Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie's Best Reads of 2009

I have selected 10 of my best reads from 2009.

1. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller: This book is about the many things that we worship that are not Jesus. Tim Keller points out that most of us have not noticed that jobs, children, sex, education, fashion-in fact a never ending stream of things- are more important to us than Jesus. This book will expose the motivations of your heart and show you a way to heal them.

2. Deep Church by Jim Belcher: By December the list of good reads is usually closed but this came up the inside rail to win the No 2 slot. This is a book that brings together a thousand things that I have been musing about for almost a decade. How can we be a church that has both depth and engagement with those who are seeking after Jesus? What might that sort of church look like? What's important? If you want to read one work that explains all these debates in a reasoned, scholarly and accessible way then look no further.

3. Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts: When a friend who rarely reads a book recommends one as the best book he has ever read you are left intrigued. Well, I took a leap and took this on holiday with me and could not put it down. Roberts has written a spell-binding story about Bombay and what makes it all the more remarkable is that it is true. Put it in the bag when you go on your next two week break.

4. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller: Bill recommended this as his best read of the year so I took it to Switzerland with me. I simply loved it and some of the stories Miller tells have really stuck with me. Just the opening page is enough for the price but the rest seemed to get better and better. Heart-warming, honest, hopeful and full of humour and grace. Loved it.

5. Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender: The thing that appealed to me about this is the idea of weakness. I read this at the beginning of the year and the thing I remember is Allender's observation that if we were to (as Paul did) call ourselves 'the worst of sinners' on a CV no one would give us a job. Accepting weakness is a great leadership gift and one that I am reminded of the need to do daily. I loved his writing style and the way he tells a story.

6. The Heart of a Servant Leader by C. John Miller: I have bored about this a lot but only the other day I referred again to its pages. This is a set of letters written by Tim Keller's friend and mentor and there is pretty much a letter for every pastoral decision and eventuality. I also felt convicted to write more letters and despite this have done nothing about it. That can be a resolution for the next decade and displays one of my many leadership limps.

7. The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning: Dear old Brennan writes the same book every time and it is always about the same thing. Why on earth do I keep on reading them? The reason is always in one word- Grace. He profoundly understands grace because he seems to be someone who has really experienced it. It took me years to receive grace and those years resisting it were spent in misery- so a regular dose of Manning waters my soul and I hope it may water yours too.

8. Dreams from my Father by Barak Obama: He was voted the Times most influential man of the decade and they are probably right (although their No 2 was Simon Cowell?). I took this to Greece with me and the story of his life played out before me over a few warm sunny days. He writes well and this gives you an insight into the man who now leads the most powerful nation of earth. He is frank, descriptive, revealing of himself and his hopes. Anyone leading anything would do well to visit this man's story.

9. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: I gave this to my sister last Christmas and last time I went to stay with her picked it off the shelf to read myself. This is an easy and a fascinating read and is best known for its account of 10k hours. Gladwell collects together amazing case-studies and observations all gathered around the question of success. If I didn't own this I would be putting in on my Christmas list.

10. The Future of Management by Gary Hamel: I spent years and years in business and will always enjoy keeping my eye on the commercial world. I discovered this book through attending the Hybel's Leadership Summit where I heard Hamel speak. Gary Hamel is the world's most respected business consultant, a Harvard professor and a man of faith. The Summit is my annual reminder that I will never run a mega-church and it always prompts me to immediately re-read the complete works of Eugene Peterson. This contains some great cultural insights and stories of the way the world may be heading (Google and Gortex are fascinating indicators of this). Great stuff.

My runner-up reads are:

I hope there may be a read for everybody somewhere on the list that will bring you joy, insight, hope or a new idea.

Keep turning the pages in 2010 dear friends and thanks to those faithful bloggers out there who have introduced me to so many good reads that didn't make the list:)


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Saturday blog-sweep

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