Here are the second five books of “Ten Books for Christmas.” I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are my favorite books for Christmas and the new year approaching. They are not always religious but they are interesting. The list is in no particular order. With each book there is information provided by followed by, “Why I like this book.”

Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times by Tim Richards. As an active pastor and columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tim Richards has lifted the spirits and challenged those with great faith as well as those with only a little. In Thriving in the Storm, readers will discover how to live with godly perspective in a world increasingly adrift. Pastor Tim’s first book connects readers with the practical life God offers in a refreshingly “non-churchy” way. This book takes scripture and life’s challenges seriously and weaves the two together in ways that encourage practical spirituality. The 45 brief chapters, or devotionals sooth the chaos of modern life and re-center our focus on God. Each chapter first appeared as a newspaper article. Now in book form they promise to encourage readers wherever they are in their spiritual journey.

Why I like this book: Every week, I look forward to receiving a devotional nugget of wisdom from Tim Richards. If I were to write a resume for Tim I would describe him as a compelling mixture of Pastor, Reporter, Historian, Theologian, Philosopher and Writer all wrapped up in home-spun, old-fashioned, great story-telling. With Tim the writing is always informative and interesting, but the Scriptural insight combined with practical advice he provides? Priceless. Need encouragement? Looking for thought-provoking stories? Searching for historical gems? Contemplating a Bible study? Searching for spiritual guidance? Look no further. Story after story, lesson after lesson we enjoy, learn and grow in our relationship with God. I am admittedly, a fan of Tim Richard’s stories and deeply appreciate the Biblical and spiritual insights they contain. After reading this book, I suspect you will be a fan too.

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor by Amy Hollingsworth. Tom Brokaw of NBC News once said of the American icon Fred Rogers, “Mister Rogers was an ordained minister, but he never talked about God on his program. He didn’t need to.” Eight years before his death, Fred Rogers met author, educator, and speaker Amy Hollingsworth. What started as a television interview turned into a wonderful friendship spanning dozens of letters detailing the driving force behind this gentle man of extraordinary influence. Educator? Philosopher? Psychologist? Minister? Here is an intimate portrait of the real Mister Rogers. The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers focuses on Mr. Rogers’ spiritual legacy, but it is much more than that. It shows us a man who, to paraphrase the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “preached the gospel at all times; when necessary he used words.”

Why I like this book: “Hours before Mr. Rogers friend Johnny Costa passed away, Fred went to visit him. He talked to Johnny about how we all need forgiveness, even if we are unaware of it. Then he asked Johnny’s forgiveness for anything he might have done unintentionally to hurt his dear friend. That room in the nursing home, Fred later wrote, ‘seemed filled with the grace of forgiving love.’” I grew up before Mr. Rogers and his famous neighborhood, but I certainly knew of him. However, reading about the man behind the camera, his character, his kindness, his humility made me wish I had benefited from his many good lessons on TV. Amy Hollingsworth’s story of Fred Rogers is a fitting tribute, but her story is also about how Mister Rogers life and friendship transformed her.

21 Rituals to Change Your Life: Daily Practices to Bring Greater Inner Peace and Happiness by Theresa Cheung. Aristotle said ‘you are what you repeatedly do’. Most of us have no idea that what we repeatedly do creates our lives, we think our future is shaped by big events, the decisions we make, the thoughts we have but, this book will show you that it is your daily actions that are the key. To effect long-lasting meaningful change our actions need to be filled with a sense of personal meaning and power – they need to be ritualized. Creating personal ritual in our lives allows us to bring the presence of the sacred into the everyday. The rituals in this book have been designed as symbolic acts providing a framework for anyone to use to create positive change in their lives. The 7 morning rituals are designed to help you ‘wake with determination’, the 7 afternoon rituals focus on ‘living on purpose’, and the 7 evening rituals are about ‘retiring with satisfaction’.

Why I like this book: “There is an astonishingly simple way to change our lives for the better… We assume life is outside our control, or we can change it by changing our thoughts but the simplest and most effective way to make our lives better is to change what we repeatedly do every day – starting today.” This bold statement sums up the philosophy of “21 Rituals.” If practiced for 21 days, these rituals can change your life. Starting with seven morning rituals designed to help us wake up with determination: Wake up Earlier, Stretch, Smile, See the Finish Line and more. Seven Daytime Rituals and Seven Evening Rituals all combined to help you make changes that will dramatically improve your life.

The Reckoning by John Grisham. Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son—a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, and committed a shocking crime. Pete’s only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: “I have nothing to say.” He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave. In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him.

Why I like this book: For me, a great book has two essential elements: a captivating story and an interesting life lesson whether historical, moral or theological. John Grisham provides plenty of both in “The Reckoning.” Pete Banning is a war hero who for no understandable reason murders his long-time pastor. Not until the last few pages will you understand, “Why?” and the answer will likely shock you. Lessons abound in the real meaning of “family communication and forgiveness.” In addition, there is a fascinating bit of history as you read of Pete’s experiences during World War II, notably the period he was held prisoner following the US Army surrender in the Philippines to the Japanese.

1969: The Year Everything Changed by Rob Kirkpatrick. Lively and concise, here is the book that captures 1969, the year in which man landed on the moon; the “Miracle Mets” captivated sports fans; students took over college campuses and demonstrators battled police; America witnessed the Woodstock music festival; Hollywood produced Easy Rider; Kurt Vonnegut published Slaughterhouse-Five; Star Trek aired its final episode; punk music was born; and there was murder at Altamont Speedway. Joe Namath. Richard Nixon. Chappaquiddick. The Zodiac Killer. The Stonewall Riots. Tommy. Apollo 11. The Godfather. Led Zeppelin. The list goes on. Compelling, timely, and a blast to read, 1969 chronicles the year in culture and society, sports, music, film, politics, and technology. This look back at one of the most influential years in modern history is perfect for those who survived 1969 or for those who simply want to feel as though they did.

Why I like this book: 1969 is more than history to me. I was there. I remember the moon walk, Woodstock, Joe Namath, The Godfather and so much more. I was an awkward teenager in high school struggling to make sense of the world and my place in it. Reading this book for some of you will be like a trip down memory lane. For others, it will be a lesson in a year that greatly influenced our culture and our politics. 1969 “was like arriving at a production of Hamlet near the end of Act V: Hamlet lay poisoned on the ground, the bodies of courtiers lay around him and you wondered how things had gotten to that point.” Whether you were there and want to relive it or you are a student of history, 1969 is a must-read.