The C. S. Lewis society of Madison sponsored a conference on the 10 books that most influenced that great author. It raised the question of the most important books to me, so here is my list, which grew to 14. These are books that influenced my faith and sense of calling to ministry, in almost alphabetical order.
Answering God, Eugene Peterson. This work shows the value of the Psalms in the prayer life of a believer.
The Confessions, St Augustine, translated by Henry Chadwick. The first Christian autobiography and at one time a healing balm to my soul.
Child Craft book of Fairy Tales. My mother read these to me as a child and there are some that I still quote.
Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé. One practical way I can contribute to the health of the earth and its people.
Ecclesiastes. This O. T. book explains why I am in ministry, and with all Wisdom Literature, shows that both content and skillful expression are important.
Ephesians. This N. T. book explains why the church is so important.
Founding Brothers, James Ellis. This is a work on the period of the American Revolution, and stands in to represent this large section of my library.
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. I am not fond of her politics, or of her literary style, but this book has affected my view of art and of the limits of government.
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair. I had to jump this up to make a counter point to Ayn Rand, as this warns of the danger of unregulated commerce, and speaks of the flaws in human nature.
I Married You, Walter Trobisch. This is great teaching from scripture on marriage as well as a model of pastoral ministry.
Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I keep passages from this in my “back pocket” to keep me from both hubris and despair in ministry.
Luther’s Works, Martin Luther. Ok, this is 55 volumes, so I will just mention two articles, “Two Kinds of Righteousness” and “The Freedom of the Christian.”
Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills. This is important on the art of speaking; it is the history of the Gettysburg Address.
Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan. A shoemaker without formal education wrote a masterpiece of theology and preaching.