THEOLOGY. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves (IV Press, 2012). Reeves addresses a vital topic in a clear and engaging way. In fact, I enjoyed his exploration of the Trinity so much that I am not using it to teach my Sunday school class. Reeves writes: "“If the Trinity were something we could shave off God, we would not be relieving him of some irksome weight; we would be shearing him of precisely what is so delightful about him. For God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desirable" (9). See a full review here. [Thanks to Kevin M for the suggestion.]
Runner-up: God with Us: Exploring God's Personal Interactions with His People Throughout the Bible by Glenn R. Kreider (P & R Publishing, 2014). I was thrilled to read this book by one of my favorite seminary professors. Kreider explores how the God of the Bible condescends to interact with and save His people.
FICTION. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, 2014). No surprise that Doerr's novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. Beautifully written, Doerr traces the story of a blind girl in France and an orphan boy turned radio genius in Germany. There stories intersect at the end of World War 2 in the French beach town of Saint-Malo. A priceless diamond, the cursed "Sea of Flames", plays a significant role in the plot too. Compelling characters, real history, a suspense-filled plot, joy and sadness--this novel has it all wrapped in beautiful language that becomes poetry in places.
Runner-up: The English Spy by Daniel Silva (HarperCollins, 2015). Silva follows the adventures of the Israeli assassin, spy, and art restorer, Gabriel Allon. This book reached the top of the New York Times best seller list for good reason. I have read all 15 books in the Allon series, gobbling them up as soon as they are released. In Allon's lastest adventure, he works with British intelligence to find the killer and bomb-maker who murdered a member of the British royal family abroad her yacht. As with most of Silva's books, I ended up learning something in this novel, in this case more about the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
LEADERSHIP. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success by Adam Grant (Penguin, 2014). Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton Business School, makes a wonderfully radical claim. People who are most successful in life are givers, not takers. Based on his extensive research and filled with anecdotes from various fields, Give and Take argues that serving others (helping them) drives our own success. [Thanks to Dave B. for the recommendation.]
Runner-up: Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath (Missionday, 2013). Over 30 short chapters Rath offers simple advice on diet, exercise, and sleep. This book isn't as life changing as some of its reviewers suggested but there are practical tips here than can improve anyone's productivity.
YOUNG ADULT/CHILDREN. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan (Puffin Books, 2012). Our family has loved Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice series. In the tenth book of the series, Will, Alyss, and Evalyn sail to the eastern land of Nihon-Ja where Horace has disappeared. Kids 7-14 will be mesmerized by this series; and this one will probably be their favorite. [Thanks to Dave E. for recommending the series!]
Runner-up. The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark (Crossway, 2015). Clark's sumptuous images and DeYoung's clever phrases make this book a wonderful read with your family. Buy this book and read with your kids after dinner or before bed.