As the new year progresses, my hope is to inspire you to read more and love learning.
Why is learning important? In Fredrick Douglass’s first autobiography, he describes the process he went through when he realized how important reading and learning were. His master triggered this desire after he was told: “Learning will spoil the best nigger. Now… if you teach that nigger [speaking of Douglass] how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave” (pg. 56). Douglass said, of this new revelation, “I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom” (pg. 56-7). This concept applies to people in general. If you don’t want to be a slave of any kind, learn. By learning you will see deception and lies which can enslave the mind. The best way to do this is to read.
I love reading, it helps me learn, think critically and analyze problems, in short, it makes my mind sharper and helps me become a better person; it is one of my favorite past-times. As for 2015, I have never read so many books in one year. I read many articles, too (mainly for the current issues of our day) but my heart is in books. I’m addicted, and it’s a good habit I don’t intend to break. I hope you become addicted, too.
I read all kinds of books so there will be multiple categories. My plan is to highlight some of the best books I read this year; I hope you will read some of them. The complete list is at the bottom.
I set a goal of 50 books for 2015 and I thought this was ambitious. I surprised myself when I completed 58 books total. You may be wondering how I read so many books. That is a story in itself but, in short, I learned to speed read. I bought a computer program for this, called 7 Speed Reading, and it was the best 80 dollars I’ve ever spent! Speed reading revolutionized how I read. I do not just sit around and read all the time, if I did that, I devour read hundreds of books in a year. Also, for me, speed reading does not decrease the enjoyment of reading.
Another way I was able to read so many books was with the help of Bookbub.com. After you sign up, Bookbub sends you daily, weekly or monthly emails with links to free or low priced e-books matched to the categories and format (Kindle, Nook, etc.) you’ve already selected. I was very thankful for Bookbub when I ran out of hard copy books. I highly recommend it.
So let’s get started.
I began co-teaching a class at my church and felt I needed help knowing how to teach. I asked my pastor Jim Congdon for some pointers. He suggested a short little book called The Seven Law of Teaching by John Milton Gregory. I didn’t know what to think because it was not only small but originally published in 1884! I was delighted, this is truly a superb book. This book doesn’t just tell you how to teach, it explains how learning is accomplished in the first place and describes all the components of successful teaching. In truth, if you want to be a more effective teacher, are already homeschooling your kids, or want to learn more efficiently yourself… Read this book. It’s worth its weight in gold.
Theology and Faith
This is a hard category from which to pick one book. But I think one of the most expansive, informative and mind-bending books I read in this area was Emil Brunner’s The Mediator. This book revealed me see many more facets of Christ’s purpose on earth and after His resurrection than I previously realized. It was a meaty book and took some time to chew through, but it was totally worth the effort.
This next book is political and religious. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades) will equip you with a basic understanding of Islam and furnish you with a better understanding of the Crusades. For example: Originally, they were originally a defensive action. This is a topic you need to be aware of and you will understand better how to respond to this salient and pressing issue. I have read several other books on this topic and this is one of the best. I chose it because it is compact and does not assume any prior knowledge. I will say it again because it bears repeating: You need to know about Islam. What you hear through the media (and don’t hear after an Islamic attack) is not the truth.
I’m a history nut, and James Ussher’s The Annals of the World was right up my alley. However, I began tackling it in 2014 as it was written in the 1650’s and lasted nearly a thousand pages. I can’t honestly recommend this book unless you’re crazy about history. So, let me dial my top pick down to something more realistic. Undaunted Courage is the story of Lewis and Clark’s adventure across the Louisiana Purchase, to the pacific, and back (think 30 guys in the middle of nowhere, and they didn’t speak Native American’s languages). The author, Stephen Ambrose, does a great job of writing in an engaging way, I could almost see the forest path and Indian villages. He also did a superb job explaining the mysteries attached to their journey, in particular, the parts of the journal that are missing.
Another great book was the story of the civilians and soldiers on Wake Island titled Given Up for Dead. What an amazing story. Wake Island was America’s first battle in World War II, after Pearl Harbor, and we were woefully unprepared. Yet, while the Japanese eventually took the island, the citizens and soldiers put up a huge fight. If you like battle descriptions along with exploits of courage, this is just the read for you.
My favorite biography wasn’t really a biography in the truest sense but rather a series of articles written by David Horowitz. In them he explains his early outlook on life as a radical leftist (communist, socialist, today’s word progressive) and chronicles his transition to a conservative worldview. He writes very well and, in addition to sharing about life as a member of the Black Panthers, he explains succinctly the Leftist ideology. The Black Book of the American Left: Volume One is very much worth your time.
One more biography Eisenhower: Soldier and President by Stephen Ambrose was enjoyable and entertaining. A brand-new-to-me fact about Ike—he was 50-years-old before the majority of his accomplishments. His first was becoming the Allied Supreme Commander during World War II and his second major accomplishment was becoming president. So, if you’re over fifty, life isn’t over and your most important moments may yet be ahead.
