21 Great Books To Read In 2018

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More books and less binge-watching will transform your life!

The following books are in no particular order and speak to various areas of thought. From fiction to faith, I would encourage you to read widely and discerningly. Most people today read within a small circle of authors that they like and agree with. If you are only reading authors who think like you, there is limited growth happening in your soul. Read authors who come at things differently, think differently and even believe differently. Release your fear, you are stronger and more discerning than you think, and who knows, you just might gain some new insights or see things from a different perspective.

  1. The Go-Giver
  2. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
  3. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
  4. Sabbath As Resistance
  5. Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
  6. The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story
  7. Why You Think The Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews From Rome to Home
  8. Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God
  9. Man’s Search For Meaning
  10. 1984
  11. Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  12. A Prayer For Owen Meany: A Novel
  13. The Sparrow
  14. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels
  15. As A Man Thinketh
  16. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
  17. Pilgrims Progress
  18. Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
  19. Disunity In Christ
  20. The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Volumes 1 & 2
  21. Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

I’d love to hear what books have and are impacting you!

Please leave your recommendations in the comments.

25 Great Books To Read This Fall

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People ask me for good book recommendations on a regular basis. I love books. I admit, I have too many. I also admit checking books out at the library has never worked for me. For whatever reason, I need to own, to possess, to write in the books that mentor, entertain and form me. I would probably be a millionaire if I could merely check them out at my local library.

When I am asked for a recommendation, I tend to ask questions in order to find out where a particular person is at on their journey; what they are hoping the book will do for them; or what deeper work they sense God is up to in their lives. After I ponder their answers, I have multiple good ‘old friends’ whose clothing of worn, aged pages might be a potential help or new love.

As Fall approaches, and you have visions of entering into the pages of a biblio-journey that will change your life, while savoring a steaming cup of dark roast coffee on a chilly misty morning next to the warmth of your crackling fire, then read on. Here are some offerings that you may not have read.

Here is my disclaimer. I read widely. I read critically. I don’t always read books that I agree with, in fact I generally find ideas that I disagree with in almost every book. So there will be authors in my list that you might think, “Really Monty? I can’t believe you recommended that book!”

It seems we have lost the ability to discern, critique and think for ourselves. We tend to read books exclusively by people we like, or who think exactly as we do. We dislike being stretched, or heaven forbid, challenged in what we think or believe. We need to learn to read, ruminate, ponder, dialog, disagree, stretch and ultimately grow. To that end, we all need some authors who cause us to ask tougher, deeper question freeing us from tribal dominance and the status-quo.

A final disclaimer, the books are not in any order, just some titles you might not have encountered yet.

Having said that, here are some books to consider reading this Fall:

  1. Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. by Eric Metaxas
  2. Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, by Walter Brueggeman
  3. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry. by Ruth Haley Barton
  4. The Way of a Pilgrim (Russian Spiritual Classic). by anonymous
  5. The Normal Christian Life. by Watchman Lee
  6. The Complete Stories (FSG Classics). by Flannery O’Connor
  7. The Prodigal God. by Tim Keller
  8. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. by Christena Cleveland
  9. Ruthless Trust. by Brennan Manning
  10. The Singer. By Calvin Miller
  11. Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked . by Chris Matthews
  12. The Sparrow. by Mary Doria Russell
  13. The Cure. by Bill Thrall
  14. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. by Bob Burg
  15. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. by Gregory Boyle
  16. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.by Marshall Goldsmith
  17. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels. by N. T. Wright
  18. The Alchemist. by Paulo Coelho
  19. The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. by Scot Mcknight
  20. Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh. by Sadhu Sundar Singh
  21. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial Modern Classics). by Annie Dillard
  22. The God of Small Things: A Novel. by Arundhati Roy
  23. Night (Night). by Elie Wiesel
  24. The Shack. by Wm. Paul Young
  25. Bonus book: Sacred Space. by MC Wright 🙂

Top Books I read in 2013

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I love books. I read many titles every year. There are some offerings that I re-read annually to keep me grounded, but I am always finding title after title that intrigue me enough to hit the one-click button on my Amazon prime account. Sometimes the books are solid, often they lack what I am looking for, but always I grow in some area of understanding.

