I hope and pray that this year’s reading list has been helpful to some of you. If it spurs any of you on to read more widely and regularly then that is a massive win.
I decided to grow the list to 25 this year, and I am not sure if that has been a good or a bad thing yet. I will probably return to a top 10 next December. You can find part one here, part two here, part three here, and part four here. You can also find my top 10 from 2016 here, if you like.
On to the last five, and I will culminate with my 2017 books of the year (I couldn’t decide between these two0.
On Pastoring: A Short Guide to Living, Leading, and Ministering as a Pastor – H.B. Charles Jr.
It is a huge frustration to me that so many books are good concepts surrounded by lots of fluff in order to pad out a book length that feels suitable to publishers. There is none of that here. Short, punchy, but jam-packed with wisdom for pastors. Will go on to be something of a classic I think.
I hated this book. Not because I think the content or the author are unreliable, but because I think they are. An important work in South Africa’s history, but it made me miserable. So it makes it on the list because I enjoyed the quality of the journalism, and I am hoping that some form of justice and cleansing comes as a result of it.
Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years – Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa
There seems to be a widely-held view that President Mandela was a remarkable liberator but a fairly ineffective president. I have encountered this view from people all over the political spectrum. This book destroys that and is so helpful in understanding the scope of the undertaking that was the post-apartheid unity project. Beautifully written, giving insights into the backroom work that went on in the mid-90’s, but also full of quotes from Madiba where he lovingly and with dignity put detractors in their place. Oh how we need a statesman like this again. If I could have three books of the year, then this would be in that list.
And now, my best books of 2017…
Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom – Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey
I am a huge fan of Charles Spurgeon and thought that I knew a great deal about his life, but this story of his friendship with Thomas Johnson (an African American slave and total hero) gripped me in a big way. I read the book in just a couple of sittings and have recommended it to many friends. I know Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey and so I knew the book would be well researched and thoughtfully structured, but I had no idea that is would be so eloquently and beautifully written (no offense Matt and Aaron). Historical fiction at its finest. Get it and read it.
From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership – Scott Sauls
It’s not often that you weep through a leadership book. This one is so gospel-rich, so honest and so removed from the pure pragmatism of leadership principles that I had to put it down a few times to have a little mancry moment. Scott Sauls feels like a friend when you read him. But he feels like a friend who isn’t trying to manipulate you or win you over, or make you think about him at all. He has a rare gift of humble articulation of truth that leaves one defenseless and looking to Christ.
My favorite leadership book ever, and my joint book of the year. If you have any sort of leadership influence and are a follower of Christ, then buy this now, and read it slowly.