You’ve probably already started your beach reads for the summer. But if there’s still room in that super cool canvas tote bag, I’d like to suggest some of my favorites from the past year:
First Impressions / Hospitality:
- Culture of Yes: Practices and Principles of Great Hospitality (Micah Solomon). Micah draws from organizations both large and small, giving tons of great examples of how “yes” transforms the way we serve people. UPDATE: after this post first went live, a reader alerted me that Culture of Yes is no longer available. I contacted the author, and the exchange that followed can only be described as “Wow!” moment. Micah practices what he teaches. He has a new book coming out in October 2016 titled The Heart of Hospitality, which will incorporate much of the content from Culture of Yes. Meanwhile, I’d suggest you order an alternative title, Your Customer is the Star. (I just did, and will be adding that to my own summer reading list.)
- The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience (Joseph Michelli) I’ve long recommended Michelli’s The Starbucks Experience, and finally got around to reading his research on The Ritz Carlton. Every bit as impressive as I expected.
- The Thank You Economy (Gary Vaynerchuk) The rise of social media means that companies have to be on their game more than ever. Even though I was late to the party reading this (the book is five years old), Vaynerchuk laid out some principles that are still holding steady.
Spiritual Growth / Spiritual Disciplines:
- The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door (Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon) I’m bad – like really bad – and being intentional in building new relationships. This book gave me simple, practical steps of how to get better at seeing people as people – not projects.
- Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send (J.D. Greear) Of course I’m including my boss’s book, but I really believe it’s the best one he’s written yet. (You can read my review here.)
- Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is Not the Enemy of Faith (Barnabas Piper) Barnabas reminds us that doubts about our spiritual journey don’t have to mean we’re doubting God. (Interview with Barnabas here.)
- The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (Mark Buchanan) This goes in the “oh dang” category for the past year. Maybe one of the most convicting (yet encouraging) books out of any that I’ve read in 2016. It’s the perfect complement to the downtime of summer.
- Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (Chip Heath and Dan Heath) The Heath brothers consistently knock it out of the park, and this is no exception. Just buy it and thank me later.
- Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides (Scott Sauls) I really wanted to not like this book. I thought I had the approach pegged, but man, was I ever wrong. If the current political / Facebook / societal drama has you down, this is a breath of fresh air.
- Oneness Embraced: A Fresh Look at Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and Justice (Tony Evans) Dr. Evans gives one of the most thorough, academic, gospel-infused treatments of race that I’ve read. I’m grateful for his guidance through a difficult conversation.
History / Biography:
- Our Storm (Jeremy and Tiffany Pollard) Back in 2007, my friends Jeremy, Tiffany, and their son Stephen were involved in a wreck that almost took their lives. They’ve finally put pen to paper in order to reflect on God’s grace and miraculous provision in the moments and months that followed.
- Walt Disney: An American Original (Bob Thomas) You just knew there’d be a Disney book in here somewhere. Thomas’ account of the master showman’s life is not short: it clocks in at nearly 400 pages. But for a biography, it’s a page-turner. Get it.
- Developing Your Leadership Pipeline (Todd Adkins) Here’s your freebie on the list: Todd wrote an ebook that is immensely helpful to leaders of any stripe. You need to get this, your team needs to get this, errybody needs to get this.
- God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future (Will Mancini) Regardless of whether you’re the lead guy or a fresh-faced intern, Mancini helps you maneuver a really large task with practical, helpful counsel.
- Rock Solid Volunteers: How to Keep Your Ministry Team Engaged (Larry Fowler) From the Executive Director of Training for AWANA, this book gives timely wisdom on how to lead your most valuable resource: the people who serve in your ministry. While it’s directed primarily to kids and student ministries, I found a lot of transferable principles for serving alongside the adult set.