The 17 Books (nonfiction) You Need To Read In 2017

6 minute read

I love to read. I would never have believed I would say that 15 years ago.

When I graduated high school, I had never finished a book, scary I know. Now I ready 2-3 books per month. While I do occasionally dip into fiction novels, I spend most of my time reading the nonfiction genre. 

Love May Fail: Book Review

2 minute read

love may failI just finished this book 15 minutes ago. The ending was so moving I wanted to get the words out of my head before I moved on to another book. “Love May Fail” by Matthew Quick is his 5th book. He is most known for his book later turned movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” Quick has a gift for writing about the sad or painful moments in life in a realistic and sometimes vulgar way that allows the reader to connect wth his characters.

Love May Fail begins with the main character Portia Kane discovering her husband’s infidelity, sending her on a journey of self-discovery and an attempt to save her former High School teacher from depression and suicide. Along the way she reconnects with old high school friends, and discovers new talents and abilities within herself. There were moments where I laughed out loud and moments where anyone but me would have been sobbing (I’m just not a crier.) On each leg of her journey, Portia interacts with different characters facing different struggles of their own. Quirk’s ability  to write about Kane’s mother’s social disabilities is brilliant, along with romantic relationships and friendships. Being married to a High School teacher, I also felt a connection to the impact Portia’s teacher had on her during her teenage years. There were several pages I wanted my wife to read to remind that she is making a difference whether she realizes it or not.

I won’t spoil the ending, but the last 3 chapters were more of a payoff than I was expecting. After reading 398 pages, I was not disappointed with the conclusion. By the time I was done I felt like I made new friends that cared about, and wonder what became of their future. I have no hesitation recommending Love May Fail as an enjoyable fiction read.

*Just as a caution this book does have heavy doses of sexual references and adult language.

Just Mercy: Book Review

2 minute read

Just Mercy Bryan StevensonI was first introduced to Bryan Stevenson’s work listening to an interview on the “Here’s the Thing” podcast hosted by Alec Baldwin. After that 30 minute interview I was captivated; going down the rabbit hole search for any information I could find on Stevenson. The top google search led me to his TED Talk, “We Need To Talk About Injustice” from March of 2012.  What I loved about his message was that it was filled with stories. Stevenson didn’t come across to me as an angry man, even though I’m sure he has battled moments of rage, but rather a man who knows his life’s purpose will not be complete when he dies. He seems to understand he can only play a small part in battling racial injustice and a biased in the legal system, so instead of talking down to me, he invites me to listen to stories of undeniable pain and tragedy of men and children who have been unfairly punished by a system that cannot see past there skin color or economic status.

With my hunger not satisfied I ordered his New York Times Best Selling book, “Just Mercy” and was pleased to find Stevenson continued his conversation in the same style he speaks or is interviewed. This is a book filled with stories all interwoven around the main narrative of a man named Walter McMillan who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a prominent white woman in the state of Alabama even though he had over a dozen witnesses providing him an alibi. You are disgusted as you read McMillans story along with other real-life stories of men and children wrongly sentenced to the death in prison.

This is not a book of statistics or boring case logs, you will be captivated by the storytelling. Stevenson, a real-life Atticus Finch, recounts the victories and losses of his most heartbreaking and prominent cases. The book is 354 pages, and I finished it in 3-4 days never losing interest. The chances are good that you will be offended as your preconceived notions about the guilty and innocent are challenged. One of the things I respect about Stevenson’s work is that he does not claim innocence when a client is guilty. Instead, he helps you understand why some people do despicable things.

The basic belief that inspires Bryan Stevenson’s work and the main theme of the book that has stayed with me weeks after finishing it is

People are not the worst things they have done

I highly recommend everyone read “Just Mercy” I believe you will be challenged and changed.

Addicted to Busy (Book Review)

2 minute read

In Addicted to Busy Brady Boyd has writes a timely reminder that being defined by productivity is a dead end street; he would know. After a national scandal, Brady followed Ted Haggard as the senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though not the main point of the book, he does share some insights about the temptation to work endless hours in an attempt to rebuild a great church. The main point of the book is for us to discover a way to live that isn’t rushed and consumed by the pace of the world around us.

I really enjoyed this book, because by the time I finished reading it, I had no choice but to make changes in my life and embrace more strategic rest. With that being the case, I never felt judged, condemned, or talked down to throughout the book. He convinced me without putting me on the defensive. We all know we are too consumed with technology, social media, and pressure to perform, but Brady poses the question, “What would happen if we lived our lives from a place of revelation? A place and pace that allowed God to speak to us and guide us instead of others peoples expectations of us. Would we even know how to live a slowed down life?”

