Published: 1 year ago

2017 Year In Review: Books

According to a friend in an email he sent me last night, “every leader and their cousin is posting the ‘best books I read this year.'” Well Julie*, get ready, because we have some reading to talk about.

These are among the best books I read in 2017. They’re in no particular order (other than alphabetical), but I’ll be sure and highlight the ones you oughta go out and get now right now. Christmas break is coming next week, campers, and you need some stuff to read while you’re trying to avoid your politically-polar-opposite uncle.


Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, and Do, Paul Tripp. Standard Tripp fare with is both terribly convicting and amazingly comforting, or – as my wife likes to describe him – “an extremely gracious slow-motion punch in the face.” To summarize: you and I don’t have a [whatever] problem, we have an awe problem.

The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life, Barnabas Piper. Barnabas allows us adults to get back in touch with the ability to be curious and creative again. This one woke me up a little bit. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

(Christmas break pick!) Designed to Lead: the Church and Leadership DevelopmentEric Geiger and Kevin Peck. Eric and Kevin’s premise is that the church should be leading in developing leaders. They unpack that thesis with practical and encouraging counsel to help any church advance the mission by raising up the congregation. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets, Micah Solomon. Micah is a thought leader in the hospitality industry, so when his newest book dropped with the assembled advice of the top leaders in the business, I knew it was just the thing that a guest services guy oughta read.

(Christmas break pick!) How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority, Clay Scroggins. A must-read for any one who has a boss (and really, that’s every single one of us). Clay teaches us how to stop making excuses and start leading as God has gifted us. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, Tom Connellan. I thought I’d read every “how Disney does it” book out there. But then I heard about this gem from 20 years back. It’s a leadership fable similar to Lencioni’s work, but it dishes out great ideas to crank your people awareness.

It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, Dee Ann Turner (See a clip here.) Chick-fil-A’s VP for Corporate Talent paints a great picture of what it looks like to develop great people and cultivate a great environment.

Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, Russell Moore. I was admittedly late to the game on this one, but it was worth the wait. Russ wisely walks us through how the shrinking evangelical minority can hold high the banner of Jesus in a winsome, “convictionally kind” way.

(Christmas break pick!) The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Without a doubt the best book of 2017. I don’t care what role you play – guest services guru, CEO, or college admissions officer – you will find gem upon gem in this masterpiece. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, Kate Anderson Brower. A fascinating study of those “under the stairs”…the butlers, maids, housekeepers, and maintenance staff of the world’s most famous house. Filled with first-hand accounts, it’s an insightful-without-being-gossipy read. (Well, not too gossipy, anyway.)

Secrets of a Secret Shopper: Reaching and Keeping Church GuestsGreg Atkinson. If you want to know what guests really think of your church, Greg has you covered. Drawing upon his years of experience as a church consultant, Greg takes his readers step-by-step through the the first moments (and the first weekend) that a guest is on your campus, and gives practical tips to improve their connection to your congregation.

Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection, Arthur Conan Doyle. Again, late to the game here. But my obsession with the BBC series drove me to the original source material. If you’re a fan of the show you’ll have a hard time not inserting Benedict and Martin into your imagination as you read.

(Christmas break pick!) The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, Dustin Willis & Brandon Clements. Equal parts convicting and encouraging. Brandon and Dustin will spur you to be more intentional with your neighbors. (See my Top Ten Quotes post.)

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson. I finally got around to this biography behemoth. Jobs was an interesting character, to say the least. (And reading this is good for your mind and your body…you can keep your new year’s “lift more weights” resolution simply by picking it up.)

Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life, Douglas Wilson. Wilson is what we call a “cheeky fellow.” If you write anything from emails to epistles, this will be a helpful – and at times hilariously funny – read. My favorite quote: “So here is the most basic rule. Be yourself. Don’t be boring. And if you are boring, try to deal with that first.”


Looking for more book ideas? You can see my full recommended reading list here.


*My cousin. Try to keep up.


photo credit


The good folks over at the FTC want me to tell you the following: if you order a resource from a link on this page, I may receive a small affiliate commission from Amazon. If that bugs you, feel free to bypass my link and buy from a vendor of your choice. But still: buy it. I only promote items that have benefitted me and that I believe will benefit you.

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