What 5 books have influenced you the most?

What five books (secular or sacred) have influenced you the most? It’s a good question.
R. Kent Hughes asked that question in the early nineties of numerous influential Christian leaders (as noted in his book “Disciplines of a Godly Man”). Below are just a few of those who submitted answers:

Elisabeth Elliot
1. Guardinni, The Lord (Guardinni)
2. Salted with Fire (MacDonald)
3. Toward Jerusalem (Carmichael)
4. Life and Letters (Stuart)
5. The Mystery of Charity (Underhill)

Charles Colson
1. Mere Christianity (Lewis)
2. Confessions (Augustine)
3. Against all hope
4. The Gulag Archipelago
5. The Naked Public Square
He lists about 14 more…

J.I. Packer
1. Institutes (Calvin)
2. Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan)
3. John Own Works – Vol. 3,6,7 (Goold)
4. Reformed Pastor (Baxter)
5. Bondage of the Will (Luther)

Warren Wiersbe
1. The Pursuit of God (Tozer)
2. Campbell Morgan, A Man and the Word (Jill Morgan)
3. The Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis)
4. Walden (Thoreau)
5. Yale Lectures on Preaching (Phillips Brooks)

Eugene Peterson
1. Epistle to the Romans (Barth)
2. The Idiot (Dostoyevski)
3. Descent of the Dove (Williams)
4. Moby Dick (Melville)
5. Country Parson and the Temple (Herbert)

Harold Lindsell
1. Institutes (Calvin)
2. My Utmost for His Highest (Chambers)
3. History of the Christian Church (Schaff)
4. Commentary (Matthew Henry)
5. Spiritual Depression – Its Causes and Its Cure (Lloyd-Jones)

Fascinating. It makes for a good list of books to start reading if I haven’t already. I’ve never read “The Idiot” by Dostoyevski but other books by him I have enjoyed. None of the books by Elisabeth Eliot are familiar to me but Wiersbe picks out solid traditional classics.

What would be on your list? I would have to say that the Bible shouldn’t be included. It is in a category by itself as the book of books.

I would list among my most influential the following:
1. Desiring God (John Piper)
2. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)
3. The Spiritual Man (Watchman Nee)
4. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (Cymbala)
5. Shadow of the Almighty (Jim Elliot)

It’s hard to limit myself to five. Many more could be listed but at certain times in my ministry these books have had important things to say to me. All of the above I read while on the mission field except for “Mere Christianity.” I could probably go back to my college years and give a different list but I’ve grown a lot since then. Strangely enough, I don’t find any “Lutheran” authors in this list. That’s not to say that I have not been influenced by Lutheran writings but they have not been as deep or penetrating as these others.

I would be interested in what your list would include. Please post below and get the discussion started. Maybe in a future post I can talk about what I like about my favorites. Let’s save that for later….


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