Top Influential Books for 2015

December 21, 2015

The staff of iAt asked some of our readers to share with us the top most influential books they have read this year. The books chosen cover a wide range of subjects, authors, and writing styles, but all have made a difference in the lives of readers somehow. Here is the list of the top influential books for 2015 and why.

Culture Making by Andy Crouch
“I appreciated his perspective on how culture is made and our role in it.”

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
“I’ve always been passionate about servant leadership, and this book adds the rich biblical perspective to it based on the life of Christ.”

The Road Trip That Changed The World: The unlikely theory that will change how you view culture, the church, and most importantly, yourself by Mark Sayers

Gods at War by Kyle Idleman
“It really challenged me to think about those habits and practices that can be distractions in life and idols in some cases. A non-routine way to look at important priorities. Often times you don’t think something can become an idol, but the book pointed out in a positive way that anything outside of moderation can become idolatry.”

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
“Because Ann is a raw author, she challenges you to look at the gifts you have in your life and to be thankful. She has a great balance of deep theological reasoning as well as applicability to life. She is vulnerable and authentic in her writing. This book takes a while to digest, so plan time to process what you are thinking/reading.”

Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home by Pope Francis and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
“I put these two together because I read both over the summer. Both deal with the same issue: that humans are responsible for the current abnormal state of the climate and our greed for more and more resources is at the root of the problem. These together have reinforced and reformed my thinking on climate change issues, specifically in regards to the importance of needing to act sooner rather than later to address climate change.”

Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
“It helped me see my own faith and failure through a different lens and was a poignant insight into the relationship between fathers and sons. I also really appreciated the thoughtful representation of the doctrines of grace and election and the humble, insightful way the main character addressed them.”

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

The Messiah Method by Michael Zigarelli

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Paul and the Gift by John M. G. Barclay

Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith
“I appreciate the emphasis on rethinking our concept of worldview to make sure it’s not just an intellectual exercise but also a hands and heart thing.”

On My Worst Day by John Lynch

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch
“A fresh look and definition of power – how it can be received and used in God’s Kingdom.”

The Circle by Dave Eggers
“The value of this book is mainly in the breadth of the dystopian picture the book paints of a society in which the popularity (e.g. getting the most attention in social media) is enforced as a norm by a lack of privacy. After reading the book, the matter seems much more important to me than it did before. However, I have reservations about recommending the book overall since it is basically just a summer read that does not actually offer any answers to the issues.

A further disclaimer: The book is marred by some gratuitous (and ridiculous) sex scenes IMHO.”

A New Heaven and a New Earth by Richard Middleton
“Most exciting? No. Most lyrical prose? No. Most compelling, most exciting? Hardly. Most laborious? Maybe. It’s a long haul. Middleton wants to cover everything because he knows he has to.

But no single book had such a profound impact on the way I see life and death. When the author says he’s simply deleting the word “Heaven” from his vocabulary – and he’s a confessing Christian – it’s hard not to listen.

Did I like other books better? Sure, many. But none were more influential.”

“It explores in-depth a biblical view of eschatology, making a case for a more holistic view of our eternal future than has been held by most Christians.”

“I must confess I have only scratched the surface of this book, but I have a sense it will quickly become one of the authoritative go-to books on Reformed eschatology. Our eschatology is important: it not only informs our view of the future, but what we see as important in the here and now!”

The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history by Elizabeth Kolbert
“This book raises awareness of the current state of biodiversity decline and provides an overview of much of the history of science that leads us to our current understanding, all while engaging readers of all ages and types by focusing on gripping stories that scientists and non-scientists can understand and appreciate. The pages turn themselves but the stories stay behind.”

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
“Dweck’s book helped me to see that my mindset toward growth can be developed and cultivated. It has also changed the way that I speak to my children. Instead of praising success or talent, I try to encourage their initiative, their willingness to try new things, or their attempts to work through difficult problems.”

Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina
“In this book Medina discusses the roles of nature and nurture in raising a child from ages 0-5 through the lens of scientific studies. He focuses on helping his reader discern what things they as a parent can do that make a difference (e.g. limiting television time before age 2) vs things that don’t (playing mozart for babies still in the womb). An insightful and thought-provoking read as I think about what boundaries to set for my (now 5-month-old) son.”

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
“Perfect blending of science, Hitler youth camps, French resistance, and study of a young man’s and woman’s growing awareness of reality and the nature of good and evil.”

Hundred Percenters by Mark A. Murphy and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
“I have read numerous leadership books and these two are near the top.”

The Martian by Andy Wier
“Not so much influential to me personally (preaching to the choir) but I think really resonated with a lot of people – will hopefully help people fall in love with planetary exploration all over again.”

iAt readers: What book influenced your life this year?

About the Author
  • Liz Moss is the former managing editor of In All Things and the Andreas Center Program Coordinator. Today she is the Development Director for The Tesfa Foundation, serving students and families in Ethiopia. She is ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America.

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