The Ten Most Significant Books I’ve Ever Read

I am often asked for reading recommendations, which recently got me reflecting on the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve read a lot of great books so it’s hard to quantify an all-time ten “best,” so I decided to think in terms of significance: Which have had the deepest, most lasting personal impact?

Therefore, these ten are not necessarily the “best” books ever, but they have been the most significant to me. They have not just challenged my thinking, they have changed my life. I realize that many of these were the right book at the right time in a particular season of life. You’ll note that very few of these books are about “leadership” per se, yet by shaping me they have also shaped my leadership. And this list is limited to books; I have also been greatly challenged by many bloggers and speakers over the years.

Of course, the Bible is the best book ever and the best book I’ve ever read. And Jesus is the answer, and God is love. Now that we have the no-brainer Sunday School answers out of the way, here’s my Top 10:

  1. Inside Out by Larry Crabb. Taught me to look “below the waterline” in my life, laying the foundation for significant emotional growth.
  2. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. A major influence on all my relationships. The original is my favorite but I’d also recommend Boundaries in Marriage and Boundaries with Kids.
  3. God Came Near by Max Lucado. In a season when I didn’t go to church or read my Bible for over a year and was ready to walk away from God, He met me through this book.
  4. Radical by David Platt. The subtitle is “Taking back your faith from the American dream.” Not for the faint of heart, but a must-read for any professing follower of Jesus.
  5. Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein. Confirmed my passion and gift for systems thinking and directed the course of my doctoral program and my professional work.
  6. Rediscovering Church by Bill & Lynne Hybels. Made me fall in love with the local church as the hope of the world.
  7. Debt-Free Living by Larry BurkettBefore anyone had heard of Dave Ramsey, this book helped us develop our first budget and formulate some financial principles we still utilize today.
  8. Margin by Richard Swenson. As I wrote yesterday, an important challenge against overloaded lives.
  9. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. The principles in this book, along with the personal mission statement I wrote nearly twenty years ago, continue to guide me today.
  10. The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen. This book, along with the Psalms, gave voice to my pain and hope for healing during a very difficult season of life.

Bonus:

What’s on your list?

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