“Ten Books for Summer” has become an annual tradition. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are second five of my favorite books for summer of 2017. They are not always religious but they are interesting. With each book there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I like this book.”
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observers. We all sense it—something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once—and it is dizzying. In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.
Why I like this book: “I enjoy taking a complex subject and trying to break it down so that I can understand it and then help readers better understand it – be that subject the Middle East, the environment, globalization or American politics.” (Ch 1) If you are looking for a book that answers a lot of why questions and then attempts to peer into the future, you will love reading, “Thank You for Being Late.” There is a quiz in the book that asks, “Did a Human or a Computer Write This?” You will be surprised by the answers.
The Neighboring Church: Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most by Brian Mavis & Rick Rusaw. The simple practice of loving our neighbors has more power than the best professionally produced Sunday “show” in town. After attending the “coolest” and fastest-growing church in town for a few months, Brian Mavis asked some of his neighbors if they would attend church with him. The neighbors said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We don’t want to be part of an institutional church … but we do want to know more about God, and we’d be happy to meet with you to learn more.” So Brian began meeting with his neighbors in his home to share the love of God. In The Neighboring Church authors Brian Mavis and Rick Rusaw explore the hows of loving your neighbors.
Why I like this book: There is an interesting quiz: “What kind of neighbor are you?” If you are like me, you do a few things well but come up short in many ways. Yet the basics of being a Christian and witnessing your faith starts in your neighborhood. “It’s hard to blend church and neighborhood together. I have tried and it’s hard to do. It’s like having a party with coworkers and a family reunion all at the same time.” (Ch 4) Hard though it may be, our challenge in a world grown increasingly isolated is to be a neighbor as individuals and as the church. One practical idea: “Stay: Love our neighbors by getting to know them. Pray: Love our neighbors by praying for them. Play: Love our neighbors by offering hospitality. Say: Love our neighbors by sharing Christ with them.”
Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein. A fascinating exploration of the world’s most effective bosses—and how they motivate, inspire, and enable others to advance their companies and shape entire industries. What do football coach Bill Walsh, restauranteur Alice Waters, television executive Lorne Michaels, technology CEO Larry Ellison, and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren have in common? On the surface, not much, other than consistent success in their fields. But below the surface, they share a common approach to finding, nurturing, leading, and even letting go of great people. The way they deal with talent makes them not merely success stories, not merely organization builders, but what Sydney Finkelstein calls superbosses.
Why I like this book: “Ralph Lauren didn’t merely inspire people to perform exceptionally well. He also got them to break new ground, to do things that nobody else was doing. He got them to work creatively, to take risks, to inject their own talents and insights into their work.” (Ch 3) Superbosses aren’t always popular or even well liked but they do have a way of inspiring, pushing, cajoling their people into doing the impossible. The examples are real and they cover almost every field of endeavor from fashion to business to sports. The key is innovation and you will find plenty of it in this book.
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough. A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States that reminds us of fundamental American principles. Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward.
Why I like this book: I confess to being a David McCullough fan but warning: This book is not a typical David McCullough look at history. It’s actually a compilation of speeches and talks given at various institutions that provide a glimpse of history and lessons for the future. “I offer a parting thought from Dr. Rush: “The American War (with Britain) is over but this is far from being the case with the American Revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed.” That is as true today as it was then. You will be inspired by the speeches and you will better understand our history.
I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship by John Byron & Joel N. Lohr. I (Still) Believe explores the all-important question of whether serious academic study of the Bible is threatening to one’s faith. Far from it—faith enhances study of the Bible and, reciprocally, such study enriches a person’s faith. With this in mind, this book asks prominent Bible teachers and scholars to tell their story reflecting on their own experiences at the intersection of faith and serious academic study of the Bible. While the essays of this book will provide some apology for academic study of the Bible as an important discipline, the essays engage with this question in ways that are uncontrived. They present real stories, with all the complexities and struggles they may hold.
Why I like this book: “I grew up in a rural parsonage where my father was a capable and passionate pastor. As a result, his ministry consisted in pastoral work and preaching that was Biblical and closely attuned to daily reality.” (Ch 2) If you are looking for good scholarship combined with inspiring stories of faith you will enjoy reading and studying, “I (Still) Believe.” The compilation includes authors who are noted Biblical scholars but sharing their faith as if in a revival. Walter Brueggemann, Ellen Davis, Morna Hooker, Phyllis Trible and many others share their scholarship along with their faith.