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2018 Book Reviews (#Savage2018Reads)

Jan 1, 2019

I love books.

When it comes to parting with a book, I struggle. I underline, star, and circle incredible statements or sections. I write notes in the margins.

In this digital age, I often have multiple physical books in progress, along with a Kindle book and an Audible book. My wife no longer lets me keep books at home and does all she can to encourage me to get books digitally because she knows my aversion to parting with them.

In 2017, I made a goal of reading 2 books a month (24 books total) but ended up reading 40 books. In 2018, I set a goal of reading 4 books per month (48 books total), but I ended up reading 60 books! That’s 100 books in the last two years!

(Also, if you want to read more yourself, then I encourage you to check out Jon Acuff’s article on reading more books.)

Before we get to the list, I cannot tell you what was my favorite book I read this year. I can pick some category leaders.

Best Fiction Book – The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper

Best Storytelling in a Non-Fiction Book – The Power of Moments by the Heath Brothers

Most Surprising Book – Pyschocybernetics by Marshall Maltz

Most Inspiring and Transcendent Book – Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Best Book for Church Leaders – From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls

The Right Book for the Right Time for Scott – The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

Best Audible Performance and Best Book for People Who’ve Had Doubts About God – Remember God by Annie Downs

Best Leadership Book – Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

I shared my brief reviews of my 2017 reads here. So, I thought I’d pick up that same habit and share my brief reviews of those 2018 books here.

I’ve broken them down by month and noted which format I read them in.

I’m shifting my approach to reading significantly less in 2019, but I’ll share more about that later.

In the meantime, here are the stories from my reading journey.

JANUARY 2018

1 – The Maze Runner by James Dashner. PAPERBACK

I made a commitment to read more fiction in 2018. Starting the new year with a multi-book fiction series is a big part of that. I found the story fascinating and intriguing. As a result, I couldn’t put this book down.

2 – Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt. AUDIBLE

I’ve been using Michael’s Full Focus Planner for some time and this book is one of the best books I’ve ever read on goal setting. If you want to make progress in the new year, this book will give you a big boost!

3 – The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. PAPERBACK

This second book in the Maze Runner series wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first book. I found the ending super annoying and almost stopped reading the trilogy as a result. But, I hate leaving things unresolved, so I decided to finish the series.

4 – Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. HARDBACK

Miller’s StoryBrand company is doing some incredible work in coaching organizations to better tell their company’s story. I listen to Miller’s podcast and have downloaded many of StoryBrand’s free resources, so it was fun to go back through familiar content all in one place. I also found there were sections I’d not heard before reading the book. If you’re a leader, marketer, or communicator, I highly recommend this book.

5 – The Death Cure by James Dashner. PAPERBACK

I liked this third Maze Runner book much better than the second and about as equally as the first. Like a lot of dystopian young adult novels, this story doesn’t resolve in a nice, warm way. But, I was grateful to make significant progress in my goal to read more fiction in the first month of 2018.

6 – 8 to 15: The World is Smaller Than You Think by Tom Mercer. KINDLE

I read this book in preparation for a message in my church on the people we know and the influence we have on others. Mercer does a great job of setting the idea of sharing one’s faith into a reachable and reasonable context.

FEBRUARY 2018

7 – Natural Disaster by Ginger Zee. HARDBACK

Ginger is my favorite meteorologist on television. My wife and I loved watching her of Good Morning America when we were home after the birth of our kids. She’s an awesome person to follow on Instagram and her story is powerful. Ginger shares about her battle with depression and suicide – a great reminder to not judge the people you see as “celebrities on TV who have it all together.”

8 – How to Fix a Broken Record by Amena Brown. AUDIBLE

Amena is one of my favorite spoken word artists! I loved listening to her reading this book and the structure was fascinating. The dynamic between her life story interplayed with significant songs in her life created a unique angle into someone’s life.

9 – Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. PAPERBACK

We had a great run of reading with our kids before bed in early 2018, knocking through several Narnia books. My favorite scene in Prince Caspian is when Aslan tears off Eustace’s scales. This moment offers so much insight into the process of spiritual formation.

10 – Pyscho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. PAPERBACK

My coach used this book during our program earlier this year. At first, I was put off by the title and cover. It felt like I was taking a deep dive into Scientology! However, this book felt like therapy in a book. The insights and self-discoveries were significant. Amazing book!

