Prior to 2018 I was not a big reader. I enjoyed reading when I could, but only found time to take in about 2 to 3 books per year. Even this was an improvement from my high school and college days when I was lucky to read just about anything. Then something unprecedented happened in 2018 and I took in 35 books!
Partially because I discovered audio books and partially because of my recent obsession with technology and economics, I was more motivated to read than I’ve ever been in my life. These two subjects have also led me down a rabbit hole where history, biographies, and sociology have become so much more meaningful to me. As a result, my capacity to read and learn expanded greatly in 2018. Accessibility and a sparked interest in new subject matter were the keys for me to raise my reading game.
It seemed like a little much to share all 35 books in one post, especially since I wouldn’t recommend all of those books. So I compiled a list of the top 10 books that most significantly impacted my life in 2018. Maybe, like me, this could spark something in you to begin reading and learning more in the year to come.
Here are the top 10 books that most significantly impacted my life in 2018…
Davidowitz takes a deep dive into the human psyche through Google analytics and what he uncovers is shocking. The basic premise of this book is that what people say and what the data online tells us about what they are actually doing are two very different things.
This book is extremely provocative and not for the faint of heart. You will hear or read shocking things about human behavior. It’s the epitome of TMI (Too Much Information) but on a grand scale.
All in all, this is a fantastic illustration of how sinful and selfish we are as people. It further affirms the Christian worldview that we are basically sinful and all in need of a savior. The irony I see in this book is that the technology we look to as our savior is the very thing that is revealing our desperate need for Jesus.
9) Single Gay Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexuality, by Gregory Coles
In this book, Gregory Coles took me on a captivating, intimate journey that provided a paradigm shift in how I view the whole issue of homosexuality. I still take a decidedly conservative, reformed theological position but this book has opened my heart in new ways to the struggle that so many of our brothers and sisters have in this area of sexuality.
I deeply appreciate Coles’ thoughtful approach in helping the church be more empathetic and compassionate. I know I need to be, and this book helped me to reconsider my own biases.
I never realized how significant the spiritual component undergirding World War I was until I read this book. No wonder there was such disillusionment with Christianity after this horrifying war.
Not only did this book bring perspective to the writings of these two great authors in light of the war, it also lent great perspective to the spiritual state of our culture today. So much of our Christian faith has been informed by the writings of Tolkien and Lewis and this book gives tremendous context for where they both came from. It also impresses upon you the profound significance the war had on the bond between the two of them.
7) World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, by Franklin Foer
World Without Mind is a great balance to Kevin Kelly’s book, The Inevitable, which lifted the fourth industrial revolution to epic heights of humanist, evolutionary ambition. Foer grapples with the real concerns of how “big tech” will affect us, especially as it relates to our ability to think for ourselves.
Ultimately, big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, are threatening our sense of self by integrating us into their system. They do this by commandeering our preciously limited and valuable attention.
This caused me to be much more intentional in how I approach technology in all its iterations. The last thing I want is to be distracted from God’s most significant purposes for my life. Technology is only a tool and I must be its master.
6) Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity, by Garrett B. Gunderson
This book was another paradigm shifter for me. It helped me to consider the ways I limited my economic potential through a scarcity mindset.
As Christians we are just as prone as anyone else to naively buy into the “accepted” ways of doing things. I discovered my own biases and was challenged in my traditional, safe, assumptions.
Ironically, this “secular” book revealed to me where I lacked faith and failed to trust God with my financial resources. It has inspired me to be more of a producer, adding value to others, verses simply being a consumer.
5) Biblical Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Our Daily Bread, by R.C. Sproul Jr.
R.C. Sproul Jr. convinced me in this book that I could understand economics, and that it was rooted in a biblical worldview. This book got me hooked and has caused me to read scripture in new and exciting ways. I’m beginning to see economics throughout the Bible, often in places I never expected it.
I learned that economics is not as complicated as the “experts” make it sound. At its core, the way God designed it, it is very easily understood. Unfortunately, like so many other disciplines of study, mankind has twisted and convoluted economics for his own selfish gain.
4) Own Your Home Years Sooner and Retire Debt Free, by Harj Gill
I had heard of this strategy for paying off your mortgage through a different organization. As I inquired of this un-named company I found them to be very shady and secretive about the details. I didn’t trust their motives, or the exorbitant price they were charging. Then I found this book.
Through this book, Harj Gill answered all of the questions the previous company wouldn’t, and also added so much more. Harj himself even spent time with me on the phone which was incredibly helpful. As far as practical application, no book has impacted our family’s life more than this one.
After implementing this system we went from a timeline of 13.5 years to pay off our mortgage to 2 years! We’re less than a year away now and we’ll save $26,646 in interest. This is all without making extra monthly payments or changing our standard of living. In fact, in some cases, we have been able to afford certain things we wouldn’t have otherwise because of this system. If you are interested in learning more I would encourage you to visit speedequity.com. Of course, I would be happy to answer your questions about my experience.
3) The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by William Strauss and Neil Howe
This was another book I first heard about through the Art of Manliness podcast.
C.S. Lewis often spoke of the “myth of progress,” and The Fourth Turning definitely supports his assertion. It brilliantly describes the cyclical nature of history which I found to correlate well with the Bible and a Christian worldview. In some ways it made the Bible even more compelling as I began to see evidence of Strauss and Howe’s thesis.
It lit the fire in me to learn more about history. Since this book I have taken in several historical biographies, including the behemoth, Grant, most recently. I’m beginning to see the threads that weave throughout history and that connect us with people in the past. Now, historical figures seem more relatable.
2) The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason
Continuing to follow the theme of economics this book was huge for me. Like Sproul’s book, Biblical Economics, Clason makes economics accessible and simple. It was refreshing to read about a simpler time when money was money and people didn’t live under the tyranny of central banking.
Whether you ascribe to a Keynesian economic philosophy or you are from the Austrian school of economics, the foundational principles of personal finance and economics don’t change. The Richest Man in Babylon, first published in 1926, cuts through the clutter of today’s complicated economic ideas and controversies. When it’s all said and done, spend less than you make, save, and invest for cash flow.
1) The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, by King Solomon
One of the most famous quotes from this book of the Bible is, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (v. 2) So this lends itself to the reputation that often precedes it. It is true that Solomon laments about how worthless his strivings have been for wealth and prosperity. But it is within the context of leaving God behind in his efforts that led to the lack of meaning. Just as significant is Solomon’s emphasis of the true prosperity gained in trusting God.
There are profound truths contained in Ecclesiastes covering business, entrepreneurship, investing, wealth management, and prosperity. The most significant thing this book taught me, or reminded me of again, was that everything is entrusted to me by God. As God’s steward I am responsible for being a conduit of His resources, not reservoir, and not an all-consuming abyss. Only when I steward God’s resources His way will I find fulfillment and contentment with whatever I have.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? I would love to hear what books you might recommend.