Here is the list of books I have read in the last few years (not to be confused with my film list). My reading tends to happen in fits and starts. My books are my mentors. They find themselves congregating all over the house. Sadly, only one out of three benefit from the air-conditioning inside the house. The other two-thirds sweat it out in the garage (scroll down for a photo).
I like to hold the physical artifact of a book (only an occasional iPad download for me). I like to touch and turn pages. I read actively with pen in hand to underline key thoughts (non-fiction anyway). If I am really inspired I will summarize the contents of the chapter on the table of contents page (scroll way down).
Here is my list starting with the most recent year and working back in time. They are listed in the order in which I read them in that year.
Skeletons in God's Closet (Josh Butler). Book of the year for me! Maybe the best theology book for me in the last decade. Butler is a pastor at Imago Dei in Portland. He writes with depth, insight and as far as I can tell orthodoxy. Very CS Lewis-esque on the Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment and the Hope of Holy War.
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (Eugene Sledge). This is one of the books that informs the HBO series The Pacific. Sledge wrote the book 35 years after the war for his grandkids and had no idea he would write what is considered one of the best infantry accounts of war ever written.
Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific, A Marine Tells His Story (Robert Leckie). The other book that informed the HBO series The Pacific.
The Morning They Came For Us (Janine di Giovanni). This is the tragic telling of the unfolding Syrian civil war between 2011-2015.
ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (Weiss, Hassan). Our daughter Elena read this after spending a month doing ministry in Lebanon (alongside our son Quinn). I try to read what my kids are reading as a touch point with them. This traces the genesis of ISIS through Zarqawi et al.
An Abridged Koran (Bill Warner). Our son Quinn encouraged me to read this. He is in his third year of living in the Middle East. I took a class on Islam nearly 30 years ago under J. Christy Wilson and read the Koran then. This was a very different reading experience because it arranges the Koran in chronological order and supplements with references from Mohammed's biography and from the Hadith. it is a surprisingly quick read (5-6 hours). It allowed me to capture a sense of the story arc of the Koran and of the days of Mohammed that I did not get from reading the Koran.
Islam (A. Guillaume). A brief, well-respected introduction to Islam.
Secrets of the Koran (Don Richardson). Richardson, the author of Peace Child, provides a critical look at the "war verses" in the Quran.
A Moveable Feast (Hemingway). Another book left laying around by Elena. This short memoir of Hemingway's experiences in France in the 1920s is considered one of his best works. It was a good thing Hemingway waited until F. Scott Fitzgerald was dead before publishing this portrayal of F. Scott ("with friends like that...").
Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury). When I compare my required high school reading to that of my kids, I think my education was deficient. So I've been catching up on some classics like this. This dystopian novel is insightful on how media (television) can be detrimental. It was inspired by the show trials of Stalin. It has fascinating references to Scripture and powerful thoughts on memory.
Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation (M. Volf). I got through Part I (page 190) before stalling out. It is considered a theological classic on dealing with conflict among groups of different identities.
Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (Tamim Ansary). A readable overview of the Islamic centuries through a modern Muslim's eyes.
Washington: A Life (Ron Chernow). Our Mobile Ministry Forum team met for several days in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania near Valley Forge in August. Visiting those fields and seeing his residence inspired me to learn more. This recent biography is considered one of the best ever. It somehow kept me engaged through all 800 pages. George is the man. Here are my 10 Leadership Lessons from Georgia Washington.
We Were Once Soldiers...and Young (Moore, Galloway). Rick Warren had all of the US military veterans come on stage during service at Saddleback Church the day before Veterans Day. There were a number of veterans from the Vietnam War so I was inspired to reread the book Vietnam (Karnow). That led to reading this book that inspired the Mel Gibson film "We Were Soldiers." This is the stunning true story of the first part of the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 in Vietnam. It was the first major confrontation between US and Vietnamese forces and defined the way the US would eventually fight (and lose) the war.
Life of Mohammed (Ibn Ishak, A. Guillaume). This is considered the best English translation of the earliest account (700's) of Mohammed's life. So far I'm 300 pages in. if you are into origin stories like me, this is a must for anyone interested in Islam.
Keto Clarity (Jimmy Moore). In November, a friend used a word I did not know. When a guest used the same word in December I figured I had to learn more. "Ketosis" is the metabolic state in which fat provides most of the fuel for the body. Since I'm always curious to learn more about how the body functions I read this book and followed this nutrition plan for a month. Fascinating. If you have any issues with weight control, I recommend this. I'm no longer following the diet since I have the problem of maintaining weight.
Vietnam (Stanley Karnow). I started reading this classic on the history of the US involvement in Vietnam war. I got sidetracked and read "We Were Once Soldiers" (see above) and then came back to finish this.
Che (Anderson). A stunning biography on the controversial figure. This was the second time I've read this one.
Beirut to Jerusalem. Anyone interested in the Middle East has to read this. I was motivated because our son Quinn moved to Beirut for several years.
American Sniper. I liked the movie, but did not care for the book. I was disturbed by the number of times he used the word "savages" to describe the Iraqis he killed. It reminded me of how the Hutu's used the term "cockroaches" against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Story Wars (Sachs). Great read on your brand as story. Especially helpful insights on your brand as mentor and the client as the hero.
