17 Books to Transform Your Life


I often refer to myself as a “resource broker.”  I am passionate about helping people connect with the best resources to improve their lives and experience transforming peace, purpose, and passion.  Whether it is a movie, a website, a local resource, a book, or who-knows-what-else, you are very likely to get a resource recommendation from me if you ask me for guidance with some life issue.  I believe in solving problems from multiple angles.  This approach seems to bring deeper, more lasting results.

Here is a list of some of the books that have made the greatest impact in my life.  They have challenged, encouraged, and enlightened me in my perspectives, actions, and emotional/relational/spiritual growth.  And I am delighted to share them with you.  They are listed in the order in which they came to mind, which does not represent any particular ranking of value.  I have linked each of them to addall.com, because I have found it to be the best source for getting the best price on books.  Trust me, just check it out.  However, for reviews on the books, you may want to check out amazon or Christianbook.

1. The Shack “The Shack” by William P. Young – I know, I know.  This one was all the buzz in 2008.  You have likely heard both strong endorsements and strong warnings regarding this book.  I recommend the same for this one as I did for “The DaVinci Code” back when it was shaking up the world – read it for yourself.  The Shack is certainly not a sound theological treatise.  And I could find no evidence that it was intended to be interpreted as such.  What it did for me was remind me with a refreshing new illustration of the relational nature of God and the depth of his love and grace for each one of us.

2. Failure of Nerve “A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix” by Edwin R. Friedman – If you have been following my blog for a while, you have heard about this one before.  Incredible book!  This one shook up and reshaped my paradigm about people like nothing I have ever read.  It is written on a rather intellectual level, and is certainly not a light read.  I genuinely believe Friedman understood the dynamics of people and relationships better than anyone since Jesus walked the planet (not that his insight rivaled that of Jesus – just better than anyone else’s).  Okay, that’s a seriously bold claim.  Feel free to challenge it.  Who do you think deserves that title?

3. EHS “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ” by Peter Scazzero – I urge you to read this book and to share it with your church leaders.  Then urge them to attend one of Scazzero’s church leaders’ workshops.

4. The Dip “The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” by Seth Godin– A very short, easy read that packs a whallop by one of today’s premier business coaches.

5. Ragamuffin Gospel “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning – This one probably helped me get a healthy perspective of my relationship with God better than anything else I have ever read.  I find Manning’s writing very readable and refreshing.

6. Hurt “Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers” by Chap Clark – You will NOT enjoy reading this book!  It paints a very dark and ugly picture of the world in which teenagers find themselves today.  However, if you have teenagers or have a passion for teenagers, you really should read it.  Follow it up with “Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World” by Chap and Dee Clark for a practical, encouraging guide on how to be part of the solution.

7. ScreamFree “ScreamFree Parenting: Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool” by Hal Edward Runkel – If you have had a conversation with me about parenting, or read my blog for any length of time, you know how highly I regard this one.  Best book on parenting ever written (until mine hits the shelves, of course)!  Just do a search on my website with the term “ScreamFree” to see what I think.  You can also click on the link at the top right of my site to access the “Complete Parenting Revolution” (CPR) kit from ScreamFree – a great comprehensive resource.
8. Parenting by the Book “Parenting by the Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child” by John Rosemond – I have been a Rosemond fan for years.  His well-grounded, no-nonsense, authoritative advice on raising children is first rate.  While I recommend all of his books, I would place this one at the top of the list.

9. Celebration of Discipline “Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth” by Richard J. Foster – Read Richard Foster’s work, and prepare to grow.  Read it all.  Read it slowly.  Practice it in your life.  Share it with others.  Repeat process.

10. Prayer “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home” by Richard J. Foster – see above comment

11. Jesus “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey – If you are looking for something written with more obvious theological foundation than The Shack, but just as enlightening, this is your book.  Yancey is a strong scholar, an exceptional thinker, and a gifted writer.  Great combination!  All his books are terrific, and they have an interesting range of subject matter.

12. Walking “Walking with God: Talk to Him.  Hear from Him.  Really.” by John Eldredge – Basically written as expanded journal entries regarding Eldredge’s deepening intimacy with God over the span of a year.  I am particularly grateful for the perspective I learned from him about the dangerous power of making agreements.

13. Wild at Heart “Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul” by John Eldredge – If you are a man, you really need to read this book.  Seriously.  Read it.  If you are a woman who has any interest in a man, you really need to read this book, as well.  For several years, I emphatically told everyone this was the best book ever written on the heart of masculinity, until…

14. Way “The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey” by John Eldredge – Ladies and gentlemen, read this book.  Especially if you have sons.  Learn about the stages of masculinity (Beloved Son, Cowboy, Warrior, Lover, King, Sage), how to successfully grow through each stage, how to lead your son through the early stages, and how to revisit and redeem any stages that did not go so well for you.  Read it.

15. Screwtape “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis – One of the most unique, fascinating, and challenging books I have ever read on the spiritual process of the Christian life.  Written from a demonic perspective on how to destroy the work of the “Enemy” (God), this one is a great one to revisit now and then.  By the way, given the extremely short length of each chapter, I recommend this one as premium bathroom reading.  Seriously.  Enough said.  (Oh, by the way, this may shock and disappoint you: “Mere Christianity” remains on my to-read list, which explains in absence on the present list.)

16. Passionate Marriage “Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Emotionally Committed Relationships” by David Schnarch – Written by the foremost authority on human sexuality, this one will seriously blow your hair back!  Oh, and it may just revolutionize your marriage in the process.

17. Battle “Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation” by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker – Should be required reading for every male in Western culture.  Or certainly for every guy who genuinely seeks to follow God’s plan for purity.  The authors keep it real with their own stories of struggle, and keep it Biblical with continual references to Scripture as their foundation.

Undoubtedly, I have left off some great books I have read.  But this list of 17 should be enough to keep you reading for a while.  What books would you put on your list of must-reads or life-transformers?

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