Books & Quotes

15 Books That Shaped Me in 2017

What a year 2017 was! Media, culture, the relentless pace of change, politics, gender identity, #metoo, race, privilege, the awe of a total eclipse, the devastation of Harvey (both the hurricane and Mr. Weinstein) and Irma. These issues clamored for and fragmented our attention. Questions were many, and satisfying answers were in short supply. My mind raced trying to keep up; to make sense of the shrill and deafening attempts at dialog. I found myself pulling back from social media (odd for a digital strategist), turning off all the notifications on my phone, and praying to Jesus for wisdom.

My word for 2017 was humility. Humility invites. It defers. It honors others by listening well before formulating and communicating my opinions on a subject. Humility learns from another. Humility accepts limits. Humility rests secure in displacement, injustice, and personal dishonor. Humility opens doors for fruitful service.

With that context, I offer in no particular order these 15 books God used to shape my thinking, expand my perspective, and humble my proud heart in 2017:

  1. Awe! Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say and Do, by Paul David Tripp (audio book)
  2. Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James
  3. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard. This is an audio book of Dr. King’s actual speeches, delivered by him. Spellbinding.
  4. Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank
  5. Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Bryan Lorritts
  6. The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom and Silence, by Henri Nouwen
  7. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, by Nicholas Carr
  8. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
  9. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, by Frederick Buechner
  10. Radical Candor: How to be a Kick A** Boss without Losing Your Humanity, Kim Scott (audio book)
  11. Leap Over A Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians, by Eugene Peterson. This is a fantastic study of the life of David, a hidden gem from one of my favorite authors.
  12. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson
  13. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in an Age of Acceleration, by Thomas Friedman (audio book)
  14. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard (audio book)
  15. Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness, by Andrew Murray

And why isn’t the Bible on your list, some may ask? I read and study the Bible daily. It is much more than a book, and belongs in its own category. For me, God’s Word is light and life, oxygen and water, bread and meat. It challenges, convicts, illumines, sustains, encourages and transforms.

What books shaped you in 2017?

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at

9 replies on “15 Books That Shaped Me in 2017”

Thanks Ken! I added several of these books to my GoodReads “To Read” list for 2018.

Wow Ken, amazing! despite being super busy you made time to read 15 books. Hats off to you.
I just love “the way of the heart” by Henry Nouwen. Thanks for sharing the list, will surely try and get my hands on some of them this year. .

Great post Ken. Here is my answer to your question:

A Christian Leader’s Guide to Leading with Love- Alexander Strauch; The War of Art-Steven Pressfield; Change Your Brain, Change Your Life-Daniel Amen; Sleep Smarter-Shawn Stevenson ; The Road Back to You- Ian Morgan Cron

I realize I did not do as much reading as I thought. Hmmm. Gotta change that this year.

Honour and Shame by Rolland Muller;
Whiter than snow by Paul David Tripp;
The discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges;
Tears of the bride by Ingrid Albuquerque,
Let there be India by Babu Varghese
The lost art of disciple making by Leroy Eims
Prayer a Fresh vision by Selwyn Hughes
Multiply – disciples making disciples by Francis Chan
and read From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker the third time, it can fire up our passion for His glory.

Hi Ken!
Thanks for the list!
On my list is:
” The Zombie Gospel: The Walking Dead and What It Means to Be Human” by Danielle Strickland.
“Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Sceptical” by Tim Keller.

On the list for 2018 I wolud recommend
“12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You” by Tony Reinke.
(It is free right now:

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