“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
I started to read over 40 books this past year. Finished reading 30 of them. As the quote above states, it is not in the number or even in going through all pages but how many of them really made an impact. Looking back I see that the unusual year 2020 had an impact on my reading also. No traveling, homebound, and in a major life transition as a family provided me with more space to contemplate and process my thoughts. I was drawn to books that deal with anxiety and inner self.
Book preferences are very subjective so I give my suggestions very loosely.
Below are the books (in a random list) that stirred my thinking the most. I give a short snapshot of my impression from reading them and a score out of 10.
Book of the year. 10/10. Dane Ortlund in 22 short chapters beautifully presents God`s heart for humankind. The very words used in the bible (Matthew 11:29) to describe God’s heart are; gentle and lowly. On one hand, we break his heart with our disobedience and the very rebellious nature of ours qualifies us to be a subject of his Gentle and Lowly heart. It is in His nature. Rarely have I read something that felt rebuked and encouraged at the same time. Inspired by Puritan’s writings and the bible Ortlund helped me see Jesus`s heart for me with a new set of eyes.
The message of this book is that we tend to project our natural expectations about who God is onto him instead of fighting to let the Bible surprise us into what God himself says.
His saving of us is not cool and calculating. It is a matter of yearning—not yearning for the Facebook you, the you that you project to everyone around you. Not the you that you wish you were. Yearning for the real you. The you underneath everything you present to others. Dane Ortlund
Most intriguing 8/10. It was a fresh air on my diet as the author makes a case for the important roles of generalists in a hyper-specialized culture. It resonated the most with me in chapter 5 when he stresses the importance of Analogical thinking in problem-solving.
Chapter 5 on Thinking Outside Experience,” explores the importance of analogies as a tool for problem-solving: “Analogical thinking takes the new and makes it familiar, or takes the familiar and puts it in a new light, and allows humans to reason through problems they have never seen in unfamiliar contexts.
Most inspiring. 10/10Eric Metaxas brings in a masterful collection of short accounts on the lives of 14 extraordinary people. Among them George Washington, William Wilberforce, and Mother Teresa which the author fails to mention her origin as Albanian. All lived life under many hardships but persevered giving themself sacrificially to a greater cause. Read this book and discover the secret of their greatness.
Hits the point: 9/10 Classic Lencioni. Short to the point delivered by a fable. He says probably this is his most important book. Why you are in leadership after all? What is your motive will impact everything you do and how you do it.
Shay was still angry but shrugged nonchalantly as if to say, it’s not that big of a deal. “So, what am I wrong about?” “You’re not going to want to hear this, but I have to tell you anyway.” Liam paused before finishing. “You might be working hard, but you’re not doing it for the company.” “What the hell does that mean?” Shay wanted to know. Knowing that his adversary might punch him for what he was about to say, Liam responded. “You’re doing it for yourself.” Pat Lencioni
Whether your tendency is toward isolationism (“No one understands”) or exceptionalism (“No one can do it like me”), the danger is the same: the need to feel like you are “the only one.” There is something deeply satisfying in believing the old song, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus.” It is some version of “God and me are the only ones who get it,” except it is very rarely true. While every leader does face a true moment of standing alone, most of the time we have more company than we care to admit. We don’t want to admit it because we find comfort in self-pity. Isolationism is a deadly form of anxiety mostly because it is very rarely true, but we self-isolate to prop up the myth. (pp. 53-54). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Inspiring 9/10 How having many ideas and at the same time fulfill the demand of getting things done, or getting something done. I often feel the tension and the book makes a point of not just having an out of box ide abut even implementing it against the odds
“Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.”
Most challenging: 10/10 Craig Groeschel urges his readers to start trusting God in midst of their fears, comfort saving, and adversity. His call to obey God`s Word taking from psalm 139 is to have an authentic relationship with God, allowing Him to search our ways, thoughts actions, to allow him to mold us (through breaking), and then to follow through on His call to use us. Many of us are not ready to do such kind of prayer; Because we love too much ourselves and want to avoid suffering, failing to trust Him.
When you start to pray like “search me, break me, send me,” you may experience valleys. Attacks. Trials. Pain. Hardship. Discouragement. Even heartbreak. But there will also be the joy of faith, the marvel of miracles, the relief of surrender, and the pleasure of pleasing God. It’s time to stop praying safe. It’s time to start talking, really talking—and really listening—to God. It’s time for dangerous prayers. ( Craig Groeschel)
Counter culture:9/10 “Hurry is violence on the soul.” Says the author.
It is being said that the currency of the 21st century is our attention. This book has something to say about living fully and simply in the present.
Classic, A must-read for any church leader:10/10. I like this book because it is has a great balance of showing the truth (which is very sad to hear on many leadership failures) with the encouragement that we can be restored. He stresses the importance of a healthy community in church leadership when we are in for each other whether in our weaknesses or our strength.
Some of my favorite chapters are:
- Limits: Every leader is limited in their energy, time, gifts, and talents. It is important to recognize this to lead well.
- Balance: Leadership must mutually recognize that balance is needed to fulfill the various callings God gives to us.
- Character: A healthy leadership community understands that character is more important than anything.Service: Leaders are called to serve God’s people, not domineer over them.
- Candor: A leadership community focused on the gospel will be approachable and have the courage to love honestly.
- Identity: Where leadership gets its identity from is where they will lead.
- Longevity: There can be no longevity without a gospel community of leaders.
Best daily devotional: 10/10.
I will read it again. Enough said about it
Well researched 9/10
Leadership is not a role, not an assigned position, is a relationship: Relationships that make a difference. Walter Wright
Vulnerable 9/10 The author is open about her flaws, brings in research, personal anecdotes, and Scripture. All in a great balance. I read this with my wife. Reviews from readers are over ten thousand.
What gets most of us in trouble isn’t even real fears. We worry about things that may never happen. In fact, research shows that “97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.”
Classic: 10/10. You would not get wrong with anything with Cs Lewis. I hold him as my Intellectual.
In this short book eloquently (I heard the audiobook) Lewis explains 4 kinds of love drawings from the wealth of greek language in describing love: Storge: Affection Love Phileo: Friendship Love Eros: Romantic Love. Agape: Divine Love.
The chapter on Phileo the most intriguing for me he tackles some of the following themes
Friendship and Modernity; Secret Homosexuality?; Contrasting the friendship and the love affair; Companionship/Clubbableness; the matrix of friendship; making new friends; Phileo and Eros intertwined; Benefits for the society; Benefits for the individual; Growing in Friendship’s Appreciative Love; Can men and women ever be friends?;
There are 4 lectures around 30 min each read by Cs Lewis himself. The only book narrated by him.