1775, West Cambridge. I lived in Boston in the mid 80's. This is an old book I picked up then about the battle of Lexington and Concord.
The Generosity Bet (High). Readable stories about people who took risks of generosity.
The Glass Castle. Our daughter Sage's favorite book. A woman tells her story of growing up with parents who eventually choose homelessness (and stayed together to the end).
Show Them No Mercy: Four Views of God and Canannite Genocide (Gundry). I love the Four Views series. Four views of continuity between the testaments (radical discontinuity, moderate continuity, eschatological continuity, spiritual continuity).
He Inclined His Ear Unto Me. Steve Keel's autobiography self-published by his family after his death. Steve lived a beautiful life of faith.
Middlesex (Eugenides). Curiosity got the best of me when our daughter Elena was reading it. A fascinating fiction about a hermophrodite. Eugenides writes one book per decade and they become best-sellers.
The Book of Leviticus (Wenham) The NICOT commentary on Leviticus. I've been in the Pentateuch for 10 months and keep scratching more deeply. Readable commentary, not too technical.
Contagious Disciple Making (Watson & Watson). I got this for free at EMDC this year. A compelling guide on how to launch disciple-making movements.
Difference (Jiwa). A business monograph about the "difference map" to help differentiate your product idea.
Storiented Bible (Paauw). Chapter 4 of a not-yet-published book. Paauw is the genius behind the Community Bible Experience developed at Biblica. I love how he challenges me to read the Scripture in larger chunks to better understand the overall story arc.
Keep in Step with the Spirit (Packer). I pseudo-read this 20 years ago. This is JI Packer's take on how to understand the role of the Spirit in our lives. Useful, but a bit dry. This is my 2015 theme.
Soviet Juggernaut A Time-Life book about the rise of the Red Army in 1944-45. My dad subcribed to this series and I have at least 40 pounds of these coffee table style books.
Ready, Set, Go. A fitness guidebook.
The Fault in Out Stars (Green). Very good book and movie! YA lit (young-adult literature) that I recommend for adults. Especially parents of teenage girls because there is a good chance your daughter already read it.
With the Beatles. Bob Whitaker photos in coffee table book format.
Robert Capa. Great coffee table book.
iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives (Detweiler). Thought provoking read with a needed call to unplug regularly.
Hitler's Willing Executioners. This took me two months to read. It changed two generations of scholarly thought about the willingness of the average German to support Hitler's extermination policy of the Jewish people.
The Prophets (Heschel). Brilliant insight on the prophets from a Jewish professor.
Night (Wiesel). The tragic classic.
Odd Apocalypse (Koontz). I'd seen this author many times in airport bookstores. I finally read one. That was plenty for me.
Spider & Starfish. Eric Celerier talks about this whenever he speaks. Is your organization too centralized?
The Chief (Nasaw). Biography of William Randolph Hearst. Meaty. Fascinating character who saw his newspapers as world changers, not just reporting outlets.
The Non-Profit Narrative (Portnoy). Short, helpful read for non-profit leaders.
Pulse (Carmen). Young adult fantasy. I wanted to read one of the books our youngest daughter was reading by this author.
The Lost Hero (Riordan). A Percy Jackson book. Same as Pulse. I wanted to read one of the authors that Sage was reading.
Transformed: A New Way of Being Christian (Kalinowski). A very practical book about a Jesus-centered life. More about being than doing.
East of Eden (Steinbeck). Wow! Classic. Timshel. Amazing characters. Got to love Lee.
Book Thief. My daughter Sage's other favorite book.
(I ran out of steam here providing an explanation).
Mission San Luis Ray.
The Monkey and the Fish (Gibbons)
What On Earth Am I Here For? (Warren).
In Cold Blood (Capote).
Final Storm (Shaara). Okinawa campaign
WWII: Island Fighting (Time/Life).
Brains on Fire.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (Capote).
A Christmas Memory (Capote).
Catcher in the Rye.
Tropic of Cancer (Miller). This book was banned in the US back in the day. I read it because a new friend said it was the book that most gave meaning to his life.
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (McCollough).
A Chain of Thunder (Shaara). Vicksburg campaign
Steve Jobs (Isaacson).
Hunger Games. Catching Fire. Mocking Jay.
Honeymoon in Tehran.
The Lion, the Professor, and the Movies (Joseph).
The Steel Wave (Shaara).
Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?
12th Imam, Tehran Initiative (Rosenburg).
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
For Your Freedom and Ours.
Gone For Soldiers (Shaara). Mexican American war.
Malibu Miracle. Story about building Pepperdine's Malibu campus.
Day of War. David's Fighting Men.
They Must be Stopped.
The Looming Tower.
Branding Faith (Cooke).
On Beyond Leatherback: Cass Mountain.
What French Women Know.
The Terminal Man (Crighton).
The Innocent Man (Grisham).
Four Blind Mice (Patterson)
Gods and Legion (Curtis Ford)
Across the Rhine (Time-Life)
Red Army Resurgent (Time-Life)