• Darrell Stetler II

Books I Read in 2015

“Leaders are readers.  When you stop reading, you stop leading.”  I’ve heard that from many leaders over the years, and I agree.  My goal for the first couple years of my time pastoring in OKC was to read 40 books per year.  Reading is a key measure of your personal growth.  But it’s not the only one… I took some years during the growth of my family from zero kids to six kids and read very little.  Those years were about growing in character, growing in servanthood toward my family, not so much growing in other kinds of knowledge.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  – George R.R. Martin

I don’t pretend to have a perfect reading list.  I doubt it would work perfectly for you.  I probably should read more of this or less of that.  But I try to avoid “shoulds” in my reading.  I don’t have a lot of time to read, and I’m often interrupted, so I can’t go too deep.  So I read:

  1. what is helpful to me

  2. what is in line with my strengths

  3. what I enjoy

So here’s my reading list from this past year:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking By Malcolm Gladwell

The premise of Blink is that we all make snap decisions, gut-level decisions — and research shows that those decisions tend to be as accurate or more accurate than our thought-through decisions.  So, how can we capture and improve the power of our quick decisions?  (4/5 stars)

Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes that Take 5 Minutes or Less by S.J. Scott

A very helpful little Kindle book, which really served as my introduction to morning and evening routines.  The idea: It takes virtually no willpower to brush your teeth… because it’s a habit. What if we could stack together a bundle of quick habits that you know would change your life? Then, he gives 97 ideas, categorized by life area.  (4/5 stars)

Attitude 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by John Maxwell

Short read, worthwhile introduction to recognizing negative attitudes in yourself, and directions on how to change and improve them. Anything by John Maxwell is worth   (4/5 stars)

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

John Ortberg’s writing is really wonderful.  He’s thought-provoking & eye-opening.  In the process, he creates a hunger in me to act, to grow, to know God better… and that’s valuable.  (4.5/5 stars)

Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid by Joyce Meyer

Some have accused Joyce Meyer of being a proponent of “name it and claim it.”  This book doesn’t fall under that category, outside of a few places where that influence could be seen.  I found the book to be helpful, & biblically focused.  (4/5 stars)

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Classic book on temptation and spiritual warfare.  If you can read Lewis without laughing with delight, I am sorry for you.  (5/5 stars)

Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley

An excellent overview of the progression of the church from the apostles to nearly the present day.  There is nothing like church history to lend perspective to struggles & controversies in the present day.  I listened to an audiobook version in the mornings while doing my morning routine.

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

Excellent short biographies of 7 great men, drawing lessons from their lives.  The book (as the title suggests) is somewhat thematic.  Its’ treatment of each man has to do mostly with how they used (or refused) power & thus expanded their influence through serving.  Metaxas’ writing & research is excellent. (5/5 Stars)

Getting Things Done by David Allen

There isn’t any finer book on workflow management than this one.  In fact, this is the 3rd time I’ve read it.  You can’t manage time, only action.  You can’t manage action if you don’t define what the next action is, and capture everything in a trusted system. This book shows you how to do it.  (5/5 Stars)

He Wins, She Wins by Willard F. Harley Jr

Good book on negotiation in marriage.  Teaches couples to strive for “the policy of enthusiastic agreement” and banish the idea of one partner’s continual self-sacrifice.  (I listened to the audio version.)  (4/5 Stars) (For a 5 star book by Harley, read “His Needs, Her Needs.” )

Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands

Seamands’ classic treatment of healing for emotional damage is powerful, and worth the read even if you don’t feel particularly “damaged.”  His treatment of inferiority, depression and especially perfectionism is powerful.  If you are a pastor, you should read this, and then preach it.  I preached 6-7 messages in a Sunday PM series using the content from this book, to the benefit of my congregation.  (5/5 Stars – at this time, on sale for $.1.99 on Kindle!)

Draw the Circle: A 40 Day Prayer Devotional by Mark Batterson

I was not a huge fan of “The Circle Maker” by Batterson.  However, I truly enjoyed this 40 day Devotional.  I bought copies for our whole church, and we did the 40 days together.  We are reaping spiritual benefits still.  Batterson knows how to turn a phrase, and make it memorable.  The writing is quite good, and the stories and content are inspiring and worthwhile. (5/5 Stars)

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

Helpful little book on creating new habits in your life.  Your natural resistance to forming a new habit can be overcome by making the habit “stupid small,” like 1 pushup… which makes it easier to actually DO, and therefore do faithfully. (available only on Kindle) (4/5 Stars)

Launch by Jeff Walker

An interesting and easy read on internet marketing, presenting a sales process for knowledge & information products on the Web.  I enjoyed it, and it’s immensely helpful.  However, it only applies to you if you run a blog or are in sales or marketing of some sort.  (4/5 Stars)

Writing Habit Mastery by S.J. Scott

I wanted to write more regularly on my blog.  So I bought a book from a guy that I already knew was helpful.  What I have come to expect from S.J. Scott’s writing is pure helpfulness in specific areas, with manageable length.  Extremely actionable directions for those who are motivated to grow in writing faithfulness. (Kindle Version) (4/5 stars)

Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly

If you really want to use Evernote for all it’s worth, you will need a guide to learn everything it can do.  Evernote Essentials is an effective guide.  I read only about half of this one, since I had learned what I needed to know.  I may go back and finish it up someday, when I want to go up another level as an Evernote Ninja. (3.5/5 stars)

The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle

The classic.  If you don’t have some recreational reading on your list, you should.  And if you don’t enjoy Watson & Holmes, I pity you.  (5/5 stars)

How to Tell A Story by Donald Miller

Technically, an e-book, which I read on Kindle. No hard copies available.  I am interested in becoming a better storyteller, not just for illustrations or “Johnny and Susie stories” but to help me be able to weave people’s lives into the story of the gospel. Miller teaches mostly on the movement & elements of story, rather than speaking techniques.  (3/5 stars)

Shave 10 Hours off Your Work Week by Michael Hyatt

PDF book by Michael Hyatt.  I enjoy and am helped by most of what Michael writes.  This one was no exception. Helpful tips to reframe your work in your mind, and streamline your workflow to consolidate what you do.  (3.5/5 stars)

The Virtual Assistant Solution by Michael Hyatt

This book enabled me to process the idea of a secretary or administrative assistant.  It’s cheap ($2.99 on Kindle only), and focuses more on how you can coordinate with a “virtual” assistant instead of a secretary.  I wound up going with a part-time secretary, but this book helped me process through it. (3.5/5 stars)

Books I read to my kids 2014-15:

I try to read to my children several nights per week.  They have started looking forward to it as a highlight of their day.  The following books are the ones we’ve read over the past 1.5 years, all of which they enjoyed immensely.

Anne of Green Gables

Huckleberry Finn

Rush Revere & the American Revolution

The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, the Last Battle)

So what books have you read this year?  Which was your favorite?

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