I’ll never forget a lesson I learned when I first arrived at college. I found myself fortunate with ample free time and decided to take a relaxing stroll through the university library (purely for leisure, not academics). As I passed through the aisles of books I would glance up and down, left and right skimming the many slender book spines and, of course, some not so slender ones. Works with fascinating titles such as American Evangelicals and the Mass Media and Theology and Modern Literature caught my attention near instantly. With bubbling excitement this bright-eyed freshman eagerly looked for the next, next, and next book with an enthralling title. However, this joy and excitement did not last very long.
You see, I quickly came to the realization that one could not possibly read through all of these incredible books in a lifetime. And from that moment this realization gave way to a newfound burden of having to use wisdom and discretion when deciding which books would be worth my time. (And considering the rate at which I read, I’d need even more discretion still!) I’ve since come to terms with the fact that only a fraction of the so-called “great books” can be read in a lifetime. That’s why rather than list all of my favorite books, I’ve compiled a list of only a handful that I think would benefit most ordinary people (but, of course, anyone who reads these won’t stay ordinary for long). I have not a doubt that you’ll benefit immensely from reading even one of these books that have so richly blessed my own life. Enjoy!
Humility: The Beauty of Holiness by Andrew Murray
Perhaps no book has so powerfully changed my Christian walk as this one has. Ironically, it is the shortest book on the list and certainly one of the shortest I’ve ever read. In Humility, Andrew Murray explains that all of the virtues of faith (i.e., patience, love, gentleness, etc.) are each linked to the element of humility. “Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone assumes the right attitude before God snd allows Him as God to do all.”
Divine Healing by Andrew Murray
Another fantastic work of Murray’s, Divine Healing delves into the biblical truths surrounding the Christian doctrine of healing. He explains why there is often so much confusion in regards to God’s will for healing in a believer’s life and why it’s so fundamental to living with the Lord. Earlier in my life I believed that healing was only for certain people and at certain times, but through reading this book I began to gain the understanding that God’s will for every one of His children is a life of health and wholeness.
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
This collection of essays by Lewis offers incredible insight into different topics such as the believer’s role in academics during difficult times, dealing with the insecurities of peer pressure, and a whole lot more. As always, Lewis doesn’t fail to offer a powerful and challenging perspective on the Christian life. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted.” Very impactful!
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This book has commonly been dubbed a “Christian Classic” and easily qualifies as one of my personal favorites. One of the best things about Lewis’s writings is that he always found it appropriate to comment on any topic. In essence, his faith reached into every area of his life; nothing was off limits. If he experienced it, his faith had an opinion on it. Mere Christianity is simply that – an explanation on some of the big topics of life from the Christian perspective.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
A thought-provoking fictional work by C.S. Lewis that depicts the interactions of several individuals with the afterlife. Lewis clearly explains in the beginning of the book that it should not be taken as literal doctrine but rather serve as an illustration to get folks thinking about heaven and hell more seriously. With that in mind, this book can be very influential to anyone who ponders the perplexities of heaven and hell and what those places will be like.
Life in the Spirit by A.W. Tozer
This book clarifies some of the misunderstandings about the Holy Spirit and reveals the life that God intended for us to live with Him. It is mostly an assortment of numerous sermons given by Tozer dealing with this topic. It is authoritative, educational, enlightening, and encouraging. Anyone would be wise to consider reading this truly great book.
Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
This book is a monumental piece for men, both young and old, desiring to gain a biblical understanding of masculinity as God intended. This book will awaken something within you that modern culture has long attempted to stifle. Every man deep in his heart longs for a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live. This book is fantastic even for women who desire to better understand how God designed the heart of men. Also, check out Captivating, which was written with the female perspective of God’s idea and design for the beauty of true femininity.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This book has been a classic for many decades, so don’t be fooled by its cheesy title! In this book, Carnegie explains numerous tips and tricks that help individuals better communicate and get what they want. But it’s certainly not Jedi mind trick kind of stuff – just simple principles that take some practice. In the end, it all comes down to understanding how humans act and how you can use that information to understand them and help them to help you.
