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D.J. Hamon @DJ_Hamon
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A thread of books I’m reading this year.
The Entitlement Cure by @drjohntownsend is an insightful look at the way we enable people, and facing our own entitlements. A good read offering solutions to leaders, parents, and those trying to work on their own weak spots.…
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by @AdamMGrant
Interesting look at the social science behind creativity, dispelling some old axioms. Chapters on application of principles make this a how-to manual.…
Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Great writing! A tragic & satisfying saga of a troubled young woman trying to cope with life. I loved her self-discovery, but still wanted more for her emotionally & spiritually. I could write my own book on the feelings she evoked.…
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. A dark and intricate murder mystery, revolving around a deeply disturbed woman. Enjoyed the novel, but I'll skip the film.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. One of the best novels I’ve read in years. A deeply moving tale of a seemingly heartless man, who feels everything intensely. More than a few Kleenex were used in the reading of this book.
What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey.
This 20 year old classic has plenty to offer. Perfect for perfectionists or anyone rooted in legalism. I always enjoy an honest, introspective survey of who I am, but this one got tough.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.
A captivating fairy tale set in medieval Russia. Though it is a bit predictable, I couldn’t put it down! I highly recommend reading part 1 of this trilogy first for character and plot development.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
A dark & dead end life depicted in bright & flowing prose. Loved the literary imagery & diverse characters; the relativistic conclusion was disappointing. The protagonist eventually lost all moral authority to deliberate the meaning of life.
Goliath Must Fall by @louiegiglio discusses battling giants in our lives including fear, rejection, anger, addiction. Louie teaches to keep our eyes on Jesus, and his glory. Recommended to anyone feeling oppressed, or needing to bolster their spiritual endurance.
Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I quite enjoyed this quirky tale. The endgame was ok, but lacked the panache I hoped for after consuming Sloan’s Mr Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore. I still recommend this for an entertaining short novel between heavier reading.
A Target on my Back by Erleigh Wiley. A decent book telling a great story.
I remember a time when no black person (esp a woman) could get elected in Kaufman county. Judge Wiley broke barriers and had courage when it mattered most.
Inspiring woman!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Absolutely the most captivating novel I’ve read in years! Interesting characters, well-developed plot devices & political intrigue. The protagonist’s fate remains in question throughout the page turning final act. Highly recommended!
War of Words by Paul David Tripp: it started out easily enough discussing how words matter, but quickly switched the discussion to the condition of one’s heart. It’s never easy to work on weak spots; this book will find yours. It wrecked me, then built me back up.
The Quartet, Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1798, by Joesph J. Ellis. An outstanding follow up to the brilliant Founding Brothers. Ellis outlines the roles of 4 essential men (Jay, Hamilton, Washington, Madison) responsible for the US Constitution.
The Underground Railroad by @colsonwhitehead. A skillfully told tale of a terrible era, with appropriate heroes & villains. Great character development & plot advancement!
Good commentary on social justice, even more on the condition of both man’s heart & his sufferings.
Outliers by @Gladwell
Eye opening study of culture and culmination of events that eventually debunk the idea of the “self-made man.” I really liked this book. So many diverse stories point out that success is often where hard work meets an accident of fortune.
Hamlet, Barnes’s and Noble Shakespeare, edited by Jeff Dolven.
Extensive history, background, and commentary make this edition of the literary giant an easy read for those not accustomed to the traditionally difficult texts of the Bard.…
Seven Men, and the Secret of their Greatness, by @ericmetaxas
7 short bios of extraordinary men in extraordinary times. Each subject begs for an entire volume of its own. Throughout this short book a thread of humility and transforming faith is inspiring.
Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by @drmoore.
A clarion call for followers of Jesus to preach the gospel of Christ in place of imposing values in a misguided culture war. Also a prophetic call to defend human dignity well beyond ending abortion.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi. Winner of the 2003 Newbery Medal, this charismatic little novel is a modern-day classic. Highly entertaining for all ages, and welcomed light fare to enjoy between a couple of heavier nonfiction works.
Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times, by Joel Richard Paul.
Flowing prose & deep esteem for the subject characterize this study on the life of America’s most pivotal jurist. Fair & apportioned look at the whole man w/ a well-argued Federalist bias.
