Over the last few weeks, Jon and Joe have been discussing books and reading in The Pastor Discussions Podcast, and particularly influential books in the last one. All that talk made me want to do a top 10 list of books most influential to my life.
10. Do More Better by Tim Challies
Because of this book, I went from being completely disorganized to semi-disorganized. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, but if you knew me before this book, you’d probably understand. This was a short book that actually was very practical in getting organized. Since reading this book, I have followed his method of organization and my life has been much easier to maneuver. I need to reread this and take it to the next level though.
9. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
I have read many a leadership book, but Sanders’ book takes the cake. It was written for pastors and church leaders, not for business men and CEOs. This too will be a book to be reread.
8. Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls
A friend of mine introduced me to Scott Sauls (not personally, but Twitter-ally). It wasn’t long before this book was published and I immediately got me a copy. This is one of the few books that I have devoured. Sauls was articulating so much of what I had been seeing in my own study of Scripture and of Jesus in particular along with the culture around us.
7. Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I wish someone had given me a copy of this book when I was 13 years old. This book should be standard reading for every Christian teen. Get a copy of it, and hold on to it to give every boy on his 13th birthday. And then make them read it. Yes, it’s that important.
6. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
I read The Pursuit after reading The Hole in Our Holiness. Hands down, The Pursuit is better. This small, thin book explains holiness unlike other books, and why and how we ought to attain it. If you desire holiness, read a copy of this book.
5. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
Need I say more? This is the magnum opus of John Calvin, and perhaps of any writer (imho) in the history of writing outside the Bible. This book was originally written as a thin manifesto to the King of France in hopes of his understanding what the Protestants believed. Many years and many editions later, this book spoke to nearly every issue from a Reformed perspective. I don’t agree with everything in this book, but most things I would. The link above has this book on sale for kindle edition: $.99.
4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Yes, I put this above Institutes. This book is so interesting. I heard about it on the Art of Manliness podcast, and thought it would be a neat book to read. It was beyond neat. It was interesting, spell-binding, and informative. Duhigg knows how to keep a person’s attention. he deals with exactly what is in the title. He shows how habits work, how to break a habit, and how to build a habit. It’s not what you think. Duhigg interweaves real-life stories throughout the book, so that you have to know what happens next. he then explains why the things that happened in those stories happened. Definitely a book to read again and again.
3. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
I remember getting this book and (here it is again) devouring it. I went to a Desiring God pastor’s conference in 2004, received the book, and on the trip home read the entire thing. That’s quite a feat for me as I read slowly, and I get carsick if I read on road trips. This book changed my perspective on life and on missions. It made me a Piper-ite. I have read many, many of his books, but he writes too many for me to keep up.
2. The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
Long story short: Somehow, I don’t know how, I got my hands on this book. It just looked interesting, so I read it. Every night I read another chapter. It resonated with my spirit, until I got to the last chapter (third to last in the expanded edition). The last chapter I wrestled with, but I kept saying to myself, “If the rest of this book is true, how can I deny that this is true?” It started me on a journey that forever changed my theology and my life. Because of this book I became…a Calvinist (or as I like to call it: a biblicist).
1. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
This is a children’s book. You can read why this is my number 1 book on my post “Why I Read.” This book, being given by my AP Lit teacher for my high school graduation, made me fall in love with reading.
How about you? What are your most influential books? At the moment I am reading Holiness by Ryle and Christ-Centered Preaching by Chappell. They may make this list in the future, knocking some of the others off the list. I am also listening to The Three Musketeers which will not remove any from the list and reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. We’ll see how this goes.
Let me know your thoughts!