Recently, I was emailing with a gentleman from a Christian organization about an opportunity to write for them. In the course of the conversation, one of the questions he asked me was to name the 5 most formative books that I’ve read other than the Bible.
It was hard for me to narrow the list down to 5, because it seems to me that I’ve been more influenced by paragraphs, pages, and chapters than whole books. While reading a whole book is a formative experience, it’s these smaller units that pack a memorable and transformative punch. In these units are packaged doses of life-changing truth.
Thus, there are dozens of volumes that have formed by thinking, each according to the subjects addressed therein. Nevertheless, I came up with 5 for him (albeit, adding a few honorable mentions). I’ll get to my list in a moment. But I’ll ask you first, what would be on your list?
Maybe you’re not much of a reader. All of us are shaped by our context and culture; so if not books, then what 5 persons have formed you most? What 5 life experiences were most formative for you? Maybe music is your thing; what 5 composers or bands have most influenced you? Maybe it’s food; what 5 chefs or dishes have most shaped your culinary point of view? I think you get the point.
One take away of coming up with a list like this is a revealing dose of self-knowledge. You catch a glimpse of the good and the bad that you’ve gleaned from others. But it also provides an opportunity to thank God for his oversight of your unfolding life-story.
Here are the books that were on my list: The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham, Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp, and Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray.