A few years ago now I was first asked to recommend a list of books that I thought were the 10 best books I’d ever read covering all aspects of fruitful Christian living. This is the third time I have updated the list. New stuff added to the list is highlighted in bold.
Can I include a little Caveat however? Beware putting all your trust in a book. It’s Jesus that really changes us, not books.
- Henri Nouwen: The Return of the Prodigal Son. (Devotional) Still amazing, still the most heart moving exploration of what it means to be loved by God (isn’t that what we need to know the most?) ever written. The book that changed my life (other than the bible of course) and no other book has had me in a burbling, tearful mess like this one did. Can’t beat a classic.
- Eugene H. Peterson: ‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire’. (Christian living/biblical survey) The last book by Eugene Peterson before he passed away is essentially a sample of 49 sermons after an introduction pertaining to his early ministry life. The greatest shame about this book is that it’s not 490 sermons. Perhaps the greatest pastoral, biblical exploration of the Christian life ever written, it might be the best book I’ve ever read and convinces me that Peterson will go down as one of the all-time greats. The only reason why it’s not #1 is because Nouwen made me cry more.
- Tim Keller: The Reason for God. (Apologetics) Still is the ‘Mere Christianity’ of the 21st century. Enough said. Got someone asking you a prickly faith question? Give em’ this. Also written in language that a junior high school student would be able to understand.
- Rick Warren: 40 Days in the Word. (Spiritual disciplines) Ok, fine it’s not technically a book but a bible study series. Still, this replaced ‘Purpose Driven Life’ on this list (only just) because it’s about darn time we a) got back to the ancient practice of biblical meditation and b) someone put it in a way that anyone can understand. (Let’s be honest, you’re not going to go and read something on this topic from 500+ years ago.) Ignore the Rick Warren naysayers, follow the steps and unleash the power of God’s Word in your life. But it may be bumped out of this spot by Willard’s Divine Conspiracy when I’m done reading it.
- Tim Keller: Kings Cross. (Devotional) Unbelievably hard to put two books on from the same author on a list of only 10, but the only reason why it’s still here is that it’s just too good to leave off. Based on the greatest sermon series that I think Keller ever preached. Do yourself a favor, and get a copy yesterday.
- C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters. (Spiritual warfare) There’s a lot of bull written on Spiritual warfare/awareness but I believe that through this hilarious, terrifying and readable allegory, Lewis teaches you just about everything you need to know about Spiritual warfare and the way the ‘god of this age’ works. I’m a relative latecomer to it, but even I had to admit, it’s a known as a classic for a good reason.
- Steve Chalke: Change agents; 25 Hard learned lessons of leadership. (Leadership) It’s still here because nothing has come close to explaining so much of the realities of leadership and how to lead change in such an easily digestible and just plain short amount of writing. 90-something pages of absolute practical gold to the point where I wonder if Chalke and Simon Sinek know each other. Become an effective communicator of ideas overnight!
- E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. Obrien: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. (Biblical Theology) It’s not that it’s a brilliantly written book, (not that it’s bad either) it’s just that it’s so…how can I say….necessary right now. Makes you realize why something in you cringes when particularly us white, middle class, western Christians say things like, “well I’m not interested in interpretations, I just do what the bible says.”
- N. T. Wright. The Resurrection of the Son of God (Apologetics) Wow…..wow. Every page packed with one exhaustively thought out reason after another as to why the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are indeed true and accurate. (And let’s be honest, is there a more important thing to be sure of?) Makes the naysayers look more foolish with every passing sentence…..so far. A once in a generation work of staggering depth and research heavy going but pretty much all you’ll ever need to read on this most important of topics.
- Skye Jethani: With (Christian living/ Devotional.) The ‘counterbalance’ to someone like Chalke, almost no one ‘tells it like it is’ when it comes to the difference between being so caught up in being effective for God and actually knowing God. Super approachable too, a great one for someone starting out on the Christian journey preventing a series of pitfalls before they happen.
2 thoughts on “The all-time top ten. (updated a third time)”
Top of my list is Dr Tom (NT) Wright’s ‘Surprised by hope’, really telling the story of heaven and ‘the already and not yet’ kingdom of God. Not often told in the church. A close second is Gary Friessen’s ‘Personal decision-making and the will of God’, a watershed publication in 1983 and cutting all the fuzz from decision making for Christians.
Yep, that’s a beauty 👍