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Wow! Sometimes you pick out a classic, and soon realize the reasons it is venerated can’t be enumerated. This epic novel does not disappoint! Also impressive is the 150 year old analysis and commentary relevant to today’s headlines.
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.
A tough spiritual self-assessment focusing on sins largely overlooked by the modern church. No matter how spiritually mature you are, there is something in this book to help you grow.
Boundaries for Leaders by @DrHenryCloud
This is both a good primer for newer leaders, and a solid review for upper-level leaders. This will separate real leaders from mere managers. Most importantly, a good framework for team building and self-growth is outlined.
12 Rules for Life, by @jordanbpeterson
Self-assessment is essential to building character. Character is essential to a life well lived. This process isnt for the weak!
Perfect for those brave enough to take it to the next level or simply seeking to maintain solid footing.
I Am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore
This is a fun, but somewhat predictable novel. While the action scenes were well done and most plot devices are solid, the characters are lazily developed along typical archetypical lines. I may give the next in the series a shot.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
We share few political views, have a vastly different perspective, yet I really enjoyed the book. Coates' humanity & struggle are beautifully related through his finely honed writing. But a nihilistic mood persists throughout.
Rebel of the Sands by @AlwynFJH
A strong female lead advertised as akin to Katniss & Rey. Amani conjured images of Mulan for me, but quite entertaining nonetheless.
Really good YA story telling (and an unforeseen plot twist!), but with some quirky grammar along the way.
Instruments in the Redeemwrs Hands by @PaulTripp
A highly recommended “how to guide” for broken people leading broken people in their relationship with Christ. The basics of discipleship, counseling, and leadership are presented, with emphasis on counseling.
Last Shot:A Han & Lando novel, by Daniel Jose Older
I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. The dialogue seemed like bad impersonations of Billy Dee Williams & Harrison Ford. Action scenes were well done and a good plot made it worth finishing.
Gospel Wakefulness by @jaredcwilson outlines a path to a deeper relationship with Jesus. Deep in theology, but accessible to any believer. If you're struggling to fit in among the "stronger Christians" or a church group, this book will turn your eyes back to Jesus.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
When a work becomes a classic, its often dismissed as irrelevant, trite, naive, or old fashioned. Reconnecting with a classic will often help one rediscover why it became a classic in the first place.
This is a classic!
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
I find Steinbeck a bit like Seinfeld: perfect character development in a story about nothing. The wandering prose is beautiful, but lost me from time to time in its aimless ramblings. Pulls it all together at the end with serenity.
Thinking: Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
A particularly fascinating breakdown of how we think and make decisions, and how we are affected by bias and intuition. Khaneman aims high, is sometimes tedious, and occasionally over my head, yet I quite enjoyed this book.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A compelling cautionary tale that inspired a thousand dystopian novels. Broadly debated & interpreted, used as moral authority by widely divergent groups. This 65 year old book still holds up quite well, outshining a wellspring of newcomers.
Between Heaven and the Real World by @StevenCurtis
I got this book at a concert knowing full well sweet Maria’s story. I shed tears long before I came to the tragic chapter. A transparent man of substance wields tremendous power. Chapman will point you to the Source.
It’s Not About Me by @MaxLucado
I anticipated a study of biblical truths I was familiar with. What I found was a psalm. This book is more of a worship experience with lessons embedded than a typical Christian nonfiction. I came away saying “what a wonderful God we serve!”
And now I see my numbers are off...
First In, Last Out by John Salka
An important leadership quality is the ability to inspire. Firefighters would follow Chief Salka thru the gates of hell with a pump can. Leadership books are largely to brush up on old ideas & kickstart action. This has exceeded that mark.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
My favorite comic since I was a kid is also a brilliant writer & actor. His memoir is not only well written, but captures the feel of old bits I memorized as a boy.
Martin gets real throughout, and concludes with a warm final chapter.
All the Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
An aesthetic masterpiece! Searching for character, finding tragedy and triumph, hope and fear, joy and sorrow.
I was skeptical of this book for months, but finally decided to give it a shot. I could not have been more pleased.
West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express by @JimDeFelice
A fantastic telling of an epic time. It can’t be an easy task to write about legends. DeFelice narrates the history adeptly, yet he honors many of the legends Americans have come to love.
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
I liked the book, but it felt like a throw back to the evangelical culture of the 90s. It is not so much a skeptic as a convert retracing his steps to conversion.
