10 Books That Kept Me Awake in 2017

A suggested remedy for insomnia is to read a book. That may be a better way to fall asleep than watching TV, a computer or other devices with screens that may disrupt sleep.

But I want books that keep me awake. I have no problem nodding off if a book isn’t interesting.   If I start reading a good book in the middle of the night I may lose a lot of sleep.

Years ago while waiting for a flight home I was so caught up reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose that I missed my flight.   Even though I was only a few feet from the gate I was so into the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the American West that I was unaware that the plane was boarding. When I eventually looked around I was alone.   Few books are that engaging, but at least I want them to keep my attention.

So here are 10 page-turners from 2017 that kept me awake.


Overload: Finding Truth in Today’s Deluge of News, by Bob Schieffer

Recommendations for getting accurate, dependable news in familiar and unfamiliar            places from a veteran journalist.

Grant, by Ron Chernow

Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and 18th President – the most popular man in America at the end of the Civil War – comes alive and in Chernow’s opinion belongs among the first tier of American presidents.

Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

The story of the ultimate Renaissance Man driven by curiosity of all things scientific and artistic.   Isaacson’s final chapter with his ‘eighteen lessons from Leonardo’ should be read first. On art quality paper with the Mona Lisa and other drawings and paintings.

An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, by Jeremy L. Sabella

As a companion to the film by Martin Doblmeier about America’s mid-20th century ‘public theologian’ of which there are few if any remaining. 

Whatever Happened to Evangelicalism? edited by Al Truesdale

Following his introduction Truesdale edits an anthology of theological essays with views on how evangelicals can return to their historic roots.


A Man Called Ove, by Blackman

A suicidal curmudgeon finally finds the will to live and embrace his neighbors after the love of his life dies in a vehicle accident.

 The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

A clear-eyed view of how slavery affected the lives of whites as well as black slaves in the American South.

 A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

In post revolutionary Russia a former Czarist lives under house arrest in a luxury Moscow hotel.

 The Sheriff of Nottingham, by Richard Kluger

The story of a singular character striving to act honorably in Medieval 13th century England during the days of Robin Hood and the Magna Carta.

The Circle, by Dave Eggers

A dystopian future when everything we have done, are doing and will be doing is known and controlled by an unseen information technology network.

What books kept your interest during the year?

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5 Responses to 10 Books That Kept Me Awake in 2017

  1. Lois says:

    This is a wonderful gift to share with us. Thank you.

  2. Mark Fuller says:

    Thanks Tom. I am adding these to my reading list this year.

  3. Thanks for your list! Here’s what fed my soul this year:

    Die Wise, A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul by Stephen Jenkinson

    The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

    The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

    How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett

    Matter and Desire: An Erotic Ecology by Andreas Weber

    Diana, Herself by Martha Beck

  4. Harold Nevin says:

    Thanks for your list, Tom. Am particularly interested in, Whatever Happened to Evangelicalism? It seems to have evolved into something quite different today from what you and I grew up in.

  5. Randy Newcomb says:

    Here’s hoping for many missed flights!! Thanks, Tom.

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