Someone really famous, important, and/or smart person once said, “readers are leaders” or maybe it was, “leaders are readers.” I don’t know, but I hope you are a reader and a leader.

Here are some of the best books I read in 2011, in random order. (And here’s the 2010 list and a bunch of other random and interesting top 10 lists—you never know what will show up on one of my top 10 lists. Back to the books. . .)

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Amazing true story of a WWII hero. Warning: once you start reading, it’s impossible to stop.

2. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi. True story of Morrocan Muslim brutality. The result of reading this book: I’m praying that the Lord of the Harvest would send workers to Northern Africa. Who will go?

3. Living a Life of Fire by Reinhard Bonnke. Just when you think you have accomplished something with your life, you pick up a Bonnke book.

4. Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell. Recommended for all church planters, pastors, missionaries, and anyone who leads people and/or organizations.

5. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo. One of the best how-to communication books ever. Confession: I have never seen a Steve Jobs presentation. But I still think every preacher, teacher, presenter, and small group leader should read this one. Here’s a review of the book, using the presentation secrets of Steve J.

6. Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching that Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism by Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips. A gift from my friend, Melvin Malone. This tragic story reads like a Grisham legal thriller. Summary: In 1906, an innocent Black man was found guilty of raping a White teen and sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two unknown Black lawyers took the case all the way to the Supreme Court and won a surprise stay of execution. Local rednecks responded by lynching the innocent man. The result forever changed the way the Supreme Court views the authority of state courts.

7. The Confession by John Grisham. Speaking of Grisham legal thrillers, gotta love it when a law-breaking pastor is the hero.

8. Where Has Oprah Taken Us: The Religious Influence of the World’s Most Famous Woman by Stephen Mansfield. I have never watched an episode of Oprah, but I am glad I read this book. It is not so much about “Pastor Oprah” as it is about modern religion. Every pastor who preaches in the West should read this insightfully scary book by my friend.

9. Decision Points by George W Bush. No matter what you think about Bush, Republicans, or American foreign policy, this is a great leadership book. Not the typical presidential memoir, this is a book about leadership decisions. Bush tells us the why behind decisions including why he stopped drinking, why he ran for governor of Texas, why the surge, why he hired and fired certain people, and other difficult decisions both personal and political. He also freely admits many mistakes, which in presidential memoirs, is rarer than a Sasquatch sighting. If you are a decision-maker, you should read this one.

10. Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippine’s Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball By Rafe Bartholomew. Written by a young American basketball fanatic while on a Fullbright scholarship in the Philippines. I don’t know the author, but I do know several people who show up on the pages of his book. Fun book for all who love the Philippines and the PBA.

2011 Snubs: Other good books that did not make my list include works by Tim Keller, RT Kendall, Philip Yancy, Vince Flynn, Gavin Menzies (interesting views on history), and lesser-known writers. And, I read and snubbed that book about love by a former pastor (glad I read it, but not glad he wrote it).

Next year’s list will include the Eric Metaxas Bonhoeffer bookwhich I started last week but will not finish until 2012, and Joey Bonifacio‘s “Lego Principle,” which I read in 2011 but will not be published until fall of 2012.

What good books did you read in 2011?

Almost forgot, one more book you should buy—would be good to read it too—but you definitely should BUY 1 or 2 or 10 copies of THIS BOOK.