The arguments are sound & a good intro that has stood the test of time.
The Shack by Wm Paul Young
This book hit me hard & I emotionally wrestled with it from the beginning. I avoided it when first published; bandwagons make me suspicious. But I've heard several folks I trust recommend it.
That said, do not look to it for solid doctrine.
The Last Jedi (novelization) by Jason Fry
If you’re a Star Wars fan, this is a good read, especially if you were disappointed with the movie. Many rough edges are sanded to a nice finish. The writing is really good; the original story is the main thing holding it back.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
My pastor recommended this book while teaching apologetics. It is condescending, elitist, and at times even silly. He may be a brilliant scientist, but he is not a persuasive writer. I expected something more critical and scholarly.
There is More by @BrianCHouston
This book makes much of Jesus! That’s enough to recommend it. The energy is contagious. Faith is deep. Doctrine sound.
It is ideal for the Christian stuck in a spiritual rut wanting to go to the next level.
Pride and Ownership by Rick Lasky
@chieflasky does a solid job of rallying the troops here. Newer members of the fire service and those promoting to officer and chief officer would do well to read or reread this.
Code of Conduct by @BradThor
Next to Clancy and Fleming, Thor is the best in the spy thriller genre. I’m finally catching up on the Scot Harvath series. It’s always interesting to see how events in this genre of books eventually make their way into real life.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
A great little parable to help us understand how people deal, and fail to deal, with change. Highly recommended for leaders, managers, and anyone who tends to feel “stuck” in life.
Everybody, Always by @bobgoff
Bob loves people. But this book isn’t about Bob, it’s about Jesus. And it’s a LOT about how Jesus can teach you and me to love people too.
Make sure you have a handkerchief.
My favorite book this year!
Educated by @tarawestover
Beautifully and boldly told, yet heartbreaking. Coming of age memoir, highlighting abuse, mental illness, and a nearly impossible struggle to break free of the false image abuse has cast upon the soul. This should be on everyone’s reading list.
The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
While 1981 books still used “manager” to discuss leadership, the principles here are solid. Care about your people, set expectations, give positive and negative feedback appropriately.
Simple and effective.
Fish! by Lundin, Paul, & Christensen
Although they are elementary, books in the management/leadership parable genre are good to recenter. The best takeaway from this one is “you choose your attitude.” I put Col 3:23 on my helmet to keep my purpose in mind at all times.
Night by Elie Wiesel
Wiesel’s first hand account of nazi holocaust atrocities is horrifying. As vivid as my visit to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when I was a young soldier. Prayers for peace and justice becomes more earnest.
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
A timeless classic from The Godfather of managment and leadership. For decision makers, leaders, and managers, this book is fielding grounders and taking batting practice: fundamentals that can’t be ignored.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Equal parts novel and study of religion, psychology, and philosophy. This classic is tough to keep up with, and begs endurance, but the story is classic, and it’s influence can be found far and wide.
Don’t Waste Your Life by @JohnPiper
Figuring out purpose in life is tough, especially for younger people. Piper discusses our purpose in and for the kingdom of Christ, and how we can live life to the fullest through serving Jesus. Highly recommended for HS & college!
I listed #50 twice, so I skipped a number. A running thread is harder than I thought...
Option B by @sherylsandberg
Equal parts compelling story telling & thoughtful strategies for resilience with wisdom drawn from ancient religions and modern psychology. The occasional push for social policy is well-intentioned, but distracts from the self-help perspective.
How Did You Do It, Truett? by Truett Cathy
A quick read by the founder of @ChickfilA detailing his “recipe for success.” It can be summed up as: value people, hard work, and character. A good read for students especially. Goes well with books by Blanchard and Johnson.
Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
Zahn remains the best novelist in the Star Wars franchise. Vader & Thrawn are both deep characters, well written in complex layers. Tactically intriguing, and action packed. This is a must read for Star Wars fans. Eagerly awaiting book 3!
This Changes Everything: how the gospel transforms the teen years by @JaquelleCrowe
I really enjoyed this book. I’ve worked in student ministry for 8 years and had discussions with hundreds of kids about what they’re facing. Ms. Crowe is on point & preaching the gospel.
The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Blanchard, Oncken & Burrows
With focus on delegation, this leadership parable is a good addition to the genre and series of short leadership books. Great for reinforcement of principles already learned and in practice.
