Try it to create a list of the books that have shaped you the most over the years; I suspect you won’t find it easy. You are welcome to debate the worthiness of any of the books on this list, or regret the books not found here.
The Deciding Factors for a book to be on the list:
- If this book represented a turning point or a course correction in my spiritual journey.
- If I re-read the book.
- If the writing was evocative and just plain beautiful.
- If I found myself regularly alluding to it in conversations or writing.
How this list is Arranged:
There are nine categories arranged alphabetically; each book therein is listed alphabetically by title. The titles with hyperlinks represent the fact that I have either reviewed the book directly or quoted the book in my blog articles.
Anthology (Top 5)
Between Heaven and Earth, ed. Ken Gire
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, ed. Orbis Books
Devotional Classics, ed. Richard Foster
Objects of Grace, ed. James Romaine
The Christian Imagination, ed. Leland Ryken
Autobiographical (Top 7)
Confessions, St. Augustine
God in the Dark, Luci Shaw
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
Sacred Journey, Frederick Buechner
Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey
Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Fiction (Top 10)
In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje
Leaving Home, Garrison Keillor
Mobey Dick, Herman Melville
Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
Silence, Shusaku Endo
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (pay attention to translation).
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
The Friends of Meager Fortune, David Adam Richards
The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
Marriage Enrichment (Top 4)
Caring Enough to Confront, David Augsburger
Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson
Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas
The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy & Kathy Keller
Non-Fiction (top 4)
Death on the Ice, Cassie Brown
Endurance, Alfred Lansing
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
Something Beautiful for God, Malcolm Muggeridge
Prayer (Top 6)
A Life of Prayer, Teresa of Avila, abridged/edited James M. Houston
Jesus Man of Prayer, Margaret Magdalen
Listening to the God who Speaks, Klaus Bockmuehl
Prayers of Life, Michel Quoist
The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
The Transforming Friendship, James. M. Houston
Psalms (Top 5)
Answering God, Eugene Peterson
Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis
Spirituality of the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann
The Psalms as Christian Worship, Bruce Waltke & James Houston
the Spiritual Life (Top 10)
Fenelon’s Spiritual Letters, Francois Fenelon
In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen
Joyful Exiles, James M. Houston
Learning to Grow Old, Paul Tournier
The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning
The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen
The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel
Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton
Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire
Theology (Top 8)
Being as Communion, John Zizioulas
Desiring God, John Piper
Experiencing the Trinity, Darrell W. Johnson
Knowing God, J.I. Packer
Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
The Forgotten Father, Thomas A. Smail
Theology of the Ordinary, Julie Canlis
In case you’re counting, this brings the list to 59.
The 60th Book
The last book is the first book – it is the book of books. I don’t care if it sounds cliche, but no top book list would be complete or competent without identifying the Holy Bible.
The Holy Bible is:
- the book that fits into and informs every category above
- the first book I ever [willingly] read, and it is the book I continue to read regularly
- the worldwide best seller
- translated into more languages than any other
- scrutinized and analyzed as no other book has been
- the word of God through the prophets of God for people who would seek God.
If you haven’t read the original source, do yourself a favour and read it for yourself.