Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What are the 3 best books you have ever read?

When we moved overseas, I cleansed my shelves of books I no longer wanted. Now that we have returned to the USA (at least for now), I'm trying to build a stronger library. My purpose here is to compile a list of great books, and then to post the list for all to see. For the sake of this endeavor, we will assume that the Bible is the best, so don't list that one. It is obviously in a class by itself. So, what are the 3 best books you have ever read?


Alan Knox said...


This is a good question, but it will be a very difficult one for me to answer. These are not in any particular order:

1) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein (only counts as 1 because I have the combined trilogy!)

2) The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe

3) Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship by David Peterson


Eric said...

Thanks, Alan, for getting us started. I am interested to see what kind of compilation we end up with.

Anonymous said...


Here are my top three in no particular order (it is probably not the best list, b/c I really didn't read much before coming to seminary)

1)Linguistics for Students of NT Greek by David Alan Black (This book motivated me to study Greek more, and the last chapter on Discourse Analysis in Philippians impacted me tremendously)

2) Either Dave Black's NT Textual Criticism (probably the best simple introduction to Textual Criticism) or Bruce Metzger's Text of the NT. I have listed these together because it really depends on how familiar one is with Textual Criticism that determines which is better.

3) Philosophy and the Christian Faith by Colin Brown (This is probably not the best book on the subject but it is the only one I have read. It is very informative and shows the roots of much of modern and even postmodern thought)

Chad Sylvester said...

Knowing God by JI Packer

anything by Piper

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Nick kennicott said...

My answers are posted at my blog: Check it out here.

Isabel said...

I followed the link from Alan's blog.

I couldn't possibly name the three best books, but I could name....oooo, do I have to limit it to three? Ergh....

God's Smuggler -- Brother Andrew

either Disappointment with God OR Where is God When it Hurts -- Philip Yancey

I can't do it. I can't put only one more on there.

I do want to say, though, that my husband is a closeout book buyer at a ministry warehouse, and can get a huge variety of books very cheaply. We'd be happy to help you build up your library.

Isabel said...

I tried to comment, but it disappeared (I think. If it's still there waiting for approval, then could you kindly post this one instead?).

I'd like to think about the question since limiting myself to three is almost impossible. I would like to say, though, that we have access to a wide variety of very cheap books and would love to help you build your library up again. Just say the title.

First book: God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

Elder's Wife said...

I followed you over here from Alan Knox's blog. For what it's worth, three of my favorites are:

In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham (Former Abu Sayyaf hostage in the Philippines. Her husband, Martin, was martyred there.)

The Testament by John Grisham (I love it when the reality of Christ is seen in "non-Christian" places!)

The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun (An inter-linkage of people and events throughout history. Every reference library needs this one.)

If you've read any of these, what do you think of them?

BTW I see that you have a link to New Tribes Mission on your page--We have a daughter & son-in-law serving with NTM. What is your connection with them?

Eric said...

Chad,I agree with the your sentiments on Piper. I've read about 10 of his books, and am amazed that I always enjoy reading the next one. My favorite is probably "Let the Nations be Glad!"

Eric said...

Nick, I'm looking forward to reading "Don't Waste Your Life." It should be in the mail coming my way right now. Is there any Piper book you haven't read?

Eric said...

Isabel, thank you for the comments and for the offer on the help with the books. My purpose with this post is really just to build up a list that everyone can look at. Maybe it will spur us all to read something that we might not have considered otherwise. In the coming months, if my family does find out that we are not retuning overseas, then I will probably begin collecting many of the books mentioned here. You may know this already, but my wife is the blogger over at "Thinking as a Woman."

Eric said...

Kat, I read "In the Presence of my Enemies" this past summer and really enjoyed it. As far as NTM is concerned, I have no direct connection with them. However, I greatly respect their philosophy of missions, specifically their desire to reach those tribes that have not heard the gospel.

Bowden McElroy said...

I also followed the link form Alan's blog. My three include:

Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment;
the poetry of John Donne;
and anything/everything by C.S. Lewis.

Eric said...

Bowden, thank you for your help in this. Isn't it amazing how almost everyone likes Lewis? He had such ability to communicate in a way that people understand at both an intellectual and emotional level.

Alan Knox said...

I'm glad that someone else brought up C.S. Lewis... I couldn't decide between the Narnia series and the Space trilogy... so I picked LOTR.


Alice C. said...

I share Isabel's pain at having to select only three! Why not out top ten? And I like "elder's wife"s first two, also...I can't choose....
1)The Chronicles of Narnia--yes, they are available now as one big book.

2)Any Jane Austen (you always say they're all the same book anyway)but especially P&P

3)The Pilgrim's Progress

4)...okay, I'll quit.

Love you, honey!

Rachel C. said...

For me the best books i've ever read (excluding THE BOOK) are:
1. Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray
2. The Kneeling Christian - Annonymous (might be out of print. i found it in my grandfather's library)
3. Prayer - EM Bounds

Rachel C. said...

by the way, i can't believe you put a TULIP poster on your site. in my experience, the majority of people in the south have a really hard time accepting people and theology that's labeled Reformed or Calvinistic. And here you are putting a banner on it. :) but i really like the rest of the site.

Eric said...