Booked, literature in the soul of me by @KSPrior
A beautiful coming of age story brilliantly compared & sometimes contrasted with classic lit. Prior’s love for books and literature, like any good professor, is contagious. Bookworms and bibliophiles will adore it!
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
An epic tale of love and war with gripping battles and stirring emotions. Hemingway’s terse prose took me a while to get past but I still enjoyed the story. The tense anticipation kept me engaged.
On Tyranny by @TimothyDSnyder
The points are not to be ignored, but heavily slanted to progressive worldview. It would be better as 2 distinct books: a balanced treatise on tyranny & a polemic on Trump. Myriad illustrations of leftists that fit each point are ignored.
King Lear by Wm. Shakespeare
A foreboding tale by the greatest writer of all times. Flattery, intrigue, madness, treachery, and murder tear apart a kingdom. Cordelia, Kent, and Lear’s faithful fool are points of light among the low character in this classic tragedy.
1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation by Peter Marshall
An interesting survey of the myths and legends surrounding Luther’s 95 Theses. A nice objective examination of the historical record over the last 500 years separates fact from fiction.
The Giver by @LoisLowryWriter
A dystopian tale wherein 12 year old Jonas learns disturbing truths about the society he is growing up in. Dark and haunting for modern children's literature, but worth the read and the conversations it provokes with children. 68/2018
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
A look at what our lives can become if we really love Jesus. Several tough questions for believers to ask themselves. Good resource for those struggling with meaning.
A 10 year old book that’s aged very well.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Beautiful prose, engaging dialogue, a woman of great substance, and earnest faith make this classic worthy of the modern readers time. Many of the interludes became tedious for me, but I was soon deeply reengaged.
The War Against Boys by @CHSommers
I’ve been a big fan for years, but never got around to reading this: it’s everything I hoped it would be!
A good defense of boyhood and properly channeled masculinity is presented while deconstructing modern methods and theories.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by @jk_rowling
I loved every moment of the Harry Potter films. As is almost always the case, the novel is better! I only wish I had read them when they were first published. I will be reading the rest of the series.
The Explicit Gospel by @MattChandler74
Chandler gives a solid presentation of the saving work of Jesus. His aims to keep our focus on that gospel; this book does that well. If you are a soteriology nerd or disciple maker interested in the topic, this is the book for you.
The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Lui
This is a book about kids telling their version of Luke Skywalker stories. I have talked about Star Wars with 5th graders, and they tell better stories. Not good.
For a good novel try Heir to the Jedi.
Drucker and Me by Bob Buford
The story of a great leader mentoring a businessman, and helping him become a strong social leader. It’s not really a companion to the short management and leadership books, but would be a nice read for those who like that genre.
Treasure Island by Robert Luis Stevenson
Young Jim has an adventure and exhibits the virtues that make men, and faces the vices that ruin men. This might be my favorite work of fiction. I wish I had read it when I was a boy. I recommend it to boys and girls of all ages!
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
An altogether wonderful book: captivating prose, layers of metaphors & paradoxes, well argued points, and yet far easier to read than I anticipated. One can see in this the foundations of many 20th century Christian philosophers and apologists.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The unabridged book is far beyond the familiar children’s tale. A deeply satirical work that becomes verbose, but always biting! A commentary on the human condition by a wise bible teacher. I enjoyed it, though at times it was tedious.
Silas Marner by George Eliot
I was enjoying the story, but it was tedious from the beginning. I lost interest halfway through.
I saw this work on a list of literature boys would enjoy. The list was wrong. Give the boy in your life a copy of Treasure Island instead.
Make Your Bed by William McRaven
Adm McCraven is a gifted leader and motivator. This is a short inspiring book with some handy ways to face each day. No groundbreaking thoughts, but I put the book down ready to kick down the gates of hell. But first, i better make my bed.
Skin in the Game by @nntaleb
This is essentially a comparison and contrast between theoreticians and producers. Interestingly enough, the subject feels like “stuff you probably intuitively know, but are unable to explain.”
The Tempest by Wm Shakespeare
Short, jumping right into action, wasting little time with soliloquies. The insight of the human condition remains, point to the common flaws of uncommon people. Intrigue, machinations, and treachery have no better a penman than the Bard.