11 – Mindset by Carol Dweck. PAPERBACK

Dweck’s research into the Growth Mindset has been lauded and widely applied. Her delineation between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset should be read by everyone. It was a bit challenging to listen to such an academic book, but I had a lot of fun sharing some of these insights in a speaking engagement early this year also.

12 – How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards. PAPERBACK

If you don’t know, the copy is any writing in a publication or composition. Edwards is one of the gurus of copyrighting, so this book read a bit like the Bible of Copywriting. Edwards laid out the book well, recapping content and building sequentially for his readers. This book has proven to be a great desk resource. If you do any writing online or write to move people to action, get this book!

MARCH 2018

13 – The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. AUDIBLE

This book was one of the top 5 books I read in 2018. If you haven’t read it, you need to read it – if only for the stories. But, if you’re a leader, a parent or responsible for anyone else’s experience in life, this book will be crazy inspiring and motivating.

14 – The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. KINDLE

This short book by Tim Keller explores the themes of our identity, humility, and forgiveness. Big themes for a little book but like most things Keller writes, don’t underestimate the message by the size of the package it is contained within. Great read!

15 – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. PAPERBACK

I read Wrinkle as a child but forgot a lot of it. With the release of the new movie adaptation of the book, I went back and read the book, along with the rest of the series this year. As always, the book was better than the movie, but I found myself noticing things I didn’t remember and experience wonder I had forgotten.

APRIL 2018

16 – Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. AUDIBLE

Brown is one of my favorite writers. Reading her book “Daring Greatly” was a life-altering experience. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown explores what we do when we feel excluded or alone as we embrace who we are and our sense of purpose. Listening to her read this book felt like a friend encouraging me as I walk a difficult road.

17 – Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. AUDIBLE

I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book. But Frankl’s exploration of his theory of Logotherapy was incredibly moving. Frankl tested this theory while a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and with suicidal patients after the war. Easily, one of my top 5 reads of 2018 and one of my top 10 books ever. An incredible read!

18 – Thriving in Babylon by Larry Osborne. PAPERBACK

Osborne pastors the largest church in my denomination and I’ve attended a conference his church hosts a couple times. In this book, he explores the life of Daniel as a model for living as a follower of Jesus in this present cultural moment. I share a great deal of Larry’s worldview and felt a lot of resonance with this book. This was the first of three books I used in preparing my summer 2018 sermon series at my church entitled AND: Living Faithful to Christ and Winsome to Culture.

MAY 2018

19 – The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges. KINDLE

This was the second of three books I used for that aforementioned AND sermon series. Hodges offered some insight into Daniel which I hadn’t picked up in my own reading or through Osborne’s book. I did find myself resonating more with Osborne’s worldview than Hodges, so if you’re looking for a great book of Daniel as a modern-day model, I’d recommend Thriving in Babylon, not Daniel Dilemma.

20 – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. PAPERBACK

I didn’t remember much of book 3 of the Narnia series. However, the scene where Aslan removes the scales from the boy Eustace (who through his greed has become a dragon) moved me deeply and became an illustration for a future sermon. So far, in my Narnia reading, this has come in second behind The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.

21 – Principles by Ray Dalio. AUDIBLE

Ray Dalio has run the most successful hedge fund in the last twenty years. In Principles, he shares the foundational insights which have guided the leadership of his company, their internal culture, and his work with his clients. I got the book on Audible, which I ended up regretting. I wished I had gotten the physical book as it was a bit long for a listen and I missed taking notes. But, this was a problem because I found Dalio so insightful and worth learning from as a model.

22 – Beautifully Interrupted by Teresa Swanstrom Anderson. PAPERBACK

I met Teresa in 2015 when we were in a writing coaching group together, so seeing this book in the wild has been a cause for celebration. Anderson tells her story with authenticity and vulnerability. The way Jesus worked in her life was not what she expected, but it’s obvious her family’s willingness to trust Jesus and step out in courageous obedience has transformed them forever. I’m not the target audience of the book because of my gender – however, I was encouraged reading her story!

23 – Faith Among the Faithless by Mike Cosper. PAPERBACK

This is the third book I read in preparation for my summer sermon series and maybe the most important. Cosper challenged the default use of Daniel as the Biblical model for living in this cultural moment, holding up Esther instead. I’d not studied Esther much and I found Cosper’s book on her life to be fascinating and tremendously insightful. I was able to interact with Cosper on Twitter as I was reading this book and planning my series, which became a study of both Daniel and Esther as different models for different generations and personalities. One of the best books I’ve read on any Biblical figure ever.

