Another year has passed, which means it’s time to look back at the books I read! This is the sixth year I’ve put together this list, and I love the feeling of history when I look back through past years. An index card serves as both my bookmark and a record of the books I’ve read, and I like to imagine my kids looking through a stack of these some day, to see what I read. These blog posts in turn are a record of which books I liked, new authors I discovered, and the influences I have as a writer.
So without further ado, here was my 2015 reading list:
- 2014–1/18: The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
- 1/25–2/24: Jupiter, by Ben Bova
- 2/24–3/3: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
- 3/5–3/13: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling
- 3/17–3/30: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
- 2014–5/6: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller
- 3/31–5/14: Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
- 5/18–6/14: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling
- 8/1–9/5: Holy is the Day, by Carolyn Weber
- 9/5–9/30: Runelords, by David Farland
- 9/30–11/15: The Inklings, by Humphrey Carpenter
- 11/15–11/21: Ancient Shores, by Jack McDevitt
- 11/22–12/24: Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb
- Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson (audiobook)
- Redshirts, by John Scalzi (audiobook)
The big thing I did this year was return to Harry Potter. Back in 2010, in a blog post about why I stopped reading the books, I said:
“But always that feeling creeps back in, that fascination, whispering and luring me into another world that distracts me from rather than encourages my walk with the Lord.”
That feeling would come back any time I’ve thought about reading the books since college, so I never picked them back up. Then early in 2015 I saw one at the store and thought about reading it. I was surprised to find that feeling wasn’t there and I excitedly dove in. The first four books were really enjoyable to read and I’m looking forward to the fifth. The feeling still hasn’t returned, but I’m paying close attention to how I feel while reading the books just in case. Maybe once I’ve finished the series I’ll do a follow-up to my previous post.
I read three new fiction authors this year: David Farland, Robin Hobb, and Ben Bova. All three were enjoyable, but I particularly liked the first two. David Farland’s Runelords was an awesome discovery after I attended sessions he taught at the Realm Makers writing conference. A lot of writing advice says to keep the story moving, but David was willing to pause and describe the world and what was going on. Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice has been on my to-read list for a while and it did not disappoint. She has a Dickensian style, rich and well described, and I really liked it.
Jack McDevitt remains my favorite sci-fi author (Ancient Shores only took me a week to read), and of course Brandon Sanderson is still the premiere fantasy author of our day. Words of Radiance was, like the first book in the series, a masterpiece.
Books in 2016
I started something new in 2015: I dedicated a part of my bookshelf as a to-read queue. Currently it holds more books by Ben Bova and Jack McDevitt, as well as a couple new authors like The Thousand Names by Django Wexler and Den of Thieves by David Chandler. I don’t know if I can finish Harry Potter this year, but Book 5 is on the shelf.
I would also like to read more history this year. In recent years I’ve fallen out of my plan to alternate between fiction, theology, and history, and I’d like to get back to that. Ones on my mind are Empire by Niall Ferguson, 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies, and Lost Cities of the Incas by Hiram Bingham.
The last thing I would like to do this year is reread some of my favorite authors. Craig Mod wrote in his fantastic essay about the value of physical books, “Future Reading“:
To read a book once is to know it in passing. To read it over and over is to become confidants. The relationship between a reader and a book is measured not in hours or minutes but, ideally, in months and years[…]
We are embedded in our libraries. To reread is to remember who we once were, which can be equal parts scary and intoxicating.
Craig reminded me that there have been a few authors who have impacted me, both on a writing level and who I am as a person. Stephen Lawhead is one who gave me a picture of Christ as King; Kenneth Oppel inspired me to dream of adventure and flying free in the clouds; Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker showed me how a story could be biblical without preaching. I want to go back to those books, some of which I’ve only read once, and see what it can teach me again.
So there you have it! I hope this gives you some ideas for what to read in 2016. If you have recommendations from your year of reading, please let me know!