“When you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou

By the time you finish Addicted to Busy, you will know better, and I believe you will do better. It’s worth your time to read this book.

My favorite quotes
“The greatest risk to restfulness is success” (page 34)

“It’s more than a little difficult to pay attention to God’s thoughts, when I can’t even pay attention to my own” (page 42)

“We are a hydroponic society, fed by the drip irrigation of electronic social networks” (page 49)

“By allowing the shiny, successful people in my life to dictate my pace, instead of trusting God to take care of that role, I was unwittingly denying myself rest” (page 68)

“It’s time to rest from our roles and bask in the fact that we’re loved for who, not what, we are” (page 72)

“The world of psychology has a term for this annoying phenomenon of neglecting to pay attention to the person or situation immediately in front of you, choosing instead to see who else is doing something interesting or what else is going on. “FOMO” otherwise known as the ‘fear of mission out’” (page 117)

“The reward I am seeking is the persistent presence of God” (page 172)

“You’ve got to know what makes you come alive” (page 197)

You can purchase Addicted to Busy by clicking here

Interview with Mark Batterson

3 minute read

I recently had a chance to interview Mark Batterson about his new book The Circle Maker, and ask him a few questions.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I finished it last night, and can’t think of a book that has inspired me to pray more, more than this book. If you are interested in buying The Circle Maker you can purchase it here. For more information about Mark, you can read his blog at and follow him on twitter @markbatterson. For free resources from the book, you can go to

1. The Circle Maker is a book about prayer, what compelled you to choose that topic for this book?

I’ve been so blessed by praying grandparents and parents. Those prayers have outlived them and shaped my life. I almost feel like I owed it to them to write this book. On a spiritual and practical level, I happen to believe that nothing is more important than prayer. Is there anything more powerful than kneeling before Almighty God? For what it’s worth, the disciples didn’t ask Jesus to teach them to lead or teach them to preach. They said, “Teach us to pray.” Why? Because that is what set Jesus apart. He prayed with a familiarity and authority than the disciples wanted to discover.

2. For readers of your previous book, what makes this book different, and for someone that’s never read your books, why should they read The Circle Maker?

If you haven’t heard of the true legend of Honi the Circle Maker you need to read the book. It’ll change the way you pray. I won’t ruin it for readers, but the Sanhedrin honored him for “the prayer that saved a generation.” The book builds off of that story and makes a case for the power of a single prayer!

I honestly believe that readers will never pray the same way again. That’s my hope and prayer for this book. And based on early emails and letters, people are praying with more specificity, more intensity, more consistency. They are drawing circles around their children, around their dreams, around their problems.

3. Did you learn anything new about prayer by writing this book? If so what?

I feel like I’m the primary beneficiary, the primary audience of my books. It’s a personal pep talk that I share with the world. It’s what God is doing in my head, in my heart during a given spiritual season. The toughest thing about putting the last period on the last page are the lessons I’ve learned since the book went to print. One of the recent revelations is this: prayer is the difference between you fighting for God and God fighting for you. I wish I could have included that in the book, but the revelation came a little too late!

4. As an author of a book about prayer, some may consider you an expert, but are there any parts of prayer that you struggle with?

I still feel like many of my prayers are too rote. It’s hard to stay out of a prayer rut. I’ve come to terms with the fact that every prayer time won’t feel like revival, but I’m confident that every prayer I pray is heard by God. I’m confident that my prayers will outlive me. I’m confident that my prayers will not return void.

5. What would you say to someone who has lost faith in prayer because of unanswered prayers?

I think that may be the most important part of The Circle Maker. I knew I couldn’t write about prayer without dealing with unanswered prayer, and for the record, my prayer batting average is no better than anyone else. I swing and miss all the time! My hope is that The Circle will help people who have given up because of disappointment the faith to pray again. For the record, I think someday we’ll thank God for unanswered prayers as much as answered one because we prayed them in ignorance and if God had answered it would have undermined His plan for our life!

6. What would you say to anyone who feels like this book teaches a “name it and claim it” theology?

Read it. I think “name it and claim it” is selfish in nature—getting what we want. Listen, God is not a genie in a bottle and our wish is NOT His command. His command better be our wish! Every prayer has to pass a two-fold litmus test.

  1. Is it in the WILL OF GOD?
  2. Is it for THE GLORY OF GOD? If it doesn’t pass that two-fold test, forget it. God won’t answer it.