21 Impactful Books I Read This Year

This morning, I FINISHED the reading goal that I set back in January! This year I read 21 books. Here’s a short clip of my opinion of each one!

One quick thing. I liked almost all of the books I read for various reasons. I try not to pick up a book if I think I’ll hate it. Thus, most of my opinions are positive. Every book was impactful, however, some were certainly more than others.

The Treasure Principle – Randy Alcorn

This was the first book I read of 2018. It really got me into a generosity mindset. It drives home an eternal perspective of material wealth from a Biblical worldview. If you like books that will help you grow in your faith as a Christian, this is an excellent choice. It is the reason Bailey and I increased our giving this year.

Intentional Living – Dr. John Maxwell

I loved this book! Intentional Living works through questions in each chapter designed to prompt action in the personal development arena. I’ve read a couple other books by Maxwell and they always incite a sense of urgency for me. In fact, in one section, he encourages the reader to write the book he or she has always wanted to write. This encouraged me in my own book-writing endeavors and I finished mine in July!

Linchpin – Seth Godin

This book is about becoming indispensable in whatever field you find yourself. The author discusses the benefits of working in an area in which you are deeply passionate. He talks about how each and every person is an artist, not necessarily in what they do but in how they do it. For a more in-depth analysis, read my book review about Linchpin. Godin is a deep thinker and the books I’ve read by him are very conceptual in nature. If you prefer books that tell you exactly what to do (you know, like “15 Ways You Can Make Yourself Indispensable at Work”), you may not like his style of writing.

Capital Gains – Chip Gaines

This book is an entertaining read. I like Chip’s quirky humor because I have a very quirky sense of humor as well! Literally, I’ve been told that I am well prepared for the job of a dad when it comes to jokes. Chip gives an overview of what he’s learned from business to family since he was in college. Kind of a memoir of sorts. Rather heartwarming if you like an emotional read.

Retire Inspired – Chris Hogan

This is an excellent book for anyone who doesn’t understand finances. I know so many people my age who don’t know how to prepare for the future financially. Retire Inspired puts in laymen’s terms the process for reaching financial security and achieving the dreams that you have. It really got me fired up for ensuring Bailey and I are saving enough for the future. As Chris Hogan puts it, “It’s not an age. It’s a financial number.”

The Power of Who – Bob Beaudine

This was one of the top two most mind-blowing books I read this year. The Power of Who is such an unbelievably simple concept. Beaudine talks about the six levels of relationships that everyone has. He says that networking isn’t everything because those who you give your business cards to don’t have enough emotional connection with you to help just because they care. He focuses on Who Friends. These are the people who actually care about you and want to help you in whatever ways they can.

Beaudine encourages the reader to go to his or her circle of Who Friends and ask for help in whatever way. If you’re looking for a specific kind of job, ask your Who Friends and see what comes up. Each of your Who Friends has their own Who Friends which gives you opportunities that you may have never gotten otherwise.

The Gates of Hell – Concordia Publishing House

This book’s subtitle is “Confessing Christ in a Hostile World.” This was a deep read. It compiles writing from various pastors who tackle some challenging topics. Some include the world’s view on sex, the church’s work, and the effectiveness of international mission. This is one of those books that can be difficult to understand if you don’t have a background in theology (which I don’t!), however, I liked it because it gave me a different perspective on how we as Christians are to communicate with those of other worldviews.

Platform – Michael Hyatt

This is an excellent resource guide from Michael Hyatt who has a lot of experience developing a platform online. If you aren’t interested in developing a platform (blog, YouTube channel, reader base, podcast following, etc.) you likely won’t be interested in this book. But if you do, it’s an easy way to get a TON of information about how to get started in blogging or developing a following on Twitter, etc. It has quite a bit of practical advice for building a platform without spending an unbelievable amount of time on it every day.

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

Personally, I want to work on my presenting and public speaking skills in general, so I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a podcast. Gallo gives an in-depth look at the characteristics of killer speeches given at Ted Talks. He covers nine simple ways of boosting the effectiveness of your next speech based on the highest-rated Ted Talks in history. It is worth the read!

All Marketers Are Storytellers – Seth Godin

Like I mentioned in the snippet about Linchpin, Godin has a very conceptual way of writing. In this book, he gives a lot of good information about how we can improve our effectiveness in our marketing. There isn’t a list of steps though, so if you like lists of how to move forward, you may not like it. But if you are a marketer, you’ll likely glean some valuable insight into how you can set up an effective marketing plan to hit as many eligible customers as possible. Also, you MUST read Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller if you want some mindblowingly simple strategies for improving marketing.

