Every December I make a list of my favorite books I read in the current year. 2016 has been another great year of reading. I tried to add some more variety to my reading this year and included more fiction. Today I share my favorite books I read in 2016. Note: Some favorite book lists only include books written in the current calendar year. My list includes books I read in 2016 regardless of when each book was originally written and published.
In the past, I ranked the books from #10 down to #1. This year I picked books out of different categories instead of ‘ranking’ them, partly because you can’t really rank a marriage book over a productivity book over a fiction book and vice versa. I enjoyed each book for different reasons and in different ways.
I hope you enjoy this list and find some great Christmas reading or gift suggestions. As always, I encourage you to share some of your favorite reads from this year. You can leave a few of your favorites in the comments below or on Facebook. I love reading and I hope you do as well! I always enjoy putting this list together as it helps me remember some of the great books I’ve read and learned from.
In 2016 I also wrote a 5-part series on reading. Check them out when you get some time.
- How Can I Become a Better and More Discerning Reader?
- What’s the Best Way to Read a Book (i.e., hard copy, Kindle, Audible)?
- How to Be a Better Reader (Best reading practices)
- How to Choose What to Read Next (with SO many choices out there)
- What are the Books on Your Ideal Bookshelf (i.e., the books that have had the greatest impact on your life)?
Without further ado – My Favorite Books I Read in 2016 (followed by some books I’m excited about reading in 2017)!
My #1 Favorite Book of the Year – The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one! At a good friend’s recommendation, I read this historical non-fiction book and am so glad I did. This is one of those books that makes you think about the characters even when you’re not reading the book. A little slow in the beginning at times, but so worth the read with a very satisfying end.
The Book That Most Challenged my Pride – The Key to Everything, by Matt Keller. This book by Keller attacked my pride and defensiveness. His thesis is that a teachable spirit is the key to everything in life – relationships, work, and much more. It’s hard to disagree with his thesis. I wrote about teachability earlier in the year in a post called Why I Need to be Taught How to be Teachable.
The Book That Can Most Change The Way You Parent (especially if you’re a new/expecting parent) – For Better or For Kids, by Patrick and Ruth Schwenk. I loved this book and this is definitely one I wish I had written (but am glad someone did!). They do a great job of helping parents not allow their kids to take over their lives and starts with the premise that we must protect our marriages, even with kids in the house.
The Book Most Likely to Challenge the Way You Eat and Workout – Every Body Matters, by Gary Thomas. Seems like every year Gary Thomas gets a book on this list. I’ve read this one 2-3 times in the past, but this year I read it with a group of friends, which helped in the ways I learned and processed this incredible book. I wrote a series of posts on Wellness this year (start here – How to Honor God With Your Body).
The Best Book on Productivity I’ve Ever Read – Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, by Tim Challies. There are plenty of productivity books out there, and I’ve read plenty of them. This one by Challies ranks at the top of my list because of the foundation he lays as well as the practical tools he provides. No exaggeration, but this book has changed my life. Check out my review from earlier this year.
The Book Most Likely To Make You Laugh Out Loud (even though it’s about work and your career) – Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck, by Jon Acuff. Acuff is another guy who ends up on my list of favorite books almost every year. In this book, he helps you look at your job/career through the lens of your relationships, skills, character, and hustle.
The Book That Most Reminded Me of Stand By Me (without the barfarama) – Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger. I listened to this one on Audible at a friend’s recommendation and loved it. From the description on Amazon: “Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.”
The Best Marriage Book I Read This Year – The Mingling of Souls, by Matt Chandler. Kristen and I loved this book and will begin to use this with couples for premarital mentoring in the future. Chandler take the reader through the book of Song of Solomon as he teaches couples how to date, move towards engagement, and honor your spouse in marriage. I wrote a very favorable review of this book on my site a few weeks ago. Check it out!
The Most Eye-Opening Book I Read in 2016 – Under Our Skin, by Benjamin Watson. I could also call this one “The Book I Most Need to Read Again. And Again.” Watson does a great job of raising some questions that need to be answered about race relationships and provides hope for what can be in our still racially divided nation.
The Book Most Likely to Change Your Views of Sex, Money, and Power – Living in the Light, by John Piper. I read this book with a group of 11 other men, and found myself challenged to rethink the ways I view sex, spend money and think about power. In typical Piper fashion, he challenges the reader to put Christ back in the place He deserves to be!
The Most Honest Book I Read This Year – This is Awkward, by Sammy Rhodes. I really enjoyed this honest memoir – funny, transparent and challenging. Rhodes didn’t shy away from talking about porn, deceit, divorce, marriage, and much more. At the same time, he’s really witty. Grateful I read this one.
The Book That Should Most Change How You Spend 14.3% of Your Days – The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan. We read this as a marriage team in 2016, and it lived up to its hype. The book challenged the way I think not just about my Sabbath day, but more so about my attitude towards rest. Challenging and authentic.
Books I'm Excited to Read in 2017 (because it's never too early to get excited about reading!)
- Married for God, by Christoper Ask – great review by Tim Challies
- Befriend, by Scott Sauls – I’m about 25% done with this one and LOVE it so far. Review coming soon.
- Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull – The story of Pixar. Have heard this is awesome!
- Habits of Grace, by David Mathis – have heard great things about this book about the spiritual disciplines
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi – both highly recommended by friends.
- Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating, by Marshall Segal – super excited about this one!
And now… to quote writer Mary DeMuth: “So that’s it. My favorite books… Lest this become all about me, please share YOUR favorite books from last year. I am always up for a good read.”
Note to readers: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a very small kickback on any purchases you make through these links. I need some way to recoup some of the money I spend on this blog every year. Thank you!