For the last years, I have had the goal of reading 20 books in the year. This year, I tried to increase my target to 25. I tried pushing my targets to inspire my reading habits a little bit more. I purchased a Kobo e-reader for my birthday, so reading in bed and on the road have become a lot more convenient. Also, this year I have read more fiction than in the last five years combined. And to be honest, I have to conclude that I need some time to find my groove in that section. I liked Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, but I regret being inspired by social media to pick up Colleen Hoover. Never again. In contrast to last year, I did not read many business books. I basically stuck with the ones I needed to read for my Nyenrode course, but for the rest I stuck with fiction and Christian teaching, which is reflected in the list this year.
Last year I wrote a similar post as this one, but read one more book before the end of the year. So I’ll include it in this list. And to be honest, I’ll kick off with it because it has become of the best reads – at least by far one of my favourite reads.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air barely requires introduction. It is a multi-million copy bestseller. It tells the story of a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer; surgeon turned patient. It tells the story of someone with a scientific background who cannot just rely on science on a day to day basis: see the quote below. In many ways, it reminds me of Man’s Search for Meaning. Totally different setting, totally different time, but similar in that way. I cannot encourage you enough to pick up this book. It is excellently written. You really feel like you become a part of Paul’s journey. And to be honest, I could not finish this book without crying my heart out. Intan totally did not understand: confused she asked me to stop reading, but I could not put this down.
Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.Paul Kalanithi
No Diving by David Campbell
No Diving: 10 ways to avoid the shallow end of your faith and go deeper into the Bible is the full title of this book. David and his wife Elaine were active in pastoral ministry for over two decades, but in recent years David has been more focussed in ministry to leaders. I love David’s teaching on ministry platform TheosU, and listening to the Vast Podcast.
No Diving is very much about 10 topics that are often in some ways misinterpreted. The easiest example being faith: what is faith? Where does it come from? And how does it express itself? Especially in charismatic circles, we almost equate faith with feeling, just like we measure how good a worship service has been by how it has made us feel. In this book, David methodologically tackles these topics with scripture and doctrine. No matter how long you have been walking with Christ (if at all, honestly), I feel this book would be interesting to people who have been believing for a long time as well as people who barely believe at all.
Disciple by Phil Pringle
Pastor Phil Pringle started a church, more than 40 years ago, in Sydney, Australia. It grew and spread across the world and some 16 years ago, I ended up at one in Amsterdam. I committed my walk to Christ and did not leave – my wife and I now lead a location downtown in Amsterdam. Discipleship was always a hallmark feature that attracted me to this church. When I just turned adult, there was no shortage of guys wanting to invest in me. Some of these guys still invest in me today and our relationships have grown into long-term friendships. Intan and I find ourselves with a full dinner table, sometimes multiple times a week, to do the same.
All I’m trying to say with this, is that discipleship is deeply ingrained into the culture of C3. And that really is because of its founders, Ps Phil and Chris Pringle. This book isn’t a Bible study. It’s lived experience, from a person who lives and breathes the Word of God. Every page is full of lived wisdom, lived experience and most of all, biblical wisdom. I’m so grateful Ps Phil decided to write this one, it’s so rich and full. There are no page fillers or sentence fillers. This book is written by someone who truly wants to give everything he has learnt and leave nothing behind.
If you’re a Christian, get this and read it. If you aren’t, but you might be interested in a minister of 40+ years sharing his heart, get this and read it. You won’t regret it.
Getting to yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury
Getting to yes is by no means a new book; the original came out in 1981. Subsequent versions revised and refreshed certain parts, but it shows that we are not talking about new concepts with this book.
The more you clarify your position and defend it against attack, the more committed you become to it.Fisher, Ury
This quote typifies an exercise we did at Nyenrode, during our course. We played a simulation of a large negotiation between three parties, who all had their own goals to achieve during the negotiations. Even though many had read the book before, the negotiation barely moved beyond everybody’s goals; barely any investigation into each other’s underlying interests were being made. I think that simulation showed the power of this book and the fact that it’s still relevant: often we go into meetings to defend our position, to reach our goals, and we spend too little time finding common ground and common interests.
One other memorable quote I remember from this book:
An apology may be one of the least costly and most rewarding investments you can make.Fisher, Ury
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
This is the shortest book on the list, probably of all the posts. But I’m sure this is one of those books that I’ll be reading more often over time. Brother Lawrence served as a cook in a monastery in Paris in the early 1600s. In his book, he writes short chapters, in which he comments on everyday activities and the attitude with which he commits them.
Our attention is asked all the time from all types of sources, there is a constant stream of information beamed to your device and your work-life boundaries may have muddled since COVID, but this book is a great reminder that we are in control of the attitude and devotion we give to things. For Brother Lawrence, and for me, this applies to devotion to God, in both my busy work place as well as my quiet study in the morning. “Living like a modern day monk” is a term I hear more often today, and I think there is something to be taken from that as well.
It’s always a challenge to select my top 5, but some honorable mentions have to be Authentic Leadership by Bas Blekkingh – it’s been a while since a leadership book resonated so much. Many of the chapters and their motivations really resonated. I’m thankful that in our Nyenrode course, we spent some time discussing this. Another mention has to be Killer Church by Nathan Finochio who reminds the church that we cannot choose how to love and how to worship God, just like I can’t choose how my wife feels loved. Also thanks John Pearce for The Wheels of Financial Blessing, for a concise, bold and practical book on finance from a Biblical perspective. And Jon Tyson and Rich Villodas for A Beautiful Resistance and The Deeply Formed Life for writing works that are counter-cultural and challenging readers to hold to Christ’s teachings and to let our lives be rich and deep. In Rich’s words: we won’t take time to go deep down within because we have often been discipled into superficiality. And whatever you believe, that benefits no one.
Do you have any tips for me to add to my 2023 reading list? Please let me know in the comments or by sending me a DM! If you want to, you can find me on Good Reads and see my whole reading list – even the bad stuff.