24 – Beyond Ordinary by Justin and Trisha Davis. KINDLE

I’m not the biggest fan of most marriage books. Many in this genre border too close to idealism, cheesiness, and cliche to make them easy to recommend. Beyond Ordinary was a very different kind of marriage book. It’s written in a back-and-forth narrative between Justin and Trisha. The book doesn’t hold back when describing the death of their marriage, along with contributing causes. The book offers hope as it shares how the couple built a new marriage from the ashes of the first marriage. Really enjoyed this book!

JUNE 2018

25 – The Problem of God by Mark Clark. AUDIBLE

Similar to my take on marriage books, I’m not super into apologetic books. I tend to be more of an explorer of my faith than a defender of it. The antagonistic tone and answering-questions-no-one-is-really-asking approach of many apologetics books have never been super compelling for me. Yet, after meeting Mark Clark in San Diego in October 2016, I wanted to read whatever this guy wrote. The Problem of God is a very different apologetics book, including chapters on the problem of hypocrisy and the problem of sex. I have never seen an apologetics book tackle either of these, yet these are real barriers for some people when it comes to faith. Mark came to faith in early adulthood and his passion to reach those who are where he made his writing shine. I’ve already recommended this book many times.

26 – High-Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. AUDIBLE

You’ve likely seen Burchard’s ads on Facebook. This book had come to me via my former coach’s recommendation and it delivered. I was convicted of some habits where I’d gotten sloppy and lost intentionality. The book is a gateway to his universe of products, coaching, and events. But there are some great free resources available which make applying the book’s teachings that much easier.

27 – From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls. KINDLE

Any guy who has SS for his initials is good in my book! I do my best to read everything Scott Sauls writes. Not because I enjoy it all; much of what Sauls writes disturbs, unsettles, and provokes me in ways which leave me feeling very uncomfortable. But at the end of that struggle, Sauls makes me want to be more like Jesus. So, I keep reading. In this book, Sauls explores living through the lens of 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about God’s grace is sufficient in our weakness. He challenges his readers – mostly Christian leaders – to not avoid their weaknesses but embrace them as the pathway to true strength. This book felt like a few great sessions of counseling – and much cheaper!

28 – A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle. PAPERBACK

I continue to make progress on my goal to read more fiction in 2018. Before this year, I had no idea that L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time was part of a larger series of books. Like Maze Runner, I decided to read this series during this calendar year. I’ve loved the way L’Engle pushes my imagination through her prose. I read most of these fiction books at night before bed because fiction doesn’t get my brain racing the way non-fiction does.

29 – Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk. AUDIBLE

Gary V is a force in today’s world of social media and marketing. I’ve read nearly every book he’s written and follow most of his content online. I listened to Crushing It, his follow up to his debut book, Crush It. I was introduced to Gary via Crush It, so this was a fun follow-up. I listened to Crushing It and loved the way he bounced between teaching his principles and illustrating them through others’ stories. Gary curses a lot, so many people of my readers likely won’t become his readers. But, he’s got a lot of insight in a lot of areas and he’s about as authentic as it gets.

30 – The Pastors Kid by Barnabas Piper. KINDLE

From a cursing, son of a liquor store owner (Gary V) to a son of a well-known pastor (Barnabas Piper), these two books represent the fact that I don’t like to just read from people who see the world similarly. As a pastor’s kid myself, I felt like Piper represented our experience fairly and accurately. He could’ve gone down a more harsh and cynical path, but he didn’t. I think every church attendee should read this book to get a sense of what life in the “fishbowl” can feel like, along with Piper’s prescriptions for how to better love those in a pastor’s family.

31 – Start with Why by Simon Sinek. AUDIBLE

This book is based on the TED talk that made Sinek famous, which happens to be one of my top 5 favorite TED talks. Sinek does a great job of expanding his 20-minute talk into a full-length book. I do think his book Leaders Eat Last is a better book than this one. But if you need help exploring your “Why” and how to communicate it better, this is a great read.

32 – Own the Moment by Carl Lentz. AUDIBLE

Lentz is a lightning rod in the church world. He takes a lot of heat for his association with people outside of the church and he is most certainly an anomaly among most pastors. But it’s obvious that Lentz loves people and believes his purpose is to love people closer to Jesus. And the man seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to pursue that end. I don’t agree with everything Lentz says and does, but his stories were engaging and his pattern of loving others was inspiring and challenging. I appreciated his honesty and what I sense is his integrity (aligning what he does and says).

