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Here is my list of the Top 60 Books that have influenced me as I turn 60 in a few days. It took me years to read them, and months to whittle down the list to a top 60.

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

Between Cross and Resurrection, Alan E. Lewis

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.

This is more enigma than dogma