Books that spiritually shape college students….

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I have been wondering about what books spiritually shape college students. So I asked some of my students who are invovled in leadership positions from leading a Bible study, to being on the servant team and who volunteer and lead worship. I asked them what were the five books that transformed and impacted them spiritually….outside of the Bible, as I assumed that book would have been mentioned by everyone…though I don’t know if that is always true. Below you can see their results.

The results are not in any order, but there are some interesting notes. Of course, the usual “suspects” are there like C. S. Lewis and Donald Miller, but I was also surprised by some of the names on the list such as Dan Allender, Ken Gire, etc. Lewis would have made this list for the last 50 years. Miller is on the rise in collegiate circles.

What is also interesting, but which is probably unknown to you, is how many authors made the list that I think that my associate Lyndsey or myself had some type of direct influence on. I love Lewis, Nouwen, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and talk about them quite a bit. They all made the list.

I have been wondering about my own list that I would have carved out in 1997 when I graduated. And that list would probably be quite different today than it was then. One, my theology has developed and changed over the years, and some books are sort of a gateway into the reading of theology and books that are spiritually transforming. As we grow, our tastes grow, but we all can remember the book or books that started it all for us.

Below is the list which you can read. I compiled all the results and listed the books that were mentioned. By far and away, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis made the most lists, with Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen rounding out the books that were mentioned the most.

In November of 2005, I wrote about The Five Books I Would Recommend to a College Student…or Actually, to Anyone!.

But for now, below is the list that some of my leaders compiled. Take a look.


The New Oxford Annotated Bible

The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life by Dan Allender

How To Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud

The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Contentment by Linda Dillow

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Frederick Douglass: Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave/ My Bondage and My Freedom/ Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge

Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation by Gustavo Gutierrez

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell

A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey by Brian McLaren

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller

Gracias: A Latin American Journal by Henri Nouwen

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen

Desiring God by John Piper

Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

Mark of theLion: A Voice in the Wind, an Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn by Francine Rivers

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity by Lee Strobel

The Scientific Case for Creation (Scripture and Science) by Bert Thompson

The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

0 Comments

  1. by Chris on April 13, 2006  7:13 am Reply

    That's really interesting! I think I will do the same study with some of my leaders next week. I am really interested to hear what they have to say...

  2. by austin on April 13, 2006  2:04 pm Reply

    Just to add a different flavor, here would be mine:

    When I Don't Desire God - John Piper

    The Attributes of God - A.W. Pink

    The Pleasantness of a Religious Life - Matthew Henry

    Communion With God - John Owen

    Knowing God - J.I. Packer

    Humility - C.J. Mahaney

    Christianity and Liberalism - J. Gresham Machen

    And then of course, my two favorite systematics by Grudem and Culver.

  3. by Bernie on April 13, 2006  3:39 pm Reply

    I want to encourage all of the guys out there...don't be afraid of Francine Rivers, especially Redeeming Love. I know it seems a little scary because she's generally thought of as a writer for women, but I read it with a group of my guy friends and got a lot out of it. Rivers' retelling of Hosea was a wonderful narrative description of God's unending love and faithfulness to Israel and to me. If you are wondering how far God is willing to go for you, this is the novel to read.

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