- The Most and Simple Life by Tyrone Wells. We have a 1a and 1b situation…The Most describes the first half of our year and finding healing in the midst of deeply personal tragedy, and Simple Life is where you land on the other side of that healing. Great songs by our new friend! Killer lyric: how do you start again, when the whole world ends, there’s nothing that makes this right, but I’m on my way tonight, I’ll be here, when you need me the most (The Most)
- Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem. My favorite band of the past couple of years. This whole album is about how we connect through music and this song is the best example of that in my mind. Killer Lyric: Pull it out, turn it up, what’s your favorite song? That’s mine, I’ve been crying to it since I was young, I know there’s someone out there feeling just like I feel, I know they’re waiting up, I know they’re waiting to heal.
- Below My Feet by Mumford & Sons. The new album was everything one could hope for in a follow-up to “Sigh No More.” Big, anthemic, and slightly darker, Mumford proves they are not a passing fad. Killer lyric: Keep the earth below my feet, From my sweat my blood runs weak, Let me learn from where I have been, keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.
- Born and Raised by John Mayer. Mayer had almost completely fallen from the graces of the music cognoscenti…to the point where he was essentially a punch line. Many may still feel this way (especially now that he is dating Katy Perry), but I dare you to listen to this album and not feel the pain of someone who has screwed up royally and who is looking for redemption. Here’s the secret music snobs: it’s really good. Killer Lyric: So line on up, and take your place, And show your face to the morning, Cause one of these days you’ll be born and raised, And it all comes on without warning
- Give Us Rest (the whole album) by the David Crowder Band. This was it…the swan song, the finale for my favorite “christian” artist, and they didn’t hold anything back. Too many great moments to name here, but I think my favorite tune is “Our Communion.” Killer lyric: all of them.
- Simply Christian by NT Wright. Wright continues to prove that he is the most helpful scholar for the layman around right now. Simply outstanding.
- The Road Trip That Changed The World by Mark Sayers. The first half of this book was so good, such great cultural exegesis, that I said out loud, to anyone listening: “this is the most interesting book I’ve read in years.” The second half (more conclusions than descriptions of the problem) were good, but not great and certainly not up to par with the first half. A fascinating read nonetheless.
- Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel. I picked this book up because I thought it might be helpful for another guy on staff. I think it was, but it definitely made me think too. A lot of this book was a repeat of what you can find in many other “emergent” reads, but his emphasis on listening to your life and trusting your gut as a leader was challenging and affirming.
- The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith. This is more than a “hey you struggle with this, here are some tips” book. Rhett tells us his story, which is pretty powerful, and then weaves several biblical texts into the mix to show how anxiety (really tensions of all sorts) can lead us to new places in life and faith.
- Emergence Christianity by Phyllis Tickle. This works builds on a previous book, The Great Emergence (which I would recommend over this title), and helps shed some light on the various expressions of Christian faith popping up around the world. If you care about where the church might be headed in the next 20-30 years you should read this book.
- Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry. This is the hardest top 5 list I’ve made in a while. Most of the compelling reads for me this year fall into this category. Barry wins for making an extremely boring, and unimportant, baseball game absolutely fascinating and thrilling. Joe Morgan (not that Joe Morgan) became one of my all-time favorite leaders because of this book.
- Life by Keith Richards. Richards is crazy. We knew that already. But what surprised me about his story (much in the same way Ozzy Osbourne’s autobio surprised me) is just how grounded he became once he found himself in a stable marriage. Like Ozzy, Keith’s marriage literally saved his life. I find that endlessly interesting.
- Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Another book with leadership lessons in abundance. And another book that demonstrates the importance of a strong and stable marriage. Riveting, you won’t be able to put this one down.
- Quiet by Susan Cain. Quiet made a lot of “best of” lists this year, and for good reason. Her argument is lucid and well-researched. I, personally, found the book to be very affirming and illuminating of some of my frustrations with our extravert-tilted world. I continue to search for the restorative niche.
- My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe. Funny and touching with great insights into race and class dynamics, this book is another in the same theme: leadership principles from unlikely sources.