Charlie Tremendous Jones not only has a great name, he also has a great quote: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” We can’t always control the people we meet, but we can control the books we read.
Over the past few years, I’ve post a couple lists of a few of my favorite books. If you’ve finished your summer reading and are looking for some new books to add to your list, here are my recommendations:
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The most enjoyable book I’ve read in the past year, this tells the fascinating story of the nine members of an American crew team and their quest for gold at 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Their humble beginnings, work ethic, and team commitment, all with the backdrop of Hitler’s rise to power, make this book hard to put down. The writing is outstanding, with details and descriptions that make you like you’re literally in the boat.
- Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. In the follow-up to Freakanomics, Levitt and Dubner use gripping storytelling to challenge our core assumptions and to reveal the power of asking the right questions.
- The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes by Bryan Burrough. I’ve grown to love Texas, and the stories captured in this book have helped me better understand the unique culture and identity of Texans. Reading about the burden of wealth and the negative impact on each family also made me pray, “Give me neither poverty nor riches…”
- United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newbell. This book beautifully articulates the need for diversity in the Church. Using her own experience as a black member of a predominantly white church, Trillia provides Scriptural and experiential arguments for the importance of multi-racial churches.
- Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay W. Richards. Before debating with Shane Claiborne earlier this year, I reread this book. Jay combines clear communication with clear thinking to make a draw clear conclusions about what really makes a community and nation flourish.
- Clearing Obstacles to Work: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Fostering Self-Reliance by David Bass. With so much talk about how traditional charity doesn’t solve the problems of poverty, this book refreshingly focuses on solutions. Looking at case studies and examples of ways to promote human flourishing, Clearing Obstacles to Work takes an uplifting look at solutions to poverty.
- Half a Piece of Cloth: The Courage of Africa’s Countless Widows by Jane L. Crane. By capturing the daily realities and experiences of women living in poverty, this book reminded me to not allow distance to develop between me and the people we serve at HOPE. May we never grow cold to the realities of so many in our world.
- From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty Through Christ-Centered Microfinance by Brian Fikkert and Russ Mask. We all remember how When Helping Hurts stopped us in our tracks, forcing us to confront our most fundamental misconceptions about what it means to serve others well. Now, in this follow-up of sorts, Brian takes a closer look at the effect of Christ-centered microenterprise development and even shares some incredible generous things about HOPE. I’m so thankful for the friendship and partnership of Brian and the Chalmers Center.
- Look and Live: Discover the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ by Matt Papa. Written by a worship leader, this book talks about how right behavior comes not from trying harder but from focusing more on Christ. Such a good book, especially for us “older brother” types.
- A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What by Gordon MacDonald. Gordon writes about what it takes to sustain a life of service. The message of this excellent book profoundly shaped our thinking on 40/40 Vision.
- Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks by Dennis Okholm. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the seven deadly sins and historic understanding of our frailty. Details how pride is the root of all vices.
- Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith by Todd Wilson. Real Christian describes markers of Christ-followers that might surprise those of us in the American Church: broken-hearted joy, a humble disposition, a readiness to acknowledge sin, an ability to live balanced and avoid legalism, a deep spiritual hunger that drives growth, and most of all―love.
Next books I’m planning to read are Five Gears: How to be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time by Jeremie Kubicek, and For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. What else should I add to my list?