Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Top 25 Classic/Contemporary Books that Change My Life (To Reread Again)

A wisdom seeker will read a great book, savour it, and reread it in the future
(Tony Reinke, Lit!)

My leader asked me, “You read a lot of books, is this a form of escapism for you?” My answers was (and is): “Yes, in one sense it is for the purpose of escape, but not so much as escapism. I’m not reading to avoid reality, but I do read to temporarily escape to another world.” For me what’s dangerous is when we read to escape from reality. What I’m promoting is that we read to escape to another world where we get help, encouragement and inspiration in order for us to return home to reality. Great books – Christian books or non-Christian books – can bring glory and honour to God, the Giver of Thought and Word, when those books help me to see more of God’s greatness, beauty and creativity. To these kind of books I want to escape to.

As Christians who treasure an ancient book – the Bible – we by new nature in Christ also (can or/and should) esteem old books. To be honest, many contemporary ‘Christian’ books today are not worth reading, and some are spiritually dangerous and somewhat very shallow. Given the vast number of such books in the marketplace, we need wisdom and discernment in what we read, lest we be unwittingly led astray. Therefore, it is recommendable that we read wisdom-proved old/classic books. C. S. Lewis values old books that he writes, “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”

Reading old/classic books is a good way to gain the perspective we need to guard our hearts and minds in this age of abundant nonsense and heresy. Having said that, I also would like to recommend great contemporary books that I think should be listed as classic (at least in my opinion). Here are my lists of classic and contemporary books that I will surely reread it again and again:

My Top Classic Books

1. Knowing God (First Published 1973) by J. I. Packer
2. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (First Published 1986) by John Piper
3. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (First Published 1978) by Richard Foster
4. Charismatic Chaos (First Published 1992) by John MacArthur
5. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (First Published 1563) by John Foxe
6. The Pilgrim’s Progress (First Published 1678) by John Bunyan
7. Mere Christianity (First Published 1952) by C. S. Lewis
8. Spurgeon: A New Biography (First Published 1984) by Arnold Dallimore
9. Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of 2 Timothy (First Published 1973) by John Stott
10. The Challenge of Mission (First Published 1959) by Oswald J. Smith
11. The Holiness of God (First Published 1985) by R. C. Sproul
12. The Mind on Fire: An Anthology of the Writings of Blaise Pascal (First Published 1989) edited by James Houston
13. Expository Thoughts on Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (First Published 1857) by John C. Ryle
14. The Confessions of St. Augustine (First known as “Confessions” written between AD397-400)
15. The Upside-Down Kingdom (First Published 1978) by Donald B Kraybill
16. Whatever Happened to Worship? (First Published 1985) by A. W. Tozer

My Top Contemporary Books (should be classic! Maybe some of it are)

1. God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (First Published 1998, but Jonathan Edwards’s The End For Which God Created the World was published in 1765) by John Piper
2. Don’t Waste Your Life (First Published 2003) by John Piper
3. The Supremacy of God in Preaching (First Published 1990) by John Piper
4. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (First Published 1993) by John MacArthur
5. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (First Published 2006) by Eugene H. Peterson
6. Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God (First Published 2011) by Timothy Keller
7. Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus (First Published 2011) by John Eldredge
8. Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (First Published 2011) by Tony Reinke
9. Unlocking the Bible: A Unique Overview of the Whole Bible (First Published 2003) by David Pawson

My favourite preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, writes this about rereading books: ““Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…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.” Now, go, read book!

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