My Top Seven Books of 2016

Well, another year has passed by. Some of it slipped through my fingers, but I think I may have caught most of it in some way or another.

At least I’ve read some great books this year, and so below is a list of my top seven of the year.

“Why Seven?”, you ask?

Why Ten, or Five or Three?

Whatever the quantity, these are books I’d love you to check out.

I’ve not reviewed every book I’ve read this year. But where I have, I’ve provided a link to my blog review. And where I haven’t, I’ve just added a sample of my thoughts.


1. Scars Across Humanity, by Elaine Storkey.

Blog review – click here

2. Out Of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey

Blog review – click here

3. A More Christlike God, by Brad Jersak

Blog review – click here

4. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande

Blog review – click here

5. The Son of Laughter, by Frederick Buechner

Frederick Buechner has done a beautiful job of grafting flesh onto the biblical story of Jacob.

As a master storyteller, Buechner’s prose provides an immersive experience into the sights, sounds, and smells of ancient nomadic culture. It’s raw, gritty, sweaty and brimming with the harsh realities and beauties of life.

Buechner’s biographical portrayal cuts no corners. His words capture both the dark and the light of the human and divine dance; giving voice to ancient perspective and passion. Yes, sometimes the language is explicit (this is no children’s tale, afterall), but this narrative perfectly captures the emotion, the fatigue, and the grain of the long and winding road that the family of Jacob find themselves travelling.

This is the story of one who wrestles with both God and men — a reality we all share. So read this story expecting to meet our very human selves, as we too find ourselves trying to make sense of this journey we’re on.

The Son of Laughter is one story you shouldn’t miss.
6. Silence, by Shusaku Endo

Set in 17th Century Japan, Silence traces the journey of Fr Sebastian Rodrigues as he seeks for his mentor who has apparently apostatised in the face of the intense persecution of the Christian faith. Not believing his devoted mentor would have done such a thing, Rodrigues goes in search of the truth, not knowing that his own faith will be tested in the process — especially his understanding of apostasy.

This is a very powerful novel. I didn’t want to put it down. It’s profound, captivating and beautiful.

Also, it’s coming to the cinemas in the new year, under the direction of Martin Scorsese (who writes the introduction to this Picador Classic edition), and starring Liam Neesan, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. Let’s hope he does a good job, but I’d still strongly recommend reading the book.

7. The People of Paper, by Salvador  Plascenia.

I can’t begin to describe this novel. But it’s certainly got to be the most bizarre novel I have ever read. And yet, it’s intriguing, beautiful and extremely well crafted. It is a work of art; a Paper-maché masterpiece formed of soul, soil and sweat which baptises the imagination.

The way it’s laid out, the way it’s written – all of it is the not the “usual” way of telling a story. But out of everything I’ve read this year, this story consistently comes back to my mind.

So that’s it; my top seven.

However, for those who like round numbers and multiples of five, here’s another three I’d highly recommend;

How To Survive A Shipwreck, by Jonathan Martin.

War in the Hebrew Bible, by Susan Niditch.

What We Cannot Know, by Marcus du Sautoy.

Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a great new year.


Tristan Sherwin is author of Love: Expressed

Love Expressed Book Board3


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