Aug 222013 10 Responses

My 5 Favorite Books

A reader asked, “What are your five favorite books?”

Most of my reading revolves around a couple of broad categories: theology (mainly Biblical commentaries), communication (in several areas including preaching, marriage, and leadership), marriage, and leadership. Of course, having a 5-year-old and 8-year-old, I also read my fair share of children’s books.

So here is my eclectic list of what I believe to be my 5 favorite books. Special note: this list is only official as of today because it could change at any time. Also, I have omitted the Bible and Biblical commentaries because the former is obvious and the latter is probably not very interesting to the average person.

1. Prodigal God by Timothy Keller At this moment, Tim Keller is my favorite preacher/author. Although he didn’t start writing until the age of 58, he is producing a number of quality works each year. Prodigal God is my favorite. It is a great book for those exploring Christianity. In discussing the parable of the Prodigal Son, Keller says,

“Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong.”

2. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman If you can only read one book on marriage, it should be this one. Just being aware of Gottman’s Four Horsemen is worth the price of the book. I refer this book to nearly every couple I see. It points out the universal signs of an unhealthy marriage. Gottman says,

“Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it cannot be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their relationship.”

I quoted Gottman in a previous blog post: Respect: a necessary ingredient for marriage

3. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillian, and Switzler Communication is one of my favorite topics. Whether it be public communication, such as preaching or blogging, communication in marriage, or communication as it affects leadership, the topic pervades every aspect of our lives. Patterson’s book is a treasure trove of information of how to communicate in an effective way. To read of what Patterson calls a “sucker’s choice,” Click Here.

4. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner If I had it to do over again, I would have majored in Economics in college instead of Pastoral Ministry. Much of this is because of Steven Levitt. I still would’ve become a pastor, but I would’ve saved the theology for seminary. Freakonomics was a fascinating read. I love stories and surprises. This book is full of both. Any book which can include stories about prostitutes, sumo wrestlers, real-estate agents, and teachers is a book worth reading. This book still fascinates me. The other books in the list might be more practical, but none are as entertaining as Freakonomics.

5. A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman This list must include a book about leadership, yet choosing my favorite leadership book is difficult. Several come to mind, but the one which has been most meaningful to me is Friedman’s book. Some will read it and get very little from it, yet for me it is of utmost importance. Interestingly, the book is not complete. Friedman was writing the book when he died. Yet his basic thoughts are contained in the volume the editors collected. Friedman warns about leaders turning into

“peace-mongers. By that I mean a highly anxious risk-avoider, someone who is more concerned with good feelings than with progress, someone whose life revolves around the axis of consensus, a ‘middler,’ someone is so incapable of taking well-defined stands that his ‘disability’ seems to be genetic, someone who functions as if she had been filleted of her backbone, someone who treats conflict or anxiety like mustard gas—one whiff, on goes the emotional gas mask, and he flits. Such leaders are often ‘nice,’ if not charming.”

This speaks to me in a deep way. The book may mean little to you, but it means much to me. I included Friedman in another post which you can read Here.


Since I read so many children’s books it is only logical to include my favorite one. While I love The Gruffalo, my favorite is still:

6. Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss I love the book so much that my kids no longer like it. But they will one day.

What is my list missing?

What’s your favorite book?


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