The 23 Books I Read This Year

December 30, 2011


As promised here is a list of the books I read during 2011. I didn’t really start reading regularly until late March. I hit a stride and I think I may have doubled all the books I have ever read in my life (maybe not quite but I have never read this much). Following each book I will give a short description. There are 23 books listed here so it makes for a long post. Even if you do not read each description hopefully you will find some that interest you! These books will be in the order I read them, not in the order I liked them. Also, if you click on each book you will be taken to the page on Amazon for it (in a new tab). ENJOY!

Student Ministry that Leaves a Mark: Changing Youth to Change the World by Gary Blair Zustiak, Kevin Greer, John Mouton and Josh Finklea. I had to read parts of this book for a Youth Ministry class in college and this year I decided to read all of it. These four guys talk about youth ministry movements and trends. It is a very practical book and was really helpful as I was doing my internship.

Creating Your Personal Life Plan by Micheal Hyatt. This link will actually take you to Mr. Hyatt’s page. You can get a free copy by subscribing to his blog. In this book he discusses how we plan things all of the time. If we go on a trip, most of the time we plan it out. But most people do not have an idea of where they are going in life or how to get there. He breaks down how he sets up his life plan and then gives the reader resources to help him or her do the same. This was one of the best books I read all year!

Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus by Mark Yaconelli. I read this during my internship as well. It is another great youth ministry tool. Yaconelli discusses the importance of planning and not just throwing a youth ministry together. He talks about how it is important to take care of ourselves as well as our youth ministry. UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks About Christianity… and Why it Matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. These guys really care about this generation. They want to prepare themselves and others the best way they know how to reach a generation that is falling away from the Church. There are some fairly up-to-date stats in this book and it is really an eye-opener. They discuss ways to talk with those who are not a part of the Church and some different ways to bring them in.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. The more into this book I got, the more excited I became. Little parts of me wanted to sell everything I had give it all to those who had nothing. This book is an account of a struggling preacher. He preaches at a large church and he struggles when he drives in and sees all of the brand new vehicles in the parking lot. He struggles when he sees how much we have and how little others have. Then we pretend we cannot help those who have nothing because “things are tight.” He makes a call to think and to act differently. We live in this world but we are not a part of it.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson. This is another book by a preacher who wants to live differently. He uses the account of Benaiah in 2 Samuel 23:20 where he “also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.” Batterson says that we all have lions and snowy days in our lives but all too often we run from them because the odds are against us. Instead we need to chase down those lions and trust that God knows what he is doing. It is some great imagery, gets my adventurous juices flowing.

Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy. I am not a football fan. I just do not really get into the sport. My wife is a fan of the Indianapolis Colts and I like to give her a hard time when they lose (not that it actually bothers her). So when I got this book last Christmas I joked that I would not read it. I am so glad that I did! I have never really known anything about Tony Dungy but this man had some powerful things to say about being a man of God. He writes about putting God before everything else. It was so encouraging and uplifting to hear these words penned by a great football coach.

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Heart of His People by Jim Cymbala. I may not agree with everything Mr. Cymbala writes about his doctrine but I can certainly hop on board his enthusiasm for prayer. This preacher writes about his journey of faith to take over a small and struggling congregation. He discusses the importance of prayer in that journey and how it saved the congregation and how it now thrives. They conduct prayer services, something that many congregations should probably invest time into. I was deeply touched by this book and would recommend it to others.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. I had started this book about three times but always put it down because I was busy with other things. This time I decided I would finish reading it no matter what. Rob Bell has a blogging type writing style which actually makes it easy to read. I like short paragraphs. He really pushes and challenges his readers in this book. Even if you disagree, hopefully it will prompt you to have a more firm belief in what you know rather than just railing the guy for pushing back. This is a great book about faith.

Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions that Control You by Andy Stanley. This is the second book I have ever read by Stanley and I was just as pleased with it. He writes about how we often neglect our hearts. When someone does something terrible we say “well they are really a good person.” He rejects that idea and says when we do something terrible it is because we have something terrible in our heart. He lists four of these diseases that destroy us: guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy. He does not list lust in with it and devotes a chapter to it at the end to explain why not. It was an interesting chapter. This book was also one of the best I read all year!

Fresh Faith: What Happens When Real Faith Ignites God’s People by Jim Cymbala. I was unsure about reading this book because it seemed like it may just be a weaker version of the first. Honestly it took me a few chapters to really get into it. Once I got that far though I like it. Cymbala writes about coming back to our first love and faithfully following God. He writes about people who struggle with this idea because terrible things have happened in their past but they overcome it to follow God wholeheartedly

Sex God:Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob Bell. This was another boundary pushing book with strange chapter titles that do not make sense until the end of the chapter. He writes about how our sexuality is a way to connect with God. When Bell refers to sexuality he is talking about us as humans. So he is writing about how we connect with God through being who God created us to be. We are not to strip off ourselves or strip of anybody else’s person-hood. He talks about using our whole beings in worship to God.

