Looking Back (Part 3)

In 2009 I was still working on UNTO THE LORD, as is reflected in my reading of the following titles: Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, and Death by Meeting, John Maxwell’s The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, Jon Gordon’s The No Complaining Rule and Training Camp, Matt Williams’ How to Be a Team Player…and Enjoy It!, and Quint Studer’s Hardwiring Excellence. There are valuable insights in each of these books. I took much from Studer’s, proving, among other things, that leadership principles are transcendent, since Studer is a hospital executive. But if I had to recommend just one of these books it would definitely be Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni does not write from a biblical perspective, and I do not know that he is a believer, but the key points of this book are biblical, and the principles of the book are essential understanding for any effective team.

By way of spiritual growth and Christian living, Chuck Swindoll’s Improving Your Serve is a good book for an attitude check and the reminder that Christians are to lead by serving; Jack Eggar’s The Return of a Mighty Church provides a succinct examination of some of the things the modern church needs to remember in order to effectively reach the lost; Janet Paschal’s Treasures of the Snow is a personal and poignant look at the strength and comfort that God can provide during a time of very personal struggle–in this case breast cancer; Ravi Zacharias edited an excellent book of thought-provoking essays entitled Beyond Opinion; Jonathan Falwell’s One Great Truth is a satisfactory examination of the practical implications of Paul’s statement “Not I, but Christ;” Joe Stowell’s Perilous Pursuits is a good reminder to pursue those things that really matter…not the temporary things that the world says are important; Erwin Lutzer’s The Vanishing Power of Death is a short but powerful examination of why death is not scary for the Christian (my grandmother gave me this book, and it had special meaning to me when she went home to be with the Lord the following year); and Max Lucado’s Just Like Jesus is a poignant but easy-to-read in Lucado style tome. The most convicting book I read though, and one I highly recommend, was Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins.

I read a variety of history in 2009, too, including Gordon Wood’s Revolutionary Characters, which looks at some of the more influential characters of the American Revolutionary War era; Freeman Cleeves’ biography of our ninth president, Old Tippecanoe; Joseph Ellis’ American Creation and Bernard Bailyn’s To Begin the World Anew, both about the founding era; Buddy Levy’s biography of Davy Crockett, American Legend; and, fast forwarding to World War II, Jennet Connant’s The Irregulars, a look at the British spy ring in Washington, D.C. that included Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming.

For more contemporary political history I also read Valerie Plame’s autobiographical Fair Game; Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope; Mike Huckabee’s Do the Right Thing; Lorenzo Benet’s biography of Sarah Palin, Trailblazer; and Palin’s autobiography, Going Rogue.

Fiction selections included these contemporary offerings: Jeffrey Archer’s False Impression; David Baldacci’s Divine Justice, Simple Genius, The Collectors and First Family; John Grisham’s The Associate and Ford County; James Patterson’s Cross, Double Cross, Run For Your Life and Step on a Crack; Brad Meltzer’s The Tenth Justice; and Alison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. Classic fiction included Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories; William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Return of Sherlock Holmes; and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I also read William Young’s The Shack in 2009, and I have to say I am still undecided as to whether I liked it or not. I agree with some of the points Young made, consider others with skepticism at best or disagreement at worst. However, a comprehensive review of the book is not called for here.

Two books that I read in 2009 that were hard to read because of their subject matter were Gary Haugen’s Just Courage and David Batstone’s Not for Sale. Batstone’s is particularly hard to read. The subject matter of these books is the slavery of people around the world, often overlooked or ignored, that is in reality still incredibly–and disturbingly–prevalent. The content of the books is disturbing but necessary, and I am thrilled that the books have prompted some individuals and groups to take definite action in combating forced labor and sexual slavery.

Elizabeth Edwards’ Resilience is a short but profound and thought-provoking book. I did not agree with Edwards on many political issues, but the way in which she handled herself in light of her own breast cancer and her husband’s infidelity is admirable. Marlee Matlin’s I’ll Scream Later is at times disturbing, at times disappointing, but overall a unique look at the life of America’s most successful deaf actress. And Jodee Blanco’s Please Stop Laughing at Me is a book far too many young people today could identify with, and provides excellent evidence of the kind of bullying that until recently received far too little attention.

And, lest you think I skipped any sports books in 2009, I did read Dave Winfield’s Dropping the Ball.

I hope I’m not boring you, but like I said, this is more personal reflection than anything else, and I am enjoying this look back at my reading habits. It is fun to see what I was reading and when, and to remember the details of the various books. Sometimes I can even remember where I was or specific things that were going on when I read some of them, or conversations that I had with certain people about some of the books while I was reading them. Fortunately, I have not yet come across a title and found myself thinking, “I don’t remember that book at all… Did I really read that?”

Two more years to go….

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