Here is a beginning list (and it is only a beginning!) of books we have found inspiring or helpful—or both, which is even better! We're currently putting together a more complete list, organized (can you believe it?) by topic. This really isn’t fair—there are so many great authors and so many great books. By listing these we run the risk of offending others or implying these are, somehow, better. Nope. We just took a quick look across our shelves and thought, "What would I want my friends to read?" That’s all.
ADDICTION & GRACE
May has been very helpful in explaining the psychology, physiology, and spiritual nature of our addictions. It's a compassionate, thoughtful, and hope-filled treatment of an issue we all battle.
The ultimate expression of our maturity is in how we relate to others, particularly those we find difficult to love. This book is pretty disruptive in challenging how we relate to the wide assortment of characters that fill our lives.
TELLING THE TRUTH: THE GOSPEL AS TRAGEDY, COMEDY AND FAIRY TALE
Buechner is a novelist who's written some gems on the spiritual life. This little book explores our lives and the story of God in a beautiful, compassionate way, using everything from King Lear to The Wizard of Oz. One of our favorites! (So—is it tragedy, comedy, or fairy tale? If we told you ahead of time it would ruin the story.)
Lewis was perhaps one of the greatest writers and thinkers of the twentieth century. This is his famous classic on the basic ideas of Christianity without all that goofy church stuff (thus the "mere" Christianity). A brilliant book.
Another brilliant writer and profound thinker, Chesterton understands the Story quite well. Clever, witty, deeply moving. One of our favorite lines of his is, "Poets do not go mad, but chess players do." In other words, a purely analytical approach to life will leave you desperate, while a poetic or heart-filled approach can bring you the answers you seek.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
Lewis' fairy tale series has become a classic allegory for the Christian life. It is both charming and insightful, rich and profound. Somehow, the truths of the Bible seem more accessible through these stories. A must-read, sometime in your life.
Written while in prison for taking a stand for religious liberty, Bunyan's story of one man's mythic journey to find immortal life has become a classic. There's a reason this little allegory has remained a favorite since its publication in 1678. Despite the hundreds of years between us, it speaks deeply to our own journeys with many needed warnings and encouragements.
THE GOD WHO IS THERE
This book is for the much more philosophically-oriented reader who is wrestling with questions about God's existence and how he communicates to man.
Speaking of unconventional, Lamott is a brutally honest and compassionate writer who describes her "reluctant" journey to faith in Jesus Christ. No religion here, just a true account of a soul being found by God. Sometimes very edgy, but that's why we like it.
THE PURSUIT OF GOD
Remember, there is a great difference between knowing about God and truly knowing God. A lot of books and speakers out there talk about God. Tozer knew him well, and this is our favorite book by him. A short but penetrating read. Okay, it's life changing.
DIARY OF AN OLD SOUL
A Scottish poet and pastor from the 19th century, MacDonald was a man who knew God more intimately than just about anybody we've ever read. This is a beautiful and deeply inspiring book. We read it every year.
TO BE TOLD
Dan is a very wise and insightful counselor who has spent his life helping people understand their story and find one worth living in. We think this is his best book yet.
A delightful fable of one boy's journey to find his "personal legend." Part Christian, part Muslim, the story shimmers with truths about what it's like to take this journey in search of your role in the Story.
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
This little classic from the 1400s is a timeless look at the inner life of the friend of God. Maybe a bit severe at times; still, A' Kempis understands the life of the heart given over to God. A great book.
THE WAY OF THE HEART
A simple book on the power of solitude and silence and prayer—the gifts of "the desert fathers" to us—and how they help heal our hearts.
An amazing collection of thoughts (notes for a book he did not finish before he died) on the spiritual life and the heart of mankind. Really profound, it shaped The Journey of Desire. Try and find the edition by Fount Classics.
HEARING GOD — DEVELOPING A CONVERSATIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
One of the best books we've read on, well, just what it says: learning to hear God. He's still speaking to his people, by the way. And it's so good to hear from him.
LAMENT FOR A SON
The best book we've found on the grieving process. Raw and honest, but without the anger of A Grief Observed.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Okay—we had to mention it. We use the films in nearly every conference, but the books are way better. A mythic look into your life, why it is the way it is, and how you must live.
A book that shook our world when it first came out—a fabulous look into your own inner world and the inner world of others.
HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION
Not only because it's a fascinating moment in Christian history (and the history of the world) but because we think it's a remarkable parallel to our own times: a collapsing culture, a dead church, and suddenly, the resurgence of the Gospel of the heart through a passionate and warrior-like people.