Books 2017

Growing up pretty much all I did was consume stories either written or on TV. I decided I wanted to add English as my second degree because I wanted an excuse to read more in college. My reading consumption has waxed and waned from year to year, but I’m trying to be more intentional starting with documenting what I’m reading.

Here’s my 2016 reading list.

Below I’ve tried to keep track of the books I’ve read and some of my favorite quotes from the books.


I have watched the Lord of the Rings each December for probably close to 10 years, but I haven’t read the books since junior high. They were a lot easier to understand this time around and packed with so much more than I remember. This may need to become another yearly tradition – I mean Christopher Lee used to read these books once a year.

The Fellowship of the Ring


“Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly show than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”

The Two Towers

I love this. Just because we call them stories or legends, doesn’t mean they weren’t true or based on something innately within us.

Eomer: “‘Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children’s tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'”

Aragorn: “‘A man may do both,'” said Aragorn. “‘For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time.'”

For someone who loves story and wants adventure and wants a life that matters, this is one of the greatest quotes to muse over in the entire series.

Sam: “‘Yes, that’s so,'” said Sam. “‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t known, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about hose as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?'”

Frodo: “‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of  a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.'”

The Return of the King

There are 3 main female characters in the Lord of the Rings. Each very unique that make large contributions to the chess board of the story even if they may not have had much “screen” time. I can relate to Eowyn.

Aragorn: “‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked”

Eowyn: “‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept then, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'”

The paths of the dead scene in the movie is one of my favorites. It has a lot to do this quote and the character of Aragorn that Tolkien created.

Legolas: “‘Even the shades of Men are obedient to his will…'”

You know those nuisances we have in our lives? I have to believe they’re playing a bigger part in the story that we can’t see when we’re in the middle of it. Grace and compassion go a long way.

Frodo: “‘…do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him!'”

Have you ever read Jesus’ list of names? Yeah, Aragorn’s kind of like that.

Faramir: “‘Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of Dundeain of Arno, Captain of the Hose of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur’s son, Elendil’s son of Numenor.'”

We may not be able to see what’s happening in the middle while we’re waiting, but the end is all the more worth it.

Gandalf: “Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.”


I went through some of my favorite fantasy series last year, but didn’t finish the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia. I actually avoided it, because of the deep impression it made on me growing up. I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up. I had no reason to fear. Reading it as a 30 year old, I’ve realized how much it has shaped my worldview. C.S. Lewis packed a ton of wisdom into a 200 page book. He’s not presenting it as gospel fact (thus the fantasy aspect), but he does present it to you and encourages you to wrestle with it – if you’re willing to see it.

The Last Battle

This will mess with people’s theology, but I love it.

“Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth show (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou has done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou, knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

The old kings and queens of Narnia are in the new world trying to understand where they’re at and the professor [or Lewis in the voice of the professor] is reminding them of their Plato.

“‘Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.’ His voice stirred everyone like a trumpet as he spoke these words: but when he added under his breath ‘It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me what do they teach them at these schools!’ the older ones laughed.” [bold added for emphasis]

Books I Want to Read

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The War of Art

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


The Last Battle – February 2017

Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Series

The Story Grid

Save the Cat

Books I Read in 2016

Love Does by Bob Goff
This was the first book I read in 2016 and the second time I’ve read this. Bob Goff is one of my heroes and I want to be like him when I grow up. The way he loves his family and his neighbors and the world is eye opening. You wouldn’t think any of this would be possible, but he’s done it. He’s a lawyer fighting for human rights. His mantra is whimsy and childlike wonder. As we get older, we tend to put aside whimsy, childlike wonderment and joy for fear of looking silly. I want to look silly, love and change the world in the process. If it sounds silly and impossible, read this book.