The Pumpkin Plan – Mike Michalowicz

Honestly, I got this book because the Kindle version was on sale and I heard about the author from a podcast I frequent. Plus, it was focused on small business so I gave it a shot. I really like books that put things into practical terms and this one fits that category. In it, Michalowictz talks about his development of the “pumpkin plan” after a conversation with a pumpkin farmer. The plan, in essence, is killing off the small pumpkins in order to invest all energy into the fewer large pumpkins. In business, he says this is “firing” those clients that require a ton of energy to serve and focusing all your energy on your best clients so you can attract more clients who are alike. He gives practical strategies for implementing the “pumpkin plan” in small business. This book comes highly recommended by me for those working on a startup!

The Christian ATHEIST – Craig Groeschel

Groeschel tackles the issue many people find prevalent in their lives β€” being a Christian Athiest. That is, as the subtitle so clearly states, “Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.” I like Craig Groeschel quite a bit. I think he has thoughtful sermons that are very applicable to modern struggles. Also, he is an entertaining author β€” more than most. However, I didn’t find that this book helped me grow in my faith much. He makes some good points as he covers topics that many Christians face (forgiveness, doubt, fear). But being a Christian from a very young age, I know a lot of what he said, so I didn’t learn much of anything new. What he does well is reminding Christians how we are to model our lives after that of Christ.

Influencer – Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, Switzler

This is an excellent book for those who care about influencing others. The authors cover the ways people are influenced and give tons of examples and case studies to back up their claims. I liked the book and would recommend it. The challenging thing is that you and I encounter people every day that respond differently to influence. There is no cookie-cutter solution to the best way you can influence those around you and inspire them to do something specific. However, this books gives an great starting point.

A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating – Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher comes from the sports negotiating world and brings with her a lot of experience and advice. I read this after having listened to Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (an ex-FBI hostage negotiator) and was a bit disappointed with the organization of the ideas and recommendations. Never Split the Difference was a book that I would HIGHLY recommend for anyone to read. It gives very specific advice that applies to any situation. Plus, it comes from an ex-FBI hostage negotiator who couldn’t take no for an answer or people would die. I thought Molly Fletcher’s book gave a lot of great advice with stories galore, however, I thought the application was a bit lacking.

Experiencing God – Henry Blackaby

I LOVED this book. I wrote a blog post about it recently in which I highly recommended it as a faith-building resource (after the Bible, of course). Blackaby gets deep into Scripture as he encourages the reader to pursue God more fully. He gives practical methods to seek God’s voice through His Word, through prayer, through circumstances, and through His church. It completely changed my perspective on faith in more ways than one. If you want a deeply challenging book, give this one a read.

Everybody Always – Bob Goff

Bob Goff is someone who I would consider rather eccentric. Eccentric but caring. It comes through his writing which makes this book an entertaining read. In it, he talks about how we as Christians are to love “everybody always” as Christ does. This is another book that is a great reminder of how we can put faith in action, but I didn’t think it was a very deep book. It’s really focused more on action than theology.

The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod

I’ve been wanting to use my mornings more effectively. Elrod explains his S.A.V.E.R.S. method of spending time in the morning before his normal activities. This stands for Silence (essentially meditation), Affirmations (positively speaking to oneself), Visualization (mentally preparing oneself for the future), Exercise (getting the blood flowing), Reading (learning) and Scribing (writing and reflecting).

Some of these things seemed a little weird to me while reading them. But using the morning to positively start the day has helped a lot of people improve productivity so Bailey and I made a modification of “The Miracle Morning” for ourselves. For the last five weeks or so, on work days at least, we’ve been getting up early together to get our days kicked off right. This involves working out (or doing something active like pushups), reading the Bible together, praying, and reading a normal book. I’ve found that it has indeed helped improve my perspective and makes me feel somewhat productive before even starting my work.

How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins

I love business books and Jim Collins as an author. I’ve read Good to Great and Great by Choice, both of which I would recommend to a business enthusiast. This book covers the consistent poor decisions made by great companies that fell into bankruptcy. Collins uses some excellent analogies in his books to paint a picture of the concepts he teaches. He continues the practice in this book which is why his writing never ceases to improve my understanding of good business strategies.

The 12 Week year – Brian Moran

In this book, Moran talks about how to improve productivity during the year by splitting it up into smaller chunks. This is because it produces urgency to get goals done instead of pushing them off till the end of the year. In his case, he recommends a “12 week year.” He also goes through steps to set up the reader’s 12 week year and to make the most of it.

I like the concept. We will see if I use it in the coming year to pursue my goals.

The $100 startup – Chris Guillebaeu

Ok, ok, I haven’t actually finished this book yet. But I have a week left before the start of the year! This is a motivating book for those interested in pursuing other passion-based streams of income. Guillebaue is an experienced side-hustler and gives practical steps for starting a business in this book.

I love it so far!

What’s next?

Wow! That was a long blog post! By writing it, I hope I motivated you (at least a little?) to get into reading more this coming year. The amount of information you can glean from experts is unbelievable and motivating. I can’t wait to hit the next set of books in 2019!

What books do you recommend I read?

I want to hear from you in the comments below!

-Caleb

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