Book Suggestions from my Friends for 2008

Five weeks ago I sent out the following email to 154 of my friends.

Subject:A Personal Request: What One Book Would You Most Recommend for Ricky to Read?

I need some help. I’m working on my list of books I plan to read in 2008. I decided to get input from my friends this year.

What one book have you read in recent years, that you would recommend that I read in 2008? I’d also appreciate it if you would write one brief sentence telling me why you think I should read it?

I don’t want to take up more than a moment of your time, but I value your input.

Some of my friends were slow to respond, but I haven’t received any responses in the past two weeks, so I think it’s time to make the responses public.

I don’t plan to read every book that was recommended by my friends, and I do plan to read some items that weren’t recommended. However, when it is time for me to choose my next book to read, items from this list will be given more serious consideration. For the past several years, most of the books that I have read have been on personal development and I’ve greatly ignored most fiction. (See my reading lists for 2005, 2006, and 2007.) I do plan to read more stuff this year that is outside my normal areas of interest, so this list will prove quite valuable for that.

Books make for great conversation too, so I expect that as I read books that my friends recommend, our relationship will progress to a higher level as well. I may blog about my experiences with this list and some of the books on it throughout this year.

Of the 154 that I sent it to, only 39 responded (25%). Here are their responses:

  1. My favorite was The Stand that I read many years ago. Kept me engrossed for days! It’s better than the movie (of course). Another good one is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Why? Because it took me 3 years to finish and marked the period in my life that I began to get so busy with other hobbies that I hardly ever found time to read. I really found it interesting, though. It’s great to be able to bring it up in conversation. – Russell
  2. I would recommend, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. The Lord used it to absolutely change my life. Also, The Kneeling Christian by The Unknown Christian. Anything by A. W. Tozer is great. – Rick
  3. I would read Halftime by Bob Buford. This is a book about moving from success to significance in your career. It is also one of the required readings for all employees of Dave Ramsey. It also goes along with the theme of 48 days. – Phil
  4. I could think of a thousand great books, the one that really made an impact on me was a small book by Og Mandino called The Greatest Saleman In The World. It really inspired me. – Stan
  5. Blood Done Sign My Name – This book opened my mind to an era I didn’t have a chance to experience first hand – 1960’s NC in the throes of the civil rights movement – written by Timothy Tyson, NC native and son of a Methodist preacher. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!! – Megan
  6. To be quite honest, the only book I ever read is the Bible. I read it every day and have no real desire to read anything else. My daughter and mother both are in a book club and read very much, but I read about a chapter or 2 of the bible each day along with the newspaper and that is the extent of my reading. – Charles
  7. That’s funny you mention this. I was just reviewing the site below and the books that were recommended. It is mostly limited to “self-help” but there are some good recommendations in the user comments section. Maybe some of the ideas will be helpful to you. I haven’t done much reading myself this past year and was looking for some recommendations myself. – Erik
  8. I have quite a few this past year but would say the one book that was most outstanding: When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin. Excellent writer about Zimbabwe and a very moving true story. I would have picked it even if we hadn’t gone to Zim. – Vic
  9. Gosh, I don’t have any that come to mind, Ricky. Most of those that I’ve read *you’ve* read, or are not deep, world-changing ones (the kind I prefer best). One area I like but haven’t read is the category of the “human belief engine.” This would help me in particular to better understand people whose beliefs are different from mine, esp. around religion. A few candidates: How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life; Don’t Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking; Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time; Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief. I respect your planning for the year – well done. – Matt
  10. Giving by Bill Clinton – To help us recognize the power of giving we each have… – Paul
  11. So many of the books that I read are ministry specific or commentaries, but I can tell you one book that I plan to read this year: The Truth War by John MacArthur.I have heard good recommendations for this book, and I know MacArthur’s style is both scholarly and readable. Having read a brief excerpt from the book, I know that it will be culturally relevant and spiritually insightful. – David
  12. I know that Christmas has already past but one of my favorite books is Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. It is not like any of his other books. It is only 177 pages. It is about a couple who decides tonot celebrate Christmas and not decorating their house but instead decide to take a Caribbean cruise. There are times when the story becomes hilarious and funny. In the end, becomes very moving as the true meaning of Christmas takes place. – Patricia
  13. A great read is Don’t Oil the Squeaky Wheel by Wolf Rinke. I bought copies for each of our mgrs. It’s an easy read but provides a lot of value emphasizing on what you should be focusing on in a humorous way. – Bob
  14. Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James. There is a book by the same title which I got from a book swap club. From the looks/sound of it, the audiobook was better even though it is abridged. She goes into philosophy for simplifying as well as the how to. A lot of it you probably already know, but her humor makes it nice listening and there were some things that were new and inspirational to me. St. James is one of Leo’s favorites–that’s where I heard about it, on Zen Habits, I think. – Anita
  15. My suggestions is a variation on an old standby, the bible. I recommend LISTENING to the Bible on CD. I’m sure you have read the bible before, but I recommend listening because first faith comes by hearing and second I have never experienced the bible better than when I heard it read to me. It is awesome when you listen and you are able to hear the different inflections and tones in the voice as conversation happens. I truly never knew the bible until I listened to it. I leave it playing sometimes and am amazed at how fast I learn it to the point of being able to recite it and also at how much more I understand it. – James
  16. A book that Bonnie and I both read that meant a great deal to us is Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson – Startling Evidence of Belief in One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World. Need I say more? – Ivan
  17. It’s been out for awhile, but I would suggest Jesus, Life Coach by Laurie Beth Jones. It was a great book to help me evaluate me!!! Gaylin
  18. Bitter Blood by Jerry Bledsoe. This book has nothing to do with religion, and it is very atypical of the type book I usually read myself. However, it has NC ties and the author is from High Point. I became so enthralled with the book I actually took “field trips” to some of the places mentioned in the book. Although its been several years since I read the book, portions of it still pop in my mind every couple months.- Chris
  19. The best book I read last year was CrazyBusy by Edward M. Hallowell It was great for helping me see why I lose focus and stress out all the time. It also gives several ways to cut back on it. – Brad
  20. I started reading The Kite Runner today on a plane ride from DFW to Ocala. I didn’t put it down once during the flight. In fact I almost finished the entire book. It is a very good story of a young man and his father living in Afghanistan in the early 70’s. I think you would enjoy it. – Laura
