As the weather chills and our evenings grow darker, it’s a good season to cultivate new habits. Recently we provided a few creative ways to read Scripture. One of the side benefits of reading more Scripture is that you also tend to read more other books … and spend less time watching TV and being on your phone.
Reading is a proven stress reliever. It improves concentration and memory. It makes us more creative and energetic. It even helps us sleep better. Screen time works against us in each of those ways.
A lot of the books I read come at the suggestion of trusted friends, because then each book also starts a good conversation. It isn’t all “Christian” content, either, though some of the biggest insights into faith can come from … well, unexpected places. Sometimes, I think God is also OK with us just reading for a good story, or a laugh.
Here are seven books I would recommend to anyone.
Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning
Manning’s raw, humble honesty strips away much of what we’ve made our faith and boils it down to this: “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” This book helped me through one of the darkest times in my life and faith.
Finding God in Unexpected Places, by Philip Yancey
Journalism amounts to a search for truth worth relating to others. Yancey’s insightful reporting led him to places and people that illustrate the heart of God. As the title suggests, it’s full of surprises.
Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World, by Rebecca K. Reynolds
I’ve given this book to several friends over the past couple of years. It’s written to Christians weary of a broken world and broken lives. In the mess of American church/political culture, Reynolds’ wonderful and insightful writing reassured me that I’m not crazy. If you’re disillusioned by it all, read this and you’ll feel hope.
The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
The story of the early days of space flight and America’s Mercury astronauts. This book not only pulled me back into the fascination with space that I had as a kid, but it also showed me the kind of true storytelling a great journalist can do.
Letters from a Nut, by Ted L. Nancy
Glorious, twisted lunacy. The first time I read this book I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Mr. Nancy, later revealed to be comic Barry Marder, writes bizarre letters to companies, governments, entertainment entities, you name it. Example: A letter to the president of the Czech Republic, bestowing membership in the Thousand Oaks Vacuum Club. What’s even funnier is that the targets of these letters take them seriously and often write earnest replies.
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
After reading a news blip about a missing young man found dead in Alaska, Krakauer dug deeper. Way deeper. His great reporting unearthed the sad-yet-hopeful story of a man who rejected materialism but realized too late that he had rejected too much.
The Road Trip That Changed the World, by Mark Sayers
I try to read everything this Australian pastor writes, but this is the one that first hooked me. It’s about Jack Kerouac, the novelist and beat poet who influenced our culture — including church culture — more deeply than most people realize. Sayers unlocks that culture better than almost anyone I’ve ever read, and in his more-recent work he’s incredibly hopeful about the future of the global church.
How about you? Keep the conversation going by replying below with a few of your favorite books, including as much or as little description as you want.