8 excerpts from great books that were published in 2008!
One thing you should know about me. People send me a lot of books to review. I’m still not sure why people send me books. Maybe it’s for the simple fact that I blog about the good ones—or at least that ones that strike a chord with me. We also order some titles for the Laity Lodge book store. We also review books in our network at HighCallingBlogs.com (which has 280 blogs now). And sometimes we even interview them at TheHighCalling.org, ask them to write for TheHighCalling.org, or invite them to speak at Laity Lodge.
But I’m just the first point of contact really.
Still, I thought I would share these excerpts from eight books that really caught my attention from the stack that were sent to me. I chose a bunch of IVP books, so that makes it look like they sent me more books than any other press. That’s not true. I just like the books they sent me more than the others. (Also for the record, I bought L. L. Barkat’s book.) I have read nearly all of these cover to cover. Since I’m not a huge fan of nonfiction, that’s saying quite a bit about each one.
For each book, I’ve included an brief excerpt to demonstrate style. All of these excerpts were passages that I underlined or otherwise noted in the margin when I read the book. For what it’s worth.
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki (Portfolio Hardcover)
When entrepreneurs ask me for my opinion of their ideas, I give them the choice of the truth or the “feel good” pablum. Most opt for the truth, and the usually thank me because they learn something from the tough love. Apparently, politeness and expedience (“It’s very interesting. Let me get back to you”) are more common than information and feedback (“Your financial projections are insanely optimistic”). This led me to conclude that there is a shortage of candid and straightforward information for entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs.
Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence by Marykate Morse (IVP)
Find a sandbox on a playground, and you’ll find kids. A sandbox is a simple thing: a box with four sides, filled with sand. Kids don’t need instructions on how to play in it. No training necessary. No classes. No nervous parents coaching from the sidelines. Children instinctively plunge in and create a miniature world of roads, bridges, castles, and moats. They create what they see and what they imagine. Sandboxes are a lot of fun. It’s part of our DNA to make stuff out of raw material and to have fun with it. I think if no one were looking, we adults would get in and play too! But the fun stops when one child stakes a claim to the sandbox and runs off the other kids. A discreet child might manage to stay, crouched in a corner playing quietly, but often it’s not long before a carefully crafted tower gets stomped flat. Kids who rule sandboxes can do so because of their size and their “don’t mess with me” attitude.
Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist by Dave Schmelzer (SaltRiver)
In my neighborhood, it’s assumed that church people live far, far away. And while my neighbors are vaguely aware of an unsettled by the looming threat of church people—they had a stretch of winning national elections, for instance—for the most part, no one hears from them. Church people aren’t making movies or TV shows. They’re not writing for the Timesor any major newsmagazine. They’re not winning hoity-toity book awards—or, for that matter, running practically any Western nation.
Simplicity by Mindy Caliguire (IVP Connect)
When I first began learning about simplicity I decided to tackle a closet in our home that I called the black hole. The process, I thought, would be fairly straightforward. Empty the entire closet, face whatever was there, and ruthlessly, even prayerfully, discern if each item really belonged there. I began with a lot of energy, optimism, and ambition.
Stone Crossings by L. L. Barkat (IVP)
Ready to explore, I pick my first stepping stone and leave the muddy shore behind. All day I leap from rock to rock—sometimes backtracking from a dead-end stone, sometimes slipping and scraping my naked knee, sometimes resting. Intrigued and comforted, I want to stay here forever. Ask me where I first stepped in and I may not remember, nor hardly care. I would rather pluck a pebble from the creek bed and show you the crayfish hiding under a web of sticks.
Good Intentions by Charles M. North and Bob Smietana (Moody Publishers)
Big Idea went bankrupt and was sold to Classic Media for enough money to pay off its debtors. The company survives and still makes VeggieTales videos with a small creative staff led by Mike Nawrocki, the voice of Larry the Cucumber, but the vision of becoming the next Disney is long gone. A big idea was not enough.
Results matter—whether you are making heavenly doughnuts or creating computer-animated vegetables that love Jesus. And more often than not, they are predictable. That, in a nutshell, is the point of this book. And it might just be one of the most important lessons that VeggieTales and Krispy Kreme doughnuts have to teach.
Culture Making by Andy Crouch (IVP)
The essence of childhood is innocence. The essence of youth is awareness. The essence of adulthood is responsibility. This book is for people and a Christian community on the threshold of cultural responsibility… Readers who are looking for seven easy steps to cultural influence will have to look elsewhere—because I do not happen to believe that anything lasting is easy. What we most have to learn about being creators of culture is the very thing we human beings find hardest to learn: everything about our calling, from start to finish, is a gift. What is most needed in our time are Christians who are deeply serious about cultivating and creating but who wear that seriousness lightly—who are not desperately trying to change the world but who also wake up every morning eager to create.
The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield (Thomas Nelson)
We should remember how Obama has described his conversion, the phrases that have played so often in his speeches and books. In The Audacity of Hope, he wrote that “it came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.” In later interviews he sometimes used more traditional language. He has, he says, a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” and he believes “in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” “that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.”