, poor, and disenfranchised. Many Christians either ignore outright the many commands to do such things, or they absolutize them and make “social justice” the sine qua non of the Christian life. This book provides a powerful middle way to accomplish what Jesus commanded without falling into all sorts of strangeness.

The Audacity of Hops – Tom Acitelli
You just knew I would have a book about beer on this list, right? Acitelli’s book is densely packed history of the post-1965 renaissance of craft beer in America.

The Craft Beer Revolution – Steve Hindy
You just knew I would have a second book about beer on this list, right? Hindy (who is the founder of Brooklyn Brewery) has written a book that provides a wonderful adjunct to Acitelli’s tome. Hindy’s stories and anecdotes about Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch are worth the price of the book alone.

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style – Nelson George
Since coming back to the bass from the guitar, I have rediscovered and rekindled my love of funk, R&B, and even good disco. Yes, disco. Don’t hate. I was always a huge fan of Midnight Special when I was a kid but I also loved Soul Train on Saturday mornings. This book offers fascinating insights into black culture in the 1970s and just how much racism drove Don Cornelius to create Soul Train.

The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991 – George Cole
In a Silent Way was the first Miles disc I ever owned. Decoy was the second. It was only after I had thoroughly devoured those discs that I went back to things like Kind of Blue, Round About Midnight, and Birth of the Cool. I’ve always had a deep affinity for Miles’ fusion period. Most of the current jazz intelligentsia (Wynton, Stanley Crouch, Ken Burns) loathe fusion and Miles’ fusion period in particular. Author George Cole loves that period of Miles’ music, takes the music seriously, and interacts with it with great care. The interviews materials with so many of Miles’ former bandmates and producers makes this a priceless Miles resource.