First Baptist Church, Mound City

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Top 10 Books of 2017 (Caleb)

   I have now finished my 5th year of a 25-year goal of reading 1000 books by age 50. Yes, for you math whizzes, I turned 30 this past year. It seemed a pretty lofty goal at the time. But then I got introduced to audio books, which dramatically increased the time I had available! I will admit, I do not always retain as much information when I listen to a book as when I read them, and so I try to stick to listening to books that can keep my interest or tell a story and reserve the 'real' books for theology or some other topic which will require my complete attention.  After this year, I am at 376 books completed towards my goal. 

   In 2017 I listened to 112 books, and read 23 books. I read/listened to 67 non-fiction and 68 fiction books. This list will be composed of the Top 10 Non-Fiction books, and Top 3 Fiction series. They will NOT include books I have read before and are found in other such lists I have composed. Also, they are not in order of best to worst, they are simply the 10 I found most interesting to pass along. One last thing, each of the titles is a link to the book listed on Amazon for your convenience. 

NON-FICTION

1.  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This book is a scientific look at how habits develop, and more importantly, what we can do to change them. It's a very practical book that, while filled with research, presents the findings in compelling and interesting stories. As the new year begins, and we are looking to make changes in our lives, this would be a fantastic book to start 2018 with.

2. The Cowards Guide to Conflict by Tim Ursiny. I think we all have this coward that lives in each of us that refuses to address things we know we be should address. This book gives very practical, specific steps to take in learning to deal with conflict in healthy way. 

3. Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. Researcher and Psychologist Angela Duckworth asks the question, 'What makes people successful?' and the answer is startling. More than any other factor (e.i. intelligence, skill, personality), grit is the deciding factor in how successful an individual will be in life. She goes on to detail on how grit can be learned and practiced in our lives. 

4. Escape from Reason by Francis A. Schaeffer. In this short book, Schaeffer walks us through a history of thought and specifically how and what we based our reasoning upon, ending with modern day (1970's) emotional and experience based 'reasoning', which is, in fact, no reasoning at all. It is eerie how accurately a book written over 40 years ago describes the current climate of our country with it's total inability to think rationally. 

5. Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach. This book dives into the difficult world of dealing with the LGBTQ community in love, while not sacrificing Biblical authority. This is an important book in helping us as Christians walk as Christ in a world that will not let us hid from hard questions. I found this book helpful in giving very practical answers and good questions, as well as a reminder that we are, above all else, called to love. 

6. Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. I have often heard those who do not believe in Christianity, "Don't all religions basically believe the same thing?" In this book, each chapter Ravi Zacharias looks at a unique passage of Scripture and shows how there is a completely unique claim of Jesus and Christianity found there. 

7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. We all are either introverts or know one. This is a fantastic book which helps introverts know how to maximize their personality, and for extroverts to know how to draw out utilize it!

8. A Generation of Sociopaths by Bruce Cannon Gibney. Okay so this is the outlier on this list. It details how the most powerful generation in history was raised and has grown into its own, the Boomer Generation, and how it has systematically looked out for its own interests, at the expense of everyone else. This book is included on this list because it is extremely thought provoking. While I disagree with some of it (i.e. the stuff on global warming), it was a fascinating way to look at the last 50-60 years of political, social, and economic landscape of America. 

9. Knights in Training by Heather Haupt. In a society that continually villainieses mainly strength, this book is a great help to parents attempting to raise strong, godly, compassionate young men by giving them a picture of what that looks like: a knight. I will be doing much of this with my son, and my wife and I have also found this concept useful with my daughter, talking to her about the characteristics of a princess (brave, beautiful, intelligent), encouraging her to act accordingly. 

10. 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do by Amy Morin. I think this book should be a must read for every parent. If you want your children to succeed in life we need to fear failure less, allow them to experience more, and view ourselves as coaches more. You need to parent every day with the end in mind. 

Okay, I couldn't help myself. Here is an eleventh for free...

11. The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse. "13 Thing" is on the parent and family level. "The Vanishing American Adult" is on the societal level. It is historical look at what has happened in our society and families as well as practically things which we can do in our own families to reverse the trends. Sasse accurately points out that politics will never change society. Individuals and families change societies, and then the politics will change. 

FICTION

1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rolling. I know, I cannot believe it took me this long to read. Seriously, they are fantastic. 

2. Codex Alera Series by Jim Butcher.  In a world of people with special abilities, there is a fight against evil and injustices, while learning that just because someone looks differently than yourself, that does not mean they should be your enemy. 

3. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I am currently partway through reading the series to my children at night. The Christian symbolism in these books is powerful. If you have not read them, make them one of your first reads in 2018.