Top Reads of 2016

Old books

It’s time for an annual tradition here at The Prodigal Thought. I’m listing my top reads of the year for 2016. Some of these books I have reviewed; some of them I’ve simply posted an article on particular points that struck me from the book. Either way, I have left links to read more of my thoughts on the books.

The list comes in no particular order.

1. How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help Is on the Way and Love Is Already Here by Jonathan Martin. Part of the beauty of the book is its honesty and authenticity. We learn best from those who have walked through life, especially as they share about their own pains and shipwrecks. This book particularly meant much to me because of a sort of “shipwreck” I walked through in my own life. I write about this in my new book, Change for the First Time, Again. I also reviewed Martin’s book on my blog.

2. Prophetic Dialogue: Reflections on Christian Mission Today by Stephen Bevans and Roger Schroeder. As I said in my review of the book, this has been one of the best books on mission that I have ever read! It is spot on in considering many of the missional practices needed in our world today. The ultimate thesis of the book is that mission should be walked out as prophetic dialogue, meaning it must embrace both sides of the mission coin, being prophetic and dialogical.

3. Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help our Neighborhoods and Churches Flourish by Christopher Smith. In the book, Smith advocates that the church is to be a sort of “learning organization,” and this learning can come through the practice of reading. Reading together is a way to help interpret Scripture and embody Christ in our world today. I share more on the book here.

4. The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs by Peter Enns. The book serves sort of as a “part 2” to his previous release, The Bible Tells Me So. The thrust of the book is this: certainty is sinful. More importantly, our preoccupation with correct thinking overrides our ability to trust God. Remember, this comes from a man who has a PhD and has been teaching biblical studies for decades. So there is no anti-intellectualism present. You can check out my review of the book.

5. Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change by Paul Hiebert. This work emphasizes not so much the what of the worldviews people hold, but rather how people have come to hold the worldview they hold. Spending time with, listening and learning about the intricacies of others, reveling in their stories, observing life that’s different from your own perspective, this is much more effective in truly understanding other people. I share a few thoughts on the book in this post.

6. Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Richard Rohr. This was my first time to dive into Rohr’s works and I appreciated it much. It was a cool glass of water, some very steadying thoughts centered around spiritual formation. I posted one short article on the topic of violence that Rohr addressed in the book.

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. The new work is interesting, particularly because it’s written as a screenplay. I honestly don’t know if a screenplay is the best way to present a novel, as the usual John or Jane (like I) does not read screenplays – they are usually read by actors and actresses, right? Because of my unfamiliarity with reading a screenplay layout, the book felt somewhat herky-jerky with its start and stop reading. So, screenplay may be the new hip thing for authors (is it?), but for me it detracts from the storyline nature of the book. Having said that, after a few chapters, I was able to read through the book with relative ease and I loved the storyline. Here’s my review. On a side note, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the start and stop feel seems exacerbated and this has made me not as interested in this work, though I have nearly finished the book.

So, there you go. My top reads from 2016.

If interested, here are my top reads from previous years:



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