10 Books That Rocked My World Personal by Joel Wagner - November 7, 2009June 30, 20106 Over the last decade, I have read a handful of great books that forced me to think and consider a lot of things about the way I was living. I’ve mentioned some of these books before on the blog, but this week I read another one of those kinds of books and thought I would share more with my readers about some of these amazing books. 1999 – How To Win Friends And Influence People (buy on Amazon) Back when I was in college, I didn’t know much about social interactions at all. I was horrible with remembering names, I didn’t really make much eye contact, and I just sort of needed this book to really open my eyes to the incredible power that I had to really impact the lives of other people.I remember some of the people I knew in school laughing at the fact that I was reading a book about making friends. Since I occupied leadership positions through high school and college, most people just assumed I knew something about how to establish relationships. I didn’t. This book helped me get started in the right direction more than anything else I had ever done. It was also my first real experience with reading outside of a formal or even informal educational setting. 2000 – The Bible (buy on Amazon) I grew up attending church, but never really had much of an understanding of what exactly the point was, besides because my parents made me go. In the fall of 1999, I began to realize the need to get back involved in church and in the spring of 2000 I made the decision to go to church every week. Over the course of that spring, there were some challenges I went through, but around March, my eyes finally opened to the truth of the gospel: Jesus lived a sinless life, took upon Himself my sin, paid the penalty for my sin (death), thereby atoning for my sin. He conquered death, rose again, and ascended to heaven, thereby clearing the way for me to spend eternity in heaven with Him. When that became clear to me, I wanted nothing more than to read everything I could in the Bible. I remember there were times that I’d have 10 minutes between classes, and I would go sit outside and read a few more verses in the Bible, just soaking it all in. It was an amazing time in my life! 2001 – Mere Christianity (buy on Amazon) After 2001 – Tortured for Christ (free from Voice of the Martyrs) I remember reading Tortured for Christ while I was student teaching and just being blown away by the things that the author Richard Wurmbrand went through in prison. Up to this point, my only real understanding of Christianity was what I had seen in the American church. I was shocked by his accounts of torture and mistreatment that he underwent at the hands of the communist government in the Soviet Union.Around this time, I also read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (buy on Amazon) and read of the horrible treatment of Christians throughout history. The amazing thing is to read of the reactions of these martyrs despite the atrocities inflicted upon them. 2004 – Spiritual Leadership (buy on Amazon) As I came to the understanding that my role as a teacher was one of remarkable leadership, I was struck by the weight of that realization. My pastor recommended J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership and through a series of succinct chapters, he digs deep into the heart of what it means as a Christian to be a leader in the world. 2006 – The Total Money Makeover (buy on Amazon) One afternoon in the spring of 2006, I came home to discover that my power had been shut off. I was usually pretty good about paying bills, but because of my work schedule and my habit of living on the edge financially, I had overlooked one late notice too many. At that point, I made up my mind that I would no longer live that way.After some research online, I kept coming across this Dave Ramsey guy. I had heard Dave Ramsey on the radio a few times before, but never read his book. I immediately subscribed to his podcast and picked The Total Money Makeover up the next time I was at Barnes & Noble. I read it in a matter of a few days and began implementing his Baby Steps as quickly as possible. Since then, I have yet to have another incident with the power being shut off or not being able to buy something because my credit card is declined. The feeling of power is a great thing! 2006 – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (buy on Amazon) After listening to Dave Ramsey for a while, I realized it was time for me to jump in deeper into the personal development books and the one that kept seeming to pop up more than most any others was 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. So I bought a used copy (Dave’s impact on my life) and began reading. It was pretty meaty and difficult to get through at times, but I plowed through the book in the summer of 2006 and it profoundly changed the way I approached many things. 2007 – Revolution In World Missions (free from Gospel For Asia) While this book is available for purchase from Amazon, it also available for free directly from the publisher, so I’m once again not including an Amazon link to this book. The basic premise is that Americans are blessed financially beyond most of the world’s comprehension. So much of that money gets wasted when we send people overseas as missionaries and could be far better spent by simply sending the money overseas and letting native people minister to the natives of their nation. As a result of reading this book, I began contributing to help support three missionaries in India. These men live on $90 a month. Can you imagine anyone from the western world trying to live anywhere for an entire month on less than $100? 2008 – The Pursuit of Holiness (buy on Amazon) The Pursuit of Holiness is one of the many gift books that I have received over the years. I got it, placed it in a bookshelf, and almost completely forgot about it. Then one afternoon I was looking for a new book to read and picked it up. What a monumental book! Jerry Bridges says some things in here that fundamentally challenged what I had accepted as true up to that point. To say that I underwent a slight change in regards to my view of the holiness of God as a result of reading this book would be a vast understatement. 2009 – Blink (buy on Amazon) I bought Blink one week ago and finished it yesterday. Blink is about the immediate feeling we have about seeing someone or something. It is about the power of making snap decisions based on understanding rather than waiting to make decisions based on knowledge. I found no less than five things in the book that will directly impact the way I teach from now on. So have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? What other books would you recommend for me or other readers? Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.