1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I grew up watching the movie but when I read the introduction I knew this was my favorite book. I read it 2 or 3 more times before I realized S. Morgenstern didn’t exist and the whole thing was just a product of Goldman’s fertile imagination. Simply amazing. This book is pure magic.
2. Tree of Salvation by G. Ronald Murphy
This book changed my life. The good news of Jesus Christ came alive to me in a way I never would’ve thought possible. The picture that headlines this blog was inspired by this book. My poem Yggdrasil: The Winter Soldier was inspired by this book. I have a shrine in my study that I made because of this book. This book gave me an emotional and artistic language. I love it.
3. A wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I love this book. Read it. It’s genius.
4. Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always been obsessed with Dinosaurs but I’ve actually read each of these 3 times and I don’t currently own a copy of either. I’m really not a big reader or a fast one, but I’ve literally picked up JP in Barnes and Nobles just to look at a chapter and half an hour later had to buy the book just because…then spent the rest of the day reading it. Crichton wasn’t a great writer, he created very convincing worlds with exciting concept driven plots. But these two books just hold me. I actually read the lost world out loud to my brother when I was in 5th grade. 2 days of reading out loud, and when he went to bed I was so into it I would actually read ahead…just because I had to know what would happen next. Some things just connect to us and we don’t really know why…I wish it was Les Mis or the Brothers K but I just don’t like that sort of fiction. I like dinosaurs. Sue me.
5. The Blindside by Michael Lewis
The film was great but this book, like Moneyball, tells a larger tale. Michael & the Tuohys form the spirit and heart but the body is American gridiron Football and how it evolved. It’s amazing. Lewis has a unique ability to tell personal story as well as complex scholarly analysis. This book is entertaining and enlightening.
6. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said elsewhere better. These books are amazing. The films are the best/worst literary adaptation ever because when they’re on they are pitch perfect and when they’re off they’re really off. Sadly the second trilogy took that ratio from like 90% success to 50% or less. Regardless Tolkien was a genius. These books are treasures.
6. Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
I don’t know what to say except this book enthralled me. I don’t totally understand why. If you don’t like Association football you may not be able to understand this book. But if you’re interrested in soccer/football at all check this book out. It will piss you off and open your mind.
7. Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card
The heart of the Jesus Faith is sadness. Sadness connects us to Jesus, the man of sorrow. A true Christian is marked by sadness. If not his or her own then the sadness of others. This book taught me that my mental illness, my scars, my sorrows were my best sacrifice of praise. They are not things to be hidden from God but things to be presented to him. Jesus is the only God who asks for our weaknesses. All others want our strength and goodness but Jesus is the shame eater. Jesus absorbs all our evil and brokenness and breaks it into a million pieces. He takes these pieces and turns them into little diamonds and they become the Stars that guide us through the night and finally to our true home: Jesus. Sadness is the key to life, not success. Sadness is sacred. If you want to find Jesus search for sadness. There you will always find him.
8. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
With this book Miller became the Bob Dylan/Beatles/Ramones etc of comic books. He exploded Batman and put him back together better than ever. The animated film version is great but it lacks Miller’s voice (literally because there is no VO in the film). And almost everything Miller did with Batman has found its way into the Nolan Trilogy and BVS so many elements here will seem old to new readers but this book remains a hurricane of superhero excellence. This is the true citizen Kane of superheroes and comics. Watchmen is great but this is better. The moral conflicts of this psychological opera are more relevant today than they were before. We keep looking to others to solve our problems and tell us what to do or believe but at the end of the day it’s always up to you. What will you do with your life? Blame? Complain? Or will you join Batman in his holy unholy crusade against evil? The true Dark Knight awaits you in these pages and he wants to make you one of his disciples!
9. God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark
Think the crusades are proof that religion is evil? If the first thing you think of when the crusades come up is racism, colonialism, patriarchy, etc then you need this book. The crusades are far more interesting, amazing, and tragic than you know. This was a non fiction page turner like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing.
10. To Change the World: The Irony, Tregedy, and Possiblilty of Christianity in the late modern world by James Davison Hunter
To me this book was the key that unlocked the world. Especially from the perspective of morality and ethics. Hunter is the guy who coined the phrase culture wars back when no one believed such a thing existed. In this book he explains that war and what Christians should really do about it. Spoiler: it’s boring, just do what Jesus said to do. The forces that run this world are big and powerful and there’s not much we can do to change it. That’s okay. All we need to do is be faithful. That’s all any of us ever can do. He didn’t call us to change the world (that’s his job) he called us to change ourselves and follow him regardless of the outcome.