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Top Ten Books of 2012

Picking the “best” books of a big pile of books may be either hubris or haphazard, depending on your point of view. After gazing at their covers (thanks, Goodreads) and reminiscing over some of their content (thanks, failing memory), I have selected what I found to be the best 6% of the 153 books I read in 2012. (This is similar to what I did in 2011.) Arranged in no particular order, here are my top ten books of 2012. 

Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

No one would call this book a literary masterpiece, but it made an impact on me. Thus, it made the top ten. It’s basically a 21-chapter motivational shtick, but the motivation has stuck. Everyday — even today — I have a “frog” which I am eating. Read it, and you shall understand.

Jesus Made in America, Stephen J. Nichols

Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ

This book spawned late-night conversations with Keren, extensive Kindle-marking, and even gifting it to others. It is a tour de force historical survey of the corrupt invention of an American Jesus. Even with my misgivings about his methodology, it’s a great book. Keren reviewed it.

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

I read this book. After a few months of informal corroborative research on my part, I walked into REI and bought some Vibram Five Fingers. (Read Keren’s review)

Einstein: His Life and Universe, Water Isaacson

Einstein: His Life and Universe

Einstein is more than E = mc^2 \,\!, and this book proves it. I was fascinated by Einstein’s dogged attempts to prove the unprovable, and his humble pursuit of a proper political theory. Isaacson also wrote the biography of another notable inventor, Steve Jobs.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian Tchividjian

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

Some Christian living books you read, and you feel ashamed and burned out. Others, you read, and you feel like you ate a gallon of spiritual frosting. Still others delve into the Bible, and share riches. This book was the latter. (Read my review.)

Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

Of the parenting books I’ve read, this one has some of the most practical and helpful advice. Although it is a secular book, it is refreshingly countercultural. (My review)

The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The title says it all, but the content says a whole lot more about habit. This book is, quite literally, habit forming. (Keren’s review)

Sundown Towns, James W. Loewen

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

It’s hard to read an entire book with your mouth hanging open in shock. Metaphorically, however, that’s what I did when I read this book. The book documents the persistence of legalized, or quasi-legalized segregation on the municipal level, and how it scarred the American landscape well into the 20th century. (My review)

Start Something that Matters, Blake Mycoskie

Start Something That Matters

I’ve never worn a pair of Toms, but I have a great appreciation for Blake Mycoskie, the entrepreneur who created the company. Today, thousands of poverty-stricken children have shoes, thanks to a vision that exceeded the confines of many greedy business-builders. His is an example I want to follow. (Read Keren’s review.)

Quiet,  Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Introverts are everywhere. I am one. I live with some. This is a powerful book. It is also one of Keren’s top ten.

Top Ten Books – Runners Up

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace

One cannot read War and Peace and not sing its praises.

When the Rivers Run Dry, Fred Pearce

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century

I can go days without thinking about water, even though I use an average of 80-100 gallons of it each day (if I am an “average American”). This book alerted me to the scarcity, the value, and the incredible world-shaping force that water possesses. (Read my review.)

A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Fascinating. I wish all history books were this interesting. (Read Keren’s review.)

Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow

Washington: A Life

Speaking of history, I appreciated this monumental biography of an amazing man. That little portrait on a one-dollar bill now holds far more meaning for me.

Keren, in addition to being Amazing, is also an avid reader and reviewer. Thus the plentiful links to her reviews. Check out her Top Ten. Since we both read a lot of the same books, we also picked some of the same Top Tenners.

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