Rachel, thanks for your comments. I need to read "Prayer" by Bounds. I've heard good things about it. As far the poster goes, I put it there because I wanted to be straightforward about what I believe. Lately within the SBC, some pastors have been criticized for not being up-front about being Calvinistic. The reality is that except for a belief in Perseverance of the Saints, most folks within the SBC hold to a very Arminian belief system. Those of us who are Reformed always seem to make someone upset. Anyway, thanks for the help. I pray that all is going well for you and J. Be encouraged! You are right where our Father wants you to be. I have no doubt of that.

Eric said...

Alice, how have I gotten to this point in my life without reading "Pilgrim's Progress"? Predictably, I'm in the middle of a Piper book right now, but Bunyan's masterpiece is next on my list. As far as your #2 goes, you are correct.

Eric said...

To all who have shared or will be sharing, I don't want to be legalistic about all this. If you want to add more than three books, please do so. After all, we are free from the law!

Isabel said...

Crushed again! If you do, though, find you need to buy books, do come up to Waynesboro and we'll show you around the warehouse and bookstore.

Actually, the last book I literally could not put down (and I first read it 25 years ago) was Out of the Silent Planet (and I don't like science fiction). I love the whole trilogy, but that was the riveting introduction.

#2: Out of the Silent Planet (Trilogy recommended)

Eric said...

Isabel, thanks again for the offer. We will definitely keep your offer in mind.

Does anyone else see a C. S. Lewis theme running through these comments? So far he seems to be the runaway favorite author.

Lowell said...

Hello Eric,

This is Lowell S on the great North Indian Plain.

Great question, I may have to put it on my own blog... ;)

My three would be...

1. "That Hideous Strength" of CS Lewis' Space trilogy...I think I learned more about Spiritual warfare from that book plus a lot about women...

2. I recently read Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, about an elderly pastors look over his life. First time in my life I ever immediately began to re-read a book when I had finished it.

3. Paul Brand's "In His Image"... the section in there on Pain has shaped my world view a lot.

Blessings to you,


Eric said...

Lowell, thanks for your comment. It seems that one Lewis book or another is coming out on top for a lot of people. What an amazing writer he was!

I did not know you had a blog. Can you give me the URL to it?

I hope all is going well where you are; I'm sure it is more than a bit hot right now.

Scott said...

Here are 3 books I could not put down.

The Emancipation of Robert Sadler
by Robert Sadler with Marie Chapian

Born Again By Chuck Colson

Bruchko by Bruce Olsen

RCM- Steve said...


Prayers to you, your wife, your family & especially your son!

Favorite books:

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

God forbid I would ever leave out J.R.R. Tolkein (started reading him in fifth grade...1966, yikes), C.S. Lewis (any or all of his stuff), but has anyone read Charles Williams, the third member of the "Inklings" that met together to critique each others' writings (Lewis, Tolkein, & Williams)? His War In Heaven is completely different than the others' writings, defies easy catagorization, but is referred to as a "supernatural thriller" on it's back cover. It is heady stuff with classical, old world, & latin references at times that go WAY beyond my knowledge, but it has done more in my imagination of "heaven impinging upon this earth" than any other work of fiction.

The Courage To Change (Al-Anon Family Groups), a co-dependency daily reader that has, though I'm not married to nor related to any alcoholics, done more to help me understand my life practically speaking, than anything else.

Eric said...

Scott, thank you for the input. I enjoy Colson because he is a straight-shooter.

Steve, I see that you are another Lewis fan. It is amazing how often he comes up as a favorite. I have not read Williams, but my wife has. She, of course, was the English major and reads about seven times faster than I do. Thanks for working with alcoholics. I imagine that it can be both rewarding and difficult work.

Alice C. said...

Steve, I just had to add my own comment. I've read War in Heaven and The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams, during a course on the Inklings that I took in college. He was a little strange for me, but I understood the Platonic basis of his writings. I also enjoyed Dorothy Sayers during that same course. Also--has anyone read any George McDonald?

nateesther said...

Hi! Not sure if these are necessarily my top three, but they are at least in the top ten. It is hard to narrow it down . . . I spent a lot of time lying awake at night pondering this question!

1) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (the only book that ever made me sob)
2) Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman (the best Holocaust narrative I have read; plus, it is a graphic novel so it’s fun to read)
3) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (hey, it started a war!)

I’m also a big Lewis fan; if I had to choose my top 3 book series, Narnia would probably be in it.


Eric said...

Esther, I hope my blog doesn't keep you awake too often! Thanks for listing your 3 favorites. I still need to read Uncle Tom's Cabin -- not sure why that hasn't happened yet.

Mary J. said...

I can't possibly list only three right now without more thought, but I do know Narnia would be in there and probably LOTR. Anyway, I noticed someone mentioned Bruchko, by Bruce Olsen. Anna and Glenn just read that for school and I stayed up late a couple of nights reading it because I had a hard time putting it down! It's really good.

Eric said...

Thanks, Mary, for the comment. It seems that Lewis is at or near the top for just about everyone.

Matt B. said...

To narrow it down to three, I went with my most life altering reads and not necessarily in this order.

1) Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul
2) Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis
3) So Much More by Anna Sophia & Elisabeth Botkin (Homeschooled sisters who wrote the book when they were 15 and 17 years old)

Eric said...


Thanks for the input. "Chosen by God" is literally the next book that I am going to read. It is currently sitting on my bookshelf just waiting to be read.