My Top Book Reads of 2017

At the end of each year I like to review the books I’ve read and pick the 10 best. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, but I wasn’t sure just how long. Curiosity got the best of me so I went back and checked.  I’ve been compiling a yearly reading list for the last 17 years!

I enjoyed opening those lists and reviewing the titles. Each book brought back memories of what was going on in my life while I was reading it. No doubt books mark a season and prepare you for the next one.

Over the last 17 years I feel like I’ve been able to do a better job of picking which books are worth my time. Because of that you can’t go wrong with any of the books I read this year. Each book had at least one killer chapter, but to make it on my Top 10 for 2017 I’m looking for “all killer and no filler.”

What you are about to read took me 232 hours to create. I’m hoping it saves you even more time as you seek to become the best version of yourself. I want to help you excel in whatever arena God has called you to lead.

1. Same Kind of Different As Me. True life stories aren’t a genre I typically gravitate toward, and this book had been on my shelf for several years. (I received it as a gift.) This summer a pastor friend recommended his entire church read it over the summer. His recommendation piqued my curiosity so I picked up my copy and started to read it and I was hooked. In full disclosure, I may have done the ugly cry once or twice while reading it. As most of you know, I’m not the type of person who enjoys a good cry. I read it in 2 days. The writing was fantastic! One line I loved was “When you is precious to God, you become important to Satan.” You’ll love this one!

2. The Meaning of Marriage. Everyone should read at least one marriage book a year. What was the last thing you did to invest in your marriage? Reading one relationship book a year is a great place to start. Tim Keller’s book will require a little discipline to wade through but the return on investment is huge. Stick with it because he shares so many nuggets. Chapter 5 “Loving the Stranger” is solid gold. If you think you married the wrong person get this book. If you want to love your spouse better get this book.


3. The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership. I’ve read quite a few leadership books over the last 17 years. After awhile it begins to sound like the same information repackaged. We certainly need to be reminded more than we need to be taught, but I do enjoy learning something new and practical. I was surprised I haven’t heard more about this gem especially since it’s 15 years old. Maybe people raved about it back in the day and now they’ve just moved on to the next new book. The author shared so many leadership concepts that I had never heard of or thought of before. All of it was practical and made so much sense. I loved his fresh voice and perspective.

4. The Rest of God. Do you feel exhausted? Overworked? Did you carry over vacation time this year? Then this book is for you! Some writers can pile on the guilt, but that wasn’t the case with this author. I really felt encouraged and my love for God grew more after reading this book. Rest isn’t a gift we earn when our work is finished, it’s a gift God gives to us because He loves us. God wants us to work from a place of rest. This book was good for my soul.


5. Sleep Smarter. I know a book about sleeping sounds as exciting as a trip to the dentist, but trust me it’s not a snooze fest. Several other friends had recommended this book to me so I tried it as an audio book and learned so much. Sleep is how your body heals itself. We’ve crammed so much into our schedule we need our z’s to count. What if the reason you are so tired isn’t because you’re not sleeping longer, but you’re not sleeping smarter? Lots of practical tips. What do you really know about sleep besides closing your eyes? If you are like me before this book…not much. I feel more rested now and often beat my alarm clock.

6. Building a Storybrand. This is the first business book by the author, in fact 2 years ago his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years made my top 10. The author in recent years seems to have moved toward coaching businesses on marketing and branding. I had heard several interviews with him on his Storybrand approach to marketing and was excited to learn more. The book really helps you think through your marketing strategy. If you own a business you owe it to yourself to read this book. It’s a quick read with plenty of how-to’s. It even has a template email sequence to get you started.

7. Crazy Busy. This book won the 2014 ECPA Christian Book of the Year award (as if my endorsement isn’t good enough ;-). It won’t take you long to get through the 118 pages which is a good thing if you’re crazy busy. But it will make you reconsider why you are so busy and will help you deal with the problem. Are you noticing a theme in my reading this year? Two books on rest and one on sleeping made my top 10. Hmmm.



8. The Story of Reality. Every worldview has to explain the reality in which we find ourselves. Each worldview has to address why we are here and how things got so messed up. The author takes the 30,000 foot view of Christianity’s story (explanation) of reality. If you’ve ever wondered how the Bible fits together or wondered if a smart person can have a Christian worldview this is the book for you. Even if you don’t believe in Christianity you should read it to think about how your worldview answers life’s most important questions.


9. Make Your Mark. The author does a deep dive into the fascinating story of Samson. It’s filled with all kinds of trivia Bible junkies love, but weaved in such a way to make you feel a deep sense of responsibility for your gifts and talents.




10. Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game. At some point in your leadership journey the game changes from checkers to chess. It’s not always clear when the game changes, but when it does you have to change. This is a quick read in the popular parable format.




Honorable Mentions:

These books were so close in making the cut. In fact, I really wrestled with whether they should be in the top 10 or not. It was a toss up, but these are definitely worth your time.

The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over. I learned tons about observing and interpreting body language.





Speaking of Jesus. I keep thinking about the big idea of this book more and more. Always a sign of a good book.





The Ideal Team Player. I think this book didn’t really need the parable, you can skip straight to the application which is solid gold. The book gave me language to use with my own team to describe what we want and are looking for in our teams.