Books Read 2016


My goal is to read 40 books a year in addition to journals, articles, and commentaries. Here is my 5-star rating for the books I read in 2016. By the by, other than giving a ranking, the books are not listed in any further order. Mostly, within the categories they’re listed in the order that I finished them. Click on the title to find it online. At the end of this post, you can find a list of “Books Read” posts for previous years.


Five Stars

The Son by Philipp Meyer. Well-told tale of 3 generations from central Texas.

Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt. The author investigates the answers suggested by philosophers, physicists, mathematicians and artists.

American Rust by Philipp Meyer. After reading “The Son,” I went back to his first book, set in a declining Pennsylvania steel town.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling. I’m re-reading the series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (audiobook)

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (audiobook)

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. From the Young Adult Fiction section, a creative first-person tale about mental illness.

Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles by Kathy Keller. Excellent defense of complementarity between genders in the church and home, and how that plays out in society.

The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism, by Yuval Levin. My comments here. I agree with Russell Moore: “This might be one of the most important books of the decade.”

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham. The four New Testament Gospels are reliable eyewitness testimony. My review here.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. A book about falconry—and grief. (audiobook, read by the author)

Silence by Shusaku Endo. I re-read this in preparation for Scorcese’s new film on the book. My 2006 comments here.

The Samurai by Shusaku Endo. Endo’s Silence was more popular in its time (and today). But I liked this one even better. I re-read it this year after re-reading Silence. My 2007 comments here.

Making Sense of God by Tim Keller. My comments on the book here.

The Road to Character by David Brooks. Looking at character qualities through biographical sketches. (audiobook)

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance. I didn’t write a review at my blog, but I agree with this reviewer: “In this searching recollection of his childhood in Appalachia and Rust Belt Ohio, Vance (a Marine Corps veteran and graduate of Yale Law School), describes the stubborn, proud, loyal, and often self-destructive culture that he both loves and was determined to escape. The child of an absent father and a combative, substance-abusing mother, Vance survived thanks to his ornery but devoted grandmother and heroically responsible sister. He trains an unflinching eye on the rural working class: its fatalism, its hypocrisy (“I have known many welfare queens; some were my neighbors and all were white”), and its anti-intellectual machismo. And that same unflinching eye observes the wrenching story of how a kid from that background struggled to adjust to the alien world of the Ivy League. Vance, a conservative, has been criticized for preaching a bootstraps-only remedy for the region’s ills, but Hillbilly Elegy is short on policy recommendations of any kind. Rather, it’s a requiem for an identity that sees no place for itself in a postindustrial world.”

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper. “If saving faith is to be available to all, it must be found in a more direct way than through detailed historical arguments….My question for fifty years has been this: How can average people, with no scholarly training and little time to invest in historical studies, know for sure that the Bible is the reliable word of God in all that it teaches?” (p 182)  Excerpt here.

Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. I read Lewis’ space trilogy in college. I returned to it at the end of this year. This is the first book in the trilogy. (audiobook)

Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis. The second book in the trilogy. (audiobook)

Hidden Christmas, Tim Keller


Four Stars

American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, Richard John Neuhaus. An excerpt here.

What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes. (audiobook)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) (audiobook)

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) (audiobook)

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) (audiobook)

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. A history of cancer research and treatment. (audiobook)

Daily Horoscope. Poems by Dana Gioia

What Narcissism Means to Me. Poems by Tony Hoagland

Simple Weight. Poems by Tania Runyan

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God, by Rankin Wilbourne. “Union with Christ has become a hot topic in academic circles today. But the one place it’s not a hot topic is the one place it most needs to be–in the seats and pews, the homes and offices, the apartments and cubicles of so-called ordinary Christians.”

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (audiobook)

Silence and Beauty by Mako Fujimura. In preparation for Scorcese’s film. My comments here.

Paul’s Intercessory Prayers: The Significance of the Intercessory Prayer Passages in the Letters of Paul, by Gordon P Wiles


Three Stars

The Psychopath Test, by Ron Jonson. I’ve liked a lot of his books, and this one had its moments but putting it in the “average” category. (audiobook)

The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskins. What we learn is that Vietnam vets are probably murderers, Bible-quoting characters are probably mental cases, and you can crash a car going 70 with no injuries and with no cops a block away hearing it. But the plot develops out in an interesting way. So 3 stars. (audiobook)

You Are What You Love, by James KA Smith. His diagnosis of our problem was accurate, but his recommended course of treatment was unpersuasive. His diagnosis: Human beings are defined by what we desire, not what we know. Thus, it is our *loves* that need reforming, not just our thought processes. And that requires a re-calibration of the heart, which can only happen in addressing what and how we worship. His course of treatment: A return to “the rich imaginative practices of historic Christian worship” (p 180). He regards this as a better way to preserve Christianity than the worship services offered by lowbrow “seeker” churches. His recommended course of treatment would have been more persuasive had he admitted that the very “rich imaginative liturgical practices” he says will restore the American church were themselves no anchor against mainline doctrinal drift. In fact, he fails to acknowledge that “seeker” churches (which he misnames as seeker-sensitive—a common mistake) developed in response to ‘liturgical’ churches failing to impact lost America. Should we evaluate our corporate worship practices to ensure they re-orient Christian hearts to the right love? Yes. Should we adopt the liturgical practices so often associated with mainline churches? Smith failed to persuade me.

Donkey Gospel. Poems by Tony Hoagland

I Am No One, Patrick Flanery. (audiobook)

David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell


Two Stars

The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, by Stuart Stevens.

Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins (audiobook)


One Star

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, by Salman Rushdie. I liked his previous Haroun and the Sea of Stories so I hoped to like this one as well. One star.


Books Read 2009

Books Read 2010

Books Read 2011

Books Read 2012

Books Read 2013

Books Read 2014

Books Read 2015

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About Tom

ANCHOR COURSE LOGO Tom Goodman is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and he holds a doctorate from New Orleans Seminary. He has served as pastor in Louisiana, north Texas, and overseas in Grand Cayman before becoming the pastor of Hillcrest Church in Austin, Texas. Diane and Tom have been married since their days at Baylor University, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Tom enjoys scuba diving, watching the latest Netflix DVD with Diane, and chasing mis-hit golf balls.