My Top 10 Books of 2011
Christmas is over and it is time for everyone's top ten list. Here is mine. I have had a chance to read a lot of great books this year... more books than ever. I started counting and realized that I averaged more than a book a week these past twelve months. Between school and church I have had my work cut out for me. The following list contains a sampling of books regarding leadership, culture and the church. I loved each of these because they made me think. I have tried to order them 1-10 by level of personal impact. Know that I could have moved many of these up or down the scale, not to mention those books that didn't make the cut. Nevertheless here are my top ten books of 2011.
George Ladd paints a clear picture of the Kingdom of God. He starts at the beginning and works his way to the end... the very end. What does it mean for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? I feel that this book is foundational for those who are wrestling with the concepts of Christ's redemption on earth.
Steven Levy describes what it is like to live and work inside Google. The "googleplex" is the affectionate term used to describe the sprawling campus of the worlds greatest organizers of information. This book made me think long and hard about how systems scale. Google survives on the ability for a program to grow exponentially. Many of the systems that I put in place live or die on the same criteria.
This is a great leadership read. Daniel Levi does a great job describing how teams work. Each chapter is straight forward and simple. I constantly asked myself why didnt I write this?! That is not to say that Levi didn't offer some profound insight into the life of a team. I highly recommend this book for anyone involved in leadership.
Geek alert! This book is awesome. Tim Wu walks his readers through the last hundred years of information innovation. He puts his finger on a pattern of open and closed that I found fascinating. Today people are talking a lot about how open or closed the internet should be. Wu provided me with a great perspective on the matter. If you are at all curious about the future of the internet or the history of other like technologies this book is a must read.
Henri Nouwen is an inspirational person and tells us the story of the Prodigal Son. What? You have already read this story? You have already lead group studies on this parable of Jesus? Trust me: you will get something out of this book. Nouwen describes how each of us can play the role of father, son or brother in this familiar story. It is another excellent read.
Malcolm Gladwell has written a classic. This book describes the factors that contribute to the tipping point of any idea into popular culture. Gladwell takes a close look at several case studies and tracks popular memes from beginning to end. This book made me think hard about the movements we try to start in our churches and communities. Have we considered Gladwell's factors? Perhaps we should.
Thomas Green speaks to a soft subject; one that many of us are hesitant to admit to. What do you do when your spiritual well runs dry? Green takes this touchy subject head on. Is it right for someone to go through a spiritual dry spell? Is that even Biblical? Anyone in ministry should read through this book.
I think that Dallas Willard has been reading my journal. He wrote this book and spoke directly to me. Renovation of the Heart discusses the concept of spiritual formation. I know that I want to get closer to God but I don't always know how. I should read the Bible, pray and do church stuff... but is that it? Yes and no. Willard offers some powerful guidance. Again, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be better Christ follower.
Home run Franky. I can tell you that I read this book in one sitting... and then I read it again later that week. I cant believe how long ago Schaeffer wrote this book (1984). He was way ahead of his time with this one. And yes the cover of the book is corny. I had to get past that too. This book takes the conflict of sacred vs. secular head on. Spoiler alert: Franky doesn't believe that there is a secular world for the church to compete with. Wha? Anyone who hopes to shape the culture of Christianity needs to give this book a chance. It has the potential to radically shift your perspective on what sorts of things we should be doing in the church.
Read this book. Metaxas walks through the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was encouraged and inspired by this account of his calling, ministry and struggle against Adolf Hitler. I will admit that I am a bit of a WWII buff but that should not prohibit anyone from reading through this powerful biography. I was surprised at how well Metaxas described the theological process of Bonhoeffer. I found myself asking questions about what and why I believe. This book changed me and I would love for you to have the same experience.