Need a book recommendation? The lists below might help. This page began when I needed blog content and started posting a few book reviews. Wasn’t long before my entire reading list was posted for all to see, and folks were stunned to see I read about 100 books a year. Now this is the most visited page on my blog. Thanks.
Yes, 100 books a year plus or minus. People often ask how that’s possible. It’s not a secret: read fast, listen to audiobooks, invest the time. Or just do like Calvin does.
An acquaintance once said every fourth book he reads is on a topic he knows absolutely nothing about. I can’t claim the same thing, and honestly don’t want to — every fourth book? That’s too ambitious. Somewhere around Advanced Microbiology Systems I’d fall asleep.
But I do try to mix in a range of topics in my book selection. The list include lots of history, a few about faith/theology, plenty of current events, sprinkled with a few mysteries or old classics. Plus a few travel books. And a few bestsellers. Okay, so pretty much everything but self-help … no wait, there are a few of those. Well, I can at least claim to have zero romance books. Nothing about the Bachelor either.
Click the links and you’ll either find my personal review or it will take you to the Amazon page and a few cents will go to PathLight.
I also added a line or two giving my own mini-review so you can skim through them faster.
Here are the 2017 books:
Thank You For Being Late, by Thomas Friedman. Read this twice so I could grasp the big picture themes. Excellent and highly recommended.
No More Dragons, by Jim Burgen. Enjoyed this “how to do life” book.
Galatians IVP New Testament Commentary, by Walter Hansen. Walter is brilliant. And lovable.
Belonging and Becoming, by Mark and Lisa Scandrette. A creative couple shares how they do family. Encouraging and challenging at the same time.
The Spirituality of Wine, by Gisela H. Kreglinger. Maybe a little too deep about wine?
A World in Disarray, by Richard Haass. Thoughtful and insightful overview of the world as it is today, and how we got here. Anybody interested in global politics should read this book.
The Black Widow, by Daniel Silva. One or two of Silva’s books are worth reading. But they become tiresome pro-Israel formulas.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ____, by Mark Manson. Pop psycho babble.
A Spy’s Guide to Thinking, by John Braddock. Pretty basic. Skip it.
Here are the 2016 books:
America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis. Too strident for me. I certainly agree with the premise, but the tone is too blunt for such a complex issue.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Really fun book about secret codes, old bookstores, Google big data, and curiously interesting characters.
Salvation Lake, by G.M. Ford. Another in the Leo Waterman mystery series, weaving a bit of Mark Driscoll shenanigans with brutal thuggery. A fun book.
A Capitalist’s Lament, by Leland Faust. A former business partner of mine, Leland reached the highest plateaus of the business world. Now he’s turning the table on Wall Street sharks.
The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore. A historical novel that is way more fun (and educational) than I ever expected.
Razor Girl, by Carl Hiassen. Total crap, bubblegum for the brain. It’s what I needed after too many serious books.
The Conservative Heart, by Arthur C. Brooks. If more conservatives expressed themselves like this the world would be a better place.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker. Typically millennial, it’s all about the experience. Even if it’s irrelevant and ridiculous.
Team of Teams, by General Stanley McChrystal. Interesting if sometimes overly complex understanding of team leadership.
The Master of Disguise, by Antonio J. Mendez. Don’t bother.
The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore. Fun story, if at times ridiculous.
Amazing Grace, by Eric Metaxas. A biography of William Wilburforce. The author goes over the top in his praise.
Dirty Glory, by Pete Greig. Wonderful story of how God is at work in the world.
Finding God in Silicon Valley, by Skip Vaccarello. Stories of leaders in Silicon Valley who take their faith seriously.
Confessions, by Saint Augustine. About the 10th time I read this. Someday I hope to fully embrace his brilliance, for now I’m grateful for the little I can understand.
The Fix, by Jonathan Tepperman. The author tackles the biggest and most persistent problems the world faces and claims to have a solution for all of them. Good book, but idealistic.
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. People are raving about this book. I didn’t think much of it.
Nonsense, by Jamie Holmes. I wanted to like this book but it just didn’t connect.
Living with Wealth Without Losing Your Soul, by Steve Perry. Met Steve recently and we realized we’d both written books on the same topic. If you liked Junkyard Wisdom you might want to check it out.
The English Spy, by Daniel Silva. My last “summer” read. Spies, intrigue, and the mostly good guys win.
Embrace, by Leroy Barber. Solid book on the centrality of unity in the Church.