I have always been one who believes that people need to read widely and not pigeon-hole themselves into one genre’ or to read only what you already agree with. True growth comes from being challenged. When you read a book that challenges your presuppositions and pre-understandings, you are forced to work through what you believe and why you believe it, and that is a good thing.

There is always something to learn…
Something to discern…
Something to think critically about…

So, I am going to give you my list a “favs” from 2013. Here is my disclaimer *I don’t agree with everything that the authors wrote in their books, nor is it an endorsement of other titles the author has written. It simply means I found the book to be compelling.

If you agree 100% with everything an author has written, she/he is either AMAZING or you are not reading with your fully engaged sense of critical analysis…the only exception is the book Sacred Space by this really amazing guy I know! The books are in no special order, just my top recommends from this past year. I am working on my top “Must Read” list of all time. I will try to finish that compilation in January.

Feel free to leave me your top book reads in the comments section. Clicking on the title will take you to the book on amazon.com

1. The Go Giver (Bob Burg & John David Mann)

2. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story Of The Gospels N.T Wright)

3. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the art of customer service (The Disney Institute)

4. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Andy Crouch)

5. Imaginary Jesus (Matt Mikalatos)

6. The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (Oliver Burkeman)

7. God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World (Stephen Prothero)

8. Love Is An Orientation: Elevating The Conversation With The Gay Community (Andrew Marin)

9. The Way Of A Pilgrim (Anonymous 18th century)

10. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)

11. Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

12. The Case For The Psalms: Why They Are Essential (N.T Wright)

13. Stars In The Texas Sky (Stephen Matlock)

14. Tip And The Gipper: When Politics Worked (Chris Matthews)

The Power of Reading

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“A House without books is like a room without windows.”
~Horace Mann

I love books, so I suppose it goes without saying that I also love reading. This afternoon I was in my favorite bookstore in Seattle, Elliott Bay Books, wandering the aisles and perusing title after title. I see books as orphans in desperate need of adoption…today I adopted four! I also love the way some books feel…the composition of the cover as well as the words. While I do have a Kindle and an iPad, I  prefer to feel the weight of pages as they turn and reveal the trapped contents held captive.

Harry Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers” and I wholeheartedly agree. Yet in the US we take the gift of reading for granted not realizing that much of our planets population is illiterate. According to the most recent statistics there are approximately 800 million adults who cannot read or write globally. Illiteracy fuels poverty. The ability to read and write are economic and social game-changers all throughout the world.

While my heart was full as I considered which book to purchase and read today, it was also heavy as I considered the millions who are unable to purchase or enter into the world of books. Illiteracy needs to be defeated, and it is important that we stay vigilant in the push to improve eduction in the US and to fight against poverty, which breeds illiteracy, throughout the world.

Leaders are readers. Education is empowerment. Understanding and knowledge are keys to the future. If we long to have leaders in the future who are broad in knowledge, adept and ethical, it begins in the home where parents start the journey of empowerment through reading. When your children are young read to them, often. Also, let them see you reading as this will stir their desire to read as well. When they ask for a book buy it! And keep encouraging them to read-read-read! These are the best investment you can make for them.

When I ask most men today what they are currently reading, the answer I receive is, “Well, I’m not really a reader.” This is a sad commentary not only for our present time, but for our future. Modern media does scant little to sharpen our thinking or deepen our understanding as it serves up an offering of soundbites and less than intelligent television shows.

When one reads, new worlds are opened up…ideas formed…adventures dreamed. Here are some thoughts on books from others to inspire your reading.

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”   ~William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” ~ George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ~ Mortimer J. Adler

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books”  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”  ~ Abraham Lincoln

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”  ~Vera Nazarian

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”  ~Haruki Murakami

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”  ~Maya Angelou

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”  ~C.S. Lewis

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”  ~Chinese Proverb

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted;
nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested:
that is, some books are to be read only in parts,
others to be read, but not curiously, and some few
to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”
~ Francis Bacon ~

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” ~Victor Hugo

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ~Dr. Seuss