Chesterton once remarked that “there is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.” This past year I have found myself floating back and forth between these two categories so the book choices below reflect that (study and leisure).
A couple of disclaimers first:
*The majority of the books I read this year revolved around leadership, church strategy, and family ministry…specifically parenting. This list reflects that.
*These books are not in order by preference. They take on many different styles so I choose not to rank or compare apples and oranges.
*Most of these books are faith based books written by authors with a Christian worldview. However some of them (and others I read this year) are not. Several of these books are thoughtful accounts of history, leadership lessons, and practical life hacks. They will be profitably read through the lens of an intelligent Christian worldview, though the books themselves are often not written from such a worldview. To quote Al Mohler, “The world needs more careful Christian readers, who can read honestly, reflectively, thoughtfully, eagerly, and well.”
Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton. This was a re-read for me. I read it in 2010 but went through it again in anticipation of the movie 12 being released this year detailing the stories of these men. Horse Soldiers is the dramatic true story account of the small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and battled the Taliban. The author is an amazing story teller and he brings to life each character. Easy and captivating read.
The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage, & Redemption by Matt Chandler. Matt begins the book by stating up front the goal of marriage: “God’s plan is for a man and woman in the bond of the marriage covenant to have their souls – not just their bodies – become one.” Matt bases the majority of his book on his research and study of the book Song of Solomon from Scripture however he provides plenty of real life authentic examples. Highly recommended for engaged and all married couples. Read it together!
What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. I love reading books on productivity and Matt’s book is one of the best I have read. He begins by focusing on how productivity is not just getting things done but getting the right things done. He then covers practical ways for you to overcome time killers like procrastination, interruptions, and the myth of multi-tasking. Great insight and real-world solutions all framed within the context of the Gospel.
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks. From strategy to tactics, Ricks pours through thousands of pages of documents to provide one of the most authoritative accounts of our military’s experience in Iraq. He provides an honest but not overly critical analysis of political and military leadership and their failure to see the blooming insurgency that began in 2004. He covers the heroes and those who could have performed better. If you are a military history fan, this is for you! On another note – if you have never read Rick’s book Making the Corps, you should buy it today!
Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror by Joseph Wheelan. My favorite portion of American History is the Revolutionary War period through the early 1800’s. I make a commitment to read one book that covers that era each year. This year it was Wheelan’s work. Recommended by a friend, Jefferson’s War covers America’s first encounter with terrorism, the Barbary Pirates. Jefferson, typically a pacifist, decides that peace with these terrorists, and maybe more importantly, respect from Europe, could only be accomplished through war, thus began America’s first war on a foreign soil.
The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. If you have noticed the last few years, there seems to always be a Heath brothers book on my list and this year is no different. The Power of Moments is actually probably my favorite book from these men. It tells the simple but powerful story of how certain experiences in your life have extraordinary impact. Not only do they analyze the impact that moments have on our life, but argue that these moments are not always left to chance…they can be created. Highly recommended for parents and leaders!
Jesus on Leadership: Timeless Wisdom on Servant Leadership by C. Gene Wilkes. This book was given to me as a gift by my Pastor. I have read numerous books on leadership and thought this would be just another one….I was wrong. In a simple way, Wilkes not only provides practical leadership tools with devotions but inspiration as well! Recommended for leaders at all levels.
The Gospel According to Paul by John MacArthur. MacArthur does a great job of exploring one of the key contributors to the New Testament. I honestly thought there was not much fresh material that could be provided on the Apostle Paul however MacArthur proved me wrong. By focusing on key passages that Paul penned concerning the gospel message, MacArthur (known to be a master expositor) tackles key questions such as What is the Gospel? What are the essentials? How are we to proclaim it? This book will certainly enrich your faith and strengthen your understanding of the Gospel message.
To My Sons: Lessons for the Wild Adventure Called Life by Bear Grylls. Recommend by friend and fellow dad (and extreme adventurer Omar Garcia), this book is super short but packs a punch. The book is basically Bear’s practical wisdom and proverbs to his three boys. It makes for easy table or car conversation with the kids and more importantly serves as a great reminder to dads on the importance of intentionally teaching life lessons.
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. I heard about this book from a friend and picked it up at an airport. Mary Roach is known for diving into weird science and this time she jumps right into military science. She investigates everything from preparing for war to battling communicable sickness in combat. Warning – this book is graphic at times (research on amputees) and when interviewing combat veterans you can count on some profanity. Regardless, Roach provides a humorous but thorough look at both the institution of military science and the ones who use it.
What about you? What are some of your favorite books of 2017.