So, my daughters have really been showing me up in the book-reading department (my 5th grader alone has read over 50 chapter books so far this year). In an effort to feel like less of a slacker, one of my new year goals was to read more books. As I was trying to decide which books to read, I found it quite helpful to scan the “favorite books” or “currently reading” lists of my favorite bloggers. Since it was so helpful to me, I decided to do the same for you, my 8 blog readers (Hi, mom). This is the list of books I’ve read this year. I’ve given an ultra-short review along with each title. I recommend all of these books (though some more than others). For those of you who know me, it won’t surprise you that there are basically no fiction books on my list. Sorry, fiction lovers. Perhaps next year.

Rescue, Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture

I plan on devoting a separate blog post to this book at some point when I have the time to give that it deserves. In short, if you have kids (particularly teenagers), you should read this. It offers some solid advice for dealing with kids in this tech-crazed, messed up world of ours.

Little Bets

Most entrepreneurs don’t begin with a brilliant idea. They discover it along the way. Example: the Google guys didn’t begin with the idea that they would create the a search engine for the Internet. They started out trying to create an efficient way to search the Harvard library database. Be innovative, but be flexible and willing to change. Favorite quotes from the book: “Behind every entrepreneur is a spouse rolling their eyes.” and “Successful people view learning the way most people view failure.” This is a good read for anyone in the business world-particularly entrepreneurs.

The Compound Effect

The overall theme of this book is this: small changes create a big impact over time. This book contains tons of common sense wisdom that isn’t so common anymore. It contained some great reminders for me to help me keep moving my business forward. If you need a jolt of encouragement, a bit of motivation, or little prodding to improve, I highly recommend this book. There are quite a few actionable ideas that will improve your results in any area of life.

The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant: Twelve Keys to Successful Living

God calls some people to vocational ministry. He calls others to work in other trades. One calling is not better than the other. The two can work together. Pastors: don’t act like you’re better Christians than non-clergy people. Christian non-vocational-ministry people: don’t treat pastors like they have some cushy job, but don’t feel guilty for not being a preacher. Use your spheres of influence to build the kingdom through doors pastors can’t break through.

The Happiness Advantage

This book contains some pretty interesting insight into what makes people happy. There are tons of nerdy research case studies packed into this book. For you public speakers out there: these studies make for great speech fodder. Also, if you’re generally a cranky person or a chronically unlucky person, you should read this book. It will make you less cranky and luckier. Yes, luckier.

Talk Like Ted

This book has some excellent, practical tips for anyone seeking to improve his or her public speaking ability. It hits on all kinds of stuff from presentation design to ideal speaking speed (words per minute) to ideal presentation length to making speeches catchier. If you ever find yourself having to give presentations, this is a must-read.

The Mystery of the Shemitah

Well, this book was depressing. In a nutshell, we’re all doomed. Side note: if you have the opportunity to listen to the audio book version of this book, please do so. The reader’s booming voice makes every sentence sound dramatically apocalyptic. Every. Single. Sentence. If you want to know what I mean by “dramatically apocalyptic”, you’ll just have to listen to the book. On a serious note, the book does have some very interesting insights. The author has done his homework.

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

I thought this book was great. It helps open your eyes to how other cultures would view certain passages in the Bible. We Americans tend to be pretty ego-centric. That’s been a great thing for capitalism, but not necessarily so great for biblical interpretation. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to broaden his or her view of the Bible.

Power: Why Some Have it and Others Don’t

This book contains some pretty solid research on why some people are powerful and others aren’t. Yes, it’s aptly named. Also, it sticks pretty well with my theme of “books packed with statistical and research studies.” Nerds like me will love it.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Old and timeless. It was time to revisit this book as my kids are almost old enough for it (I’m sure they’ll be thrilled that I’m carrying on the grand Wood family tradition of forcing my children to read books they don’t want to). Sadly, it was a reminder that I could use a lot of improvement in the area of “winning friends and influencing people.” Sorry, friends and people. I’ll do better. Here’s a great quote from the book: “You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than in 2 years trying to get other people interested in you.”

Basic Series

So, this doesn’t actually count as a book. It’s a Francis Chan-led Bible study designed for small groups. It’s the study we’re currently going through in our class at church. It’s about, as you might have guessed, getting back to the basics of Christianity. What did the early church look like? How did the early church work and what can we learn from that? I recommend this study for any small group. If you don’t have a small group, hit me up and I’ll do my best to connect you with one.

There you have it. Again, I’d recommend all of these books for different reasons. If you want more of my thoughts, feel free to email me. I’ll be glad to bore you with the details. Happy reading.