The good people over at Renovare have recently released a book entitled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. I thought it would be interesting to compare their list of classic books for the Christian life with the most recent Christian book stores best sellers lists.
You don’t have to look too hard into culture to see that the most popular pieces of art, music, or writing are not always the most lasting. Still, what is it about the top list that feels more substantial and filled with nourishment while the bottom list feels safe and sterile and superficial. And that is just from reading the titles.
I have read several of the books and authors on the bottom list and have been helped by their insight and inspiration but I have also read several of the books and authors on the top list and have not only been inspired but also challenged in my intellect and my heart. The top list is like a wrestling match that no matter the outcome you will come away a better wrestler. No matter how you finish the books on the top list, you will be changed. I have read some of them and didn’t understand what I was reading and I have read some of them and never finished but my mind goes back and wrestles with some of the ideas every time the book gets mentioned. In the bottom list, I got the main idea in the first chapter and find no real need to wrestle with the rest.
What are your thoughts?
Here is Renovare’s list:
1. On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius
2. Confessions by St. Augustine
3. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
4. The Rule of St. Benedict by St. Benedict
5. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
6. The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous
7. Revelations of Divine Love (Showings) by Julian of Norwich
8. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
9. The Philokalia
10. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
11. The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
12. Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
13. Pensées by Blaise Pascal
14. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
15. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
16. A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law
17. The Way of a Pilgrim by Unknown Author
18. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
19. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
20. The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
21. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
22. A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly
23. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
24. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
25. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Here is the Best Seller’s List from the Association For Christian Retail
1 (4) Radical David Platt, Multnomah (WaterBrook), p, 9781601422217 2 (5) Crazy Love Francis Chan & Danae Yankoski, David C Cook, p, 9781434768513 3 (6) erasing Hell Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle, David C Cook, p, 9780781407250 4 (9) Radical Together David Platt, Multnomah (WaterBrook), p, 9781601423726 5 (10) Not a Fan Kyle Idleman, Zondervan, p, 9780310331933 6 (12) The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman, Moody, p, 9780802473158 7 (14) Made to Crave Lysa TerKeurst, Zondervan, p, 9780310293262 8 (19) Forgotten God Francis Chan & Danae Yankoski, David C Cook, p, 9781434767950 9 (23) So Long, Insecurity Beth Moore, Tyndale, c, 9781414334721 10 (24) One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp, Zondervan, c, 9780310321910 11 (26) The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional Stormie Omartian, Harvest House, p, 9780736926928 12 (28) The Resolution for Men Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick, B&H Publishing Group, p, 9781433671227 13 (30) Love and Respect emerson eggerichs, Thomas Nelson, c, 9781591451877 14 (31) 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son Vicki Courtney, B&H Publishing Group, p, 9780805449860 15 (32) The Resolution for Women Priscilla Shirer, B&H Publishing Group, p, 9781433674013 16 (36) Weird Craig Groeschel, Zondervan, c, 9780310327905 17 (41) Facing Your Giants Max Lucado, Thomas Nelson, p, 9780849921025 18 (45) The Power of a Praying Wife Stormie Omartian, Harvest House, p, 9780736919241 19 (49) Boundaries Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Zondervan, p, 9780310247456 20 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter Vicki Courtney, B&H Publishing Group, p, 9780805446661 21 Heaven Randy Alcorn, Tyndale, c, 9780842379427 22 Life Interrupted Priscilla Shirer, B&H Publishing Group, p, 9781433670459 23 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace Gary Chapman & Paul White, Moody, c, 9780802461988 24 The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren, Zondervan, p, 9780310276999 25 Prayers That Activate Blessings John eckhardt, Charisma (Strang), p, 9781616383701