Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I am a readaholic. I love to read for the sake of improving myself, learning, and making my life more effective for the sake of God's renown. But I've never been very disciplined or strategic in my reading. Around last November/December I decided to work on both of these. So, I developed a simple plan to be disciplined (make myself read a minimum of 25 pages per day) and strategic (create a booklist to read through). I am still extremely ADD when it comes to reading - I'm reading about 25 books at a time, but I at least have strategic goals of what I need to be reading and I'm working through them.

I didn't think 25 pages a day would be all that much, but I made a list of all the books I've completed in the past 6 months (December - May) because of this. I ended up averaging more than 25 pages a day and I've been able to read 21 Books in 6 months! And I don't just read them, but I dive into them and type up my takeaways and things I learn and keep them on file to revisit and keep helping me grow, etc... Anyway, I don't say all that to brag... just kind of an "ebeneezer" for me to look back and see that my goals are paying off and to keep me reading hard + hopefully an encouragement to some of you. I hear people all the time say, "I just don't have time to read all these books I want to read." I was one of those people. But 25 pages a day - that's nothing! And below are the results from doing that... I'll list the 21 books I've been able to read over the past 6 months with links to them, links to the author's website (which many of them have VERY valuable yet free resources!), and my short take on the book. If you want more info on the book because you're thinking about reading it OR you've already read it and want to tell us what you thought of it then drop a comment at the end of the blog. (Plus, you can always keep up with what I'm "currently reading" and have "recently read" over to the right with all the pretty pics of the books.)

Here's the list of what's been shaping my brain over the last half a year (kind of in the order that I read them) =

Chazown: A Different Way to See Your Life - Craig Groeschel
= definitely in my top 3 all time reads (as you can see in my fav books to the right). So many people are going through life without a definite direction or plan... this book is very practical and helped me write down a definite God-ignited vision/plan for my life.

The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey - oh WOW! If you haven't read this PLEASE read it today! It has rocked our world financially & I am very humbly happy to say that we're out of debt now (except for our home, but we're getting there with that) because of applying the principles in this book. A fun read too that I can read in only 2 nights.

Now, Discover Your Strengths - Marcus Buckingham - a MUST READ! Basically most of us have been taught to focus on our weaknesses and be a "well-rounded" person. But this book will help you understand why we need to know our main strengths and become GREAT at them! It comes with a code to give you access to take the strengths finder test online.

Strengths Finder 2.0 - Tom Rath = a followup and basically the middle 100 pages to the above book. Gives the overview of the 30something Strength themes and still allows you to discover your strengths through the website without paying the full price of Buckingham's book.
A New Kind of Christian - Brian McLaren - Don't understand all this "modern" & "postmodern" talk? Ever wonder if the kind of Christianity you're living is more American than biblical? Just want a good story to read that will walk you through all of this? I can't think of a better book than this one! I couldn't put it down. McLaren is brilliant! Changed my thinking in big ways about a lot of things.

Next Generation Leader - Andy Stanley - Are you in any type of leadership position? Do you want to be a leader/better leader? Especially for you peeps in my generation -> you need to get your hands on this! Andy breaks it down for us like only Andy can do and gives us the keys to being a leader worth following.

How to Read a Book - Mortimer Adler - haha... title sounds kind of funny doesn't it? It's not the most exciting book to read... in fact, it's pretty boring. BUT, if you're serious about learning through reading and/or you are a student with stacks of books to read each semester = this book will HELP YOU! It's a classic and is recommended by many graduate professors. I attribute much of the success of reading all these books and taking away all that I did from them to the principles of reading I learned in this book.

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection - John Wesley - whoa. This is a great book by a great man. I had presuppositions coming into it and they were wrong. It's not what you think... in more ways than one. I still don't know what I think about it all, but it is an extremely challenging book that has ignited a passion in me to live as holy a life as I can for the renown of Jesus.

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell - Every leader should have already read this. All kind of awards & #1 best seller accolades, etc... Gladwell takes his extensive research of pandemics and teaches us how to begin our own positive social pandemics through the power of the tipping point. I'll flesh the ideas out on here with you guys sometime.

UnChristian - Dave Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons - You MUST familiarize yourself with this book. You don't necessarily need to read the whole book, but the research is invaluable for every believer. It reveals "what a new generation really thinks about Christianity." The results are NOT good. We've got to do something about that! (More on this here at renown in the future.)

Creating Community - Bill Willits & Andy Stanley - THE book on the philosophy and logistics of REAL, authentic community groups as the life blood of the church. Don't read it if you want to add a program, but if community is the end game for you in your church then read about it from the experts.

Deadly Viper: Character Assassins - Mike Foster & Jud Wilhite - read all about my thoughts on this book here and here. It's awesome and fun. Kind of like a comic book you can read in a couple hours. Now, go read it before the assassins come to get you.

