I love to read, and usually alternate between business books and what I call “Nancy” books. Nancy books are fun—authors like Baldacci and Grisham—but rarely enlightening. About 3 months into 2015, I realized a theme was emerging in the books I chose. The vast majority of the books gave me a glimpse into a world I knew almost nothing about. They challenged my perspective and increased my understanding of others. So, here are my favorite reads of 2015. I hope you find they challenge your perspective and deepen your respect for others.
Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny, by Zainab Salbi
Zainab Salbi is the daughter of the man chosen to be Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot. Her story of growing up under Saddam’s tyranny and her attempt to escape that tyranny in America—only to find another form here—is heart wrenching and eye opening. Her courage in speaking out through this book is deeply moving and inspiring.
Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking, by Aaron Cohen and Christine Buckley
Aaron Cohen goes to some of the darkest places on our planet to expose traffickers and to free men and women who have been sold into sex slavery. How he went from rock star to slave hunter is an enthralling and painful story of perseverance and commitment.
Crossing the Tracks for Love: What to Do When You and Your Partner Grew Up in Different Worlds, by Ruby K. Payne
This is one of the most practical books that I read. Payne’s insights into the mindsets of economic class differences in the United States (poverty, middle class, wealthy) were fascinating—and ones I was able to apply. While written for someone who is contemplating marrying into another class, the principles and perspectives are applicable for teachers, coaches, business people, and others whose daily interactions cross economic classes.
The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith H. Beer and Susan Dworkin
Edith Beer’s peaceful early years were smashed to pieces when she was shipped to a slave labor camp as the Nazi’s rolled into her beloved Austria. From a hated Jewess, this story of her engagement and marriage to a Nazi officer in Munich is one of paralyzing fear, submission, and determination. You will be both repelled by the evil she was subjected to and drawn to this strong woman of courage.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, by Nabeel Quereshi
This beautifully written book is a powerful glimpse into a devout, loving Muslim home and the foundations of the Muslim faith. Quereshi grew up challenging the faith of Christians and finding no one who could answer his challenges. When he joined the debate team at Georgetown University, he met a fellow debate team student who could answer his challenges and engage in lively, deep theological discussions. This book will challenge your perspectives of both Islam and Christianity.
The Devil in Pew Number Seven, by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, with Bob DeMoss
This is an amazing story of hatred, terror, love, and forgiveness. Rebecca Nichols’ father accepted a position as pastor of a small church in North Carolina, only to encounter a man who wanted complete control of the church. When the man couldn’t get the power and control he desired, he terrorized the Nichols family in unimaginable ways. Despite the violence and hatred they endured, as well as the fear and dread they were constantly under, her parents chose to stay and love the community. And, although Rebecca’s life was shattered by the devil in Pew No. 7, her story of healing, forgiveness, and courage will bring tears to your eyes.