One of the resources listed in R. Kent Hughes’ Disciplnes of a Godly Man (my review), is the Personal Reading Survey. In it, Hughes has contact several prominant evangelicals and asked them the following four questions:
What five book, secular or scared, have infuenced you the most?
Of these, which is your favorite?
Now, according to my editor, I can just rewrite the whole freaking thing. So, I’ll list some of the people asked, and then give you his list of books mentioned at least five times (he list all that are mentioned twice, but I don’t want to type that much, go buy the book). He asked 34 people, men and women, preachers, academics, and authors, including James M. Boice, Charles Colson, Elisabeth Elliot, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Charles Swindoll, and Warren Wiersbe. Somewhat annoyingly, not everyone answered all the questions, or answered the correctly, so to speak.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity was the most listed book with 10 mentions, followed by
Calvin, Institutes – 8
Tozer, The Pursuit of God – 6
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest – 5
Dostoyevski, Brothers Karamazov – 5
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina – 5
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress – 5
Lewis made in on the list further down with thee votes for The Great Divorce. Tolstoy is the only novelist with two books, War & Peace also received two mentions. Three people in the survey made the list, which is pretty cool – Elliot actually had two books, Shadow of the Almighty (4) and Through Gates of Splendor (2), Colson with Loving God (2), and Packer’s Knowing God also had two mentions.
No surprise to see Mere Christianity on there. They may have been the first explicitly Christian book I ever read (if not, it was the second, after Screwtape Letters). The number of reformed people means Institutes was bound to show up. Buswell’s A Systematic Theology of Christian Religion (though one mention came from a guy that actually listed the Bible) received two mentions (though didn’t make the list in the book) and was the only other systematic to make it.
Tozer also received a few mentions for Knowledge of the Holy. C.S. Lewis had five other books mentioned (no Chronicles). Looks like Utmost for His Highest was the only devotional mentioned (though I don’t know some of the books). Maybe the most surprising is the preponderance of Russian Literature among the list for novels. I enjoy Russian Literate, having read Crime and Punishment (my review), currently reading War and Peace, with the rest of the books mentioned still on my list. They are great books, but it seems odd that they would be so common on a Christian list. Maybe it is something I haven’t gotten to yet.
So there you go, if you didn’t have enough books to read, there are some more. Sadly, I’ve read only one of those listed five times or more. Though I have Institutes on my list as the systematic and Utmost as the devotional I plan to read next year. I was torn on whether I wanted to read Anna Karina or Brother’s next, but I guess I should read both. I’m going to go buy Pursuit of God right now. Honestly, Pilgrims Progress just doesn’t interest me, but it’s place on the list makes me want to give it a try. We will see, I hope to read and review them all, but like Goodreads says, ‘So many books, so little time.’