Scary Close by Donald Miller
Donald Miller has such an easy writing style. I read his book a Million Miles in a Thousand Year when I was traveling through Oregon. It was extremely timely. This book was about his journey through learning how to have a marriage relationship. I’m not there yet, but the wisdom is spot on no matter the season.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
I started working at the Alamo Drafthouse in Omaha in May to save some money and have some fun. There was a decent amount of down time on slow nights so I started reading some of my favorite fantasy series. Bonus the audio books for the Harry Potter series is incredible and can be found on YouTube every so often. I listened to a couple of the books and read the others. Such fun reads no matter how old you are, and I didn’t pick these up until after college.

The Chronicles of Narnia Series – Except for Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
To continue my fantasy series, I bought the Chronicles of Narnia and started re-reading them. My dad reads the series to his 5th graders every year, and I don’t think I’ve read them since middle school. I didn’t read the last one, I will in 2017 though. The last one, The Last Battle, I remember making a real, deep impact on me when I was younger, so I’m a bit hesitant to pick it up again. Will it hurt to read again or will it have the same impact? These are also the books that made me want to tell stories.

Traction by Gino Wickman
My boss asked me to read this book and assist with the implementation of this organizational structure. Overall was pretty good even with the few buzzword terminologies I could have done without. The system hasn’t been implemented yet, but it will be helpful with some clear leadership and vision in place. I should probably pick it up again and add it to my business books this year.

The 5 Most Important Questions You’ll Ask About Your Organization – Peter Drucker
I decided to pick this one up after reading Traction. I think it was mentioned in that book as well. I had never read any Drucker before, but his business and organizational principles have seemed to stand as times have changed. It was a quick read and I remember enjoying it. I gave it to Shawn Hartley to read and he gave me one of his to read which I haven’t yet and I haven’t seen my copy yet. I remember it being good. Maybe I’ll get a chance to implement some of the ideas in 2017.

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t – Steven Pressfield
Now this was a fun book to read. Pressfield is well known for War of Art which I started in 2016 and was just about finished, but never quite got there, so it will have to wait until 2017. I love Pressfield’s writing style. It’s short, digestible chunks of information. He started out as a copywriter which is part of my current job and he moved to screenplays and novels which is a direction I’d like to go. It’s no fuss, no mess book. And it didn’t take me long. The book along with the War of Art and The Story Grid were given to me at the Story Conference. I never realized how much I was needing to read books about writing. Now if I just get my act together and write something.

The Bible – 66 Books if we want to get technical. Actually it was 67, because the reading plan has you read through Psalms twice.
This was my third time reading through the entire Bible in my 30 years of existence. I’ve been raised with this book since I was born and as much as I know the stories, I learn something new about God’s character each time. The beginning and middle of 2016 were more difficult than I like to admit. Omaha and current circumstances wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was doubting a lot of what I was taught about God growing up. American Christianity isn’t what the first church knew and experienced, and I was questioning if we were interpreting what God intended correctly. Does He really love like we make it seem? If you read the Old Testament and listen to American Christianity, they don’t really seem to line up. How does he feel about the issues we are facing in America and how divided we are? How can we have so many different perspectives if there’s one God? Shouldn’t there be a right and wrong? He disciplines, but He created and loves us. A lot of our issues would be fixed if we understood that there is a relationship to be had with Him. At the end of 2016, as I finished reading through the Bible, I don’t feel like I had any more clarity, but definitely more peace and that I don’t have to have all of the answers. Both the end of the Old Testament and the New Testament end with prophecy, some of the prophecy points to Jesus’s birth and other points to things that have yet to be, but there’s such a sense of God’s control in all of it. When the world looks crazy, when the world hurts and doesn’t make sense, He’s God and He knows, and I think He grants mercy and gives us what we need. He delays the end of the world for the love of wanting more of us to come to know Him. These issues that receive so much attention in the news, are surface level issues. The bigger issues, the mortal truths are things we can’t see or going on beneath the surface. A tug of our hearts to the eternal. We numb that quiet tug with more entertainment, more distractions, picking fights, magnifying our flaws, noise in general. This is the reason I love story. Sometimes our stories see that truth and put it in a way we can understand.

There may have been one or two more in this list, but I can’t remember what they are right now.