Here are ten favorite books I read in 2017. I recommend them to you.
- Some are about healing the divisions in our country.
- Some are about God and faith.
- Some are memoirs of real-life people and meaning.
Please share a favorite book you read this year in the comments below. Together let’s build our 2018 reading lists.
Top 10 Books I Read in 2017
1. The Better Angels of Our Nature
Why Violence Has Declined
by Steven Pinker
If you want to be encouraged that our world is LESS violent than ever, not more violent, read this book. It’s long; be warned. (I took several months to read it.) But it’s worth it. The information thoroughly documents that these days may be the most peaceful in the history of mankind.
I picked up this book after seeing Bill Gates cite it as his favorite book of the last decade. Now I understand why.
2. The Power of Moments
Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact
by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
Why do we remember some moments with clarity, but most moments fade away quickly? How can we be more intentional about which moments will be remembered? This book goes into specific reasons why and methods how. My series on this book is here, How to Mark the Moment.
Chip Heath and Dan Heath are two of my very favorite authors. They write with precision and simplicity, and use multiple examples. Their books often become my favorites.
3. Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
This novel gripped me. The story centers about a black labor and delivery nurse who has to care for the baby of white supremacists. Things go very wrong.
Along the way, we see how privilege, race, and power come into play in this story that could happen anywhere in our country today.
4. Building a StoryBrand
Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
by Donald Miller
You may know author Donald Miller as a Christian storyteller. That may be why this book works. He uses the seven common elements of effective storytelling and applies them to business marketing. With extreme clarity and step-by-step precision, he guides the reader to more accurately shape the messages they send out.
Apply it to whatever area you work in. (I’m using it to redesign a website for a non-profit I volunteer with.)
5. The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
As much as it’s spoken, our country is not colorblind. At the very least, statistics show us this. This book uses statistics and more to speak to our conscience of how racism has been redesigned.
It focuses on the mass imprisonment rates among communities of color as compared to the white communities. (There are more African Americans under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850.) It will make you think and rethink your view of our world.
6. The Naked Now
Learning to See as the Mystics See
by Richard Rohr
How do we see spirituality outside of black and white ways? Father Richard Rohr explores how to let go of artificial divisions in this book.
He walks us with Jesus through the Gospels, the epistles, and history’s Christian contemplatives to deeper ways of seeing, especially in the second half of life (which may have nothing to do with your age). This can’t be read quickly.
Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
by Anders Ericsson
Want to acquire a new skill? Ericsson has studied how for decades. This book explains how we gain expertise in an area. Some of the ways are intuitive, but many are not (hint: it’s not always about innate talent).
Be prepared for lots of interesting examples and stories from a wide variety of fields.
8. When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
This neurosurgeon was not only brilliant in medicine, but also in writing. When he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at 36-year-old, he began writing down his journey of life and death from both a doctor’s perspective and a patient’s.
And most importantly, from a human’s perspective. Even though the book contains much sadness, its value makes it worth the tears.
9. Stalling for Time
My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator
by Gary Noesner
This book came out in 2010, but I read it only this year. And it fascinated me. It’s a memoir of one of the FBI’s chief negotiator. He tells story after story about hostage crisis and cases that he was involved in.
His goal was to achieve a peaceful outcome but it didn’t always turn out that way. Fascinating.
10. The Organized Mind
Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
by Daniel J. Levitin
Too much information. No wonder we have trouble keeping everything straight. This book takes us on a journey of understanding and executing a better plan on how to manage the things we have to keep up with.
Plus 10 More Great Books
There were so many great books this year that I must include 10 more.
11. The Gatekeepers
How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
by Chris Whipple
12. The Righteous Mind
Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt
13. The Sacred Enneagram
Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth
by Christopher Heuertz
14. How to Think
A Survival Guide for a World at Odds
by Alan Jacobs
15. Why Christianity Must Change or Die
A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile
by John Shelby Spong
16. Invisible Influence
The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
by Jonah Berger
The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth
18. Wolf Boys
Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel
by Dan Slater
19. Slavery by Another Name
The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans
by Douglas A. Blackmon
20. Words on the Move
Why English Won’t—and Can’t—Sit Still (Like, Literally)
by John McWhorter
* * *
What book would you recommend from 2017? Please share in the comments.