I’ll never forget the time I was in a Christian bookstore in Jacksonville, Florida. I was browsing around and lusting after various volumes when the clerk came up to me and said, “Are you a book guy?”
Well, that’s like asking Colonel Sanders if he’s a “chicken guy.” I answered in the affirmative, and she said, “We’re having a clearance sale. Why don’t you take this shopping bag, and whatever you can get in it from the sale tables you can have for $25.”
After recovering my senses, I eagerly accepted the challenge and managed to put more stuff in that shopping bag than she could have possibly imagined. It was probably the most enjoyable $25 I’ve ever spent.
It’s still true that I’m a book guy. That’s why I enjoy this issue so much; along with our readers, it’s a nice opportunity for me to catch up with the many quality books which become available year after year. But sometimes — OK, usually — there are some books I’ve particularly enjoyed during the past year which don’t make the top ten list, or even the survey. Often that’s because they don’t really fit our editorial focus. Still, I’d like to take a moment to pass along a good word about some great books I’ve read this year.
I’ve always had an interest in the Civil War, and this fall I read two of the best books I’ve ever seen in this area: Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara, and The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (father of Jeff). They were actually written in the reverse order, but I list them in the order I read them and in the order in which the historical events they dramatize took place. The Killer Angels (on which the movie Gettysburg was based) captures the people and events of the battle of Gettysburg in a powerful way; characters like Lee and Longstreet, Hancock and Chamberlain come alive on the page. After his father’s death, Jeff Shaara wrote the prequel, which deals with the events leading up to the war and the early years of the war, culminating in Gettysburg. This is history which reads like a novel, and makes for a great “getaway” read.
Speaking of history, it would be hard to find a more compelling read than Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Ambrose is America’s premier popular historian, and this book is one of his best.
Margaret Thatcher is one of the preeminent political leaders of the twentieth century, and her newest volume, The Collected Speeches, offers ample evidence of why she is such an effective leader. She is an articulate, forceful advocate of personal freedom and responsibility. Reading this book will be an enjoyable and insightful experience for every serious communicator.
A less inspiring but just as important volume for church leaders (though the book is not written for a Christian audience) is Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation by Don Tapscott. If you are under 30 years of age and want to better understand the profound changes taking place in our culture — particularly among young people and younger adults — you’ll want to take a look at this book.
Finally, for a good old-fashioned fun book for one of those days when you’re snowed in, try Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame head football coach (and recently named coach at South Carolina, bless his soul). Holtz is a great motivational speaker, and this book captures some of his enthusiasm in a “game plan” for success. Now if only he can put that to work in his new job!

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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