“Just look for a moment at our daily routine. In general we are a very busy people. We have many meetings to attend, many visits to make, many services to lead. Our calendars are filled with appointments, our days and weeks filled with engagements, and our years filled with plans and projects. There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing.”
– Henri J.M. Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart”
I took some time off over Christmas to do nothing but unplug, hangout with my family, and not think about anything.
I also read two amazing books. (Seriously, these are great.)
“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
This is the story of Nike from its first day to the day it went public in the 80’s, written by the founder Phil Knight.
I love books like this because it reminds me that big companies like Nike weren’t instant successes. We see the big company but miss the years of hard work, doubt, failure and in some cases dumb luck that lead to breakthroughs.
Something I did not expect from this book was how honest Phil Knight was on how empty and frustrating parts of his success has been, and what he lost along the way. (His oldest son died in a diving accident and he is really open about how he dealt with it.) I really loved this book.
“Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik
Everything we use and rely on is made of something, and that something is made of something else. The screen you are reading right now is made of glass or crystal and that glass or crystal is made of other elements that is made of a combination of other elements (and so on and so on). The author, Mark Miodownik, is a material scientist and is able to explain what “stuff” like glass, paper, or concrete is made of in a very scientific yet simple way that anyone can understand and be completely fascinated by.
I literally read this book in a couple hours. It was that interesting and understandable.
So, there you go. Add these books to your 2017 reading list. (You have already started writing your reading list right?)
Last year I listed my top 5 books as well as 8 that almost made top 5. (Check out 2015’s list here)
This year I am going to list my top 5 books of 2016, these are the books that I read and re-read that made the greatest impact on how I live and think, plus 12 other books that I had a hard time not adding to the top 5.
The “Honorable Mention” list are a few other books I enjoyed from the books I completed in 2016. (I don’t finish every book I start, if I get bored or I lose interest I don’t waste my time in finishing.)
All of these books are really amazing. Just buy them all.
Top 5 Books of 2016:
1) “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
2) “The Way of the Heart” by Henri J.M. Nouwen
3) “American Icon” by Bryce G. Hoffman
4) “Humility” by Andew Murray
5) “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle
“Originals” by Adam Grant
“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
“Adventures in Prayer” by Mary Jo Pierce
“Deep Work” by Cal Newport
“How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg *Re-read from 2015 (Probably should be top 5 since it’s the second year I’ve listed it.)
“Sprint” by Jake Knapp
“Finding Eve” by Rita Springer
“The Wisdom of the Desert” by Thomas Merton
“The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Church Monks” by Benedicta Ward
“Sacred Listening” by James L. Wakefield
“Prayer Primer” by Thomas Dubai
“The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting” by Talbot W. Chambers
“Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday
“Poets and Saints” by Jamie George
“The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin
“The Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sherma
“The Lives of the Desert Fathers” by Norman Russell
When you’re a kid and you see a ladder, you want to climb it. When you see a tree you want to climb it. When you see a mound of dirt, you not only want to climb it, you play “King of the Hill” to make sure no one else gets to the top of the hill before you.
As adults, not much has changed. We still have ladders. Only our ladders have become corporate structures and our hills have become title or position.
But what if you’re not built for climbing ladders?
I read a lot. My wife reads more. (She read 63 books 2015)
I was asked the other day what 3 to 5 books I would recommend for someone to read in 2016. Below is a list of the top 5 books I read in 2015 that made the greatest impact in how I think and live as well as 8 books that almost made the top 5.
1) “Creativity Inc. : Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull
2) “Work Rules! : Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead” by Laszlo Bock
3) “The Year Without Pants” by Scott Berkun
4) “The Orbital Perspective” By Astronaut Ron Garan
5) “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg
“Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words” by Rod Bennett
“Truely Free” by Robert Morris
“Manage Your Day-to-Day” by Jocelyn K. Glei (Editor)
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
“Creating Magic” by Lee Cockerell
“How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle
“Simplify” by Joshua Becker
“Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennen Manning
I love this video and the perspective it gives us on Christmas.
Hearing the Christmas story my whole life, I tend to picture Mary and Joseph walking through the streets of Bethlehem with a saintly glow while people around them move aside in awe and wonder. But the reality is, they were two scared teenagers in an unfamiliar city with nothing but a promise from God to hold onto.
I wonder if this was happening today, how would I react? Would I stop and offer them help? Would I welcome them into my home and give up my bed to them? Or would I look down on them, assuming they were two kids who made some bad choices and walk away?
So many times we are looking for God only in the spectacular or miraculous and we actually miss the supernatural. We miss what God is doing around us and the opportunities He has put in front of us because they may seem small or insignificant.
I firmly believe that where it appears God is moving the least, He is actually doing the most!
The birth of Christ was an amazing day that signaled a new hope for the World, but it was not the end of the story. It was the beginning of an incredible plan God has for this World, a plan that is still moving forward, a plan that you and I have a key role to fill. You and I are the instruments the Lord has chosen to spread the truth and love behind the Christmas story. We have been chosen to take part in radically changing the world.
My prayer this Christmas season is that I would walk with open spiritual eyes, seeing the hand of God in everything around me. That I would move through this world with an open heart, ready to partner with The Lord to bring life, hope and love to the people I come in contact with.