My 25 Favourite Books from 2015

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THE STORY GRID: WHAT GOOD EDITORS KNOW

by Shawn Coyne

The Story Grid is a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments. It’s like a CT Scan that takes a photo of the global story and tells the editor or writer what is working, what is not, and what must be done to make what works better and fix what’s not.

This is my favourite new book on the subject of writing. The Story Grid is full of detailed and useful information to be used on the road to crafting a story. I would also recommend the excellent podcast.

BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR

by Elizabeth Gilbert

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Earlier this year I talked about how we are all creative. If you want proof, read this book. It’s brilliant!

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE

by Mitch Albom

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

I read this book years ago and came across it again while visiting my Dad in the States. The second read was just as meaningful as the first. A classic.

THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN

by Mitch Albom

The novel’s protagonist is an elderly amusement park maintenance worker named Eddie who, while operating a ride called the ‘Free Fall’, dies while trying to save a young girl who gets in the way of a falling cart that hurtles to earth. Eddie goes to heaven, where he meets five people who were unexpectedly instrumental in some way in his life.

After finishing Tuesdays with Morrie, I was ready for more by Mitch Albom and this novel is just as rewarding.

THE WOOL TRILOGY: WOOL, SHIFT, DUST

by Hugh Howey

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Jules is part of this community, but she is different. She dares to hope. And as her walls start closing in, she must decide whether to fight, or to die.

I have read Wool and Shift so far in this trilogy and I’m excited to finish the story in Dust. Hugh Howey is a success story in the self-published world and also gives out invaluable advice for writers.

COLOURS (EARTH INCORPORATED BOOK 1)

by Adrian J Walker

People used to live in places called countries. They raised flags and elected governments to rule them. They had a nationality. But that was a long time ago. The words ’nation’ and ‘government’ are relics, things of the past. It has been centuries since the last tattered flag was raised. 

The latest excellent read from my talented friend Adrian J Walker, who also has a paperback version of The End of the World Running Club coming out in May 2016!

THE ALCHEMIST: A FABLE ABOUT FOLLOWING YOUR DREAM

by Paulo Coelho

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is more to life than his humble home and his flock. One day he finds the courage to follow his dreams into distant lands, each step galvanised by the knowledge that he is following the right path: his own. 

A book I missed when it first came out, I’m now glad I’ve caught up. This is a haunting story that deserves more than one read.

THE ICARUS DECEPTION: HOW HIGH WILL YOU FLY?

by Seth Godin

Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and plunged to his doom. But we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. 

This encouraging book from Seth Godin pushes you to question any perceived limitations in your life and to fly right past them. Highly recommended for those wanting to venture out on their own.

BIRD BY BIRD: INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE

by Anne Lamott

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

Last year I revived my passion for writing and this is one of the 3 books I would recommend to an other fellow writers out there. This will inspire you to write.

YOU ARE A WRITER (SO START ACTING LIKE ONE) 

by Jeff Goins

Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write. In You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional writer.

The second book in my list for writers, Jeff Goin’s advice is straightforward and encouraging. It worked for me.

ON WRITING

by Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

A true classic and a must-read for all writers.

THE ART OF WORK

by  Jeff Goins

The path to your lifes work is difficult and risky, even scary, which is why few finish the journey. This is a book about discovering your lifes work, that treasure of immeasurable worth we all long for. Its about the task you were born to do.

The second book I would recommend from Jeff Goins and this one is all about finding what you were born to do. A favourite subject of mine!

HOME

by Marilynne Robinson

Hundreds of thousands of readers were enthralled and delighted by the luminous, tender voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Now comes Home, a deeply affecting novel that takes place in the same period and same Iowa town of Gilead.

Marilynne Robinson is a writer of the highest calibre. Home is part of a trilogy along with Gilead and Lila, which I read back-to-back. I could live in this world.

LILA

by Marilynne Robinson

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church-the only available shelter from the rain-and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life.

This tells the backstory of Lila from the Marilynne Robinson trilogy. A heart breaking novel with hope.

GILEAD

by Marilynne Robinson

In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears.

Gilead is my favourite book in the Marilynne Robinson trilogy and I would suggest starting here with this story.

SIMPLY TUESDAY

by Emily P. Freeman

Our obsession with bigger and faster is spinning us out of control. We move through the week breathless and bustling, just trying to keep up while longing to slow down. But real life happens in the small moments, the kind we find on Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week.

I discovered Emily Freeman’s blog this past year along with her excellent book about finding our own quiet bench.

GOD ON MUTE: ENGAGING THE SILENCE OF UNANSWERED PRAYER

by Pete Greig

God on Mute was written out of Pete’s own experience of the miraculous power of prayer alongside the pain of unanswered prayer and the common human struggle to find faith with that paradox. Just after the birth of the 24-7 Prayer Movement and of his second child Pete’s wife, Samie was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor.

If you have questions or doubts about prayer, start here.

THE SHACK

by Wm Paul Young

With 18 million copies sold worldwide, The Shack is an international bestseller that explores life’s toughest questions through the gripping story of one man’s struggle to find answers to his suffering.

Another book I found during my visit to my Dad’s house last year. I had always wanted to read this one and now I understand the hype; this is a thought provoking read.

LOVE WINS

by Rob Bell

Creating controversy and discussion, Love Wins gets to the heart of questions about life and death. Its perspective will surprise and challenge both Christians and atheists, and will inspire people of all faiths and none.

Love Wins is at the top of my favourite books from last year. An eye opener, which tackles life’s big questions.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME 

by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings.

This is a gripping novel and I love the writing style. A unique and funny tale.

PAPER TOWNS

by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge, he cannot help but follow.

This is the first book I’ve read by John Green and I am now a fan. Brought me right back to my high school years. Hilarious in parts.

DARING GREATLY

by Brené Brown

Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative, or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect.

2015 was also the year I discovered Brené Brown and I have already learned so much. A must-read book that is just as good as this powerful, and now famous, TED talk. I would also recommend The Gifts of Imperfection.

THE POWER OF NOW

by Eckhart Tolle

To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language and a question and answer format to guide us.

A simple and powerful idea that makes perfect sense once you read it. All about living in the moment.

THE LAST WILD

by Piers Torday

This is a story about a boy named Kester. He is extraordinary, but he doesn’t know that yet. All he knows, at this very moment, is this: 1. There is a flock of excited pigeons in his bedroom. 2. They are talking to him. 3. His life will never be quite the same again…

This year my plan is to try writing my own children’s story. With that in mind, I bought this to read with my boys after it came highly recommended by the lady at the bookstore. A brilliant adventure.

DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD

by Roald Dahl

Danny thinks his dad is the most marvellous and exciting father a boy could wish for. Life is happy and peaceful in their gipsy caravan, until one day Danny discovers his dad has been breaking the law.

I read this book to my boys and the memories of reading it at their age came flooding back. If you want to write children’s fiction, you must read Roald Dahl!