I am an avid reader and wholeheartedly believe it’s one of the best ways to achieve personal growth. Well, that is if you are reading the right books and putting what you learn into action.
Growing up, my parents couldn’t get me to read anything. I would read whatever the teacher assigned, maybe, and that’s it. During my college years, I did a little extra reading on the side, but I was definitely not all in.
About 6 or 7 years ago I decided that in order to grow as a leader and into the person God was calling me to become I’d have to start reading. If you are going to grow then you must sow. Sowing the seeds of knowledge and wisdom found in books written by people that are successful, especially in the areas you want to succeed, is a great way to compress time and learn more than you have time to experience on your own.
If you are a reader, awesome. If you are not a reader, then don’t lose hope just yet. You can download most books via Audible and listen to them in the car or around the house. I love to do this as I drive to and from work or on long road trips. Another option is to start reading and take it slow. Dedicate 15 minutes per day to reading a book and then increase as your reading muscles begin to grow.
Below is a list of the best books I read in 2017 and a brief description of each book. I encourage you to pick a couple of them and then get your read on in 2018. These are not listed in a particular order as they are all good in their own way.
- The Little Things– Andy Andrews is one of the best communicators of our time. I’ll stand by that statement 7 days per week and twice on Sunday. In his latest book, The Little Things, Andy shares his secrets of success that have helped the likes of top CEO’s, NCAA National Championship Football Teams, Superbowl Championship teams, and many more. According to Mr. Andrews, the little things change everything and I believe his perspective is right on the money!
- The Last Arrow– To say, Pastor Erwin McManus, writes with passion is an understatement. In The Last Arrow, Pastor McManus urges the reader to live life with ambition, fire, and no regrets. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll want to live with such a gusto that you’ll leave this life with nothing left to give. Pastor McManus’ personal story, which he shares in this book, is incredibly moving and beautifully ties right into the lessons he shares with the reader. The last arrow might move from book title to life motto after you complete this read.
- Under Our Skin– NFL star Benjamin Watson brings to light the sensitive issues of the racial divide in the United States and also offers solutions to bridge the gap. Mr. Watson shares real-life experience and ultimately provides hope that America can begin to heal as a united people. As a man that is passionate about racial unity, I can say that I loved Benjamin Watson perspectives and solutions. This is a must-read for all Americans.
- Lead for God’s Sake– Why did it take me so long to read this book? I was gifted Lead for God’s Sake a couple of years ago and it sat on a shelf. Well, I’m glad I picked it up this year as it’s a tremendous read. Author Todd Gongwer shares with the reader an awesome story of a transactional coach that is losing his team and his family life in the process. Somewhere along the way, this coach meets up with a school janitor that teaches him how to be a transformational leader for his team and in his home. As a coach and family man, I can appreciate everything about this story. I actually have a chapter in my own book about a janitor that positively impacted my journey, so this book hits home on several levels.
- Day of War– Yes, yes, yes. Cliff Graham knocks it out of the park with his Lion of War series. Day of War is the first book in the series and it’s a page-turner. This book can be listed as historical fiction or Christian historical fiction, both work. No matter what it’s listed under, the book is excellent. Personally, David is one of my favorite people in the Bible. In this series, we get to experience aspects of David’s life first hand. Graham went above and beyond in creating a riveting book that includes scripture, imagination, historically accurate characters, weapons, and more. I’ll say no more, just make this book one of your reads this year and you can thank me later.
- Covenant of War– This is the 2nd book in the Lion of War series by Author Cliff Graham and it does not disappoint. This book is a continuation of Day of War, but it’s brought to us from the perspective of a different character. The first book focuses on the perspective of Beniah and this second one reads through the eyes of Eleazar- both reporting to us about the life of David. Cliff Graham’s books play out like a great movie in your mind which makes them difficult to put down. I didn’t want this book to end.
- The Emigrant Edge– Author Brian Buffini is the man. This book is on almost every bestseller list and that doesn’t scratch the surface of all Buffini has accomplished in the business and coaching world. I was ignorant to Buffini before reading this book and now I’m one of his mega-fans. This Irish immigrant shares his principles of success that can help anyone achieve the American dream. This book is funny, insightful, and full of inspiration that can be turned into action right now. No matter who you are or where you’re from, The Emigrant Edge will move you in the direction of your dreams.
- Whisper– Okay, I have to admit that I haven’t finished reading this book yet as it’s my current and last read of 2017. But, I am about 3/4 of the way through and feel qualified to tell you it’s awesome! Mark Batterson has become one of my all-time favorite authors and pastors over the last couple years. I’ve read most of his books and listen to his sermons via podcast each week. With all that said, Whisper is one of Batterson’s best works. This book is about learning to listen to God’s voice and deepening your relationship with Him in the process. In typical Batterson style, this book is full of engaging real-life stories, science, and simplicity in the midst of complicated topics. This book has been a great way to end one calendar year and move into the next, armed with action steps to hear God’s whisper in my own life. Love this book!
- Swipe Right– Love, sex, and romance- who doesn’t want to read about these topics? In this book, Pastor Levi Lusko gets real about the importance of relationships and the power they hold on us as human beings. Pastor Lusko does a great job of explaining God’s plan for us in relationships and doing so in a way that’s real, raw, and right on point. While reading this book I could appreciate and connect with much of the content on a personal level. Even more important, this book has provided a game plan for my wife and me to share a Biblical perspective on sex and relationships with our pre-teen. Believe me, that’s not easy for this dad of four to write or even think about. Good work and thank you Pastor Lusko, for real for real.
- The Case for Christ– If you are a Christian, read this book. If you are not a Christian, read this book. It has sold millions of copies and been made into a major motion picture for a reason. Lee Strobel has an incredible story and the evidence he provides in the book concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus is simply amazing. The Case for Christ is both entertaining and educational on so many levels. I feel this is a must-have in everyone’s book collection.
- Play the Man– Wait, I have two Mark Batterson books on this list? Yes, I do. As a dad and a man, this book struck so many chords that I immediately suggested it to almost every dad and male I know. It’s seriously that good. In Play the Man, Batterson explains what it means to be a man and more specifically, a man of God. His delve into manhood and advice for making men is second to none. I plan to read this book again and employ the wisdom contained within as my two little boys grow up and I work to show them what it looks like to be a Man of God. Dang, I want to read this one again while writing these few sentences about it.
- The Power of Positive Leadership– Would a year of reading really be complete without a Jon Gordon book? Probably not is my answer to that question. As the master of positive thinking, living, and writing, Gordon shares with us his knowledge on the topic. This is not feel good fluff, but instead real and relevant information for leaders in any of every area of life. Jon Gordon shares principles in this book through compelling stories that will turn your negative mindset into a positive perspective pillar of strength for you and your team today.
- Game Changing Moves– My own book on this list, biased much? Well, I wouldn’t have written this book if I didn’t believe in its contents. So I feel I must share it with you on this list. You might be thinking, “Aren’t these books you’ve read this year? You wrote Game Changing Moves, so why would you read it?” I did read my own book and it spoke to me too. Weird, I know. But it’s amazing how God can take past experiences and speak to you through them again, but in a different way. In this book, I share with the reader life lessons and principles of success that I’ve learned from various people over the years. These people include Hall of Fame coaches, high-level leaders in the world of business, and little old women that I worked for during my youth. The principles are applicable for parents, teachers, leaders, athletes, you name it. The positive feedback I’ve received has both amazed and humbled me greatly. All Glory to God!
There you have it friends, my top reads of 2017. Now go pick some of them up and dig in to help create a better you in 2017!
Happy Reading and God Bless,