I read these 7 books this summer, and recommend you do the same the rest of this year:
1. Love Does
This book brought to light what a tremendous adventure and what a joy loving others and living from a place of freedom can be. It can be easy to see living a good, moral life as a task – but Bob Goff expresses his love for his family, orphans in Uganda, and little old widows in a refreshing and honest light. No "twenty dollar words" – you don't have to be rich or brilliant to love richly and brilliantly. The assortment of tales Bob tells about his life range from breaking down doors to get to Ugandan children wrongly convicted of crimes, buying walkie-talkies to comfort and be with a friend dying of cancer, and the incredible story about how he made it into law school against all the odds.
2. The Question of God
An incredible book for skeptics like me, this book compares and contrasts Freud and C.S. Lewis and what they had to say on the question of if there is a God. Their points of reasoning and points of the implications are dissected chapter by chapter, their lives and their words displayed back to back. This book was recommended to me by perhaps the wisest person I know and helped me to better understand how some arguments for or against God may have significant weaknesses, well buried behind circular reasoning, or emotional assertions in place of a logical and concrete basis.2. Everybody Always
3. The Great Divorce
A classic of C.S. Lewis, and titled to counteract William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, C.S. Lewis explores what it would be like if we all could see the process of people either going to heaven, or to hell… the process is not what one would think, but is scripturally sound; all those who miss out on joy and salvation do so not because they were not good enough, or because they are unwanted, but from their own choice for lesser things than pure joy. These include pride, preferring a person above God, blame, jealousy, and much more.
4. The Return of the Prodigal Son
Based upon a life-changing encounter with Rembrandt's infamous painting of the Prodigal Son returning home to his father, the author of this book uncovers the sheer genius of every detail so purposefully included in this painting, and how his study of this famous piece of artwork led to a new understanding of this parable. Everyone is the younger son; everyone is the older son; all of us need to be more like the father. This book offered me more wisdom than perhaps any other books I've read. It is highly introspective and simultaneously helped to comfort me and to call me higher, into being the better person I desire to be.
5. Scary Close
A seamless read by Don Miller, Scary Close helps open the minds and the hearts of readers who wish to have deeper and more fulfilling relationships amidst the push and pull desire for a meaningful connection as well as the apparent safety of isolation. He unpacks what it takes to dive into meeting the longing of our hearts to be truly known, while also addressing the imperfectness of people and how pain and disappointment are inevitable. Inspiriting and insightful, I don't think I would have made the amazing friends I made after reading this book without its sound and easy to read wisdom.
6. The Road Back to You
Based upon the Enneagram personality theory, this book covers all 9 possible personality types and how various kinds of people function. This book helped me to better understand people who think and function differently than I do, but it also helped me to put words to my own feelings and tendencies. Though no one can be perfectly categorized, this book has become a great conversation starter and has helped me to begin personalized conversations about who I am and who others are.
7. Everybody Always
The follow up must-read to Love Does, Everybody Always expands upon Bob Goff's previous philosophy, but with even more incredible stories, especially about those who are difficult to love. Including his experiences with Witch Doctors in Uganda, Bob tells of his own struggles with loving everyone as Jesus did and as Jesus calls us to do. Is there a right way to love those who wrong us, and wrong the young and the innocent? Can those who seem too far gone change to be more loving too, when we'd rather reject and restrain such people? Bob addresses this idea with life-changing and heart-changing revelation.
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