JULY 2018

33 – It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die by Jefferson Bethke. KINDLE

Like Sinek, Bethke is another writer who got his start with a viral video. Bethke’s video was a spoken word video about his wrestling with the church, entitled I Like Jesus But Not the Church. His first book, again like Sinek, expounded on his video. In his second book, It’s Not What You Think, Bethke is digging into some common theological and spiritual topics where he feels like we’ve stopped short or missed the point. It was obvious as I read this book that Bethke and I have been influenced by some similar sources, so that was fun. And I finished the book wishing I could grab a cup of coffee off a Maui Beach with Bethke to talk (he and his wife moved to Maui a few years ago).

34 – No-Fail Meetings by Michael Hyatt. HARDBACK

This short book from productivity and leadership guru, Michael Hyatt, is his explanation for how his company approaches meetings. This book arrived on the same day that I led a terrible meeting. I was ready for new insight and it’s been fun to try and apply some of these teachings later this year as a result. Hyatt also provides PDF resources to help with the implementation of this teaching.

35 – The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper. KINDLE

Tapper is one of my favorite cable news hosts. I was intrigued by the description of his book and wondered if he could move from one medium to another. This book was a page-turner, keeping me up late at night on my vacation to Vancouver this past summer. I finished the book, disappointed that the story was over and hopeful that Tapper will return to these characters again very soon. The Hellfire Club did a great job of taking us back to a different political era while making some subtle connections to modern day challenges and realities.

36 – The Kill Order by James Dashner. PAPERBACK

This prequel to the Maze Runner series was my favorite of the 4 books in this set. The writing felt most compelling and the payoff at the end was more rewarding, even though I knew where the story would end. Kind of like the opposite experience of what I went through watching the Star Wars prequels!

37 – Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley. AUDIBLE

I met Leeana in 2015 and she was a huge encourager during a really difficult season in 2016. I enjoyed her book, Brazen, especially the chapter on feeling behind. But, Begin Again was a whole other level of awesome! I listened to this book during a road trip this summer – the whole thing in one day. This book is all about the reality that we are all beginners and learning to embrace this mindset of “always we begin again.” One of my favorite reads of 2018!

38 – The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. PAPERBACK

This book had been recommended to me by multiple people around me at my church in the Christian community here in Prescott, where I call home. I read the book during my longest vacation in several years. It was perfect timing and it lived up to the billing. It was even more fun reading Buchanan’s during my trip to Vancouver, including a visit to Vancouver Island where he calls home. If you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and wondering if the pace you’re living is the pace you were created to live, then it’s time to pick up this book.

AUGUST 2018

39 – Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof. PAPERBACK

I was on the Launch Team for Didn’t See It Coming because I think Nieuwhof is one of the wisest, most helpful voices in the church leadership space. This book explores the seven challenges most of us “didn’t see coming”, including several I’ve battled like burnout, cynicism, pride, and emptiness. While Nieuwhof has carved out a reputation writing to church leaders, this book is for everyone because everyone is vulnerable to these challenges.

40 – The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. KINDLE

I love short books which explore big ideas. Prodigal God is one of those books. I’ve had this book on the shelf for some time, but never read it. I really appreciate the way Keller writes and the perspective with which he looks at the world. In recent years, I’ve found new meaning and insight into one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Keller continued to help me mine this story for insight and personal growth.

SEPTEMBER 2018 (NOTHING! I think it’s so important to review the past year, if only because we forget more than we realize. I had no idea I didn’t finish any books in September until I wrote this EPIC post in December 2018. I read portions of books in September, but didn’t finish any.)

OCTOBER 2018

41 – Everybody Always by Bob Goff. AUDIBLE

Bob Goff is a larger-than-life character. His debut book, Love Does, is an unforgettable read. So, I wondered how he would live up to the incredible story and message from his first book with his sophomore effort. Goff delivered another amazing book exploring the idea of “what would it look like if we loved everybody, always?” His stories are personal and profound. I listened to this book and it was awesome to hear Goff read his own stories. I look forward to meeting him one day!

42 – Remember God by Annie Downs. AUDIBLE

Whoa. I also listened to this book in one day! Annie is one of my favorite people to follow online and she poured her soul into this book. Listening to Annie read, cry, and laugh her way through this book, while sharing as transparently as any author I’ve read recently was an unreal gift. I resonated with many of the questions raised in this book and the way the book ends – it literally gave me the chills! While Annie’s books are often targeted at women, this book should be read by everyone who has been through a hard season and asked difficult questions about God.

