2017 marked my second full year of my intentional journey of reading. For years, I would read 10-12 books on average. I got a lot out of every book I read and would be disappointed by the growing number of books I added to my bookshelf that I never read. In 2015, I decided I would create some new habits around reading. I would prioritize the amount of time I spent reading, including how I would consume books (transitioning to digital mediums). Each year since 2015, I increased the number of books I read over the previous year. For 2017, I set a goal of 30 books and by year’s end (I literally spent most of New Year’s Eve reading) I polished off an all-time best of 40 books.

Not only did I read more books than ever before, they were incredible books too. I learned so much. This year I read:

  • Over a dozen fictional books for fun, most of them geeky science fiction reads.
  • 4-5 books on leadership and/or productivity
  • 3 books on the LDS Church (Gilbert, AZ is the highest population of Mormons outside of Salt Lake City, UT – Per Capita)
  • Almost a dozen books on personal and spiritual development
  • 5 biographies of men who each changed the world in a profound way
  • 2-3 books specific to ministry/strategy

I’m even more excited about the books on my list for 2018.

Below are the top six books from 2017. Why six? Because I didn’t want to narrow it down to just five. You may notice a theme this year (biographies).

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
I’ve had this book on my radar for years. I read this book immediately after the books about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. What an AMAZING book. Steve Jobs may have had more faults than the average guy, but he literally did change the world. Years after his death, we still feel the impact this man had on technology, media, telecommunications and so much more. If you’ve been putting off this book like I had, it’s time to read it.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance
I was excited to learn more about Elon and the companies he founded. There’s so much more to this man than I knew. There’s something very different about this guy than the other tech giants, something else that drives him. Jeff Bezos wants to innovate how we shop. Steve Jobs wanted to innovate how we interact with computers and technology. Elon Musk wants to ensure the survival of the human species by getting us “interplanetary.” What an amazing read.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight
I literally knew nothing about Nike before reading this book. Nothing. If I was shopping for athletic shoes and faced between a choice of Nike and another brand, comfort and price would be the primary factors I’d consider. After reading Shoe Dog, I’d by Nike over any other brand (although price and comfort would still be factors). This book was the fantastic story of the entrepreneurial journey for of Phil Knight, eventually making him one of the wealthiest men in America. However, his humility and generosity set him apart from so many other successful entrepreneurs. Go NIKE!

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success – Shane Snow
I have to admit, I LOVE life hacks. Tips and tricks to help me be more successful in life are things I love. This book was so much fun with so much valuable information. Information that left me thinking long after I finished reading it. I would finish a chapter and spend hours thinking, “What if?” There are so many amazing ideas and practices that can easily be connected to the way I lead people, evaluate performance and create ideal learning environments. I finished reading this book, but it isn’t yet finished with me!

Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang
Four years ago, a guy named Jia Jiang spoke at my church. It was a summer series called “voices” where an amazing line-up of guest speakers had been arranged (aka, lead pastor’s summer vacation). Jai actually attended our church and had recently given a TED talk. Crazy, right? He spoke about rejection and fear and it was absolutely wonderful. The weekend crowds gave him a standing ovation, something I’d never seen happen at my church before. Last year, he published this book, based on the message he shared at TED and my church. It’s a really fun book and very eye-opening. This book really got me thinking about the greatest challenge most of us in ministry face – recruiting volunteers. I’m still processing some of the ideas from this book and will likely talk about them again soon. Regardless, this book is fantastic and highly recommended.

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – Ian Morgan Cron
A co-worker introduced me to the Enneagram several years ago. I didn’t understand it. I’m a big fan of the Meyers -Briggs, and Strengths Finders. I just didn’t understand an assessment based on the seven deadly sins. However, this summer I was reintroduced to the Enneagram again along with Sara. I read the profiles and enjoyed the perspective. However, I saw this book sitting on a co-workers (different co-worker) and asked if I could borrow it. Reading about the history of this assessment and how all the profiles connect was absolutely fascinating. I also LOVE the author. The writing read like I was simply having a casual chat with Ian Cron. Moving forward, I’ll utilize the Enneagram when assessing staff and couples simply because of the insight it gives that’s missing from Meyers-Briggs and Strength Finders. If you want to know more about why some of us get along and others of us don’t… Read. This. Book. BTW, I’m a 7 and my wife is a 2. Now all the Enneagram nerds know exactly what my wife and I fight about. Ha!

What a fun and amazing journey a handful of books (okay, more than a handful) took me on this year. I’m looking forward to the 50+ books I intend to read this year.

What books are you reading?