No BS Review 24 Books in 2019

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     This 2019 I set out to read 24 books ranging from spirituality to decision-making. In this post I’d like to list all 24 with my impressions on each one of them. Due to me being on the road most of the time, I used Audible to listen to them and every now and then either got the Kindle version or paperback.

     I call this the “NO BS” version because I’m actually trying to pull from memory how each of these books really impacted me, In other words I didn’t write my impressions as I was reading these books and copy/paste today. Instead I’m trying to tell you if these books really left a mark on me TODAY.  To read more about these books simply click on the picture and it will take you to their Amazon listing. Having said that, here’s the list:

DIDN’T SEE IT COMING *** Great book to start 2019. Written by a pastor, this book was laser-focused on diagnosing spiritual challenges we are all facing while serving others. The one that hit me the hardest was APATHY and how the author prescribes CURIOSITY/SILLINESS as an antidote and it landed my wife and me straight into salsa/bachata classes every other week. If you’re stuck in a rut, check out this book!

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS *** This book is a staple in Addiction Recovery and honestly I felt I had to read it. It helped me convey 4 simple propositions to my clients and have them buy in: a) Be impeccable with your word b) Don’t take anything personally c) Don’t make assumptions and d) Always do your best.

THE GO GIVER *** This is one of those books I read regularly and each time it gets better and better. The author explains the 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success a) The Law of Value b) The Law of Compensation c) The Law of Influence d) The Law of Authenticity and e) The Law of Receptivity. All of this is done in a story-telling style anyone can follow and understand.

THE ADVANTAGE*** This book is a FOUNDATIONAL book for anyone seeking to sharpen their leadership tools. This was a weird book for me because it was chockfull of good content and it took me almost a month to finish… however I can’t tell you one SPECIFIC thing today (about 10 months later) that I’m using thanks to this book.  So, it was really good to read and freshen up on foundational leadership concepts, but was not very practical in my opinion.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN *** This book is all about THE DOG all men have inside, according to the author.  My first reaction was to dismiss his claims as over simplistic and stereotypical, but after hanging in there I came to really appreciate this book.  In fact, I wish EVERY MAN would read this book especially here in the United States.  This book made me a better person, and offered me some man-to-man straight talk that I find missing nowadays. Highly recommend it!

THE ROAD BACK TO YOU + MIRROR FOR THE SOUL **** I’m putting these 2 books together because both of them are packed with Enneagram knowledge and they both are introspective in nature.  I recommend these books if you want to become more self aware of how your “type” interacts with other types in the Enneagram.

FALLING UPWARD *** Another introspective book.  I think coming right after the previous two books it made sense in my mind/soul, but honestly I can’t remember a single point about this book.  So, as a stand alone book I can’t recommend.

THE MORE OF LESS *** Now this book was probably the most PRACTICAL book of them all.  It really challenged my way of life, my possession (clutter), and my need of keeping/ accumulating junk.  Because of this book we did at least 3 deep cleaning sessions in the house, tossed out/donated a bunch of stuff, and made a deliberate effort to live with less.  HIGHLY recommend this book!

GRIT *** This was probably my most ACADEMIC book of the year.  I listened while I ran or was on long airplane rides.  It gave me a push to continue pursuing my goals with determination and discipline.  It’s basically something we all know, but very few know the research behind it.  If you like data and story-behind-the-facts this book is for you.

LIFE WITHOUT LACK*** This book completely changed  my life.  Why? first off Dallas Willard is an authority in spirituality, but also because the step-by-step approach to Psalm 23 was something I needed around April/May.  It is extensive, but 100% worthy.  Highly recommend it!

THE SINNER’S PRAYER / EVANGELISM *** In all frankness I only read these 2 books because I was challenged by a couple of friends on my view of evangelism.  I do believe in God, I also believe that we are called to show God’s light in this world in all we do.  However I felt my friends were pinning me down and expecting me to present a formulaic Gospel invitation to all people in all circumstances, and obviously I felt really uncomfortable with this.  Turns out they weren’t as legalistic as I thought, but still I felt I needed to load up on these two books for support.

LETTERS TO THE CHURCH *** Francis Chan ALWAYS challenges me.  I read this book on my Kindle and simply couldn’t put it down.  My biggest take away: Am I really called to be a pastor? Francis lays HEAVY on people in ministry riding on their talents, but having no calling from God and thus being inefficient in leading the flock to the “Good Shepherd”.  Great book for ministers! It’ll challenge your calling!

