Recently, I was talking with a friend about books we have read that have made a lasting impact on our lives. Books have changed me. Going back 30 years now, words and concepts, insights and revelations, have altered the way I see the world. A few special books have taken root within me. These great books are hidden in what I share each week, and so I thought it might be fun to bring them out of the shadows and share them with you. This is a list of my top five books of all time. As with any top five list, a close list follows right behind. My list may or may not appeal to you, but here goes!
- Margin by Richard Swenson – At a time when I was completely overwhelmed with the pace and relentlessness of everyday life, Swenson spoke almost prophetically about my overload and how I could live differently. The beginning of the book is a little dry as he lays out the sociological journey that created a culture of overload, but from there, each chapter is a game-changer. In a world that has only increased its speed and consumption since its first edition in the early ’90’s, Margin proposes a better way to live life without sacrificing purpose.
- The Life God Blesses by Gordon MacDonald – A book filled with wisdom and insight on living full of faith and purpose. The opening introduction is a parable called “The Persona” that I have shared with many groups over the years. Years later people have told me of the impact of that parable. I have never forgotten another chapter in the book entitled, “What kind of old man do I want to be.” His thoughts in that chapter have captured my imagination.
- The Seeking Heart by Fenelon – Fenelon was a 17thcentury bishop who wrote letters to a woman he mentored on the interior life of faith. As if he were writing today to our fast-paced, perception-oriented society, Fenelon exposes deeper soul struggles that uniquely communicate both grace and truth. I have read this book more times than I can count. It fits perfectly as a devotional aid for centering at the beginning of each day.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport – This is the most recent addition to my Top Five. Before reading this book, I thought of myself as a person whose strength was single-minded attention. Newport opened up whole new layers of focus that I could realize. He accomplishes this through personal example, laying out creative ways of putting “deep work” into practice for people of all walks. This is one of the rare books where the end of the book is as thought-provoking as the beginning.
- Humility by Andrew Murray – Another great devotional aid from Murray, an early 20thcentury pastor with profound insight into the spiritual life. Many of his short books have helped me in my walk with God, but his book on humility takes what I consider to be the foundation of faith and makes it accessible for anyone.
Now that I have exposed my Top Five, join in! Share with others your very favorite, most impactful book. We can all continue to grow together!