My 5 most impactful books of 2014

Ross Lester's picture

People often ask me what I am reading and which authors I am learning from. I was fortunate enough to read quite a lot in 2014, and a great deal of what I read was very helpful and enjoyable, but not everything I read made a lasting impact on me. I love books that make me do something or change something or shake it up a bit. So I compiled a list of the 5 most impactful books that I read in 2015, with very short reviews of each of them.

Enjoy. I hope you keep reading in 2015.
(PS I trust it goes without saying that the Bible continues to be the most impactful book in my life. Take that as a given.)

5 - Exponential, How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, Dave Ferguson & John Ferguson.

This book irritated me but it irritated me to action, and BBC will be planting churches this year partly as a result of that action. I read it together with some friends and I had the BBC elders read select chapters from it too. The optimism and faith of the Ferguson brothers is annoyingly contagious. There are whole sections that I didn't agree with ecclesiologically, but it really got us to do something, and I will take that trade any day. Recommended for church planters to take their planting team through. Don't expect deep theology. Do expect lots of provocation.

4 - Ruth and Billy Graham, The Legacy of a Couple, Hanspeter Nuesch

A quick and easy read that offers real insight into the private life of this amazing couple. It was a bit glossy and glowing to be honest and I think it might have served the readers better by more rigorously examining some of the weaknesses of the Graham's that it alludes to but never explains, but it was hugely inspiring to me in terms of drive for personal holiness and relentless pursuit of God's call. An easy entry into the Christian biography genre.

3 - The Story of Christianity, Vol. I & Vol. II - Justo Gonzales

I had to read these for some varsity work and I loved them both. Concise enough to not lose you, but detailed enough to get into some of the circumstances and issues of the key figures of the first 2000 years of the church. If you want a great overview of church history to get you going on the topic, then these are a great place to start.

2 - C.S Lewis: A Life, Alister McGrath

I am a big fan of the works of C.S Lewis and I try to read something by him every year, but I am ashamed to acknowledge that while I read lots of books by him, I have never read any books about him. This biography was very kindly given to me and I loved it. McGrath is very detailed and some might find the level of detail tedious at points, (McGrath argues at length for instance about which year Lewis' conversion to Christianity took place), but I found the pace of it perfect to hold me and keep me engaged. A great look into the complex life of a very complex man.

1 - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

I know this has just been released as a movie but please read the book before you go see it. It is quite simply unputdownable. It isn't often that I stay awake into the early hours of the morning anymore, but I read this book in three sittings which meant a couple of really late nights. It is just so riveting and captivating. Hillenbrand has done a stellar job of telling this story about Louie Zamperini, the Olympic Athlete who survives the brutality of a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and who manages by God's grace to go on to live a full and God-glorifying life. I am recommending it to anyone who will listen, and even some who won't. Get it today.