43 – He Spends She Spends by John H. Putnam. PAPERBACK

I met John Putnam in 2015 as part of an author coaching network – the same network where I met Leeana Tankersley and Teresa Anderson (also in this year’s list of books). Putnam came out and spoke at our church in Arizona in November 2018. His book slides into a unique space. It’s not as much a how-to book on finances or an exploration of what the Bible says about money. Putnam digs deeper into the why behind our money choices, helping us understand our motivations and emotions driving our decisions. He pays close attention to how these play out in our relationships with our significant others as well. A helpful, practical book.

44 – Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield. PAPERBACK

I got a free copy of Turning Pro at STORY, a conference I attended in Nashville in September 2018. Having read The War of Art (one of my 5 favorite books ever), I was excited to read this follow-up and was not disappointed. If you do creative work or you are developing an idea on the side, this book is a great resource for your mindset and process. Pressfield calls out our excuses and destructive mindsets which are holding us back from “turning pro.”

NOVEMBER 2018

45 – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. HARDBACK

How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best-selling books of all time. I realized a couple of years ago, that I had never read this book. I found a hard copy at Barnes and Noble this fall, discovering why this book has stood the test of time. Carnegie distills a number of key principles to serving other people, putting their needs above your own. He shows how the principles of great relationships lead to influence and success in whatever you’re “selling.” While a book on sales often gets discarded as “slimy” or gross, this book is about finding a way to take care of the people you are serving through your product. I recommend this book to everyone.

46 – Unshakable by Tony Robbins. AUDIBLE

I wanted to learn more about the world of investing this year, so I read Tony Robbins’ best-selling book Unshakable, along with Ray Dalio’s Principles. Robbins’ book includes lots of research and interviews with investing luminaries like Warren Buffet, Ray Dalio, and others. I loved the way Robbins ended the book with teaching on mindset and meditation, noting that your mindset is more important than your tactics. I listened to this book and it was the first to have several readers sharing the load. With the length of this book, the shift in voices kept things interesting and engaging.

47 – In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. PAPERBACK

I read In the Name of Jesus every year. It’s one of my top 5 books I’ve ever read and each time I move through it, I’m challenged and convicted. Nouwen uses the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the desert as his context for sharing the 3 temptations faced by Christian leaders today. Now today for Nouwen was 1989, but this book reads as if it was published last week, not 30 years ago. I always read this book in one sitting, but I go back through my notes and underlines, journaling through how this book has spoken to me. After posting a picture of it on social media, a friend from my college days commented that this was the best book he read in college and I agree. So grateful I found this book at a freshman. It’s been speaking to me ever since.

48 – The Mind of a Missionary by David Joannes. KINDLE

David Joannes is the founder of Within Reach Global, a missions organization focused on taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached people groups around the world. Joannes is one of the many mission partners our church supports. I chatted with Joannes throughout the development of this book and enjoyed supporting its release. This book is broad, bringing together the Biblical mandate to share the Gospel, neurological research, extensive biographies of missions luminaries, and an honest take on the challenges missionaries face around the world. Joannes’ passion is impossible to miss and he poured his heart into this book.

49 – Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper. KINDLE

This is the second book I read by Mike Cosper in 2018 – both in support of sermon series I was developing. Cosper’s book on wonder was far broader than our church’s Advent series on wonder, but it offered incredible insights. Cosper is at his best when connecting the study of the Bible with analysis of our current culture. His books are also incredibly edited. Unlike other books I read this year, the length of both of Cosper’s books felt perfect.

50 – No Greater Love by Mother Teresa. HARDBACK

My favorite book about Mother Teresa is Come Be My Light, which includes previously unpublished journals and correspondence she hoped would never see the light of day. Her musings on despair, darkness, the silence of God, and hope offered both my wife and I a lifeline during a challenging season in our faith. This book felt far less vulnerable but honest nevertheless. Teresa continues to return to her basic belief that God is love and He calls his people to love in extravagant and sacrificial ways. This book wasn’t as good as Come Be My Light, but it did include important reminders I needed to hear.