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
This monumental work can help anyone trying to grow as a leader. Often times we come across people who teach that leadership is something you are either born with or not. But this is only partially true. While some people are naturally more advanced leaders than others, virtually everyone can grow and become a better leader by practice and determination.
Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Don’t let the fact that this is a marriage book scare you away. Now I’ve not read many books on marriage, but if they’re anything like this one I’ll likely read many more in my time. This book simply displays that the core need for a man in a relationship is respect while the core need for a woman is love. After learning the lessons of this book, I’ve seen positive affects in relationships with my close friends and even extended family. It’s so much more than a mere book on marriage.
The Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Sometimes it becomes easy to think that the Christian life is nothing but church on Sundays and some quick times of prayer throughout the week. Foster reminds us that life with God involves many distinct disciplines in which we practice and grow. In addition to prayer there is meditation, worship, solitude, confession, and plenty of others. Anyone seeking to enrich his or her life would greatly benefit from applying the biblical principles of this book.
The Meal that Heals by Perry Stone
The idea of communion is grossly misunderstood in the modern church. For the first century saints communion was not a monthly or even a weekly practice. It was a daily experience that was able to teach and transform their lives in a substantial way. Stone explains the forgotten historical aspects of communion and how they can be a blessing today.
Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd
In our fast-paced lives that seem to be getting increasingly faster, Addicted to Busy presents a better alternative to life, one which involves unplugging from the endless need to drive ourselves to do more. By living with this relaxed approach you can experience a fulfilling and more enjoyable daily life by being connected with those around you.
Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
One of the most inspiring lives I’ve come across was the life of William Wilberforce. In this biography you get to witness the struggles of a man seeking to balance his faith with his political career. Ultimately, Wilberforce realizes that his faith should not lead him to withdraw from politics but rather engage in it with more meaning. He sought to end slavery, end animal cruelty, and bear the burden of a plethora of other noble causes. But he couldn’t do it alone. His success was credit to the efforts of many passionate individuals working together. One almost wouldn’t believe such an inspirational story to be true!
If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas
In this book Metaxas reminds us that the government that the founding fathers gave to us is not sustainable save for the presence of dutiful patriots working on a daily basis to sustain it. It is the job of every person to cultivate virtue by being self-governing in a personal, individual sense (that is, people must govern their own actions) before the nation at large can be self-governing. Definitely an inspiring and important read for Americans in our era of history.
The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward
I’m a sucker for a good missionary biography, but when I find a good missionary autobiography I’m an even bigger sucker! This book tells the story of Gladys Aylward – a missionary to China in the mid twentieth century. I recall crying after I first read this book simply due to the gratitude I felt for being able to peer into the beautiful life of such a wonderful saint. This woman’s life story will no doubt bless your life as well.
Seven Pentecostal Pioneers by Colin C. Whittaker
My pastor loaned me this book when I was in high school and it did nothing short of change my life. It helped me to realize that the Christian life is more than what it presents to many – dry religion. God is living and powerful and when one walks with Him one should expect nothing less than experiencing that same life and power. While you may have different denominational leanings, this book may still be impactful and encouraging to deepen your faith and understanding of God.
The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
A masterful use of fantasy to convey very deep and profound truths! I truly cannot say enough about each of the books within The Chronicles of Narnia (but if you had to know my favorite, it would be The Horse and His Boy). These books offer profound insights and show us that life might just be a little bit more magical than at first glance. But if you’re quick to cast them off as only children’s literature, I’d submit before you the words of Lewis himself: “some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien
If you enjoy tales of adventure and other worlds, these classic books will surely get you going. It truly doesn’t prove difficult to step into a fictional realm and interact with creatures unlike yourself when reading The Lord of the Rings. The detail that Tolkien uses in these books is utterly astounding. Unfortunately, I have yet to read the other books from his pen but have no doubt they are just as fantastic. Experiencing the adventures of these tales is truly nothing short of inspiring.