C.H. Spurgeon once said of reading good books,
Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them, masticate and digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be “much not many.”
Below is a list of my twenty favorite books of all time. God used all of them to make me more like His Son. I would recommend them all in a heartbeat. I don’t include the Bible because it belongs in a completely different category altogether. The psalmist said of God’s words, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” As I’ve read that book almost daily now for a decade, I can attest to the satisfying nature of that divine book. Here are twenty other books God has used alongside the Bible.
1) When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper- How do you hold fast to the Lord when you don’t feel it? This book gives practical insight on such matters.
2) Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer- Jesus saved us into a community. We need each other.
3) Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright- This book was an atomic bomb in my small eschatological views of my teenage years. Because Jesus has been raised, what you do for the Lord is not in vain.
4) The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis- This book made me long for heaven more. It is Lewis at his best.
5) Night by Elie Wiesel- This book shattered any inkling I had that people were generally good.
6) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem- Hours were spent learning more about the Lord through this text. It was sweet.
7) Prayer by Richard Foster- This is likely the best book on prayer I know.
8) Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin- The man, the legend, and theologian par excellence.
9) Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorf – This book is an open wound. It is an invitation into the pain and grief caused by death of a close loved one. You can’t read it without weeping.
11) Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper- Missions exist because worship doesn’t. God is on a glorious endeavor to exalt that which is most precious in the universe—His name and worth.
12) Prodigal God by Tim Keller- I am the younger son but God is God.
13) Stories in the Dark by Frederick Buechner- Lucid, thoughtful, and authentic sermons on life lived before God’s face.
14) Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire- He helped me to see the Lord’s hand in the mundane. I am forever thankful.
15) If God is Good by Randy Alcorn- This is likely the best pastoral book on evil and suffering I’ve ever read. If you’re like me and wonder why, read this book.
16) Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer- One of the last great Puritan-like writers tackled a heavy issue and did it justice. Packer is a gem to the Church.
17) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky- This is considered a classic for a reason.
18) Christian Apologetics by Douglas Groothuis- This book awakened by desire to rationally and truthfully articulate and defend my faith with a dying world. I couldn’t recommend it more for those interested in apologetics.
19) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien- C.S. Lewis said of the work, “Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart.” He was correct.
20) The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer- This was my first taste of theology proper. It tasted so good I’ve never stopped.