Below is a list of books that have been important to Tom's (Pastor) Christian journey. They've spoken to his heart, his head, and his imagination. They are organized by the easiest on the top with the deeper reads toward the bottom.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - Lewis is perhaps one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. This series of six books tells the story of Narnia, a fictional land of talking animals and the British children who stumble across it. Along the way of their many adventures, they meet Aslan, the lion king who is the son of the emperor beyond the sea. All of Lewis' books are great, and these, being children's books, are probably the most accessible. The Silver Chair, the fourth in this series, is what brought me back to Christian faith after a particularly difficult intellectual struggle during college. Want to learn more about C.S. Lewis? Visit the Northern Michigan C.S. Lewis Festival.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - L'Engle is one of the great Christian juvenile (and adult) fiction writers of our day. This is a classic sci-fi story about space/time travel written for juvenile readers but is well worth the read as an adult. If you like this one, also try the other two in the trilogy: A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wind in the Door. Want a more adult book? Consider Two-Part Invention, the story of her marriage to actor, Hugh Franklin.
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs - Jacobs is a Jewish journalist who takes it upon himself to live all the commands of the Bible as literally as possible for a year. His book is insightful, humorous, and accessible to Christian and non-Christian alike while being both respectful and irreverent at the same time!
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom - This autobiography tells the story of the Dutch ten Boom family who risked their lives to hide Jews in their house during WWII and their struggle with forgiveness when Corrie and her sister, Betsy, are sent to a concentration camp.
The Best of Enemies by Osha Gray Davidson - What happens when the exalted Cyclops of the KKK and a local African-American woman end up on a school integration committee in the 1960s in Durham, NC? This gripping book tells the story of their unexpected friendship.
The Daily Grind by Sarah Arthur - So it's a little cheeky for me to recommend a book my wife wrote, but so be it. This 365-day devotional will give you daily inspiration like your daily cup of coffee helps you get going in the morning.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster - A modern classic that describes the Christian life as nurtured by many long-forgotten practices. I am indebted to this book for reviving my spiritual life and showing me how to spend time with God. Also check out Foster's spiritual formation ministry: Renovare.
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald Sider - This book will probably rock your world. Sider is a Christian sociologist and this is his attempt to wake up Western Christianity's conscience about their great wealth in light of the world's great basic needs.
Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend - A helpful exploration of how we too often try to control other's actions rather than our own boundaries. If you like this book, try also Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries in Dating, Boundaries with Teens, and more. There's a boundary for just about everyone.
The Bible Jesus Read by Phillip Yancey - Yancey provides a great introduction to the Old Testament, the Bible Jesus read. If you find yourself gravitating toward the New Testament and away from the Old, Yancey will help show you how Jesus found inspiration, insight, and guidance from the Old Testament, the only Bible Jesus would have read.
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor who was executed by Hitler a couple of days before the end of WWII for leading a failed assassination attempt. All of Bonhoeffer's books are excellent as he explores costly discipleship amidst a complacent world. Life Together explores what Christian community looks like.
Getting Involved with God by Ellen Davis - A great introduction to the Old Testament that will help you see things you never saw before. Ellen Davis was my Old Testament professor at Duke Divinity School and the most influential Duke professor for the way that I read the Bible.
The Question of God by Armand Nicholi - Nicholi explores the differences and similarities between C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud, particularly in their wrestling with the question of God's existence and who God is. A great PBS series was created based on this book.
A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly - Kelly is a modern day Christian mystic. A Testament of Devotion soars to heights and plumbs the depths of the Christian life.
Proper Confidence by Lesslie Newbigin - Newbigin was a British missionary to India who came back to the West to find that Christianity had lost its homeland. This book explores the nature of faith in a post-modern world. Newbigin gave me an intellectual framework for incorporating uncertainty into my belief system.
John Wesley's Sermons by John Wesley - Wesley was the leader of the first great evangelistic movement in England and America called Methodism. When I first began reading Wesley's sermons, I disagreed with him in some very significant ways. By the end of his first 52 sermons, he had won me over. I've been a fan ever since. Wesley writes and challenges in a way that we have lost in our contemporary culture. You can find all his sermons free online. If you prefer a book, try John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology edited by Albert Outler and Richard Heitzenrater. Heitzenrater was my professor of Methodism at Duke.
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis - This was one of Lewis' last books written before he died, and it is one of his most complex. It is a retelling of the story of Psyche and Cupid. I found in it a compelling exploration of doubt and certainty in relation to issues of faith and believing. It is my favorite Lewis book, but don't read it looking for simple answers.