Another book I add only for the fact that it is an election year. The Truth About Hillary by Edward Kline is, as the title suggests, designed to expose the former first lady as willing to do anything to procure the presidency—and I do mean anything. Now, after the 2016 Democrat Iowa caucus, there are rumors of something going on regarding some kind of tabulation issues and the Democrat Party blocking the release of caucus records. Hmm, makes me wonder…
One last worthwhile biography was Apostle: A Life of Paul. What drew me to this book was twofold. First, at the time I saw it (for free no less) I was studying the book of Galatians, and two this book is written in the style of a novel and the author, John Pollock, puts Paul’s life in chronological order and uses the New Testament as his source documents. This book is easy to read and makes Paul more knowable and human.
Okay, I know the word “politics” turns most people off, but the decisions made by Washington D.C. and our local school boards matter. If you’re tired of how politics are in our country, then it’s time to change them. One of the first steps is knowing what to do. Steve Deace’s Rules for Patriots is that first step. If you don’t read any other book this year, forget the rest and read this one. This book is a rebuttal to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals—which Alinsky dedicated to Lucifer—and Deace explains how we take America back from the radical left and backstabbing Republicans. He explains such topics as how to identify a Republicrat (a politician who tells people he’s conservative but votes liberal) and how to respond to a hot-button an issue such as abortion). The message of this book is so poignant I think I will read it again this year, too.
If you were only to read two books this year, here’s the second one to read: Hands Off My Gun by Dana Loesch (said Lash). This is the most up-to-date pro-Second Amendment book right now. Dana did the research to back up every claim she makes (for instance, if there are more guns in law-abiding citizen’s hands crime rates go down), and the reason (even if you don’t own a gun) that you should be in favor of the Second Amendment (gun control negatively affects minority the most). She also addresses why people who want to take guns away are really anti-liberty (think about that for a second) and do not think you should be able to defend yourself. Truly a good book and you’ll have fun reading it because Dana is quite witty.
Breakthrough by James O’Keef, is a book about his journey of be coming an investigative citizen journalist (Remember when news broke about ACORN before Barak Obama was elected? That was O’Keef). After I started this book I couldn’t put it down. Woven into it are his “rules” for investigative citizen journalists so they can be most effective. His experience makes it easy to understand when he explains how the left will do anything to squelch opposing voices. This book is worth your time simply for the entertainment value but the information is a real bonus and it is quite motivational.
The last book for this category is Uncle Sam’s Plantation by Star Parker. If you’ve ever wondered why poor American’s vote Democrat and want to help them, you’ll find the answers here. Star tells her story and relates how she escaped from the the government’s social programs (hence Uncle Sam’s Plantation). She explains how these social programs—rent assistance, welfare, and foo stamps—trap poor people. But she doesn’t stop there, she provides a five-step solution to free people from the Government plantation. What I found especially excellent was her explanation of capitalism. Her account is a great starting point if you’re beginning to learn about economics.
Speaking of Economics… There aren’t many dryer topics, yet it is super important. I have been trying to come to grips with economic theories. Previously, I read a textbook which didn’t help at all… a few with come-hither titles which turned out to be poorly reasoned and a compete waste of time. But then I stumbled upon a hidden gem. I was a little skeptical of this book since it was written in 1946. I thought it would be out of date. Boy! Was I wrong. So far this is one of the best books on economics I’ve ever unearthed. It’s called Economics in One Lesson by Howard Hazlitt. This book is so to the point it could have been written yesterday—after all truth doesn’t change. He describes the current monetary policy of our government simply and concisely and explains the pitfalls of the current policies. One of the main concepts to consider not only the near-term consequences of a monetary or economic policy but also (and often times more importantly) the long-term consequences. This is another book deserves more than one read, and a bonus, it’s relatively short.
Years ago, my reading consisted entirely of fiction/fantasy. Recently however, I had depleted my supply of non-fiction tomes so I decided to turn back the clock. With the help of bookbub.com and Vyrso.com (another source for free e-books) I read a couple of intriguing fantasy novels.
The first one, Merlin’s Blade, is about a young, blind man named Merlin. If you think it seems there might be a connection to the famous wizard of Camelot, you might be right… but I’ll let you discover that for yourself. Surprisingly, the plot of the book takes place in one village, but there is plenty of adventure, action, magic and some romance. The author, Robert Treskillard, does an expert job of intertwining Arthurian lore along with Christianity in a way which is not overbearing and does not detract from the story (this is sometimes a problem with Christian fiction).
The second fantasy book—books really because there were three—The Marenon Chronicles, was pure fun. Lots of adventure, plot twists, love and of course, dragons. The story starts on Earth but doesn’t stay there long. The protagonist Silas Ainsley is purposefully stabbed by his would-be rescuer. Dies. And, finds himself waking up in another world: Marenon. I was sad to see the story end.
You may have already heard of this book: The One Minute Manager. From what I understand, it was all the rage bout 10 years ago. This is a first on this topic for me. It is short and conversational, so it reads quickly. The concepts are easy to grasp and very doable—such as putting employee expectations on a single piece of paper which can be read in under a minute. If you are in a management position and haven’t read this one, it’s worth your time.
These books have blessed me with more wisdom and critical thinking skills. I hope you read at least one from this list. If you have questions about any book or, you need a recommendation, e-mail me or post a comment below.
Note: This book list is from last read to first.