Every year, I have a lunch with the HOPE team to share what I’m currently reading, what I’d recommend—and perhaps most important—what books to avoid.
Here is my reading list over the past months:
Summer Reading (Just fun reads)
- Love Does – No one tells stories like Bob Goff. Bob weaves the most hilarious, heartwarming stories of gritty faith. I not only learned about God’s love, I experienced it. I couldn’t put this book down.
- Kisses from Katie - Katie Davis has a lot of heart. The former prom queen who moves to Uganda becomes a mother to 13 children. More than a remarkable story, Katie’s call to serve Christ is a testament to the radical movement to serve. Although there are some valid concerns about her approach to development, her heart is beautiful.
- 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – Jen Hatmaker is hilarious and one of my favorite authors. Deciding to experience living a life of simplicity, she torments her family in a series of wonderfully counter-cultural experiments.
Old Faith, New Expressions (who is giving voice to what faith looks like today?)
- A Faith of our Own – Written by Jonathan Merritt—a Liberty attendee and the heir to a leading family of the religious right—this book is an encouraging look at how those like Merritt are now seeking to break away from a faith tied to partisan politics and rediscover the core of the Gospel.
- The Next Christians – Gabe Lyons provides the good news about the end of Christian America. The stories in this book give us reasons to be optimistic about the next generation of faith.
- The Voice – Not like any translation of the Bible you’ve read, The Voice is written as a script. Through it, the characters and scenes come to life, helping us to experience the Bible. My friend Chris Seay is part of a team of biblical scholars, musicians, and authors helping us to view the Word in a new way. So good.
- Veneer – Cutting through the hype to help us explore how to better love God and each other, the authors Timothy Willard and Jason Locy also feature the Tomato Pie — the best café in Central PA. Thoroughly enjoyable book.
- Not a Fan – Not looking for easy answers, Not a Fan really identifies what it means to live radically for Christ. I’m a definite fan of Not a Fan.
International Development (making sure I stay current in the sector where HOPE lives and that captured my imagination on my first international trip)
- The Last Hunger Season – Following four farmers and their families in Kenya for one year, the writer and activist who wrote this did an amazing job capturing the hardships of life in poverty—but also the hope that is happening because of development work by One Acre Fund. Brilliant.
- The Beautiful Tree – If you are passionate about education, this eye-opening book is for you. In the poorest places, a phenomenon is occurring: the poorest of the poor are forgoing free education to pay for private education. And these underfunded private schools are outperforming public schools in every area of testing.
- Tea with Hezbollah – Ted Dekker’s absorbing account of meeting the leaders of our nation’s enemies is a spellbinding read. Redefining what it means to “love your enemies,” the nonstop adventure also keeps you turning pages.
Business (how can I apply lessons from the private sector into the nonprofit world?)
- Steve Jobs – Although Jobs built a monumental company, it came at a huge cost. This biography uncovers the leadership style (the good, the bad, and the ugly) of Steve Jobs.
- The Coming Jobs War – CEO of Gallup Jim Clifton shares more than 70 years of research to point to the fact that more than anything else today, people value jobs. If you want to understand the economic mindset of the 21st century, this is for you.
Family (I don’t want to “succeed” at work and fail at home)
- Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters – Anyone who has a daughter should read this book. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters makes you recognize the incredibly critical role you play in shaping your little girl’s future. I can’t stop thinking about this book and the way I influence Liliana.
- Choosing to Cheat – Pastor Andy Stanley helps us to “cheat” work and prioritize family. This is for anyone trying to juggle work, family, friends, and ministry.
Historical (believing that there is “nothing new under the sun,” what can I learn from the generations gone before us?)
- Wisdom & Wonder – Until I read this book, I had never heard of Abraham Kuyper. But the 19th-century Dutch theologian’s message is strangely relevant: God has has dominion over everything in creation—such as art and science. God is moving outside of the church walls. If you’re feeling dissatisfied sitting in a church pew and singing a few songs, this book is for you.
- Bonhoeffer – It’s often not the big decisions that lead us astray; it’s the thousand small ones. While I will never understand how the Nazis committed such atrocities, Eric Metaxas does an incredible job showing the small, incremental steps away that led Germany to a destructive path.
What am I missing? What else to put after my “to read” list of Poor Economics, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Give Smart? [And if you're interested, I'm writing a book with Bethany Publishers called The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good with Anna Haggard (and huge help by intern Allie Speck) - our goal is to have the first draft done by mid-August!]