My Top 5 Books of 2019

2019 is almost over, which means it’s time for the annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
    How dangerous is sin? In his book, Venning delves into Scripture to show the reader how destructive sin is to the individual, to the culture, and to nature. Venning’s vivid imagery displays how vile sin is and points to Christ as the only possible remedy and escape, through faith and repentance. This book is especially poignant for American Christians today who live in a society in which sin isn’t taken seriously–in fact some sins are even celebrated. The Sinfulness of Sin will remind you that sin is the enemy of every human and motivate you to more diligently fight against it in pursuit of the holiness that Christ has called us to.

    Be as willing to die to sin as Christ was to die for sin, and as willing to live to Him as He was to die for you. Be as willing to be His, to serve Him, as that He should be yours to save you. Take Him on His own terms, give up yourself wholly to Him.” -Ralph Venning

  2. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
    Is it better to specialize early, specialize late, or not specialize at all? That is the question that Epstein seeks to answer in Range. Epstein begins the book by debunking the “cult of the head start”–the idea that it is better focus on one skill or a narrow set of skills as early as possible in order to master it. While this does work in some arenas that are based primarily on repetition, pattern recognition, and muscle memory (golf, chess, etc), it doesn’t translate to problem-solving or strategic-thinking fields. Epstein spends the rest of the book sharing research demonstrating the ways in which a more generalized approach to learning translates better to the “knowledge economy” in which we find ourselves today. Exposure to a variety of situations as well as cultivating curiosity in diverse interests tends to translate to better learning, and more importantly, better application of the learning.

    “Breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer. That is, the more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example.” -David Epstein

  3. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
    I picked up Peterson’s book in an effort to better understand his worldview after I kept hearing his name pop up and after watching some of his videos on YouTube. In 12 Rules for Life, he outlines 12 principles for finding meaning in the midst of chaos. Many of his 12 rules are common sense ideas grounded in Judeo-Christian teaching, but have fallen out of fashion with the recent shift towards relativism and secularism. As society has been uprooted from it’s foundation, it has left many searching for purpose, which according to Peterson, is at the core of many of the societal struggles present today. Peterson doesn’t claim to make any profound observations in his book, but is simply collecting and reiterating ancient wisdom that correlates with human flourishing. What’s intriguing about Peterson to me as a Christian is that he gets so much right and is so close to the biblical understanding of sin and the need for redemption; however, he comes up short of seeing Jesus for who He is, the Bible for what it is, and, as a result, the true antidote for chaos that is found by grace through faith in Christ alone. Regardless, 12 Rules is a fast read full of wisdom for facing challenges and living a purposeful life.

    “You need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.” -Jordan Peterson

  4. Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst
    Has your organization started to stray from its founding mission? Over time, many do–either in the pursuit of money or due to a poor succession plan, an eroding culture, or any number of other compromises. One of the often overlooked responsibilities of leadership is to steward the organization’s culture and ensure focus on the mission in the face of growth, time, and pressure. Because of this, Mission Drift is a meaningful read for anyone in leadership.The principles in this book are a gut-check for leaders who must stay vigilant of Mission Drift and set the expectations for those they lead. While the book is geared towards nonprofits, ministries, and churches, the underlying lessons apply to for-profit organizations as well (which would make a great follow up to this book).

    “In its simplest form, Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.” -Peter Greer and Chris Horst

  5. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall
    How does geography impact the political and economic decisions of a nation or people group? Often in more ways than we may think. In Prisoners of Geography, Marshall looks at 10 maps of the world and explains how geography has played a key role in the lives of the people who live there. Some of the examples demonstrate why conflict is so common in certain areas while others explain how geography has helped some kingdoms and countries thrive. This was an interesting read and a good introduction to geopolitics for the layperson.

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2020? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2018 || My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

About Lawson Hembree
Serving others by building brands. Disciple || Marketer || Entrepreneur || Meatatarian Want to continue the discussion or write a guest post? Let's Connect!

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