I haven’t always loved reading. When I was 8 or so, I got real into the Wizard of Oz series. You probably didn’t know there are dozens of Oz books. I read almost every one. For some reason, once I got to high school, I lost the desire to read. The most I read were the Cliffs Notes of our required reading so I could at least stay involved in the class conversation. (Note to the students: don’t follow my example.)

My love for reading didn’t come back on its own – I had to cultivate it. I knew reading was good for me and would help me grow. It just takes discipline to pick up a book when I could pick up my phone instead. If you want to be a leader, you must be a reader. There’s no shortcut. Get some books and get your nose into them. For the rest of your life.

So far, in 2017 I’ve read 34 books (and I’m in the middle of 3 others right now). I thought I’d give a quick run-down of my favorite reads of the year, with the hope that this will inspire you to pick up a new book (or a couple dozen) in the upcoming year…


(in no particular order)

Own The Moment – Carl Lentz

I really appreciated Carl’s unique perspective on ministering to celebrities, leading a church in a unique culture and postmodern world, and of course his humor sprinkled throughout the book – including the footnotes. I laughed out loud when he mentioned his kids, then I followed the footnote and read, “And I thoroughly enjoyed conceiving them, I must add.” Thanks for the note, Carl. I read this one in just a couple days because it was so good.

Why read it? If you need a fresh perspective on church and leadership, or you just want to hear the heart of a Christian leader who gets hated on by Christians, here you go!


Kill The Spider – Carlos Whittaker

If you’re looking for real and raw, here’s your book. Carlos pulls no punches as he details how he stopped “cleaning the cobwebs,” and instead, killed (and is still killing) his spider. Like Carl Lentz’s book, I couldn’t put this one down either. The world needs more books with this level of honesty and practical insight in dealing with core issues we all face.

Why read it? If you’re looking for a book that will help you attack the core problem instead of just dealing with symptoms, here’s your book.


Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

I know this is a few years old. Old news here for many of you, I imagine. I’m not sure why I hadn’t read this book yet, but I’m so glad I did! God used this book to revive some prayers and dreams in my heart. Thanks to Mark and this book, I’m going into the new year praying bigger prayers than I have in quite awhile.

Why read it? If you’re looking for a book that will build your faith and enlarge your prayers, here it is!


Delivering Happiness (the story of Zappos) – Tony Hsieh

This was one of a few business/leadership books I read this year (Amazon, Nike, Google…), and I loved it. It was fascinating to hear the backstory of one of the most influential companies in the modern world. It was also eye-opening and inspiring along the topic of corporate workplace culture.

Why read it? If you need a reminder that no company or leader is an overnight success, or you want some fresh ideas on how to lead a team, read this!


The Power of Moments – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

I LOVED this one. Super fresh and inspiring. Chip and Dan think through the process of creating memorable, life-changing moments. From the start of the book, they aregue that we don’t have to wait for memorable moments to happen to us; instead, we can learn how to create them. Among many other ideas, this book led to the revamp of an employee’s first day at Awaken Church, which if you ask our most recent hire, will be a day she won’t soon forget!

Why read it? We all need to rethink moments in life and be strategic with how to really harness the excitement of life’s moments, instead of waiting for them to happen to us. Read this book for some creative insight.


(also in no particular order)


God Has A Name – John Mark Comer

Disciplines of a Godly Man – R. Kent Hughes

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

Finish – Jon Acuff

Own The Moment – Carl Lentz

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

Kill The Spider – Carlos Whittaker

Pastoral Leadership Is… – Dave Earley

Growing Up – Robby Gallaty

Good To Great – Jim Collins

8 Hours or Less – Ryan Hughley

Ageless Memory – Harry Lorayne

Chase The Lion – Mark


Know Your Why – Ken Costa

Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey

The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom

A Spy’s Guide To Thinking – John Braddock

The Bible – God and other human authors

The Power of Self-Discipline – Brian Tracy

The Everything Store – Brad Stone

Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination – Neal Gabler

The Power of Moments – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

How Google Works – Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek

How To Be Like Walt – Pat Williams

Be Our Guest – Theodore Kinni

Who Moved My Pulpit – Thom S. Rainer

The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

Justified By Faith – R.C. Sproul

Women of the Word – Jen Wilkin

Unashamed – Lecrae Moore


K E V I N • M I L L E R

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