14 Favorite Books of 2014


It’s that time of year again, time to share my top lists of the year. If you are a regular on this blog, you know that I love to read. You can read my recent reviews of books here.

Each year, I post a list of my favorite books of the year. To see my list of favorite books from past year, simply click on the numbers: 2009201020112012 and 2013. To me, I love this list because it shows what has influenced me in the past year, where I’m growing and what God is teaching me. If you are a leader, you should be a reader, there is no way around that.

To make this list, it does not have to be published in 2014, I only needed to read it in 2014. As always, this list was hard to narrow down, but here are the top 14 books of 2014:

14. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done | Matthew Perman

What sets this book apart from others on productivity: Its emphasis on understanding how the gospel impacts productivity, How the gospel frees us to be productive, and it also brings together some of the best ideas from other books on productivity to show a better system that combines the strengths of different systems.

13. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know | Meg Meeker

To me, this is such an empowering book for fathers. We often feel unsure, at a loss of how to relate to our daughters, how to treat them differently than a son, or how to feel like we are moving forward in a relationship with them. This book is about what a daughter needs from a father that a mother cannot give. This book gave me such a clear understanding of how to interact with our daughter, how to build a relationship with her and prepare her for the life ahead of her. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to Dad’s of daughters.

12. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds Carmine Gallo

Giving a presentation that truly moves people takes hard work. Let’s face it, many pastors are lazy. They become a pastor because it seems easier, they read a lot and most people don’t have a high expectation for a sermon to be great (sadly). They are simply hoping for short. Preaching is hard work. If you aren’t willing to put in the hard work, don’t preach. At the end of the day, someone pays a price for a sermon, the pastor or the church. This is the best preaching book of the year.

11 The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker | Brad Lomenick

One of the things I’ve been chewing on from this book all year has been, “To get to the top and to be successful at the top requires two different skill sets.” Such a helpful book for younger leaders.

10. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration | Ed Catmull

This book was so good and eye opening, it took me 3 posts to share all that I learned from it. You can read those posts here, here and here.

9. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Greg McKeown

Two things stood out to me in this book that have shaped a lot of my life: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will and If it is not a definite yes, then it is no.

8. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Timothy Keller

I debated between this book and Keller’s book on suffering for this list. Both were helpful and meaningful in different ways, but his book on prayer opened my eyes on how to pray to God as Father and how to meditate on Scripture in deeper ways. If prayer is a struggle for you, this book is well worth working through.

7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers | Ben Horowitz

Even though this is not a church planting book, it is by far, the best church planting book of the year. So many insights from this small business guru that is relevant for churches and church plants.

6. Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church | Scot McKnight

This book challenged me in some ways I didn’t expect. How to read the Bible through the lens of Jesus was one and how to see how God worked through all of history instead of jumping from Genesis 3 to Matthew 1 when we read the Bible. The other was, seeing Jesus as King when I think about him. This may seem obvious depending on your church background, but I appreciate the emphasis that McKnight places on Jesus as King. My church background seems to focus on Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, which He is and leave the King part until the end of the world. Yet, Jesus is King, now and forever.

5. Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You | John Ortberg

If you love what Dallas Willard has to say but have a hard time understanding what he says, this is a great book. I found myself challenged, encouraged and challenged some more. It is a mix of how to care for your soul, how to rest and ultimately, how to connect with God at a deeper level.

4. Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly Mike Myatt

This was the most relevant and helpful business leadership book that pastors should read this year. Myatt covers the gaps that exist in any business (church) and how to overcome them. This is a leadership book that I will re-read in years to come. I found it that helpful.

3. People-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership Charles Stone

This book is unlike any other I’ve read. First, it hits a topic that every pastor or leader (and probably most humans) struggle with: people pleasing. This is an enormous deal for pastors and churches. Second, it combines stories and real life examples with a ton of helpful research on how our brains work and what drives leaders to care what others think. Third, it ends with some incredibly helpful insights to fight people pleasing in your leadership.

2. Facing Leviathan: Leadership, Influence, and Creating in a Cultural Storm Mark Sayers

The point of the book of the book is to show how leadership has changed, how culture has changed and what leadership looks like moving forward. I am thankful as Sayers points out, we are moving away from deconstruction in our leadership and culture and moving towards rebuilding. I’m hopeful Christians get this idea as many leaders seem to be behind the times and keep talking about deconstructing.

1. The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection Richard Blass & James Cofield

I’ve read maybe 3-4 life altering books. This was one of them. The authors walk through why we fail at relationships so often and show how that begins the before we are even born, but then our inability to deal with what our lives have been like and how to move forward. Many people cannot work well with others, can’t engage in their family or marriage, struggle to make work connections and all because of something in their past that has not been deal with. This isn’t to say that it is easy, only that, to live in true freedom and be our “true self” as the authors put it, we must deal with those things.