Well, 2013 is drawing to a close and I thought I’d give you a look at my top reads this year. As I sorted the list I realized these selections are quite good indicators of the areas of life I dwell on the most these days: faith, parenting and work. And of course, I tend to look at all of these things in the context of calling.
The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. What a powerful little book. This is one of those short reads that you should probably spend a long time reading. It was a big eye-opener for me to realize I am definitely the older brother in this parable. I’m not sure I had ever heard anyone really talk much about the older brother, especially to show how he is equally lost – that it’s a parable of two lost sons, not just one.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I wrote a little about this book here. It might seem like a typical self-help book but goes much deeper because Brown happens to be a research professor on powerful topics like shame and vulnerability, fear and courage and worthiness. She shares very personal stories to demonstrate this vulnerability and gives a few optional exercises to try at the end of each chapter. If you don’t have time to read, her two TED talks are a great option.
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth by Walter Brueggemann. This is a book of poem prayers that a friend recommended and wow, both John and I were drawn to the raw honesty and piercing accuracy of our human ways. We read them aloud at dinner although I think it would probably be more worthwhile to read them with a journal handy. They’re beautiful and they really make you think. It’s good to be sort of “jarred” out of our normal approach to prayer.
The Lost Art of Lingering by Rowland Forman. This is a very practical, gentle guide to mutual mentoring and is packed full of resources on the topic of living the Christian life together. A good friend recommended this to me and it was a perfect refresher course for me after not reading anything on mentoring since college. Like, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp, it’s a good reminder that we’re all supposed to be ministering to each other.
How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich. Wow, this book was fascinating and worth reading whether or not you’re a parent. The material in here can be applied with any kids you know and regularly hang out with. It’s easy to read with cartoon illustrations of their points and lots of great examples that put their ideas into context for you. I got it out on CD for John to listen to and he stopped it after only the first 20 minutes to talk about it with me because there was already so much good stuff to discuss.
Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. There are some great resources out there on boys and emotional intelligence so I’m not sure if I liked this one best because I read it first or because of the title, but it was an excellent overview of how boys are often raised to be “emotionally illiterate” and how this can increase school troubles etc. There was quite a bit in there about how our school systems are not supporting how boys learn and grow. I find anything about educational theory and systems fascinating so that was very helpful for me.
How Children Raise Parents by Dan Allender. Just listened to this one on CD and it seemed like a short “read” – only 3 CDs. What I appreciated most about this book was the fact that we will fail as parents and that this is to be expected. His big points are that children have two main questions, “Am I loved?” and “Can I have it my way?” which we need to answer with a “yes” and “no” respectively. This is not a “how-to” book at all but it was a great perspective on how parenting changes us and how our children teach us.
Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. This isn’t on Amazon, so no picture. It’s a pdf book that I just read and I loved it. I’ve browsed through multiple potty-training books recently and they all seem a bit scared to pull any punches. They present options but don’t really want to tell you how to do it. This book is not scared to call it all like it is. I loved her emphasis on capability rather than the nebulous concept of “readiness”, how she blocks out the learning process and all the little tips and tricks to troubleshoot various issues.
Sticking Points by Hadyn Shaw. I blogged about this one here. This is a book every business needs to have on hand because every business is likely dealing with generational issues (actually it would probably be just as helpful for churches and extended families!). Shaw is fair to each generation and helps each generation see where the other generation is coming from. As a millennial, I’m sensitive to the fact that our generation is constantly under a microscope in the media. This book is an urgently-needed thoughtful counterbalance to a lot of the stuff floating around out there.
You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine. Sounds cheesy I know. But his major point for coaches was that often our clients already know what they need to do and potentially even how to do it. They may not need more training or teaching (in fact that might make them perform worse – I talk a little about that here). What they really need help with is simply clearing out the noise and interference to help them focus effectively. He has a great model to use in coaching conversations that I have found effective in every day conversations as well.
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. I also blogged about this one here. This is one of those books that you wish every CEO was required to read before becoming CEO. It lays out very clear exercises to help leaderships teams get clarity and unity so that they can communicate effectively with those they lead. It all seems so simple when you read these kind of books and then you look around and wonder why it so rarely gets implemented. Possibly because it’s one of those very-hard-but-extremely-worthwhile things to do.
Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. Loved this book and all the other ones they’ve written as well. Great stories, simple but powerful concepts. I wrote about one of them here. These guys are so interesting and practical.
What were your favourite reads in 2013?
P.S. Disclosure: All image links are affiliate links so if you click on them and buy one of the books, Amazon pays me a few cents.