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