As is our tradition, we have once again asked our ACSI blog authors, friends, and colleagues to recommend their favorite books to share with our readers. This year we received many wonderful suggestions. We’ve compiled a list of books with topics touching on leadership, faith, business, family, students, and more. There are some old favorites, as well as some new discoveries. We hope you find a new book to read in this new year.

In alphabetical order, here is this year’s selection of favorite books along with a short reason why they’re recommended: 

A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work by Juliet Funt (2021, Harper Business)—“This book provides a powerful guide that will give you the permission, framework, and specific direction you need to regain control of your overloaded workday, liberate yourself from busywork, reclaim creativity and find your precious minute to think.” 

Bavinck on the Christian Life: Following Jesus in Faithful Service by John Bolt (2015, Crossway)—”Bavinck is a very important thinker for spiritual formation but can be somewhat intimidating to the lay reader. Bolt takes Bavinck’s thought and distills it down to manageable chapters that are very applicable for the modern reader. It is a great book to be (1) challenged and edified in the faith, and (2) introduced to Bavinck’s thought in the event that you want to go deeper into his other writings.” 

Beholding: Deepening Our Experience in God by Strahan Coleman (2023, David C Cook)—“This book was critical in contributing to my understanding of silence and solitude in surrendering to God and allowing him to transform me into being all He has called me to be as His child, a father, husband, and leader. A key insight is that life in the Holy Spirit is similar to riding the current of a river. There is an active role that most of us play, like swimming: Bible study and prayer. But, there is also a more passive role, like floating: silence and solitude. So many of us neglect the passive role, and it inhibits us from being transformed in the fullness of what God has in store for us. Deepened my walk with the Lord.” 

Christianity and Liberalism by J Gresham Machen (2023, Wesminster)—”Machen’s work, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this past year, is just as timely as ever. In his book, Machen distinguishes between Christianity and theological liberalism, which denied the inerrancy of Scripture and other key doctrines and argues why it is so important for parents to have the right to choose for their children’s schools that affirm the central teachings of Christianity.” 

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller (2014, Penguin Books)—“Every Good Endeavor, by Tim Keller, articulates a deeper purpose to work, a sense of call and vocation in our profession. Essentially, Keller is describing a Theology of Work that the reader can understand and begin to apply in any context, in any industry.” 

Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock (2019, Baker Books)—”This book is a tremendous asset in understanding today’s culture and the ways that students may respond to the Gospel. The book reveals research from a three-year study looking at young Christians that possess a resilient faith. Such a valuable tool in understanding where students may be coming from in this new Digital Babylon.” 

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (2016, Scribner)—”This is a must-read book for any educator or leader! It demonstrates for parents, students, educators, athletes and business people, both seasoned and new, that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence Duckworth calls ‘grit.’” 

Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley (2021, Zondervan)—”This handy book is a great read for young families! Each chapter offers helpful family life demonstrations of biblical hands practices on topics ranging from family dinner to discipline. The book attempts to reframe often chaotic household routines and rhythms as opportunities for Christian liturgy and family devotionals.” 

Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers by Chip Clark (2011, Baker Academic)—”This is a fantastic book into the minds, hearts, and lives of today’s teenagers. It offers a wealth of insight into the lived experiences of adolescents and what we can learn to better understand the incredible young people God has placed in our care.” 

Mind Shift: It Doesn’t Take a Genius to Think Like One by Erwin Raphael McManus (2023, Convergent Books)—”A swift read yet helpful book that outline a comprehensive array of growth mindsets.” 

On Great Fields: The Life and Unlikely Heroism of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain by Ronald C White (2023, Random House)—”Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is perhaps most known for his leadership in the 20th Maine Regiment’s role in defending Little Round Top, contributing to the Union Army’s victory at Gettysburg. By dedicating roughly 10% of the text to Chamberlain’s Civil War role, White portrays a multifaceted Chamberlain—revealing his seminary education, his deep faith, his tenure as a college president, and his four terms as Governor of Maine. This book stands out as a favorite, not just for this year, but among all the biographies I’ve read. On Great Fields is an essential read for those intrigued by the Civil War, American history, or engaging biographies.” 

Gospel Patrons: People Whose Generosity Changed the World by John Rinehart (2014, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) and Pearls of the King: God’s Game Plan For Life by Lee Domingue (2013, Lee Domingue)—”These authors challenge us to recharacterize fundraising as ministry to the wealthy. In God’s Kingdom, He continues to use priests (Christian ministry leaders) and Kings (business owners and leaders) to build His work.” 

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn (2011, Tyndale House Publishers)—”While this fiction book is over 20 years old, it is more relevant than ever. It will pierce your heart for the persecuted.” 

The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going by Ryan Burge (2021, Fortress Press)—”A nuanced, accurate, and meaningful look at the growing number of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation, The Nones explains how this rise happened, who the nones are, and what they mean for American religion’s future.” 

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller (2011, Penguin Books)—”I really should reread this book every year to refocus my heart on the gospel.” 

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World by John Mark Comer (2019, Waterbrook)—”This book was an excellent reminder of God’s design for us to enjoy the Sabbath. It was practical and yet flexible. The hard part is putting it into practice!” 

Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Wess Stafford (2007, Waterbrook)—“A powerful reminder that children are at the heart of God’s redemption plan for the world.” 

What God Has to Say about Our Bodies: How the Gospel Is Good News for Our Physical Selves by Sam Allberry (2021, Crossway)—”In a time when people are prone to disparage the physical nature of the human person, an embodied view of human life is essential to pursue Christlikeness, who took on flesh and dwelt among us. Allberry takes a thematic approach to the material aspect of human nature, showing that it is an essential part of what it means to be human and therefore should be valued in the Christian life.” 

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink (2018, Riverhead Books)—”This book unlocks the secrets of good timing to help you flourish at work, school and home. Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology and biology, neuroscience and economics, Pink shares how we can use the hidden pattern of the day to build the ideal schedule for us and our students.” 

Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Craig Groeschel (2021, Zondervan)—”This is a great book to read with a small group! (Now there is a teen version so it might even be better to do with a small group!) It gets to the heart of our intrusive thoughts and how to understand brain science as well as harmful thoughts that can get in the way of our peace and joy. A fantastic read!” 


About the Author 

Becki Rust - ACSI AuthorBecki Rust is the Thought Leadership Project Manager at the Association of Christian Schools International, where she leads project management for a wide variety of innovative and timely initiatives, programs, and events. She also serves as editor for the ACSI Blog and the WLCE Blog. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King’s College in New York City.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Have you read any of the books on this list? If so, what new learning did you take from them? If not, which books are you most looking forward to reading? 
  1. What are we missing? What books are on your own must-read list? 

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One Comment

Oliver Woods

I like “The Real Lincoln” by Thomas DiLorenzo (2002, Prima Publishing). Good supplemental history reading for junior high and up. Challenges many popular beliefs. Out of some 20 other countries that settled the slavery issue peacefully, why was the U.S. the only one that fought a bloody civil war? Why did the South get all the blame, when all the kidnapping slave ships were owned by New Englanders? Very thought provoking.


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