One of the things I’ve developed over the years because of Grad School is an enjoyment of reading. After graduating I used to have a stack of books I was working though at any given time – reading one for a bit, picking up another before finishing the current one and so on.
Over the past couple years however I’ve shifted this pattern to completing a book before beginning another one. I also find myself going on a fiction kick then transitioning to a non-fiction kick for a while.
In going through my electronic book collection I was surprised to discover that in 2015 I read 15 books, 2016 I read 13 and then last year in 2017 I read 24 books.
What follows are a few of the favorites from the past several years, in no particular order.
Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage
Morrie Shechtman, Arleah Shechtman
The Shechtman’s have the same approach to married life and its dynamics as I do in my book Naked Marriage – there are too many myths couples carry into marriage that cause problems and disappointments. In this book they discuss how our family of origin familiars carry forward into marriage and are often the cause of most of the issues between spouses. This is a straight-forward, non-glamorous look at married life. I like it!
I actually read through several books with titles you likely would’t bring up among some church friends and family this year, but this book and the one further below were the best. Jen brings a blunt look to the world of “self-help” by encouraging you to understand why you are how you are and how to embrace what you can’t change. The chapters are bite sized with funny and inspiring stories, life-changing insights, easy exercises and the occasional swear word.
Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons
Eric Davis, Dina Santorelli
Eric Davis spent 16 years in the military, with 10 of those as a Navy Seal. While the target is sons in the book, all his advice also pertains to how he raises his daughters. However, I will go further and say this book is an excellent resource for how we raise ourselves. Any adult will get plenty from this book about being a good, decent, effective human.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a mentally demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. In short, Cal Newport proposes Deep Work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. This book is 1/3 explaining his thesis and deep work’s importance – with the remaining 2/3s offering practical advice on how to pursue deep work. In our ever distracted world, Deep Work is a refreshing swim against the stream of societal trends.
Possibly the best read I have had in a long, long time. I am now a Mark Manson fan. As the title states, reading this books means you will be exposed to much more colorful language than you may be accustomed – but the message throughout the book is fantastic. My edgy side loves the counter-intuitive approach Mark takes to the self-help world and its advice. He cuts through the fluff and offers up real, in-your-face advice and challenges that when taken to heart will dramatically change your life and relationships. I’ve recommended this book to more clients and friends than any other lately.
I was introduced to Brené Brown’s work via an intern of mine who stated if she could make every person in the world read one book other than the Bible it would be this one. Brené is a researcher at heart, but she’s a gifted writer and speaker as well. Her study of shame and vulnerability has the ability to transform anyone’s life. While any of her current books are worth the read, if you’re not sure where to start, Daring Greatly is a good choice.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
I’ve been on a minimalist path for many years now, but after reading Essentialism I think I’d be better described as an essentialist. The main idea of this book is how it’s important to focus on the essential things in life. We each have a finite amount of energy, focus, and things – learning to pursue the essential things in life will make all the difference in creating meaning and a lasting impact.
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
Daniel J. Siegel
Possibly one of the smartest person I’ve read in a while, Dan Siegel examines the brain and its ability to rewire, evolve and transform itself. Not only is the science in this book fascinating, the practical application of this science is what sets this book apart from others.
This book may wreck you – in the best possible ways. Jen Hatmaker speaks candidly, with humor and painful vulnerability about what it looked like for her family to shift in their thinking from pursuing comfort to pursuing the things Jesus says he cares about, such as caring for the poor and needy. I particularly loved her idea that if the people around me aren’t moved by my Christ or my church, then I must be doing a miserable job of representing them both.
Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
A quick read filled with humor and thought provoking ideas. Do you find you start too many things without seeing them all the way through? Read this book – all the way through.
Hope these help you in 2018!