Average Joe: God’s Extraordinary Calling to Ordinary Men by Troy Meeder. I don’t think I was this author’s intended audience. There was really nothing about this book that clicked with me. I had a terrible time trying to finish it. His point was that you could be a man of God and have influence by being just an average run of the mill kind of guy. But his wording made it seem like if you weren’t that you were some corporate terrible person. I did not think this book was structured well and rejoiced the day I finished it.

Identity: Who You are in Christ by Eric Geiger. In this book the author goes through different pictures of who we are in Christ. He discusses our identity as God’s child, a priest, Christ’s bride, His servant, God’s friend, an alien, and an Ambassador. Each chapter was packed full of imagery and encouraging and challenging thoughts. I really enjoyed each picture this man used that we find in Scripture.

Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time by Greg Ogden. I got a lot of really great ideas from this book. Ogden discusses a way to disciple others that he has found to work. He goes through the process of selecting people and how many should be in the group and how they should run. I am actually in the process of putting many of these ideas to practice. It is a very practical book and I believe if the ideas are practiced they can change the lives of many people!

Where Has Oprah Taken Us?: The Religious Influence of the Worlds Most Famous Woman by Stephen Mansfield. I was not sure what to expect when I picked this book up but it was really great. Mansfield was not attacking Oprah or trying to get everyone to stone her for her terrible influence. He just talked about her life and what led to her being the leader she is today. He talks about the influences in her life and the ideas she has promoted. He confesses to be a Christian and that he has some biases that seep through but he tries to keep those in italic portions at the end of each chapter.

Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution by Marcus Buckingham. This book took all of the categories of the Strengthsfinder assessment and narrowed them down to 9 categories. This is to help leaders pinpoint their employees or volunteers more accurately. It helps a leader to see how they work and how their employees operate best so they the can all work together most efficiently. It comes with a code so the reader can take the test and then goes though each category so you can read about yourself. It is a very helpful book.

Torn: Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces by Jud Wilhite. This book is an incredible resource if you have ever gone through a difficult time or if you have ever or will ever need to help someone process pain in their life. He does not attempt to answer the question of why bad things happen (which I appreciated) but instead wrote about what we need to do when painful events happen.

Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. This author goes through and writes about practical things churches can do to gain more men. He believe the Church has been pushing men out for years and we need to gain them back. He does not discuss prayer, preaching better sermons, or things like that because he feels those are obvious. He writes about what men like, and how Scripture speaks to that but we have diluted the message. It was very eye-opening and I would high suggest this book!

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell. Once again Rob Bell writes in a blog style format and has strange chapter titles. I pushed back in this book a lot. This book is about freedom and he compares the liberation of Israel to the liberation Christ gives us. It is a great word picture. Just once again, come prepared to study what he is saying and prepare to be challenged.

Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence by Gordon MacDonald. This is another great book about discipleship. MacDonald breaks the book up into days or month time periods of his personal journey in creating a discipleship model in his congregation. It is a very easy read and very conversational. They talk a lot about cultivation and growing deep people. There are some wonderful images and ideas in this book. I am very excited to implement some of them in this coming year!

The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom by Carrie Wilkerson. If you want to read about becoming your own boss and starting your own business, then this is the book for you. Wilkerson gives some practical and meaningful steps in how to leave the humdrum life in the office and leading your own business. She gives plenty of examples of others who have also done this and tells of the success they have had. Although I do not plan to do this, there were still plenty of ideas I could glean from this read.

Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God by Joshua Harris. This book seemed very “duh” to me. Perhaps that is because I work in the church and see how important it is. Harris gives examples of his own journey to finding how important the church is and why it should be so important. It is a short read and can really help someone who is on the fence.

There are the 23 books I read this year. Hopefully you will find something you like! I plan to make it through 30 in 2012. It is a big goal and I am excited to find a lot of good stuff out there!

What books have you read this year?

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10 Responses to “The 23 Books I Read This Year”

  1. Congratulations, Brandon! It’s a great effort and accomplishment.

  2. Congratulations Brandon for becoming on of the top 10 commenters in Michael Hyatt’s blog for December’11. Keep it up!

  3. Dylan Dodson said

    I’ve only read two of those that you listed. Which one or two would you recommend the most?

  4. Dan Black said

    These are some great books!!!

    Some good ones Ive read in 2011 area:

    The Talent Masters by Bill Conaty

    The 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

    Good to Great in God’s eyes by Chip Ingram

    Presentations in Action by Jerry Weissman

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