When the team at Pushpay asked me to write a what’s-on-my-bookshelf post, I naturally wanted to post a picture of all the best books I own and let everybody know that I’ve not only read all these books, but I’ve memorized them. Forward and backward. Because I’m so amazing.
But we all know what a book post usually means, “Hey, check out all the books I started, but never finished!”
However, this is actually a picture of my bookshelf at home. And I’ve actually read all these books—most of these books—cover to cover. And it’s only taken me 41 years!
This shelf in our office is just about all the best books I’ve ever read over my lifetime that have had a significant impact on me. Don’t know if they’re critically acclaimed or if the reviews are stellar, but they all meant something to me.
Here are a few thoughts on 10 of my favorites:
1. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to hack everything. A little faster, a little cheaper, a little better. I was vindicated when I read a professional sports team was doing it, too. Which basically makes me a professional baseball player.
2. Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning
Read it right after I made a decision to give my life to Jesus in college. The timing was right and the message of God’s grace just stuck to my bones. Timing sure is everything.
3. Winning Chess: How to Perfect Your Attacking Play, by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld
I was a super chess nerd growing up. Read all kinds of books on it. Bought this one at a used bookstore in college. I was obsessed for a bit. Lots of life lessons on building in stages from chess. Who knew?
4. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative, by Austin Kleon
Learned it was okay to be inspired by other people. In fact, it’s necessary to be inspired and challenged by other people. You can read the whole thing in an hour or two.
5. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, by John Wooden
I love anyone doing anything who is the best in the world at what they do. I tell my wife if I’m ever flipping through the channels and come across the World Championship of anything, I’m probably going to watch. I think John Wooden is one of those people. In my opinion, the best basketball coach who ever lived, and he’s got some insights worth listening to.
6. Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, by Henry Cloud
I discovered it wasn’t okay to stretch the truth even just a little tiny bit to make myself look better. Yep, took me 30 years to figure that out. I’m a work in progress.
7. Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
I might put this in my top three all-time. I love an overcoming hero story….especially one referencing the University of Washington Huskies. Go Dawgs.
8. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin
Probably the first marketing book I read. And still the best one I’ve ever read. It’s simple and it’s right. Find ways to be remarkable; meaning: Ways to create moments, experiences, services, products that prompt people to make remarks about you—talk about you.
9. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, by Scott Belsky
Creative people are amazing and we couldn’t live without them. If only they were organized enough to actually create stuff as “creatives,” and not just come up with good ideas. Before you get all bent from me poking fun at creatives, know I’m one of you. And, yes, it’s true: We’re not the most organized people in the world.
10. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steve Pressfield
My pastor gave this book to me. And it’s so helpful when it comes to understanding why we feel stuck creatively at times and how to handle it.
Bonus: The Holy Bible
C’mon, you knew this was coming. No book has inspired, challenged, encouraged, and frustrated me like the Bible.
There you have it. Some of my all-timers. They changed me, maybe they’ll do the same for you, too. If you’ve got any of your own favorites, leave suggestions in the comments below. Just make sure to tell us why you liked the book.