Brian on Books: Top 10 for 2020

I was able to complete 54 books in 2020.
So, which were my favorites?
Which helped me the most?

Here’s my Top 10 for 2020:

#10) Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey (Alfred Lansing)

This is the story of Ernest Shackleton and his journey to the South Pole. His ship, along with all the crew, got stuck in ice.  What ensues is a true story of risk, reward, and the triumph of the human spirit.  In a year of leading through a pandemic, this book gave me hope and served as a guide on how to lead point to point.

#9) The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House (Kate Anderson Brower)

Brower has become well known for her books on Presidents, First Ladies, and so on.  This book simply adds to her expertise.  How do the first families live in the White House? What are their routines?  The book is fascinating, for you get a peek behind the curtain as to how Presidents and their families truly live.  You’ll discover who thanked the staff, who ignored the staff, and how each presidential family tries to make 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue their home.

#8) Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is not the Enemy of Faith (Barnabas Piper)

I’ve made it no secret that I struggle with belief and doubt. To the point that I often say, “I have moments of belief and seasons of doubt.” Piper’s book is an oasis in a desert of doubt. He tells his own story of struggle being the son of a famous pastor, John Piper.  In excellent fashion, he shows how doubt is not an enemy of our belief, but actually an ingredient to build our trust in God.

#7) Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln (Edward Achorn)

Allow me to own it. I’m a Lincoln fan. He’s a true picture of how one works through their flaws and failures to achieve world-changing goals. Achorn’s book does more than just convey facts.  He explains the circumstances and culture surrounding the second inaugural and why the words Lincoln chose were so important.  This books offers a peek into the life of a leader navigating war and triumph who is trying to unify a divided nation.  A timely read.

#6) Voyage of Mercy: The USS Jamestown, The Irish Famine, and the remarkable story of America’s first Humanitarian Mission (Stephen Puleo)

Wow! What a story! What a book!  The true story of America’s first humanitarian mission.  The book follows a humble minister in Ireland who labors for the wellbeing of his people. You’ll learn how fragile the Irish economy was, how government wrangling can literally cost lives, and how one must never give up when it comes to doing the right thing.  This story gave my heart hope that we can make a difference in this world.  A true inspirational tale.

#5) Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington (Ted Widmer)

I’m sure you’re shocked that another Lincoln book made my Top 10. Widmer details Lincoln’s 13-day journey from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC on his way to take the oath of office. A truly fantastic read. It describes overwhelming crowds, an assassination attempt, delays due to Mary Todd’s temper, and accounts of those who interacted with the president along the route.  This book is well worth your time.

#4) A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them (Scott Sauls)

Sauls is a favorite author of mine. As a pastor in the Nashville area, he leads from a place of grace and mercy.  This book is the essence of that thinking.  These pages are needed in 2020. Sauls takes you through how Jesus and the scriptures would have us respond to people who disagree with our thoughts and opinions.  That response is never loud or obstinate.  Our words should never be insulting or bullying, but instead, kind and gentle.  This book will both encourage and convict you.  It should be read and lived.

#3) His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope (Jon Meacham)

Meacham is one of the great historians of our time. His writing is always pristine. This book follows the life of John Lewis, the civil rights activist. When you read this book, prepare your heart.  Mine was wrecked. You’ll learn how some white Americans harassed and beat many black Americans. How parts of America resisted everyone having equal rights. I was curious as to how Lewis kept going. Why didn’t he give up? In the face of great obstacles, Lewis kept marching toward his goal.  A truly inspirational life and book.

#2) Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church (Paul David Tripp)

What can I say about Paul Tripp?  His writing is soaked in grace and oozes truth. This book was truly a contender for the #1 slot. Any pastor, ministry leader or anyone considering being a leader should read this book.  Consume it.  Shape your leadership around its concepts.  You’ll be better because of it and your ministry will be healthier.  Tripp shows us the importance of grace, accountability and truth.

#1) Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Dayne Ortlund)

Did you know there’s only one place in the gospels where Jesus describes his own heart?  And when he does, he says it is gentle and lowly. Ortlund then walks you through how believers and scholars throughout history have handled Jesus’ description of himself as gentle and lowly. My heart was slain.  Is Jesus really this good?  Does He care that much? Is His well of grace that deep? Read this book.  Your heart needs it.  This book will be one that I read again and again. It’s an instant classic.

You can find all of these on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

If you’d like to see my other reviews from 2020, 2019, and 2018, just click the links. Remember, all leaders are readers. If you want to be a better leader, be a reader.

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice President
Positive Alternative Radio

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