Need a book recommendation? The lists below might help because I read about 100 books a year.
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.
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 my own mini-review so you can skip the stuff that doesn’t interest you.
Here are the 2017 books:
Earthly Remains, by Donna Leon. I usually love Leon’s mysteries set in Venice. This one felt contrived.
The Templars, by Dan Jones. Probably more information than most folks want about the Templars, but a history nerd like me will love it.
Jesus Outside the Lines, by Scott Sauls. Good book. Not sure it’s “outside the lines” here in Northern California, but I guess it might be in Nashville where Scott preaches. 😊
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. Thought I should read this again before the movie comes out and butchers a classic (and yeah, that’s a cynical comment).
The Once and Future Liberal, by Mark Lilla. Not just a recap of the disastrous Clinton campaign, also a road map for how the Democrats got it wrong and need to shift.
The Great Quake, by Henry Fountain. Every so often I pick up a book on a topic I know nothing about. The huge Alaska earthquake of 1964 certainly qualifies.
Sourdough, by Robin Sloan. Hard not to enjoy a crazy book about foodies in the Bay Area.
The Golden Passport, by Duff McDonald. This is basically a hit piece of the Harvard Business School. Some legitimate issues are raised, but eventually I had to turn it off because it went on and on.
Resilience, by Eric Greitens. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, exchanged letters with a colleague who, well, had some issues. The book is an edited version of the letters and focuses on the power of resilience. Good stuff.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. Like many great books, it simultaneously brilliant and disturbing.
The Inevitable, by Kevin Kelly. Good insights but way too long — felt like the author tried too hard to argue his points.
Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin. Didn’t realize this book was released in 2009. The core ideas are still of interest but the examples given are really dated.
Camino Island, by John Grisham. Frankly, on the boring side for Grisham.
The Myth of Equality, by Ken Wytsma. Timely, well researched, well written. Hard for a white guy like me to hear it, but it’s a theme we need to better understand.
Four Princes, by John Julius Norwich. Great book of history about Francis I, Henry VIII, Charles V, and Suleiman the Magnificent, and how they interacted amongst each other to shape Europe.
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. Wonderful novel that some might find a bit slow moving, but I found to be nuanced and interesting.
Inside the Middle East, by Avi Melamed. Had the opportunity to meet Mr. Melamed in Jerusalem last month and hear him speak.
Defectors, by Joseph Kanon. Books of this genre usually become late night page turners for me. Not this one.
The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse. I wanted to love this book because I admire Sasse’s independence. But there wasn’t much new here.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab. I expected more from the founder of the World Economic Forum. Nothing here you can’t learn hanging out in a Silicon Valley coffee shop.
Orthodox Prayer Life, by Matthew the Poor. Visited the amazing monastery where Matthew the Poor wrote this, and after a monk gave us a tour I had to read the book.
The History of Ancient Egypt, by Bob Brier. Fantastic series of lectures on the history of Egypt.
Ancient Egypt: History in an Hour Audiobook, by Anthony Holmes. Lame. Don’t waste your time.
Casey Stengel, by Marty Appel. If you love baseball, you’ll love this biography of baseball’s greatest character.
Dethroning Mammon, by Archbishop Justin Welby. I know a few things about money, wealth, and spirituality. Justin Welby schooled me with this book. Excellent.
Democracy, by Condoleezza Rice. Simply brilliant, already in the running for my favorite book of the year.
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Such a fun classic.
Through My Enemy’s Eyes, by Salim Munayer and Lisa Lodin. How theology informs reconciliation, and the desperate need for a change in theology so peace can be brought to the Israel-Palestine divide.
The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, by Dustin Willis. Agree with most everything in this book, just not sure it needs to be a whole book!
Life’s too short to pretend you’re not religious, by David Dark. Here’s a book with a good message, but answering a question I’m not hearing many people ask. At least not in my cultural world.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. How could I not enjoy a book about dogs and car racing? It is sappy, but the way racing weaves through the book saves it for me.
Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller, by Gary M. Burge. Solid book explaining how cultural influences shaped the stories Jesus shared.
The Last Leaf, by O’Henry. Okay, so it’s not a book, but a short story. A classic worth reading.
American Ulysses, by Ronald C. White. Complete and interesting biography of a unique American leader.
Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. Classic mystery.
Writer, Sailor, Solider, Spy, by Nicholas Reynolds. Very interesting look at Ernest Hemingway’s role in war and clandestine spying.
The American Spirit, by David McCullough. A collection of his speeches, mostly at historical anniversary events or commencements. An excellent read.
The Upstarts, by Brad Stone. Balanced look at the rapid and controversial rise of Uber and Airbnb.
God and Money, by Cortines & Baumer. So dang close to being a great book. Lots of solid insights here, just (for me) a little heavy on the how-to of it all.
Love Lives Here, by Maria Goff. Husband Bob is the big kid with the crazy ideas. Wife Maria is the thoughtful one with keen insight.
A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent, by Walter Brueggermann. Daily readings, each with a richness only Brueggermann can create.
Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker. I loved the first few chapters. Was okay with the middle. Put off by the ending. Worth reading though…definitely fun.
The End of the Asian Century, by Michael Auslin. How fast does the world change? The author argues that the political, economic, and social divide in Asia is already significant. Curiously, his book is already a little out of date with the rise of Trump.
The Wisdom of the Desert, by Thomas Merton. A collection of sayings from the monks who lived as hermits in the early church.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Really, do I need to write a mini-review for this book? Shame on you if you haven’t already read it.
Called to Serve, by Max DePree. Anybody who works on or with a nonprofit board needs to read this book.
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder. A systematic and non-hysterical look at how easy it is to devolve into tyranny, with the 2016 election used as a backdrop.
The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston. Fun book about the true search (and discovery) of ancient ruins in Honduras.
Washington’s Farewell, by John Avlon. Excellent book. Looks at President Washington’s farewell address and its impact on America.
Mink Island, by Brent Purvis. Billed as a comical mystery, it’s not comical and not especially mysterious.
The Fourth Transformation, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Predicts that the next big tech transformation — indeed life transformation — will be virtual and augmented reality.
The Pigeon Tunnel, by John le Carre’. If you love the le Carre’ books as I do, you’ll enjoy this memoir from the author.
The Legend of Ragnar Lodbrok, by Christopher Van Dyke. If you love the History Channel’s show Vikings, you’ll enjoy this historical background.
Desert Wisdom: Sayings From the Desert Fathers, Translation and art by Yushi Nomura. Brilliant introduction by Henri Nouwen, clear and simple translations of ancient translations, Japanese style art to express those sayings. Some of the sayings are brilliant. This is an easy read, recommended.
Seeking God, by Esther de Waal. A look at the way of St. Benedict. Good insights.
Cold Storage Alaska, by John Straley. One of those Amazon “if you bought ___ you’ll like ___” recommendations. I didn’t.
Egyptian Mythology, by Matt Clayton. Simple and straightforward, at least it is if you are into the topic.
The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany. A little background reading for my upcoming trip to Egypt. Interesting, though not really my style.
Leadership is an Art, by Max De Pree. Brilliant. One of the few leadership books that stands the test of time.
Earning the Rockies, by Robert Kaplan. How does the American frontier shape us as a nation? Kaplan brings geography to life as he shows how it impacts everything from our naval power to democracy.
Taxi, by Khaled Alkhamissi. Short stories about taxi rides in Cairo and the interesting/crazy/funny cab drivers. Want to understand Cairo? Read this book.
The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis. The author of Moneyball goes deeper. Profiling two ground breaking psychologists and their incredible insights, Lewis explores why we make certain value decisions.
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah. Rare to read a celebrity’s memoir that is this good. Well done.
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie. A classic. Doesn’t translate so well into modern political correctness, but still a lot of fun.
Who is my Enemy?, by Lee Camp. An Evangelical reconsiders the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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.