Best Books of 2016

Ok, so I am a little behind with the last few posts of 2016.  Looking back over the year there  was a great variety of topics.  Here is the annual top five list…  with a bonus.

This is by far the best book that I have read this year.
The best book of comparative economics and why a market based system is the best way
Best treatise on conservative values and policies and why they are the best policies to support the poor
Best book that I have read to date about Biblical manhood.
Interesting description about the rise of ISIS

6. Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, Ed Catmull
Inspiring story of the Pixar company and how they foster a culture of creativity

 

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Hillbilly Elegy

91epx6odutlBook #32: Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance

Is poverty a state you find yourself in or a mindset, or both?  Why do so many poor people get trapped in cycles of poverty, family disintegration and drugs?  And more importantly, what can be done socially or politically for those who are trapped in these cycles?  J.D. Vance grew up a poor boy in a working class, broken family with Appalachian roots in Southern Ohio.  Despite his rocky childhood, he escapes this life and earns a Law degree from Yale.  More than sharing an inspiring success story, J.D. explores and wrestles with his childhood and describes the lingering effects on his current life, outlook and thought process.  This is a fascinating read for anyone who rubs shoulders with people in poverty.  For me personally, it helped to better understand the background and mindset for those whom I serve at work.

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1984

b003jthwku-01-lBook #31: 1984, George Orwell

What would it be like to live in a place where individualism is subservient too the collective state and freedom is falling in line with the will of the governing powers?  In this fictional account of Oceania (a socialized metamorphasis of the English state) Winston searches for truth and freedom in a land where truth is what the government says it is and freedom is doing what the government says to do.  This is a fascinating read.  As socialism seems to be coming back into vogue, we do well to remember the oppression and death that have been replicated in socialist countries throughout the world.  While this is a fictional accounting, it stands as a warning against totalitarianism.  Remember, big brother is watching you!

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The Magnolia Story

51wiwazu2rlBook #30: The Magnolia Story, Chip & Joanna Gaines

What started as a family business has grown into a TV empire.  Chip and Joanna Gaines started their live together flipping and renting houses in Waco, TX.  And over the next decade, through sweat and tears they faced the ups and downs of their business.  But guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, honest hard work and a love for their trade, clients and each other, they have grown their business and family into what it is today: the Magnolia business and Fixer Upper show.  This is a fascinating read for fans of Fixer Upper.

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Founding Brothers

51kjtm7pcrlBook #28: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Joseph J. Ellis

The Revolutionary era was an important and iconic era of our history.  And with 200 years of retrospection, it is often easy to romanticize the constitutional era and believe that it was a period of ideological clarity and political unanimity.  We often view the founding fathers as a generation of compatriots who worked together to build the nation we enjoy today.  And while these men were all motivated by a unified vision for an American nation, their ideas for how that nation should be build were often vastly different.  This is a fascinating look into the politics of the 1790’s and is a detailed accounting of a generation who gave of their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to give us the nation that we enjoy today.

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A Guide to Biblical Manhood

b004u7njdo-01-lBook #26: A Guide to Biblical Manhood, Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas

As our culture has blurred the distinction between manhood and womanhood, and now between the very difference between men and women, it is important for the church to define and defend the concept of biblical manhood and womanhood.  But what exactly is biblical manhood?  Is it some combination of the Bible with macho burliness.  Or does it consist of bible study, prayer and sharing feelings?  Our churches are suffering from a crisis of manhood.  Too often what is presented as ministry caters to and is appreciated more by women than by men.  In a recent article series on the Art of Manliness blog, Brett McKay described the feminization of Christianity?  Why is it that men are checking out in droves?  Why is it that men are bailing on the church? Bailing on ministry?  Bailing on their families?  Perhaps it is that we don’t present Biblical manhood as something that is manly.  This is a topic that I have wrestled with.  There seems to be a disconnect between what other resources have described as manliness and what resonates as manliness.  Which begs the question, is my concept of manliness defined more by the Bible or by culture?  This is perhaps one of the best books that I have read about Biblical Manhood to date.  The authors define manhood as an embodiment of leadership, provision and protection.  They show through biblical examples that these principles are an embodiment of muscular strength and resilient character.

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Term Limits

b002f53lyu-01-lBook #25: Term Limits, Vince Flynn

The President’s budget is the brink of passage.  And this legislation is the latest manifestation of runaway, centralized government and out-of-control, wasteful spending.  But as leading politicians are whipping votes, the government is thrown into a tailspin when three prominent politicians are executed.  The ultimatum that follows complains of inflated government power and demands that power be returned back to the people.  One young congressman holds the key to unraveling the mystery.  This an interesting, fictional mystery thriller.  While this is not based on real events, it certainly highlights a growing concern in contemporary American life: that is the growth and lack of accountability of government.

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If You Can Keep It

4107e7gu95lBook #24: If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, Eric Metaxas

When asked whether the Constitutional Convention produced a republic or monarchy, Ben Franklin answered, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.”  What seems obvious to us with the benefit of over 200 years hindsight was a fragile dream in the hearts and minds of our founders.  They realized that what they produced was something so completely different than had ever been tried that it’s very existence was subject careful, generational preservation.  And though we as a nation have survived many great trials, the preservation of what has made us as a nation unique is as fragile today as it was in the days of the founding.  If we do not safeguard this idea and pass the torch to the next generation, we are at risk of losing the very essence of what makes us American.

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So what do I think?  This is perhaps one of the best books that I have read this year and perhaps in the past few years.   Continue reading

Hostile Takeover

51fn7uvusllBook #23: Hostile Takeover, Matt Kibbe

In 2008 with the election of Barak Obama, our politics shifted strongly toward a liberal, progressive agenda.  But while certain policies have been noticeable in the last 8 years, our federal government has been growing substantially for the past century.  And through presidents like FDR, LBJ and now Barak Obama, we have seen the expanding size and scope of the federal government.  At it’s heart, is a political worldview that all can and should be managed from a centralized place and in a centralized manner.  But our country was founded on the principle of individual liberty and freedom.  We threw off the yolk of centralized government in 1776 and the war to follow.  It is this top down vs bottom up perspective of economics and politics that was at the heart of the debate then and is at the heart of the debate now.  And while we do not take up arms against our federal government, the Tea Party movement was the call of the American people to return to decentralized, market based politics.   This book offers a prescription for market based solutions to the challenges facing our country.  From medicare to social security utilizing the free market and decentralizing regulation will allow for better quality and greater affordability both to the U.S. government but also to each and every tax payer.

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Back of Beyond

b004vmv4ai-01-lBook #22: Back of Beyond, C J Box

Cody Hoyt is a chain smoking, alcoholic police office who is trying to hold the fragments of his life together.  When his AA friend is found as a victim in a hose fire, his life falls apart and Cody is suspended from the police force.  As 3 other seemingly unrelated house fire related deaths emerge, what looks like an accident soon becomes a murder investigation with ties to a horseback excursion in Yellowstone National Park.  Only problem, Cody’s estranged son is on this trip.  Like the previous book, this is a captivating mystery/thriller from C J Box.

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