This is a list of some of my (Colin) favorite books of all time and the books that have the most impact on my life in one way or another. These aren’t in any particular order. Some of these books are books that opened my eyes to conditions beyond my very limited scope, some of these books I really enjoy reading for pure entertainment, and some of these books altered the way I live life. All of these have become favorites for one reason or another.
-The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton
This book ought to be mandatory reading for anyone growing up in West Texas. West Texas is not a soft, green, lush environment. West Texas is a place where drought is common and rainy periods few and sometimes very far between. This book is about a rancher in West Texas who is very strong-willed and independent, and I dig him! He is my kind of guy. I fancy myself a younger version of Charlie Flagg, and if I was an old rancher I’d like to think I would be a lot like him - except I don’t know if I could raise Angora goats. The book is sad at times, but this is a book about life and sometime life is sad. This is one book that I really could read every few years.
-Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
I like pretty much everything by C.S. Lewis, but this is my favorite of his stuff. I like him because he says things the way I wish I could say it. Actually, he writes about stuff I haven’t even pondered, but if I had thought about it, I would have wanted to say it as simply and eloquently as he does. I think he reduces everything down to the least common denominator and says things in such a simple way that anyone can understand. I feel anyone who spends time reading Mere Christianity will enjoy what Lewis has to say.
-Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Brashears
As someone who was raised in a Christian home and went to church and attempted (most of the time very poorly) to be a good-church-going-religious guy, I had a lot of beliefs that I couldn’t back up. I knew what I was supposed to believe, but didn’t know why. I was pretty wishy-washy on what I believed and was poorly equipped to explain or talk with someone else about why I believed what I did. I read Doctrine because if I am going to call myself a Christian I ought to know what God says about being a follower of Christ. I also wanted to investigate what it is that a Christian should believe and what areas are open for discussion. I needed to study up on the doctrine of Christianity and this book helped compile the basic Christian doctrine for me in a way that was easy to read and understand.
-The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
To me this book is all about obedience to what God asks us to do. It is also about how obeying God is not safe. We say things like “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will,” when all actuality the Bible says that if we are following Christ we are going to be persecuted and people are going to oppose us. So this book is about how we ought to desire to be obedient to God more than we fear all the stuff that might happen to us or our families because we are doing what God has asked to do. It would be horrible to miss out on more of God because we were worried about the health risks associated with working with AIDS infected children in Africa, or for people to die of sickness and starvation because I was scared to take my family to a war-torn country to serve them, or for lost people in China to never hear about God because I was more worried about my 401K than giving money. When you really think about it, the safest place to be really is in the center of God’s will, even though it might cost you everything in this life.
-Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
I think maybe this book is where the inspiration for the movie 300 came from..? This book really is nothing at all like the 300 movie it just deals with the same event(s). I am not generally one of those people that claim “the book was so much better than the movie,” because I’m all for watching a movie in 2 hours as opposed to reading a book over 3 weeks. I like movies! Can you imagine what the book Titanic is like? The movie was bad enough and it took a whole day to watch. How much more painful would reading that book over the period of a year be? So yeah, I go for the movie over the book almost every time, but this is one book that I recommend over the movie.
-Radical by David Platt
For me this book eliminates a lot of the stuff I was using as an excuse to continue along in my peaceful happy life waiting for God to call me to do something incredible, rather than doing what He told all Christians to do a long time ago. At the beginning of this book you need to go ahead and have a conversation with God and figure out if you are really ready to do whatever it is He wants you to do. If you are willing to answer “yes” to His question then keep reading. As I read through the book, what at first appeared to be really radical seemed more and more like normal plain old obedience. As I read through Radical and began looking in the Bible, what we would call radical today seemed the norm during the time of the first church. My behavior today would appear radical to the first church because to call myself a Christian and then to live a safe, wealthy, self-centered life just wouldn’t make sense to them.
-For Men Only by Shaunti Feldman
I did not understand women at all before I got married. I’ve been married for a couple of years now, and I still don’t understand women. However, this book has helped me to better understand the way my wife thinks and has helped our communication. The author has written numerous other books but this one and For Women Only were incredibly helpful to me and my wife in helping to understand how each other operates and is wired. I feel that our marriage is stronger because of what I learned in this book and others like For Women Only, Captivating, and Wild at Heart.
-The Man Who Rode Midnight by Elmer Kelton
The old man in this book reminds me of my granddad. I pretty much like every book Elmer Kelton has written. This just happens to be one of my favorites.
-The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
This book is about Grace. I read this book at a point in my life when I really didn’t understand grace. I didn’t understand grace or feel I was deserving of it. This book was life-changing for me. I read this book, read about what grace is, the price that was paid for me, and how for me not to accept and embrace grace was to dishonor the huge cost that was paid on my behalf. If your life has not turned out the way you thought it would and no matter what you do, there is still something missing – read this book. I felt like the prodigal son who had lived a completely self-centered life and had made a mess of things doing it my way. I felt ashamed and undeserving, but God’s grace and kindness led me to repentance. I think anyone that reads this book will be changed. I don’t see how you cannot be overcome when you come face to face with God’s grace.
-The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonheoffer
Grace is freely given, but isn’t free. The grace we have the opportunty to freely accept, costs more than we can ever give or earn. Grace cannot be earned and no one is worthy of grace, but to all who will accept it, it is freely given. The author of this book lived a life that evidenced the high cost of grace and he desired to live in such a way that he didn’t cheapen grace. He died for what he believed. This was not a book that I could sit down and read through and understand. I had to spend some time reading and thinking
-The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
The best book on money and stewardship I have read. This book is super-short and you can read it in just a little while, but the principles in this book drastically changes the way we do our finances. When you see your money and possessions as items on loan to you from the creator of the universe, you start handling your things a little more carefully, and you start asking God where He wants His money to go rather than where do I think I should spend it. For me it was revolutionary to realize I own nothing, God owns everything. And then I was like, I better start taking care of His stuff!
-Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald Sider
Not the most entertaining or uplifting book I’ve read, but very impactful. I don’t think the purpose of this book is to try and guilt people into giving all their money away or to make us feel bad about all we have here in the United States, but it does make you aware of the extreme wealth we all have compared to the poverty of the rest of the world. After you are aware of just how affluent we are and how nice we have it, maybe you will feel the need to give of yourself to better the lives of others. It is a good thing to be aware of the world that exists outside of our little bubble. When it comes to money I don’t think we should fear giving too much away, but rather not investing enough in the lives of others.