Join the Conversation, by Todd Harper. The basics on living generously.
Facing the Blitz, by Jeff Kemp. If you are a football fan who follows Christ you might enjoy this.
Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley, by Rochelle Kopp and Steven Ganz. If you live near or work within the Silicon Valley culture, this is a really useful book. Seriously, I thought I knew all the lingo … but I didn’t.
Under New Management, by David Burkus. One of the better management books I’ve read in a long time.
The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri. Sometimes confusing murder/political mystery set in Sicily. Skip it.
Grit, by Angela Duckworth. Excellent book about the link between success, happiness, and grit.
The Pumpkin Plan, by Mike Michalowicz. Sometimes I read a book so you don’t have to. This is one of those.
The Search for God and Guinness, by Stephen Mansfield. Solid book and a truly interesting (and impressive) family.
Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. Simply brilliant. Fantastic book.
Chaos Monkeys, by Antonio Garcia Martinez. If you’re looking for a profane, ugly, personal, and well written account of Silicon Valley in this current boom, check out this book.
The Entitlement Cure, by John Townsend. We all suffer from some level of entitlement. And we know people who need help. Good book on the topic.
Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch. Another GREAT book from Crouch. On my must read list.
Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday. For those of us raised in a faith tradition, not much new here. I kept wondering if the author realized how Biblical his message really was.
The Other Side of Silence, by Philip Kerr. Another classic from one of the best detective/spy authors in the business today.
Water to Wine, by Brian Zahnd. A pastor shares his story of theological, cultural, and ministry transformation.
Canoeing the Mountains, by Tod Bolsinger. Great book for anybody in church ministry.
Executing Grace, by Shane Claiborne. If you’ve ever been confused about the theology of capital punishment, check this book out.
Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson. Powerful and heartbreaking story of how capital punishment has become institutional racism. Or at least that’s what I got from the story of this amazing man and his work defending death row prisoners.
The Map Thief, by Michael Blanding. Fun and true story about the great map thief in history, and how it all transpired.
A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler. Good book, historically accurate mystery…sorta.
Divine Vintage, by Joel Butler and Randall Heskett. More information than most would ever want about wine in the bible!
Fatal Pursuit, by Martin Walker. Way too slow for me.
Espionage and Covert Operations, by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius. One of the Great Courses audio series. Good stuff here, but if you read history, stay in touch with the news, and read a few spy novels, you’ll know most everything in this course.
Foolproof, by Greg Ip. I wanted to love this book because I completely agree with the premise. Unfortunately the author ties everything into the economic consequences of being ultra-safe without deeply looking at the social, spiritual, and political consequences. But still worth reading.
Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. Excellent book about aging in America and how we can restore dignity to the process.
Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung, 1972 Edition. A gift from my daughter after her recent trip to China. Fascinating insights — culturally, historically, politically.
The Geography of Genius, by Eric Weiner. Excellent review of how certain places have become hotbeds of genius, from ancient Athens to Silicon Valley. One of my favorites of the year (so far).
Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett. Classic tough guy detective story. Hammett really was brilliant.
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Saw the movie a few weeks ago and wondered how much Disney changed the story. Answer: plenty, but the characters are mostly the same.
Valiant Ambition, by Nathaniel Philbrick. Attempts to tell the untold stories of the American Revolution. Doesn’t work because everything shared is already known.
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck. Often funny, always thoughtful, it’s the story of two brothers who a couple years ago bought an old fashioned wagon and three mules, then traveled the original Oregon Trail.
Superforecasting, by Philip Tetlock. Excellent insights, well researched, a good book to read this election year.
Vanishing Grace, by Philip Yancey. Thought provoking.
Friend or Foe, by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer. Some good nuggets of insight in the book, but probably a better magazine article (i.e. longer than a blog post but not a full book).
Junk, by Alison Stewart. Did somebody say junk? Then of course I’m going to read the book. This one is interesting, sorta, but the chapters and themes feel a bit disconnected.
Washington’s Immortals, by Patrick O’Donnell. Following a Maryland regiment through the Revolutionary War. Basically it’s Band of Brothers in the 1700’s, but not as well written.
The Industries of the Future, by Alec Ross. Books like this tend to be out of date by the time they are published. ‘Nuff said.
Endurance, by Alfred Lansing. A classic and definitive account of one of the greatest adventure stories of the 20th Century. If you love adventure, this is a must read.
Slow Kingdom Coming, by Kent Annan. If you ever feel overwhelmed in your service to others, read this book. Great stuff.