51 – Indestructible by Allison Fallon. KINDLE

I interviewed Allison Fallon for my blog several years ago when she was living the events which would become the narrative of her new book, Indestructible. I met Fallon in Nashville in 2016 during a mastermind gathering for an author coaching network and then ran into her again at STORY 2018 where she was a speaker.
Indestructible is a visceral, emotional memoir which explores the dissolution of Fallon’s marriage and her own personal unraveling in the process. Fallon’s willingness to explore content this personal and private in an effort to “listen to her life”, as the legendary book by Parker Palmer recommends, is admirable. Even as she is choosing a heroic path, Fallon doesn’t paint herself as a perfect superhero – neither superhuman nor unflawed.
This book lingered in my soul for many days – the sign of a great book!

52 – The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. AUDIBLE

Campbell’s classic book has been cited as the book which inspired George Lucas to write the original Star Wars Trilogy. Campbell famously catalogs “the hero’s journey” replicated across cultures and millennia. I didn’t agree with all of Campbell’s conclusions about faith and God, but his work is important and his final chapter on the role of myth in a healthy society was powerful. This book was the longest “read” of the year – about 16 hours on Audible.

53 – You are What You Love by James K.A. Smith. AUDIBLE

Smith’s exploration of “cultural liturgies” has been widely referenced, so I really enjoyed reading the source material for all those quotes. As someone who pastors an evangelical church with a modern worship style and little traditional liturgy, I appreciated the challenge Smith offered to our approach and the questions he raised. His application of the idea of liturgy beyond the traditional container of a worship service was fascinating.

DECEMBER 2018

54 – Poke the Box by Seth Godin. KINDLE

I found this book in my Kindle archive and couldn’t remember reading it, so I started into this one while waiting for my kids at swim lessons one day this fall. Godin is at his best when he’s challenging limiting beliefs, false constructs, or calling out excuses. In this short book, he invites us all to poke the box, experiment, and fail on our way to discovering new ways forward. A great read for anyone leading or doing creative work.

55 – Scrappy Church by Thom Rainer. HARDBACK

Like Godin, Rainer writes a lot of short books with pointed messages, although in a very different genre. Rainer, as head of the largest Christian publishing organization in the world (Lifeway), speaks to leaders in the church space. In this book, Rainer explores research his organization has done on churches who have thrived in the shadow of larger churches or following seasons of decline. Rainer’s ability to shares both principles and anecdotes kept me engaged and left me encouraged.

56 – Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf. AUDIBLE

Dr. Leaf has made quite a name for herself by selling several hundred thousand copies of her book on the biblical basis for modern neurological research. As someone who finds what we’re learning about neuroplasticity, meditation, and our brains in general fascinating, I was super excited to read this book. I appreciated the simple, accessible manner with which Dr. Leaf presented her material and the excitement she shows for her conclusions. However, the material at times felt overly repetitive and too simplistic. The summaries at the end of each chapter were helpful on one level, but at other times seemed to be overkill. In the end, I think this book could be helpful for some readers but might be too reductionistic for others.

57 – Come, Let Us Adore Him by Paul Tripp. KINDLE

Each year, I try to read a different devotional during Advent and Lent. This Advent, I stumbled on a fairly new devotional from author and pastor, Paul Tripp. I felt Tripp’s book was overly theological at the outset, but by the end, I felt that he strikes a good balance on the whole between offering theological reflection and personal application. He definitely charted new territory in reflecting on the Advent narratives. I would definitely recommend this devotional. Tripp adds a short paragraph to guide parents in each day’s reading in discussion with their kids.

58 – Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. KINDLE

One of my friends coaches leaders for a living. When I was one-third of the way through this book, I insisted my friend check this book out as I knew the material would be helpful to his clients. The first chapter of the book wrecked me and gave words to emotions which overwhelmed me. Dare to Lead is one of the best books I read in 2018 and one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read. Powerful, challenging, dangerous ideas – this book will make you uncomfortable, in the best way.

59 – How To Be Here by Rob Bell. AUDIBLE

Bell is a lightning rod in the church today, so I feel the need to share some caveats here. I read authors who I disagree with regularly and the presence of an author or book on this list should not be viewed as an endorsement. I don’t agree with Bell’s conclusions on hell stated in his book, Love Wins. All of that being said, Bell shared some solid insights in this book and he remains one of the best communicators I’ve ever experienced live.

60 – The Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’Engle. PAPERBACK

Continuing my goal of reading more fiction in 2018, I think I did nearly 20% fiction this year – a huge improvement over past years! Love the worlds L’Engle weaves and the themes she explores. Great read!

I’ll be reading a lot less in 2019, but it’s cool to be able to say I’ve read 100 books in the last 2 years! Thanks for checking out my reviews and if you have any questions on any of these books, drop me a line at scott@scottsavagelive.com. 

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