I’m a book lover. A bibliophile. I have been for a very long time and I don’t see that part of myself changing any time soon. Over the years, though, there have been certain books that I keep going back to again and again. Books that changed my life, not in a dramatic way, but slowly over time. Books that I’m grateful for.
(Note: The links below are not affiliates. I get nothing if you click the links. They are simply there as an easy way to check out my favorite books for yourself. My gift to you, I guess.)
1) The Bible
This probably goes without saying, since I quote from it so much and it is the basis for my worldview, but it is without a doubt the most influential book in my life. Personally, I’m partial to the New King James Version (NKJV), but I won’t fight you on why. For me, it’s easy to memorize and read without boring me to death or sending me to the dictionary.
There are a lot of study Bibles to be found, but, as a lover of words who also studies the Bible, I’ve found the Key Word Study Bible to be incredibly helpful. The notes and keynotes aren’t distracting, and the dictionary in the back is most helpful when cross-referencing words and usage. The concordance is pretty good for an in-book concordance, too.
The Bible has changed my life. I was raised in a Christian, God-fearing home, and I was taught to read and study the Bible from an early age. The Bible is God’s Word, and He has used it to change and mature me. He doesn’t teach me something new every time I open it, but I never regret reading and studying His Word.
2) Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
If you’ve been around long, you’ve probably heard me talk about this book. It’s relevance for daily life and growing in Christ is both challenging and inspiring. I usually try to read it once a year as a reminder to not grow weary in discipline. The challenge of some of the disciplines remain. It talks about prayer, fasting, Bible study, Bible reading, and so much more. Dr. Whitney delves deeply into the whys and hows of each discipline according to Scripture.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is one of the best spiritual growth books I’ve ever read, and it becomes more relevant with time. Again, there are many to pick from, but Dr. Whitney’s book covers a wide range to be applied to every Christian of either gender.
Generally speaking, I’m a very self-motivated, determined person. When I first picked up this book, what I lacked was direction and discipline. After reading it, I knew better how to apply what I know about God and Christianity. I learned consistency and discipline. The biggest thing I learned, though, was that life and and focusing on God can be done at the same time. That’s why I continue to read it, too. I need the reminder, just like anyone else.
3) The Elsie Dinsmore Series
The rest of this list of books are fiction, which may surprise you, since I said that these are books that have changed my life. I’m a firm believer in the ability of a story to teach us how to live life. That’s why I love these three books.
I was introduced to the Elsie Dinsmore series when I was about ten. At the time, I hated them. They made me cry and feel so sorry for this little girl who loved God so much. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fond of them. To be fair, the series is a little too long. 28 books and several generations of the same family using the same names gets a bit confusing. I’ve made it through just over half of them. The amazing part of it for me, though, is the author’s ability to pack so much Scripture into every book and still make it an easy, engaging read.
The way these changed my life? These books are the reason I write the way I do. Each book is like a Bible study through life. Growing spiritually through the life of a fictional girl isn’t something I thought would happen, but it did, and it has since changed my perspective on the power of fiction. I love them and will continue to read them for inspiration and growth, even as an adult. The author’s prolific use of Scripture in her writing is something I will always aspire to.
4) The Giant Killer
I’m not usually one for fantasy, but allegorical fantasy is the exception. The Giant Killer is like Pilgrim’s Progress in allegory, but it focuses on the spiritual warfare we face after we come to Christ. And it isn’t just fantasy. The story centers around a pastor’s family. A couple of young boys join them to be tutored by the father, but the mother takes on the responsibility of teaching the children to get along… through story. Can you see why I love this book so much?!
This book helped me identify and fight the spiritual giants in my own life. Giants like pride, hate, and selfishness. It also shows beautiful pictures of gratitude and benevolence on the part of the believer. Yes, it has changed my life and the way I think. I continue to reread it every year or so as a reminder to fight the good fight and not give up.
5) Stepping Heavenward
This is a newer favorite for me. It is a diary-style story that follows the life of Katherine, a young teen who wouldn’t exactly call herself a Christian. She goes through trial after trial and heavy conviction until she discovers the truth of the Gospel through Christ. Even then, she struggles against her natural tendencies and habits, slowly growing to be more like Christ through every season of life.
Stepping Heavenward gives us a very real, honest view into a Christian’s daily life. The thoughts and struggles, the often short-sightedness of following Christ. But there are moments where Katherine can see that God has brought her “thus far” and will continue to bring her home. Heavenward.
I love this book because I’ve often struggled in my mind with the idea that other Christians don’t struggle as much as I do, yet the story crafted here shows me differently. The encouragement in this book to just keep plodding toward Christ on the narrow way takes a huge weight off for me. It reminds me I’m not alone in the fight, and that my fight is what I’m called to. That it’s never in vain, and it’s my duty as a Christian to fight. Regardless of where you are in your walk with Christ, this book will hit home for you somewhere along the way.