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Ten Books for the summer — Part II

“Ten Books for Summer” has become an annual tradition. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are the second five of my favorite books for summer. They are not always religious but they are interesting. With each book, there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I like this book.”

• “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations” by Thomas L. Friedman.

A field guide to the 21st century, written by one of its most celebrated observers. We all sense it — something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once — and it is dizzying. In “Thank You for Being Late,” a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.

Why I like this book: “I enjoy taking a complex subject and trying to break it down so that I can understand it and then help readers better understand it — be that subject the Middle East, the environment, globalization or American politics,” Friedman wrote in the book.

• “The Neighboring Church: Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most” by Brian Mavis and Rick Rusaw. The simple practice of loving our neighbors has more power than the best professionally produced Sunday “show” in town. After attending the “coolest” and fastest-growing church in town for a few months, Mavis asked some of his neighbors if they would attend church with him. The neighbors said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We don’t want to be part of an institutional church … but we do want to know more about God, and we’d be happy to meet with you to learn more.” So Brian began meeting with his neighbors in his home to share the love of God.

Why I like this book: There is an interesting quiz: “What kind of neighbor are you?” If you are like me, you do a few things well but come up short in many ways.

• “Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent” by Sydney Finkelstein. A fascinating exploration of the world’s most effective bosses — and how they motivate, inspire and enable others to advance their companies and shape entire industries. What do football coach Bill Walsh, restauranteur Alice Waters, television executive Lorne Michaels, technology CEO Larry Ellison and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren have in common? On the surface, there’s not much they share other than consistent success in their fields. But below the surface, they share a common approach to finding, nurturing, leading and even letting go of great people.

Why I like this book: “Ralph Lauren didn’t merely inspire people to perform exceptionally well. He also got them to break new ground, to do things that nobody else was doing. He got them to work creatively, to take risks, to inject their own talents and insights into their work,” Finkelstein wrote in the book.

• “The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For,” by David McCullough. A timely collection of speeches by McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States that reminds us of fundamental American principles. Over the course of his distinguished career, McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. “The American Spirit” reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background.

Why I like this book: I confess to being a McCullough fan, but warning: This book is not a typical McCullough look at history. It’s actually a compilation of speeches and talks given at various institutions that provide a glimpse of history and lessons for the future.

• “I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship,” by John Byron and Joel N. Lohr. “I (Still) Believe” explores the all-important question of whether serious academic study of the Bible is threatening to one’s faith. Far from it — faith enhances study of the Bible and, reciprocally, such study enriches a person’s faith. With this in mind, this book asks prominent Bible teachers and scholars to tell their story reflecting on their own experiences at the intersection of faith and serious academic study of the Bible. While the essays of this book will provide some apology for academic study of the Bible as an important discipline, the essays engage with this question in ways that are uncontrived. They present real stories — with all the complexities and struggles they may hold.

Why I like this book: If you are looking for good scholarship combined with inspiring stories of faith you will enjoy reading and studying “I (Still) Believe.”

Rev. Larry E. Davies can be reached at larrydavies@sowingseedsoffaith.com.