My Top Twelve Reads of 2015

Embed from Getty Images


I decided in late August to change my annual book buying recommendation post to my Top 12  Reads for 2015.

Why twelve books  Jim?     

Well, that’s one book for each month!

You can gift yourself with one of them a month or for some you love (with the hope that they will share the book with you later on!)  There is something here for the fiction reader, a person of faith reader, a historical fiction reader, a personal memoir reader, a Presidential autobiography/biography reader, a leadership reader, and a history reader.

So, (in no particular order) are my Top 12 Reads for 2015 !

25404141Roger Daniels’ Franklin D. Roosevelt: Road to the New Deal, 1882-1939.

I loved this wonderful account of FDR’s life by Daniels, the Charles Phelps Taft Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cincinnati. This was volume 1 of a two volume set and finished with FDR facing his third election as President.  I think that this is a fair assessment of FDR and one thing I liked about this book is there are wonderful insights by Daniels that gave me a new perspective on Roosevelt. (Published by University of Illinois Press)

22609420David O Stewart’s Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America

A wonderful look at the life of James Madison and the partnerships he developed with Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and his wife Dolly Madison in the early and tumultuous years of America. I liked this book for providing me with a fresh look look at our fourth President and his ability to well, network, in accomplishing major tasks to help the United States become the United States. (Published by Simon Schuster)

cover59043-mediumGary Scott Smith’s Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents 

Politics and Religion. It has always been the subject of serious discussion, passionate debate, and sarcastic soundbites. Scott’s book is a serious and thorough discussion of how faith was lived out in the lives of eleven United States Presidents – John Adams, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James McKinley, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama. One thing that I liked about this book is that Smith did what  I call a thorough 360 degree view of faith and its relation to work and legacy of each of these eleven men. (Published by Oxford University Press)

24832420Marci Jefferson’s Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court

A wonderful work of historical fiction with great attention to the small details which brings the past to life.  Set in 17th Century France, Enchantress of Paris is based on the life of Marie Mancini who captured the heart of the 17th century French King, Louis XIV.  One thing I like about this was Jefferson’s wonderful attention to the setting that made this story, about a period in history that I rarely studied, come to life. I also was rooting for King Louis to finally say, “I am the King and I am going to marry Marie!” But… politics… well read the book to find out what happens! (Published by Thomas Dunne Books)

25265721Laura McNeill’s Center of Gravity

A gripping and contemporary  novel about the shattering effects of domestic violence on a marriage and a family. Set in the modern day American south, Center of Gravity was a book that I truly could not put down and kept reading deep into the night over two nights to finish. It is a story about courage, fear, hope, determination, love, and I think… faith. I liked that McNeill’s credible characters drew me in and kept me reading. (Published by Thomas Nelson)

23164911Jeff Shaara’s The Fateful Lightning: Novel of the Civil War

The final volume in a four volume set of a historical fiction on the American Civil War, The Fateful Lightning follows William Tecumseh Sherman and his Union Army as they march from Atlanta to the sea and then up through the Carolinas to defeat the Confederate forces in the waning months of the war. A rich novel with both fictional and historical characters fighting both their military enemy and their military comrades for fame and glory, I liked this novel for bring to life the historical events in the southeastern theater of war in 1864 and 1865. (Published by Ballantine Books)

23322210Marc and Samantha Hurwitz’s Leadership is Half the Story: A Fresh Look at Followership, Leadership, and Collaboration

I have read a lot of books on leadership. Some have been inspirational and helpful and some have not. I have read two books on followership and what being a good follower means. There were many excellent illustrations and suggestions for  co-vision, co-work, and co-flow to be part of the work place in the 21st century. What I liked about this book is that both profit and non-profit organizations can learn from the Hurwitz’s insights and ideas. (Published by University of Toronto Press)

20578111Gary L Thomas’ A Lifelong Love: What if Marriage is about More Than Just Staying Together

I think marriage is important. And I think that marriage is a life-long commitment not just a beautiful ceremony followed by a sumptuous banquet. Gary Thomas underscores the belief of marriage as being more than just romance but a sustained life long love that is more than just staying together. What I liked about this book is that marriage is given a deeper rooting than just as a choice. (Published by David C Cook)

Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the NatchezAndra Watkins’ Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace

Now a New York Times Best Seller, I read Watkins’ “story behind the story” of her journey along the 444 mile Natchez Trace in 2014 to promote her first novel To Live Forever, with interest. It was the story, of two journeys, one geographic and one relational. I liked this book on many fronts but mostly because it was a journey of the heart for both a budding author and her dad. (Published by Word Hermit Press)

22504506Angela Hunt Ewell’s Esther: Royal Beauty

The Old Testament book of Esther is one of my favorite books of the Bible in large part of Esther’s courage in standing up for her people the exiled Jews in Babylonia. Angela Hunt Ewell’s fictional account of her life does justice to this epic Biblical character. What I liked about this novel was how well Ewell develops the character of Esther throughout the entire story in a manner that brings a realism to her story and actions. (Published by Bethany House)

23995336Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno

I loved Marra’s first novel,  A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, and when I requested his newest novel The Tsar of Love and Techno for review purposes I hoped that it would be as good as his first one.  It was. Tsar is a challenging read as it is a collection of stories that stretches across Russia and Russian history so you have to pay attention to the first chapter of the book to make connections later on.  I loved it for the characters, which evoked sympathy, whose lives and work influence spread across the decades and kilometers. (Published by Hogarth)


25081778Maha Ahktar’s Footprints in the Desert

It is easy to forget that there was a Middle Eastern Front in the First World War but there was and the battles fought there influenced not just what was happening on the Western Front but also the rest of 20th century and 21st century.  Maha Ahktar’s novel brings to life the struggles the Great War brought to the Middle East in the lives of its people. I liked this novel for the wonderful characters and great details of ancient Cairo. (Published by Barcelona Editions)


Well there you have my top 12 reads for 2015. I hope that you find something you would enjoy! Happy Reading!

See you behind the page.


4 thoughts on “My Top Twelve Reads of 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s