  21. I would suggest you read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. I actually read this back in 98 shortly after it first came out. Late last year there was a movie made based on this. I haven’t seen it yet. I think I may re-read before seeing the movie. This book is a very short read, but it will provoke a lot of thought long after you are done reading. Bauby was the editor of Elle magazine in France, he suffered a stroke to the brain steam and was left paralyzed. The book is his memoir that he translates by blinking his eyes. Bauby translates he thoughts on his dying body, his “Diving Bell”, and allows you to see that even though his body is crippled, his mind is still as beautiful and active as a “Butterfly”. – Brooke
  22. Getting Things Done By David Allen – Good thing about this book is that guides you with a step by step process on how you can take All of the loose ends in your life, gather them together and truly “process” them. I can’t say that I have been able to do everything that David talks about doing, but I have implemented a considerable amount of it in my working style which has helped me quite a bit. – Asif
  23. I am just finishing The Pilgrim’s Progress-Awesome and very convicting book-especially if you have never read it. God Calling is another empowering book that will challenge your faith unto new levels. The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan. Here is a few to start with… – Jim
  24. The Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard. This book I read about a year ago and I keep going back to it. This guy basically goes through the sermon on the mount and discusses the Kingdom of God being present here and now. The guy is a great writer. – Matt
  25. I am about halfway through This Beautiful Mess by rick mckinley. it is changing my perspective on my responsibility as a Christian. – Darren
  26. Ok I don’t want to sound religious but the Bible is the book of books. Where else can you find hope for today love for today wisdom patient hope and grace in one writing that covers many situations we find ourseleves dealing with everyday. It is a book of life. – Ed
  27. I have two books to recommend. (I know you said “one” but I’m a preacher….there is no short-answer option!) I am currently reading A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer – I think you should read it because Bonhoeffer’s commitment to following Jesus is so radical it is outside the box of just about anything we see today that passes for Christianity. Last year I read The Question of God which compares the life and theology of C.S.Lewis and Sigmund Freud. I love a good debate — especially the kind where a street-smart Christian eats the lunch of an atheist! – Russell
  28. More Space. It really gives you some fresh ways of thinking. – Terry
  29. I’d take Norman Davies’ Europe at War. It really shifts your perspective in a good way. It also has influence beyond the actual subject matter: it removes some common misconceptions with good solid data, which makes you want to look beyond the superficial also in other matters. – Reinout
  30. I would say Same Kind Of Different As Me. by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. – Terry
  31. The two books I read at the end of 2007 were by Patrick Lencioni. Death by Meeting – a shift in the dynamic of meetings within corporations. The other is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Both are great leadership type books. I am in the slow process of reading, A Hunger for God, by John Piper on prayer and fasting. – Michael
  32. Hawaii by James Michener. It’s a story that shows what a miracle God has given us here on earth and how the human spirit both shines and fails with it. – John
  33. I read Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier early in 2007. It’s by the same author who wrote Cold Mountain. It’s an epic novel about life in the mountains in western North Carolina in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. I would strongly recommend reading it; it was just a great book. Wish You Well by David Baldacci was also an excellent read; another period piece, but well written. If you haven’t read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren or Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, I would recommend those very strongly as well; life changing messages by two dynamic authors and speakers. – Jill
  34. I love this idea. I recommend you read Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Gold Book of Yes Attitude. I liked it because it took a lot of ideas about having a positive attitude and put it into one book. – Paul
  35. Here is a list of four books that I’m currently reading, just finished or am about to start… 1. Biblical Leadership (Ken Collier & Matt Williams) – Our men’s group at church is going through this right now. 2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey) – This was given to me at work. 3. The Evolution Handbook (Vance Ferrell) – A light 996 page reading book on the scientific improbability of evolution. 4. The New Answers Book (Ken Ham) – A really interesting book on 25 scientific topics that concerns Christians. – Dale
  36. Having just come from my Amazon adventure, I choose to share with you a book I read while on the river. I confess that Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt intrigues me and occupies a warm spot in my thoughts. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard is an account of ex-President Roosevelt and a Barzilian explorer leading an expedition from the headwaters of the River of Doubt to where it merges with the Amazon–the first time anyone ever attempted to put this tributary on a map. The narrative enlightens the reader as to “why” Roosevelt would pursue such an arduous journey, the perils he faced and survived, and the character and honor he exemplified while leading his team. – Sharon
  37. I am a huge fan of the writings of Chuck Swindoll. One of his books is entitled The Grace Awakening and one that I would highly recommend. I feel this would be a good selection for your reading because it deals with the issue of Grace vs. legalism and is very enlightening on many daily issues that we would not normally think of as being legalistic. – David
  38. Rules For Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki – Mike
  39. I’ve not read it, but have read a review and it sounds like a book you would want to read. It is a quick read (115 pages) co-authored by Ken Blanchard from Who Moved my Cheese fame. Title: Know Can Do! “Together, these authors explore the missing link between the knowledge we acquire and our daily actions. We read books, listen to CD’s and watch videos – all in a quest to acquire new knowledge. Yet, many of us can not seem to retain and implement all of this newly acquired knowledge in any significant way”. – Jim
  40. I just finished The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn.  It is a short quick read, have your bible handy as it refers to a lot of verses in the bible that you need to read as you go through it. Tim Miller recommended Winning the Inner War by by Letuzer.  He is doing a sermon series on it. – Dan
  41. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. The book is not just about playing the role of a peacemaker. You can download a chapter for free from their website. It really helped me examine my own attitude towards others and perhaps how what I say and do might not come across they way I intended. There are a lot of practical helps and Biblical foundations as well. – Rick
  42. The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene.  Reading it brought me up to date on fairly recent experiments involving the nature of light, gravity, time, the expanding universe, and related things. I found it all fascinating.  It’s good that I didn’t have too much other stuff going on when I started reading it–the mind boggling things that physics researchers have discovered made this book that much of a page turner for me.  There is also some discussion of the theories being proposed, an area that sounds like it needs work.  I like this book more for the findings it describes, and for the way the information is framed with some historical context. – Kirk

