Formation | Community | Culture

20 Best Books of 2015

The spirit of our times can appear
to be one of joyless urgency.
– Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things


Lots of “Best Of” lists are dropping this time of year, and the editors here at the Fidelity HQ typically resist this cliché trend of surfacey, consumer-driven nonsense. What’s next, stock images?

But I also have a bit of a rule: If you’re going to join them, beat them. And do it quickly, and in under 600 words.

So, here is a far more important, insightful, and definitive Best of 2015. As always, Amazon links are provided for further research, but you’ll want to get on down to your local bookseller to purchase these all. (Yes, I recognize the hubris here in calling it the ‘Best’ and not ‘My Favorite,’ but, once again, this site isn’t called The Humility Essays.)

Let’s get to it, readers and hearers!


Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

Things take the time they take. Don’t
How many roads did St. Augustine take
before he became St. Augustine?
– Mary Oliver, “Don’t Worry”
Felicity: Poems

[Side Note #1: I hate having to say this, but I also hate getting concerned emails and comments—I don’t fully endorse everything in every one of these books. There you go, haters.]

Wendell Berry’s Our Only World: Ten Essays

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

David Brooks’ The Road to Character

Mary Oliver’s Felicity: Poems

Shea Serrano’s The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1973, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed

Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance

Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Pop Psychology
Brene Brown’s Rising Strong

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Parenting/Child Development
Daniel Siegel and Tina P Bryson’s No-Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

Some of the great books of 2014, in case you missed them: Daniel Levitin’s The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload; Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; Matthew Lieberman’s Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect; Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in 1936 Berlin Olympics; Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less; and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.


Ten Best Christian Books of 2015

Dear Pastor,
Desire burns within you. You’ve trained and dreamt of doing large things in famous ways as fast as you can for God’s glory. But pastoral work keeps requiring your surrender to small, mostly overlooked things over long periods of time.
You stand at a crossroads. Jesus stands with you. You were never meant to know everything, fix everything, and be everywhere at once. That’s his job, not yours.
So what now?
– Zack Eswine, The Imperfect Pastor

[Side Note #2: See Side Note #1.]

Christian Living
Todd Billings’s Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ

Bible & Theology
Joe Rigney’s The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts
Krish Kandiah’s Paradoxology: Why Christianity Was Never Meant to Be Simple

Discipleship & Community
Jeff Vanderstelt’s Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life
Bill Donahue’s The Irresistible Community: An Invitation to Life Together

Collin Hansen’s Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church

Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things: Essays

Peter Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World

Pastoral Ministry
Zach Eswine’s The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus

Tim & Kathy Keller’s The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotionals in the Psalms


Ten Best Albums of 2015

I’m out of time and had thought about doing a ‘best albums of 2015,’ even though I don’t know anything about music. Well, let’s just make it quick, cause in the words of Kanye West, who gon stop me now?

[Side Note #3: The following albums are not listed: Coldplay’s A Head Full of Stars (because the greatest band in the world sadly gave up making original and creative music in about 2002), Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (I’m sorry, I’m still just not feeling it), and Kanye West’s Swish (because it STILL hasn’t dropped yet; come on, Ye!).]

Sandra McCracken – Psalms
Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack
Adale – 25
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
Rick Ross – Black Market
Whitney Bozarth – Anchor for My Soul
Wilco – Star Wars
Taylor Swift – 1989 World Tour Live (probably)


That’s all folks.


3 Responses to “20 Best Books of 2015”

  1. mcmorgan0

    Good list. I’m halfway through Our Only World right now. Ol’ Wendell almost convinced me to sell everything I own and move to the forest to become a logger. Did you read any fiction in 2015?

    • Jeremy Linneman

      Hey Michael, I did read some fiction this year, but nothing that was published in 2015. I finish probably 20 nonfiction books per complete fiction work. It’s a weakness, I know. But in my defense, my 2-3 fiction books/year are still 2-3x the average American! 🙂


  2. Jeremy Linneman

    Also, I looked into selling all my stuff and doing the logging-in-the-forest thing, but it turns out the healthcare benefits are not ideal. Unless you’re doing it in Switzerland.



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