Generous Orthodoxy - Brian McLaren - I had to read some fluffy stuff after I finished this one. This is basically a manifesto or a confession from arguably THE leader of the emerging church and a wise old sage for all of us young guys who are trying to figure out spirituality and ministry in our current cultural context. This book is AMAZING! It's a fun read, but long. Kind of like a seminary book. It might slide into my top 10 one day...

Surprised by the Voice of God - Jack Deere - I read this as a followup to Jack's 1st book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. VERY ineresting no matter what side of the fence you're on. This guy is a former Dallas prof. = major dispensationalist, turned into one of the major proponents for the continued use of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the church today. And it's all straight Bible just like you'd expect from a Dallas guy.

They Like Jesus But Not the Church - Dan Kimball - VERY similar concept to Unchristian. I think Unchristian was better because of all the cold hard facts/reasearch... but this was a lot of fun and WAY more personal. Lots more 1 on 1 interviews and definitely calls us all to a missional lifestyle.

If Only He Knew - Gary Smalley - haha... this book is pretty old and if you judge a book by it's cover you won't read it. But, it's short, practical, and very helpful to me in helping me understand my wife and how to be a better husband to her. I guess you can ask her how it's working.

(1 other book I won't mention here.)

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - John Maxwell - the classic leadership book. Still going through the takeaways. Not all that "life changing" but great principles that I think any leader must be aware of.

Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper - typical Piper. He proved once again why 2 of his books are in my top 10, probably top 5. I wish EVERYONE would read this book and be convinced not to waste their lives chasing the American Dream, etc... And of course one of the coolest things about Piper is that you can read/print the whole book online here. I tried reading it back when I 1st got the book right after college, but only got halfway through it. I finished on CD which I recommend to anyone who can't handle reading a lot of Piper... which is most people. I still love ya Johnny P!

Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller - besides Crowder's 2 books I think this is the most fun & funny book I've ever read. It was a re-read for me as I read it several years ago, but I was more interested in taking stuff away from it this time... and for a fun book there is a LOT to learn. I think Donald Miller is an amazing author. I just want to keep reading him. Here's some earlier posts about the book here and here.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie - I think my dad has actually recommended this to me for a long time. Lately I've had like 10 more people recommend it to me so I fished it out of my dad's attic and read it. I am SO glad I did. It's awesome and I recommend it to all of you care anything about doing just what the title says. A lot of humility is enforced in the book too which was very interesting to me. Not sure about where Carnegie was at on his faith journey, but he definitely "got" the humility idea.

Later I will probably share my full takeaways for many of these books. If you have any thoughts on which ones you would like to read sooner rather than later OR want me to email you my takeaways for a particular book... just drop that in the comments.


The RightNow Campaign (www.rightnow.org) said...

Cool post...Kimball and Miller are def. my favorites...they speak at our LeadNow+Fusion Conferences each year and blow me away every time! I recommend Miller's Searching for God Knows What - its prob. my favorite Miller book.

patrick mitchell said...

thanks for your thoughts...
i LOVE what you guys are doing too! i'm familiar with your org. through the passion conferences. keep up the good work bro!

Max Weismann said...

We have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos on the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

When we discovered them and how intrinsically edifying they are, we negotiated an agreement with Encyclopaedia Britannica to be the exclusive worldwide agent to make them available.

For those of you who teach, this is great for the classroom.

I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:


Anonymous said...

This is a late post, ha. But, I read I think 4 of those this year also. Want to read the Piper and John Wesley books that you mentioned.

But, I wanted to join with you and say, setting goals for reading books, or for me, picking books that I want to read rather than what everyone suggests has been awesome for me. I'm with you on the setting a goal and then ending up reading above and beyond that. Very cool. Reading is what keeps my creative/thinking vibes going. I'd have to say I am now addicted. I got a B&N membership card and at first I was regretting it, but after about 7 months of having one, I think it is the best decision of my entertainment/free time yet.

Keep the ideas comin.

Anonymous said...

That last one was "Scott C" by the way. Too many Scott's in this here blog :)

patrick mitchell said...

scott c? is that scottie too hottie? just checkin... i know a few "scott c"s
***dude, which 4 did you read? & what did you think of them?

yeah, i have a list of like the next 200 books i want to read. i've got em prioritized all the way down to the next 5 i'll read. that has been huge for me.

*A wise seminary prof who is best friends with billy graham once told me that when i feel like reading a book READ IT... don't necessarily read what's "next" from what peeps told me to read.
i will say though you should be strategic in getting peeps' advice on what you should read. they will steer you away from books that are a waste of time, etc... + point you to the ones that are must reads!