When reading and listening to music, opt for music without lyrics to focus on the book's content.
Lately I’ve had quite a few reasons to read books, mostly due to class assignments and certain people’s recommendations. Hence, I’m returning to my former ways as an avid reader. Up until last year, I assumed that I was too busy to read, but one of the leadership tips I received from a school seminar was to “never stop reading.”
So far so good–I’ve read several books this semester, some alone and others along with my girlfriend. In this post I’d like to highlight some of my favorites. If you like what you read below, consider reading some of the books for yourself! The topics are very diverse, from love to leadership, so there’s a title here for everyone.
Ronald Takaki – A Different Mirror
Need a reference for solid, well-documented facts about U.S. History? Want to learn about the country from a quality, unbiased, and engaging source? Look no further than Dr. Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror. Takaki spent a lot of time collecting research and seeking primary sources backed up by historical evidence to piece together this thorough work. His purpose was to tell American history, not from what he calls “The Master Narrative” that casts the 400-year old country in a positive light from a majority perspective, but from “A Different Mirror.”
Many of us have observed people who haven’t quite fully assimilated to American culture and assumed they aren’t “from here.” Takaki seeks to help his audience recognize all United States citizens as “real Americans.” His book doesn’t hold back any punches either–it speaks of the atrocities that countless people suffered for this country to become a world power. If you’re looking for a horror story and a story of perseverance, you’ll soon realize that you won’t have to look any farther than unfiltered American history!
Ben Carson – Think Big
Francis Bacon observed that “worthy books are like mentors–available as companions and as solitude for refreshment.” This is one of those titles–Ben Carson lays out everything he learned that ushered him to achieve self-actualization. This includes the people who instilled into his life at crucial points, the lessons he learned from his experiences, and even his faith that grew while witnessing miracles at the medical center. Carson went from worst in his class during grade school to a world renowned brain surgeon, all because of faith and mentorship. I’ve learned all sorts of lessons reading the facts he lays out, particularly the ones he picked up from his mother’s wisdom.
According to Mr. Carson, you T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. when you: “T is for Talent/time: Recognize them as gifts. H Hope for good things and be honest. I Insight from people and good books. N Be nice to all people. K Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living. B Books: Read them actively. I In-depth learning skills: Develop them. G God. Never get too big for him!” So, are you ready to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.?
John Maxwell – Developing the Leader Within You
John Maxwell reflects that God desires for all of us to be leaders. So why then do only 2% of our population shape our culture while the remaining 98% are “culture zombies?” Leadership is developed, not innate; like many characteristics, hard work, discipline, and mentorship will produce a capable leader. Maxwell describes leadership simply as “influence,” but the process of influencing others starts with personal growth. If you desire to achieve new heights and influence those around you to do the same, this book is for you!
I found this work particularly helpful with my life’s work ethic as well as my participation in Nyack College NYC’s Student Government Association. In fact, what I learned from this book I put to use right away. Chapters cover thought-provoking subjects like self-discipline and integrity–fields we can all use growth in. Now in S.G.A., we cover a chapter of this book at the beginning of our meetings. Simply put, I couldn’t recommend “Developing the Leader Within You” more.
Gary Chapman – The Five Love Languages
What I love about all the books I’ve listed in this post is that they will change you if you let them. This title is no exception. Dr. Gary Chapman examines relationship(s), gives a name to the specific desires that when met fulfill couples, and admonishes the reader to meet the significant other’s need on her terms (and vice versa). The five love languages couples speak and understand are gifts, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation. Not all of these languages are as straightforward as we think they are, but in this book we’re given the tools to learn and put them into practice.
The outcome of learning to “speak” your beloved’s primary love languages? Causing her or him to feel truly loved with a desire to reciprocate that love. When you go all out to appease the needs your spouse developed from childhood, you will have one bundle of joy on your hands. Fail to meet your lover’s needs, and, uh… well, Dr. Chapman is also an experienced counselor. But let’s choose the former, shall we?
God Inspired – English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible
Why am I blogging about the Bible, you may ask? This post isn’t so much about reading the Bible regularly as much as how a study Bible can augment your reading. My parents gave me a study Bible for my birthday in February with the intent to help me better understand the text. Mission success! Having a study Bible really makes the Word make sense, all the time. When we don’t understand what we’re reading, we tend to lose interest and miss out on the whole experience, right? This dilemma is a thing of the past when you use an ESV Study Bible to enhance your reading.
The study Bible comes with explanations for the chapters and verses, cross-referencing to show which verses are related, and a detailed summary of each book. Charts, maps, timelines–you name it, the study Bible has it. What are you waiting for? Get deep into the Word with a study Bible in your choice translation!
Each one of these books has mentored me in some form. I hope you accept the challenge to consider reading one or two; I can definitely testify that my mind has improved as a result of reading these books. Plus, how else will you be able to say that you’ve been mentored by Ben Carson, Gary Chapman, John Maxwell, and Paul the Apostle?