I love to read. I love entering the lives of the characters in the stories I read. I used to do it a lot more. I can remember in high school bringing 1500-page books home over holidays and always finishing them. Now I have to fight for reading time—my list/stack to read is so big. I am always getting new recommendations, and discovering new delights.
I call the books in this list Transforming Reads. I am seeking to keep a list of some of the books that have influenced me. Many of these are recent, some are from the past. This is not at all an exhaustive list. I will add and subtract in the days and months ahead. I am sure you have many others on your list.
But here is a first pass to gather some Transforming Reads in hopes that God might use some to impact your life as well, to be kindling for your heart and mind.
Books from My Past
- Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard—the book I turned to repeatedly in my young Christian life at times of emotional distress
- Making of a Man of God by Alan Redpath—a motivating look at the life of David
- Tapestry by Edith Schaeffer—a powerful vision of God at work in lives, families, generations
- Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Heart of His People by Jim Cymbala—now is the moment to ask God to ignite His fire in your soul
- Witnessing Without Fear by Bill Bright—the secrets that turned a shy businessman into a confident, caring witness for Christ
Strengthening My Soul
- The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen—a personal life journey
- Embracing Grace by Scot McKnight—a gospel for all, being embraced by grace
- The Beautiful Ache by Leigh McLeroy—the hurts of life that produce beauty
- Almost anything by Amy Carmichael—simple and profound insights into God’s Word
- Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning—a call to be enfolded into the love of our Father
- Objects of His Affection: Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God by Scotty Smith—profoundly impacted my understanding of God’s love for me
- One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp—a beautiful call to a life of gratitude
- Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning—Great insights into what it means to trust God
- Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy—Leigh is a master of words and the Word, cutting deeply yet gently to soul issues
- Souvenirs of Solitude: Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace by Brennan Manning—beautiful reflections on God’s gentle, insistent tug on our hearts.
- The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning—a love story for the broken-hearted, of God’s fierce love for us
- Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and Everyday by Margaret Feinberg—pursuing a divine appetite for a deepening relationship with God
- Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember… by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun—a study of the healing and restoring available in God
- Grumble Hallalujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even when It Lets You Down by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira—a serious, humorous look at the reality and results of grumbling with some helpful responses
Widening My World
- Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristov—a profround look at the status of women around the globe
- Terrify No More by Gary Haugen—harrowing but hopeful stories of rescuing young girls from trafficking
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett—the stories of black maids working for white families in Mississippi in the 1960’s
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See—a novel about girls and women in China in the mid-1800’s
- The Girl in the Orange Dress by Margot Starbuck—a memoir of an adopted girl searching for a father who does not fail
- A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman by Lisa Shannon—A tale of horror and hope for women in Congo
- Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson—A story of peace and a future through education for girls
Making Me Think
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller–a funny and challenging call to living a better story
- The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller—an outrageous God who pursues the rebellious ones he loves
- The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight—reading the Bible as story, with tradition rather than through tradition
- When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James—what you believe about God is your theology
- Lost Women of the Bible by Carolyn Custis James—amazing fresh vision of God’s intentions in creating women
- “Are Women Human?” Essay by Dorothy L Sayers—a witty, thought-provoking and convincing look at what women can contribute
- Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan—an important emphasis on the Holy Spirit—almost like reading Bill Bright again
- Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James—a compelling look at God’s call to His daughters to impact the world—I will give many away!
- Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt—a convicting read on the meaning of true discipleship
- The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules by Carolyn Custis James—this story of Ruth and Naomi is no sugary romance, but a battle for redemption
- One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight—a powerful call to follow Jesus in the life he modeled and taught, to consider how doing so will change how we live?
Lives that Inspire
- Not Less Than Everything: The Courageous Women Who Carried the Christian Gospel to China by Valerie Griffiths—incredible stories of how God used (mostly) single women to take the good news to the interior
- A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Elliot—Amy went to India as a missionary and became the mother to thousands of rescued children
- The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway—a story of persecution and faith and miracles
- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas—A biography of a true hero
- Out of the Far Corners: An Epic Tale of Rejection, Grace and Deliverance by Peter Iliyn—Peter honors his father and the difficult journey he took as a Russian orphan across the world, filled with gratitude in the face of great challenges.
- Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary DeMuth–a hard story of painful events and learning to live and trust and love anyway
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand—An amazing story of an Olympic runner who spent almost 3 months floating on the Pacific, then two years of torture and deprivation in Japanese prison camps.
- Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot—the amazing story of 5 young men who gave their lives for the gospel of Christ in the jungle of Ecuador
- Choosing to See: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman—the heartbreaking story of adoption and loss and redemption
- Intimate Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire—powerful telling of encounters with the Savior (and the other 3 books in the series)
- Many Amy Carmichael books: Whispers of His Power, Candles in the Dark, Edges of His Ways, Gold by Moonlight
- Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro—a tender journey through Advent.
By Bill Bright
- God: Discover His Character: “We can trace all our human problems to our view of God” was one of Dr. Bright’s favorite comments. So he wrote a book to help expand our understanding of who God is and what He is like. A powerful picture of the God we love and serve.
- The Secret: How to Live with Purpose and Power Bill Bright probably did as much as anyone else to help believers understand what it meant to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment. He also played a key role in bridging the chasm between evangelicals and charismatics—opening communication and growing trust.
- The Journey Home: Finishing with Joy Written from his sick bed, as he slowly succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, Dr. Bright paints a beautiful picture of what it means to finish well with the Lord. He gives a strong but gentle challenge to make life meaningful to the very end!
- My Life Is Not My Own: Following God No Matter the Cost I can’t count how many times I heard Bill say, “I am just a slave of Jesus Christ.” In this book he portrays that all he did to serve God had little to do with his own excellence and everything to do with becoming a “royal slave” to the King of kings. He presents a compelling vision of the freedom that comes from giving ourselves to Jesus as a bond slave.
On My Knees
- The Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller—A very personal and practical telling of his learning to pray.
- Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson—Another personal and practical help for lifting our children—and grandchildren—to God.
Stories: Some True, Some Imagined
- Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos—a remarkable tale of discovering the real Jesus. So creative, so funny, so incisive.
- Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man’s Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed by Matt Mikalatos—the subtitle says it all.
- Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me: A Memoir of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron—a funny, sad story of growing up
A Little Help
- The 11 Secrets of Getting Published by Mary DeMuth—an e-book that will get you on your way to being a published writer.