Charlie Jones famously wrote, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Believing his words are true, I annually recommend a few books that have impacted me and would like to hear your recommendations as well.
Here are fourteen books that I’d suggest adding to your reading list:
- I’m Still Here: Austin Channing Brown first realized the black-and-white divide in America at seven years old when she learned that her parents had named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. I’m Still Here is an eye-opening account of Austin’s life as a black female growing up in white America and an invitation to embrace God’s plan for racial justice.
- The Myth of Equality: As a transracial family, we are still learning about the depth of racism that persists in our nation. In The Myth of Equality, Ken Wytsma offers an analysis of racial inequality by prompting us to face a history of injustice and inviting us into more active listening. My hope is that within our generation, we might finally see a deeper level of justice and uncommon unity, particularly among followers of Jesus.
- Once We Were Strangers: A story of friendship, Once We Were Strangers is Shawn Smucker’s journey of what it looks like to love our neighbors well. His firsthand account serves as a welcome road map to those torn between a desire for security and a desire to open our doors to the strangers among us. The book is set in my hometown of Lancaster, PA, proudly known as one of the most welcoming cities for refugees.
- You Welcomed Me: Kent Annan’s newest book focuses on how to avoid letting fear sabotage relationships. While this book doesn’t release until November, add it to your reading list now!
Understanding Leadership and Culture
- Sacred Pace: After achieving more financial success than he ever imagined, Terry Looper hit burnout. This event was used by God to change the course of his life and teach him a way of making all future decisions. In Sacred Pace, Terry shares a four-step process in how to consult Jesus, gather the facts, watch for circumstances, and get neutral to honor God in each decision.
- The Power of Moments: Brief experiences can change the entire trajectory of someone’s life. Bestselling authors Chip and Dan Heath share why “defining moments” are so powerful, and they offer compelling stories and practical tips of how to create these kinds of memorable experiences for your co-workers, your students, your spouse, your kids—even your entire community.
- The Road Back to You and The Path Between Us: I’m a fan of personality tests. Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, you name it. In The Road Back to You, Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile explore the Enneagram. I was late to the party, but this book helped me to have a greater understanding of how God created us. The Path Between Us brings the Enneagram into relationships and has been the most significant book Laurel and I have read recently to positively impact our marriage.
- Made for These Times: Social entrepreneur Justin Zoradi encourages readers to live their lives with purpose and intention. Be prepared to love more deeply and respond more fully to the world around you.
- She is Yours: The proud parents of four girls, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts celebrate the wonders and challenges that come with raising daughters. She is Yours is especially meaningful in light of Wynter’s recent passing and serves as a reminder of the legacy we leave in how we love. This book is so important for parents of daughters.
- A Fearless Leader: I’m really excited about the Called & Courageous Girls series, written by Rachel Weaver and Anna Haggard. This children’s series highlights heroic women of the Bible, including Miriam, Priscilla, Deborah. In A Fearless Leader, you and your kids will be stirred by Deborah’s story to lead courageously as sons and daughters of the King.
- Loved: Written by Sally Lloyd Jones, Loved is a children’s book based on the Lord’s Prayer. Full of vibrant illustrations, this book helps even the youngest of children to talk with God. Great for parents with young children!
Understanding International Development
- The Economics of Neighborly Love: Too often, the Church only emphasizes spiritual or physical care for a community without caring holistically for their needs. Pastor Tom Nelson challenges the current paradigm and invites us to see how the Gospel message can pave the way to economic flourishing.
- From Barefoot to Bishop: Reverend Mbanda faced more challenges in his youth than most of us will ever face in our lifetime. In his memoir, Mbanda allows us to step into his story: to see the Rwandan Genocide through his eyes and to live in the desolation of Burundian refugee camps. It’s a compelling story of grit, strength, and the courage to overcome.
Which books are on your reading list this year? Let us know in the comments below!