3.22.2010

Books That Have Influenced Me


Tyler Cowen's "Books Which Have Influenced Me Most" post earlier this month has sparked other bloggers to follow suit, leading to tons of book recommendations for me to add to my Half.com wish-list, which now clocks in at almost 600 (!). It calls to mind a post I posted a couple of years back on "my fifteen 5's."

Which is not quite the same as "most influential." So here is my list of "most influential." And, since I am not yet done being influenced, hopefully there are books to be read that will eventually make this list. I welcome your suggestions, as well as your own list.

* The Holy Bible. Goes without saying. And yet the more I read it, the more layers there are to it. Easily the book that has shaped me the most, and that has the most left in the tank to continue to shape me.

* Pleasures of God (Piper). Relatively early into my Christian faith journey, this book jolted my notion of what God's like, and what life I wanted to live in response.

* Good to Great (Collins). I just adored how counter-intuitive Collins' findings were, as it related to what makes for successful organizations. Those findings continue to influence the way I think about organizations and try to influence the ones I am a part of.

* Free to Choose (Friedman). I still need to read his "Capitalism and Freedom," but "Free to Choose" was plenty good for staking out a free market position in the midst of rapid expansion of government bureaucracy. I continue to reference Friedman's point of view when I examine the public sector.

* Crabgrass Frontier (Jackson). This classic turned me on to the systemic forces and policy choices that led to our current urban/suburban divide. I continue to see these issues through the lens Jackson's work has provided me.

* The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home (Kozol). A haunting critic of our public education system. Once again, an eye-opener as to the underlying causes and far-reaching ramifications of the inequities in our society.

* Strangers from a Different Shore (Takaki). A fish has no appreciation for water until it is outside of it. Similarly, I had far less appreciation for what it means to be Asian in America until I read these beautifully written historical accounts.

* Founding Brothers (Ellis). We tend to think of our founding fathers, and the events they were involved in, in a stylized and sanitized way. I loved how this book presented the deal-making, the messiness, and the compromises that defined this most revolutionary and formative time in our nation's history.

* The Making of a Leader (Clinton). Wasn't on my 5's list, but probably should be. An exhaustive study of Christian leaders throughout history yields nuggets of wisdom for knowing how to become one yourself.

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