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10 Books That Rocked My World

352320_the_perceptionistOver 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!

  3. 2001 – Mere Christianity (buy on Amazon)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
See also  5 Great Books About The Science Behind Growth Mindset

So have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? What other books would you recommend for me or other readers?

Joel 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.

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) 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. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

6 thoughts on “10 Books That Rocked My World

  1. Great list! I've read several of those and found them very impacting as well. I love reading and could list tons of books that I would recommend, but here are a few that are at the top of the list:
    Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
    Heaven by Randy Alcorn
    No Compromise (biography of Keith Green) by Melody Green
    The Heavenly Man by Chinese Brother Yun

    Here are a few that have been especially influential in my work as a teacher:
    Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks (His audio series 7 Laws of the Teacher, and the companion series 7 Laws of the Learner are excellent as well!)
    Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    Handoff by Jeff Myers

    I have a more extensive list and reviews at my Goodreads account:, so I'll stop there!

    A couple of the books you mentioned are ones I've considered reading, but just haven't gotten around to yet, so thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations, Natalie. I actually was encouraged by a couple of my friends to start Don't Waste Your Life, and I started it last night. I downloaded some free wallpapers from and got them on my computer at home and my iPhone. I'll set one of them as my wallpaper on my school computer also.

    I currently only have the iPhone version of DWYL, but I am a huge fan of real books over PDF or Kindle or any other kind of electronic form of book. As much of a computer geek as I am (and have been for years), I just prefer the hard copy.

    I read No Compromise back in 2002. At that point, I was on this huge Keith Green kick where practically all I listened to was his music. I had a nice long hospital stay where I was able to read his book (the printed version of the PDF that I got on one of his compilation CDs).

    I'll definitely look into the others on your list. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for your list. I would also recommend Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It absolutely changed my perception of Heaven and my longing to be there! Anything written or spoken by Jon Courson has made a huge impact on my life. Seven Laws of the Learner by Bruce Wilkinsen is also excellent.

  4. Thank you for your list. I also agree that Heaven by Randy Alcorn is one of those life changing books. It completely changed my perspective and longing to be in Heaven. Anything written or spoken by Jon Courson is life changing. Seven Laws of the Learner by Bruce Wilkinsen was very beneficial to how I view my responsibility as a teacher.

  5. A friend bought me Jon Courson's 30 MP3 CD set of sermons through the Bible. iTunes tells me I have 50.1 days of his sermons in there. :)

    I also have Chuck Smith and J. Vernon McGee's thru the Bible series' as well.

    Chuck Missler and David Hocking have some mind-numbing teachings as well!

  6. Read Blink and the rest of Gladwell's series, The Tipping Point and Outliers (just finished) Great series handed to me by my Principal. Also just finished The Kite Runner ( a colleague pointed it out) and I am about to start What Would Google Do? Facebook has a great list of 100 great books (fiction) and I have read most…. will try to find it and post it on my blog.

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