20 Books Everyone Should Read

Summer is a great time to read and catch up on reading. I have a bookshelf full of books, but very few that I have read really jump out and grab me as being amongst the greatest.

But a handful do.

These books have, in one way or another, changed the course of my life. I recommend each and every one of them to you now, in no particular order. We’ll start 10 spiritual books. After that, we’ll go to 5 personal growth books, and finish up with 5 teaching books.

10 Spiritual books that everyone should read

  1. The Bible
  2. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
  3. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
  4. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Howard Taylor
  5. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  6. Revolution In World Missions by K.P. Yohannan
  7. Any Book on Prayer by E.M. Bounds
  8. More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell
  9. Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
  10. Wild At Heart by John Edlridge

5 Personal Growth books that everyone should read

  1. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  2. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
  3. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  4. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  5. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

5 Teaching books that every teacher should read

  1. The First Days of School by Harry & Rosemarry Wong
  2. Teaching With Love And Logic by Jim Fay & David Dunk
  3. Everyday Wisdom For Inspired Teaching by Tim Lautzenheiser
  4. Proverbs by King Solomon (from the Bible) — I have learned more about classroom management, discipline, and dealing with people from this book than anywhere else
  5. Learn Me Good by John Pearson

What are some great books that you can suggest?

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
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.

12 Comments on 20 Books Everyone Should Read

  1. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne is excellent. I actually posted about it on my blog. It will help you better understand and work with students who come from poverty.

    Letters to a Young Teacher by Jonothan Kozol is also a good read. I’ve heard his other book, Amazing Grace, is worth reading.

    I am currently reading Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith. I recommend it.

    The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is one of the best spiritual books (along with Mere Christianity) I’ve ever read. Also, anything by Elisabeth Elliot is awesome.

    Hmmm… I guess I don’t read many personal growth books, but if you want a literay classic or Young Adult Literature recommendation, I’m your girl :)

    P.S. How much did Mister Teacher pay you for the props?!

  2. @Strange New Teacher – He sent me an autographed copy of it last year for my birthday. I read it during detention throughout the first semester and was cracking up while the kids sat quietly. He didn’t pay me anything but I think he benefits from the fact that I don’t read teaching books. Haha.

    We did a study on Understand Poverty this spring actually and I wasn’t totally blown away by it. Some of the stuff was good, but some of it almost felt condescending, either to me or to my students (we have nearly 75% low SES).

  3. Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert McKenzie
    Classroom Management for academic success by Lee Canter

    Both really great, full of classroom management systems and ideas. They outline what works in certain situations, and lay out examples of traps new teachers fall into.

  4. Okay. I have read 4 of those. I have been taking classes for so many years that I don’t really enjoy reading technical books anymore. I have read the Bible (I just got home from church). Harry Wong is my hero. And “Teaching with Love and Logic” is our school theme. We all read it. I also agree with you on Proverbs. I really believe we should go back to the old habit of using the Bible to teach with.

  5. Wow, as a soon to be teacher I can take all the advice on great resources as can be given! I’ve seen one of Harry Wong’s lecture videos but have never purchased one of his books before. I will most definitely keep these books in mind on my next trip to the bookstore. I must include one more resource for soon to be teachers, like myself, approaching their first classroom: The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide by Julia G. Thompson… I cannot say enough about it…A MUST HAVE!

  6. I will have to revisit Teach Like your Hair’s on Fire and the Wong book. Our TSS’s gave both to us mid-year, and as a first year Lit teacher I couldn’t get into them on top of all my other necessary reading. Not to mention the Wong book is so busy! I like things a little more minimalistic. You can never go wrong with the Good Book, and in the spring we (hubby & I) facilitated Ramsey’s TMM in our church small group.

    I’ll have to check out some of those other picks. By the way, I’ve been enjoying your blog and am unusually late getting into it, but you inspired me (wasn’t feelin’ it in ’05). Thanks Joel!

  7. Ooh, tons of great suggestions coming in!

    @Becoming a Millionaire – I understand that there are people out there who aren’t open-minded. I also understand that my beliefs tell me that the moral and spiritual teachings of the Bible will benefit every single person. Since it’s my blog, I get to recommend it! :)

    Thanks for being a reader and for commenting!

  8. My favorite book on music education is a small, slim volume published about 20 years ago: “Teaching Music: The Human Experience” by Shirley Mullins. A wonderful little book about why we teach music, not how to tune the french horns, or get straight Is at contest. It’s lovely. Lots of educators love Covey because he suggests that you can organize yourself into happiness and purpose. Education, however, is pretty random. Lots of times the most important things that happen in schools are almost accidental, or begin with a small conversation over lunch. I like Margaret Wheatley and Peter Senge on organizational dynamics–they give me hope that schools will someday re-think their purposes. And music will no longer been seen as peripheral and something the kids do to have fun (or, worse, win trophies).

    I also like all of Postman and Weingartner’s books on education and technology.

    Best spiritual book? “Care of the Soul” by Thomas Moore.

    Good topic.

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