I received this email from one of my blog readers a few weeks ago asking about my thoughts about the “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.”
Do you take requests for posts on your blog? If so…. I know that from time to time you do top 5 stuff, like favorite movies or songs or artists, etc. This isn’t anything novel, but I’d be grateful for a “Top 5 most challenging/convicting/mind-bending/face-melting books of all time.” I guess I’m someone who learns a lot from books and I was just thinking about how I have roughly 5 books that I have read within the last few years that have truly changed the way I perceive myself and the world around me. It would be great to hear what others are reading -not their most favorite or enjoyable books (although this might be the case)- but books that have significantly reoriented the way they live. Maybe, you’ve done something like this before and I just missed it, but if not, something like this would be fun to be a part of.
Asides from the Bible, what would you be on your Top 5 List?
I can’t list 5…I don’t even know know where to begin so I’m just sharing my list of most influential Christians books again. There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10. My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.
I hope 50 years from now, this list will change so that it also includes numerous female and non-Caucasian authors.
Let me also say that nothing is more important than reading, studying, and loving the Scriptures. The Bible is important – especially in a cultural context where so many are prone to sound bytes, podcasts, RSS feeds, and video stimulation. Read your Bible. Having said that, I would recommend these versions: TNIV, NIV, and ESV. In addition to these versions, I would also highly recommend reading The Message by Eugene Peterson to accompany the reading of your Bible. Also, a solid Bible dictionary and a set of Bible commentaries [even a single or 2 volume set] are very important for any and every Christian.
Okay, here’s my List of the 10 33 Essential Books I’d Recommend every Christian to Read [in no particular order]:
- Testament of Hope – Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton
- Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster
- Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger – Ron Sider
- Wounded Healer or Return of the Prodigal Son – Henri Nouwen
- Dogmatics – Karl Barth [yes, all 13 volumes if possible]
- The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society – Leslie Newbiggen
- The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- The Politics of Jesus – John Howard Yoder
Okay. Because I can’t stop at just 10, here’s my Next 10 that I think are also essential reads for all Christians.
- Knowing God – J.I. Packer
- Theology of Hope – Jurgen Moltmann
- Old Testament Theology – Gerhard von Rad
- The Moral Vision of the New Testament – Richard B. Hays
- A Theology of Liberation – Gustavo Gutierrez
- Irresistable Revolution – Shane Claiborne
- Transforming Missions – David Bosch
- The Jesus I Never Knew or What’s so Amazing About Grace – Phillip Yancey
- Christ and Culture – H. Richard Niebuhr
- Moral Man & Immoral Society – Reinhold Neibuhr
- The Hiding Place [Corrie ten Boom]
- Confession [Augustine]
- Summa Theologica [Aquinas]
- The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind [Mark Noll]
- Let Justice Roll Down [John Perkins]
- The Prophetic Imagination [Walter Brueggemann]
- any one of Francis Shaeffer’s trilogy
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy [Tolkien]
- Surprised by Hope [N.T. Wright]
- Silence [Shusaku Endo]
- Traveling Mercies [Anne Lamott]
- The Brothers Karamazov [Dostoyevsky]
- Life Together [Bonhoeffer]