In case you were wondering or looking for some 2019 reading materials, here are my ten favorite reads from 2018.
#10 — Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters
Written by Tim Keller. So relevant a topic for our day. We have made lesser things our gods - Keller calls the heart an “idol-factory” taking good things and making them into idols that drive us - when God is available to completely satisfy our cravings.
#9 — Before We Were Yours: A Novel
Written by Lisa Wingate. It’s a novel based on the real-life scandal of a Memphis-based adoption organization that kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families. Even if melodramatic in places, I couldn’t put it down.
#8 — Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
Written by Bob Goff. I first heard Bob Goff speak at a conference last year and loved reading his book of stories and truths seeking to empower people to impact the world around them.
#7 — Educated: A Memoir
Written by Tara Westover. More than a reminder of the problems of fundamentalism in any religious or political system, this is an exploration of the tension between holding on to the heartstrings of our upbringing and moving beyond our past when that past was damaging.
#6 — The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
Written by Jon Meacham. This book is a journey through the past to remind us “we have come through such darkness before,” referring to deep political divisions generally and controversial presidents in particular. Meacham reminds us, as Abraham Lincoln famously said it, the “better angels of our nature” have found a way to prevail.
#5 — Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Written by Simon Sinek. A great reminder that if we don’t have the “why” of our core motivations clear, our “how” and “what” will fall flat.
#4 — Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving In the Age of Accelerations
Written by Thomas Friedman. Great explanatory journalism for how to think about our times. Friedman seeks to help people understand why it is we feel like the world is accelerating faster than we can process the information in multiple areas of life. Some will argue his utopian optimism, but in the end, he calls for interpersonal connection in community as an alternative to interpersonal enmity as a way forward. We are in this together.
#3 — Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory
Written by Tod Bolsinger. The title is from the adaptive work of Lewis and Clark. They thought they could canoe their way to the west coast until they hit the Rockies. They then needed to leave behind the canoes and find new navigational tools. The Church in the west is in uncharted territory and leaders need to be adaptive.
#2 — Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Companies that Addicted America
Written by Beth Macy. This book opened my eyes to opioid crisis in America by charting the development of it starting with the OxyContin introduction in 1996. Macy does not pull punches in the personal devastation, inadequate treatments, and lack of consensus on how to treat. Yet, she also gives us stories of hope of changed lives.
#1 - The Bible
Of course. Cover to cover. Every year. I really do continue to marvel at the breath of the human condition into which God speaks through his Word and the hope offered for a better life and future.