If you are a regular reader of my blog, and you didn’t receive the above email, but would like to recommend a book for me, feel free add it in the comments. Note that I’ll delete anything that looks like an advertisement rather than an earnest friendly recommendation–it’s my blog and that’s my prerogative. Of the 154 people that received my request, there were only about 8 that I’ve never met in person. Those 8 are some of my closest online friends. If you are one of my online friends, and you didn’t receive the original email, please don’t be offended.

Update (March 8, 2008) -  Added items 40 and 41.

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  • Reply
    2/10/2008 at 7:53 pm

    Ah yes…Bitter Blood. Yes, that’s a good one. I live a few blocks away from where Klenner blew himself up.

    I wasn’t here at the time, but often, I’ll be driving from one place to another and it will occur to me I am driving the same route he was that fateful day.

  • Reply
    Matthew Cornell
    2/10/2008 at 8:30 pm

    Hell of a list, Ricky. I’m looking forward to hearing which you read, and your thoughts…

  • Reply
    Dale Miller
    2/10/2008 at 9:35 pm

    Ricky, this is an interesting list of books. I might look into some of these at a later date. Also, check your last line in the blog, it doesn’t quite make sense. Hope you and Sandy are doing well.

  • Reply
    2/10/2008 at 10:33 pm

    Dale – It made perfect since to me. 🙂

    I’ve changed the last line from:
    I think that of the 154 people that received my request, there were only about 8 that I’ve never met in person and only have a relationship with online, so don’t be offended if I you didn’t receive the original email.
    Of the 154 people that received my request, there were only about 8 that I’ve never met in person. Those 8 are some of my closest online friends. If you are one of my online friends, and you didn’t receive the original email, please don’t be offended.

  • Reply
    2/11/2008 at 10:53 am

    Ricky, great list. I may take a look at some of these. I just wanted to let you know that Halftime (#3) is not actually a required reading by all Dave Ramsey employees, but he does recommend it.

    The required readings for every team member of Dave’s company are Rhinoceros Success, The Monk and the Merchant, QBQ, & The Go Getter.

  • Reply
    2/11/2008 at 2:14 pm

    Good catch, Ben. You are right about the Bob Buford book, Halftime. I’ve read both it and The Monk and the Merchant, and got mixed up on which one was required. Thanks for the correction.

    They are both excellent books bye the way!

  • Reply
    2/11/2008 at 10:33 pm

    Great suggestions. Hafttime is a great read, also Leadership and Self-Deception is a book that I just finished and would recommend it, as well as Death by Meeting, in fact that book has had such an impact that I posted something in that vein.

  • Reply
    2/12/2008 at 7:57 am

    Bill – That’s so interesting that two pastors would recommend a “business” book. My pastor is the one above that recommended it. It must be good!

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