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, by Douglas Rushkoff. Really appreciated some of the insights, thought others were very idealistic.
The Waters of Eternal Youth, by Donna Leon. Fun mystery set in Venice.
Creator’s Code, by Amy Wilkinson. Contrived garbage.
Chasing the Scream, by Johann Hari. Sad, insightful, compelling look at the damaging consequences of the war on drugs.
Waterloo, by Bernard Cornwell. Never knew much about the actual battle; this book is as comprehensive as they come.
The Third Wave, by Steve Case. Sometimes it’s his story of AOL. Other times it’s a forward looking book. Still other times it’s a collection of opinions. Interesting, but was hoping for more.
Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Fun for history buffs.
From Silk to Silicon, by Jeffrey Garten. The story of globalization through the lives of ten people who made it happen. From Genghis Kahn to Andy Grove. Really enjoyed this book.
The Republic of Pirates, by Colin Woodard. Pirates! How could it not be fun history?
Poor Economics, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Appreciate how they take on the ideologues and look at just the facts. Not always sure the facts are right, but appreciate the effort.
The River of Strange People, by Jonathan Rowe. Weird mix of mystery, adventure, Mayan legend, Belize, and the fountain of youth. Mostly just a big mess of a book.
The Buccaneers of America, by Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin. Okay, so I’m on a pirate kick. Still, it is a historical resource.
Pirate Hunters, by Robert Kurson. Wonderful story of adventure and history.
Through My Eyes, by Bob Whitworth. Memoir of a Vietnam vet.
Flourishing, by Miroslav Volf. Do we need religion in a globalized world? Volf argues we do, absolutely.
Miraculous Movements, by Jerry Trousdale. Might be a bit dated, but still interesting.
Lead Like Jesus, by Ken Blanchard. Another faith based leadership book. Has some good insights, has some filler.
Introducing World Religions, by Charles Farhadian. Yet another textbook worth reading from a Westmont professor.
The Grace of God, by Andy Stanley. Part of my continued 2016 readings on grace.
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Powerful, thoughtful, at times uncomfortable.
Thomas Cromwell, by Tracy Borman. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about a key ally of Henry VIII.
Driven by Difference, by David Livermore. Strong case for how to create diverse teams and why they are better innovators.
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself, by Clayton M. Christensen. Each chapter from a different author, so the value of the advice varies.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, by Bill Bryson. More fun from the witty curmudgeon as he travels across Britain poking fun at human behavior.
Create vs Copy, by Ken Wytsma. A surprising topic for a pastor, but Ken brings his usual brilliance to the topic.
Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas. I normally love books by Metaxas but this one felt like a lot of well worn platitudes.
The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, by Todd Rose. One of those books that is going to push a lot of buttons. Whatever you think of the conclusions, it’s a must read.
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. Moving and powerful story of two sisters in France during World War II.
The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, by Mark Forsyth. VERY funny and indeed circular explanation about many of the words in the English language. I laughed, was fascinated, and learned a lot.
The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World, by Ho-fung Hung. We always hear about the manifest destiny of China ruling the world. Not so fast
Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream, by Clay Shirky. Extremely insightful and balanced book about Chinese innovation.
All of Grace, by Charles Spurgeon. Classic from Spurgeon.
The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car, by Steven Parissien. Attempts to narrate the entire history of the automobile. Some good stuff, but definitely Euro-centric and has a few mistakes.
The Outsiders, by William Thorndike. It’s only January, but this book is the best business book I’ve read this year.
On Grace and Free Will, by Saint Augustine. Hard to express how complex this 75-page book is. And how thought provoking. A continuation of my readings on grace.
Adios Hemingway, by Leonardo Padura Fuentes. Fun, brilliant, far more poignant than I thought it would be. Who knew Communists could create art?
Out of the Depths, by John Newton. If you’re going to focus your reading on the topic of grace, you have to read the autobiography of the man who wrote Amazing Grace.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, by John Bunyan. The first book in my focus on grace. “It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls.”
What’s So Amazing About Grace?, by Philip Yancey. Simple but powerful stories of grace.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, by Timothy Keller. More brilliance from Keller.
History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration. I love The Great Courses by Audible, and this one was one of my favorites.
The Promise: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel, by Robert Crais. The Elvis Cole mysteries had gotten dark in recent years, so it’s good to get back to the wise cracking sarcastic Elvis I loved when this series was launched.
God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, by Walter Russell Mead. Wow. Thought provoking, well researched, balanced.