Not everyone is like me. I've met a lot of people who've never read a book unless a teacher required them to read it. I realize not everyone looks for opportunities each day to pick up a book and read like I do. Intentionally setting aside reading time isn't for everyone, but for me, reading adds an unbelievable amount of value to my life. A great day for me includes at minimum an hour of reading. On a really, really good day I'll read 3-4 hours!
I'm a firm believer great leaders are smart readers. Leaders are learners and there's much to be learned from reading. Even though I don't have a goal when it comes to the number of books I read in any given year, I do have an expectation I will have one key takeaway from every book I read - one thing I can do or use at work or at home to lead better.
But every once in a while I read a book that completely changes my perspective. Sometimes I read something that just blows me away and I feel like my world was just turned upside down like, "Wow! (#mindblown!)" I know a great book is when I find myself purchasing multiple copies to give away to friends or I'll recommend it to others. Over the years I've kept a running list of the most transformational books I've read and I'd encourage you to pick one for yourself or if you're feeling especially inspired, then by all means, read all ten! Admittedly, there is really nothing "classic" about these texts, but what's important to recognize is the influence these books had at key moments in my life.
- The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. This book was so inspiring to me I read it twice! It's packed with all kinds of tips and ideas on how to be more creative and cultivate healthy habits that lead to continual creativity.
- Staying is the New Going by Alan Briggs. The author has had a huge impact on my life and ministry. I hired Alan as my ministry coach after reading his book. The message in this book is one we all need to embrace - love where you live and live like you actually love where you are!
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It may sound strange to some that this book would make my all-time top ten list and there's a reason for it. My wife and I read this book when we were working through our call to adopt internationally. This book pushed us over the edge.
- Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd. Make no mistake. Every word in every paragraph on every page will challenge what you think/feel about the Christian response to violence.
- Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore. This is an unbelievable story of friendship between two very different people - a wealthy art dealer and a homeless man. It will knock your socks off.
- The Art of Forgiving by Lewis Smedes. No other book has shaped my thinking on the "mechanics" of forgiveness than this one. His thinking on what forgiveness is and is not and how to forgive are spot on.
- Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. This is Wright's take on the hope of heaven and resurrection. He revolutionized my theology and the hope that I have in Christ for God's complete restoration and forthcoming kingdom here on earth.
- Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis. Katie Davis is an amazing woman with an incredible story! This book was another reason we adopted.
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. For a professed "layman," Lewis writes with an incredible amount of depth. I have to read his work slowly. His metaphors and illustrations have led to some really great "aha" moments.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I don't even know where to begin here. The Hiding Place is an unbelievably redemptive story in the midst of horrific human evil and suffering. This is a must-read.
That's it. That's my top ten! What books have had the greatest impact on your life or work?