LETTERS FROM A SKEPTIC *** This is the actual correspondence between Greg (a Christian apologist) and his father (an atheist).  These letters were mailed back and forth over a period of years and it shows the father’s deep and sincere questions regarding faith, God, and Jesus.  I loved the relational flavor of this book and the love these two have for each other in the midst of their theological differences.

REPENTING OF RELIGION *** This is the most DANGEROUS book on my list.  Why? Greg’s view of God/World is fresh and rooted in Scripture… at the same time it feels a little too unorthodox to me.  First of all I believe religion (done right) is a great thing.  Unfortunately when done wrong, religion can be used as a tool to harm and chastise people.  However, once you get past the title, you’ll be awarded with a refreshing view of the Garden of Eden and this will change the way you look at the Bible.  Guaranteed.

SHIFTING *** This is a dynamic book written by my pastor.  I say “dynamic” because is by nature an e-book and pastor Bill will keep adding chapters at a later time.  The concept of shifting comes embedded in the picture of “highway lines” and how one is different from the other.  For me it was a good reminder/challenge to be intentional when I’m in “working mode” and not to cross lines and have my loved ones suffer in the process.

WHAT’S SO AMAZING ABOUT GRACE *** Now this is a book I read every other year or so because it is probably the most REFRESHING book on God I’ve ever read.  My struggle with organized religion is how quickly it becomes judgmental, exclusive, and “elitist”.  This book brings God to our neighborhood, makes Him accessible and makes me want to love Him more and more! Highly recommend this book!!!

TALKING TO STRANGERS *** This book felt like a multi-hour podcast and thus it was an awesome listen.  Malcolm Gladwell is a fascinating story-teller and he definitely proved his point “we really have no idea who we’re talking to unless they’re in our close circle of friends/family”. This is a book that humbled me as a mental health clinician but at the same time it allowed me to give my 100% while also to walk away with no attachments from my clients.  In a strange way it was humbling and liberating at the same time.

THE FORMULA *** Phenomenal through the first 30% and then it got muddled in technicalities.  However it answers the question “if a tree falls in the middle of the forest, and no one hears it… does it make a noise?” As it pertains to success the answer is a resounding NO!.  Success is communal, not just personal.

THE CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND *** Another “heavy hitter” in this rotation.  I believe this should be a required book for our teens since it presents a cold hard look at how we tend to prefer “intellectual laziness” instead of a rigorous and disciplined approach to life.

THINKING IN BETS *** Hands down one of the books that impacted me the most this 2019.  The presentation of poker, instead of chess, as a game-analogy to life was eye opening.  This means there are many things that by the nature of the game will not go as we’ve planned, but that’s the nature of life.  Rather than leaving us with a pessimistic outlook, Annie Duke challenges her readers to pay close attention to the “quality of the decision-making” rather than using “resulting” as the only measure for qualifying our decision making process.

DECISIVE *** Not the book I was expecting to read.  Coming off the hills of “Thinking in Bets” I was eager to build on this “decision-making” wave and many people suggested this book aaaaand… it just felt flat.  In the beginning it had flashes of potential when discussing different ways/systems of decision-making but honestly I can’t think of 1 take away from this book.  Simply cannot recommend it.

PRAY LIKE JESUS *** Finally we arrive to my last book of 2019 and I’m glad this was the one since it was written by someone I’ve known for over 15 years! This book has a “comfort food” feel since the author presents his points in a loving, caring way. Imagine someone who loves you telling you a story over coffee, and the conversation being so filling you walk away wanting to come back for another cup of coffee with this guy… that’s the feel of this book.

Now I’m prepping my Reading List for 2020.
Happy reading and join me on next year’s Reading List!!!

– arturo

My name is Arturo and I am loved by God and in response to that I best serve others by adding VALUE to their lives. My goal is to enrich lives, relationships, and communities.
From an artistic standpoint I’m a visual communicator and via the use of photography I seek promote beauty, concepts, and messages. Spiritually speaking I've served as a chaplain at a addiction/recovery rehabilitation center, and before that as a youth pastor, missionary, and Young Life/Club Beyond staff for many years here in the USA and abroad.
On the mental health side I currently serve as a life coach, certified addiction recovery specialist, and marriage and family counselor.

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