As we do at the start of every New Year, we have once again asked our blog authors to share their top picks of books they are currently reading. Here is a selection of their favorites for 2021, along with a brief quote on why they recommend them.

Leadership

Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod Bolsinger (2020, IVP)— “As God’s divine timing would have it, this book was published just in time. Christian schools all around the world are adapting to dramatic, unplanned change, and Bolsinger helps to put it into perspective. In his unique way, Tod describes the process of developing resilient leadership. He highlights the need for self-reflection, relational security and helps leaders to understand that stress ‘makes’ a leader and resilience takes practice. These practices will help every leader to become stronger, wiser, and more flexible in this world of never-ending change.”

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker (2018, Riverhead Books)—“This book challenges the often vague and unthoughtful ways we approach gatherings of various kinds from dinner parties to staff meetings to conferences. There are some really brilliant strategies and examples to make you think more deeply about the purpose behind your gatherings and how you might intentionally match your strategies to achieve these. It’s been a bit of a vicarious read during COVID lockdown, but I am looking forward to putting these great principles and ideas into place when we can start gathering again!”

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2020, Random House Australia)—“This book explores the experiences of a number of high profile and extraordinary women leaders through the lens of the academic research around women in leadership. It’s part scholarship, part story, making it engaging, inspiring, encouraging, and highly relatable.”

The Power of Us: How We Connect, Act and Innovate Together by David Price (2020, Thread)—“This is one of the first books on innovation to emerge during the time of COVID, and Price draws lessons from what it looks like to harness collective innovation and ingenuity to face challenges and thrive into the future.”

Christian Faith

Quiet Talks on Prayer by S.D. Gordon (2007, Echo Library)—“In this simple, profound book, 19th-century pastor Gordon reveals some of the deepest insights on prayer and how it impacts both this realm and the spiritual realm as any book I’ve read. The book has significantly changed my prayer life for the better.”

Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges by John Swinton (2020, Eerdmans)—“In all of Swinton’s books, his faithfulness and respect for the image of God in others shines through. I’m especially looking forward to diving into this Christian study of a variety of mental health challenges and thinking through the church’s role in building community alongside people who experience such challenges.”

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper (2016, Waterbrook)—“Harper explores the idea of shalom, and how that biblical perspective can impact our relationship with God, ourselves, our community, and our environment.”

Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life by David O. Taylor (2020, Thomas Nelson)—“In this challenging season of COVID with its emotional ups and downs, this book has helped to reframe them through the joy, sorrow, anger, lament, doubt, and thanksgiving as expressed throughout the Psalms. It is a very timely, comforting, and grounding book during a global pandemic.”

DiversityTop Book Picks for Christian School Educators

Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference by Timothy Keller and John Inazu (2020, Thomas Nelson)— “Tim Keller, John Inazu, and a host of great writers, artists, and thinkers consider how we can live faithfully and represent Christ in winsome ways in a pluralistic society, including how we can promote peace, justice, and reconciliation in the midst of racial tensions and other societal divisions.”

I Choose Adam: Nothing Special Please by David Winstrom (2017, Lightning Tree Creative Media)—“This book is a deep dive into the life of one family, pioneers of inclusive Christian education for their son who had Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. It combines a history of attitudes toward disability with a vision for belonging in community, a belonging that could only have been built through Adam and his life.”

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach (2015, Waterbrook)—“This book, by a Christian pastor who was raised by LGBT parents, addresses one of the most challenging  topics in the church today. The author’s personal story and insights help readers to understand how we can love our neighbors as Jesus commanded without compromising biblical truth.”

Raising a Rare Girl: A Memoir by Heather Lanier (2020, Penguin Press)—“It is such an engaging and thoughtful journey of one family that wrestles with the ideas of belonging for children (and their families) that develop differently.”

Personal Growth

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything by BJ Fogg, PhD (2020, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)—“When it comes to daily practices related to health and well-being, most of us already know what we should do. But turning those healthy practices into daily habits can be very challenging. This book provides small and simple strategies for understanding and incorporating positive daily habits into your life. I recommend this resource because I did an experiment with one of my own personal health habits that I had been struggling with and I’m happy to report that I have made tremendous progress by following the principles of this book. This book will help you to go from beating yourself up over your lack of willpower, to engaging with strategies to establish positive habits one small step at a time.”

Unpunishable: Ending Our Love Affair with Punishment by Danny Silk (2019, Loving On Purpose)—“A paradigm-shifting book that removes the smoke and mirrors of fear and control and brings the reader to the place of renewed tenderness toward themselves and others. Love and fear are always competing for our hearts and this helps give way to love.”

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin (2020, Portfolio)—“Seth speaks truth with grace to entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and creative thinkers. In The Practice, Seth unveils the patterns all successful creatives engage in so we can recognize it and commit to it. The book is a friendly reminder that just because results aren’t guaranteed doesn’t mean the work isn’t worth doing.”

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz (2020, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)—“How I Built This is one of my favorite podcasts of all time. Now in book form, we can learn from inspiring entrepreneurs who have taken risks, failed forward, and blazed trails. It’s an inspiring read as we make plans and dreams in 2021.”

About the Author

Becki Rust - ACSI AuthorBecki Rust is the Thought Leadership Project Coordinator at ACSI, where she leads project management for a wide variety of innovative and timely initiatives, programs, and events. She holds a bachelor’s degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from The King’s College in New York City. Becki can be reached at becki_rust@acsi.org.

Questions to Consider:

Have you read any of the books recommended in this list and, if so, what new learning did you take from them?

What books are on your own “must read” list for 2021?

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