my all-time, best-of, whole-life book list

“This week I’ve been reading a lot and doing little work. That’s the way things ought to be. That’s surely the road to success.”
-Anne Frank

If, in the event of civilization being demolished, I were given the chance to pick a box of books to take into the next era of human existence, I would choose these.

Disclaimer: it is not a perfect list. I know there are other great works that would deserve preservation. However, these are books and authors that have shaped me deeply over the years and have given me hope, understanding and perspective; that’s why I chose them.

“Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.”
-C.S. Lewis

So if, in this next decade, you decide to absorb some words on a few organized pages, maybe you’ll decide one of the books below is worth spending your time and imagination on. Click on any of the titles to purchase them for your own enjoyment.

In no particular order…

  1. Island of the World – Michael O’Brien (a beautifully written novel, with stunning prose and a gripping storyline; this will engross you and make your soul feel alive)
  2. East of Eden – John Steinbeck (this book aches with insight into human longings and struggles that are timeless, raw, and universal. The characters will grip your heart, in the best and hardest ways. The whole book is a collection of Steinbeck’s astonishing ability to narrate the human heart)
  3. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (even if just to study the character Jane Austen created in Elizabeth Bennet, reading this is worth the investment. Austen makes loud statements via delicate descriptions and dialogues… ones that make you sit up and pay attention.)
  4. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (Bronte, like Austen, creates a female heroine of literature with stunning agility. Jane Eyre’s resolve and strength of character demands the reader either engage in careful introspection or choose to stay in denial of the stakes at hand.)
  5. Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (a tale of love and sacrifice that echoes the Great Love Story; the whole book is worth reading simply because of the way it ends.)
  6. Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (even if you just make it through the first few chapters, his exposition of cheap vs costly grace and the obedience-faith relationship will be enough material to radically impact your worldview.)
  7. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald (MacDonald, who later inspired such writers as C.S. Lewis, writes a tale that softly delivers some of the hardest truths we can face. He makes deeply profound statements with a simplicity that will leave you gaping.)
  8. Everything and anything that has been written by Elisabeth Elliot (one of my personal heroes, she writes fearlessly and honestly in a way that makes you a little more fearless and honest yourself. What her words have done for my soul’s healing, growth, and desire for Jesus, I could barely begin to say. Make sure you read Passion and Purity. Then, pick up The Mark of a Man. Keep a Quiet Heart is a gold mine of truth and a shot of courage to the heart)
  9. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle (and the following three books in that series) (L’Engle is a masterful storyteller that engages your heart and your mind together as one. Her stories are not boring, not for a moment, and there is beautiful truth lining each page.)
  10. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kaled Hosseini (because you do not know what it means weep over a book until you read this one)
  11. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (when love is not love, and when not-love is redeemed to true love)
  12. Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (as the book is vastly different than the movie depicts the story, be prepared for some alterations if you are previously attached to the film version. The troubled and brilliant Count is potentially one of the most marvelous and mysterious fictional characters to be conceived. Rarely does a character “become” himself over the course of a book in such a way that makes you feel as if you made the journey with him, yet also feel as if he left you behind a long way back.)
  13. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (Austen creates characters that stick to their guns when it comes to their convictions, and while she doesn’t deprive them of happy endings, they are accompanied with periods of severe growth and maturation. A story of what defines a person, and what is worth holding onto even when society may claim otherwise.)
  14. Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand (nothing quite else will simultaneously humble, encourage, and solidify your joy like the stories of those who see Jesus more clearly because of the risk loving Him requires.)
  15. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (if you want to be encouraged, if you want perspective for your journey, if you want to understand grace for your weakness and His strength for your steps, read this)
  16. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee (I promise you, you will find your understanding of the book of Romans, grace and the cross to have exploded after reading this wonderful book. Please choose this one at some point in your life.)
  17. King’s Cross by Tim Keller (this book was a fountain of joy for me, because it reminded me how what Jesus did for me is even deeper than I know. Keller does a wonderful job of peeling back more and more layers for us to glory in.)
  18.  Anything by C.S. Lewis (Especially The Chronicles of Narnia. Reading Narnia is like looking in a mirror and realizing you are not alone, you are loved, and you have access to more hope than you ever imagined possible.)
  19. Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie De Rosset (This woman earns your respect by her intelligence, insight, and ability to translate her thoughts effectively. She will challenge what you consider to be normal, what you forget to consider, and what you spend too much time considering.) 
  20. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (this man is a great mind, and the arguments constructed in the pages uncover a true freedom. He makes simple statements that make the fabric of the world vibrantly clear.)




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