On Reading Well by @KSPrior is about traditional virtues, using lessons from literature. While good books are highlighted, the main focus is application and acquiring virtue. Lessons on virtue, vice, and knowing God maintain a common thread throughout.
Highly recommended!
Under the Mesquite by @ggmccall
Lupita narrates her family’s move to Texas in this charming novel written in beautiful verse. Vivid imagery & deep emotion highlight each section, provoking pride & tears along the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book!
The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis
An enjoyable stroll through classic fantasy. The allegory is in no way subtle, but appropriate for children.
The Storm Tossed Family by @drmoore
A testimony of Jesus focusing on the cross throughout. Moore’s spirit of Grace and love for God and His families is evident, disarming those angry with churches, and encouraging those who are just tired.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
An suspenseful and tense post-apocalyptic novel about a man and his son traveling south attempting to survive winter, among other things. Sparse and repetitive dialogue with little punctuation, reminiscent of Hemingway. A good story well told.
The Coddling of the American Mind by @glukianoff & @JonHaidt
A must read for parents, policy makers & educators. While I disagreed with some of the analysis, solid points & important conclusions anchor this work. Arguments are framed to be persuasive & hit the mark well.
Every Man a King by @ChrisStirewalt
Perfectly subtitled and related in an enjoyably folksy tone. An appropriate level of respect for the subjects is balanced well with an honest look at deeply flawed people and the pitfalls of the drive for populists to amass power.
Ready Player One by @erniecline
I’m a child of the 80s & I wallowed in the nostalgia: all my favorite music, video games, movies, television, etc.
More than fan service, the perseverance, hope, fight against greed & tyranny, and the underlying hero story were simply fun!
Welcome to Adulting by @JPokluda
After 8 years volunteering in HS & college ministries, I’ve seen the needs of young adults; this book addresses them well. Its written to young adults, but I’d recommend it to high school students, ESPECIALLY those lacking mentors.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I never quite loved this book the way I expected to. Although I have several critiques of it, I really enjoyed the reading of it. And after all, isn’t that what a book is for?
A slow start, but soon becomes engaging until the end.
Grit by @angeladuckw
While generations of existing wisdom is explored, there’s no lack of new info backed by solid original research and examples, showing exactly what grit is, and how & why we should cultivate it.
Perfect for parents, coaches, mentors, and leaders.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Classics are classics for a reason. I am still looking for today’s writer worthy of Twain.
Now I want to go on an adventure!
Leadership: In Turbulent Times by @DorisKGoodwin
A lateral biography of the leadership qualities of Lincoln, TR, FDR, and LBJ. Godwin’s admiration of her subjects is quite contagious. Though scholarly, it’s easy to read and worth the time.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Alexander‘s at her best when confronting 4th & 5th Amendment issues. Shes obviously very intelligent, and a skilled proponent, but ideology overpowers her arguments.
Cons for justice reform are wise to learn her point of view.
Paul: a Biography by NT Wright
The life of Paul is presented chronologically, and the major epistles are aligned with the mission trips. The middle of the book drags a bit, but from Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem on, the story quickens!
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Classic for good reason! I wish I had read this when I was a child. We all know the story, and have seen films; no adaptation can replace the original. I will be reading more Dickens!
American Dialogue by Joseph J. Ellis
A studied look at issues juxtaposing Founders’ ideas with modern leaders. Overall, the book is great. Ellis touches on tough issues, and rightly names our sins without making villains of otherwise indispensable men in our history.
Them by @BenSasse
An honest look into the spoiled fruits of modern tribalism. A breakdown of how media has shaped culture and some effects of social media on community. A great book from a principled man. Authenticity is a rare commodity today, especially in Washington.
The Dichotomy of Leadership by @jockowillink and @LeifBabin
A well organized & engaging leadership primer on finding balance between extremes. The authors are authentic, revealing lessons learned through literal war stories of their own failures and successes.
Foreign Agent by @BradThor
Spy thrillers are my favorite fiction, and Thor is the best in the game today. This is another solid Scot Harvath novel.
Holy Bible, English Standard Version by @crossway, using the “Chronological” reading plan on @YouVersion app
Easy to read translation with daily passages in the order events occurred. Old Testament history presented in a linear manner is easier to follow.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
A great story for kids. I was not as excited about it as I had hoped, but still enjoyed it.
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