My Top 5 Books of 2017 (Scott McElvain)

As the year comes to a close, we as a staff have decided to detail our favorite reads of 2017. My list is scattered through with different genres, but a small bit of encouragement to me as I review all that I have read. These lists always help me stuff my reading list, and I hope my top 5 will do the same.


5: Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth

71thePUifrLDuckworth follows her famous TED talk up on Grit with her expanded book on the importance and power of this character quality. The talk gives a good basis for the overview of the book, but the book still has enough in it for a worthwhile read. Duckworth is persuasive in her explanation and research to back her claim that those with Grit have a higher pedigree for success.



4: Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

81FN3cTc-TLThe surprise read of the year for me is Up from Slavery. This book was handed to me by a colleague and told “read it, you won’t regret it”. I did not regret it a bit as Booker T. Washington recounts the incredible account of his life through this work. My knowledge of Washington was limited at best before the read, but after reading he has become a hero of mine. This book is especially powerful given the tension our country finds itself in and one that I will continue to recommend the same way it was recommended to me.



3: Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

31tqtDGfRJL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_This book has much to do with why I am currently writing this post. Wilson’s clever tips for good writing is the first book on writing I have ever read in which I laughed and thoroughly enjoyed. A good read for any seasoned writer, it provides practical advice through unconventional techniques. Wilson embodies that which he encourages in his own writing and gives the novice writer encouragement to begin the journey of becoming a Wordsmith.



2: Spiritual Leadership  (Principles of Excellence for Every Believer) by J. Oswald Sanders

41pISQrP2vL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_This book has been the book of choice to walk through methodically with a mentor of mine this year. Oswald lays out systematically the principles of Godly leadership. Chalked full of scriptural citing, Oswald does not shy away from the sacrifice and commitment that must be made in order to lead well. These principles are far-reaching and has been a keen choice of my mentor in the stage of life I am currently in. It will be a book revisited many times and one I would recommend to a young man in a new leadership role.



1: Axiom (Powerful Leadership Proverbs) by Bill Hybels

41FbFPFN8cLThis quick read is a list of leadership principles that Bill Hybels has collected and created through his years at Willow Creek Community Church. All 76 axioms are short and to the point with powerful illustration and easy application. I have earmarked half the book and have begun to think deeply through how these principles can be applied to my school. This book has a certain classical call out approach to remembering deep truths of leadership. Hybels has provided my favorite read of the year and I highly recommend this pleasurable read to anyone in leadership.


Honorable mentions

  • Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
  • A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
  • Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, And Do by Paul David Tripp
  • Be the Leader You Were Meant To Be: Lessons on Leadership From the Bible by Leroy Eims

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