my “Top Ten Books” list

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the (by now “old”) FB trend of listing the top ten books that have significantly influenced you in some way or have otherwise stuck with you, etc., etc. I thought it appropriate to share my list* on here So! Without further ado’s, here it is:


  1. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  3. My Ántonia, Willa Cather
  4. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  5. The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky
  6. What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, Wendell Berry
  7. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L’Engle
  8. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
  9. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen
  10. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl


Honorable mentions (since I had trouble paring it down): Les Misérables byVictor Hugo and A Wrinkle in Time by M. L’Engle.

*Note: This is my “literary” book list; for the sake of simplification and in keeping with the overall thematic trend of this blog, I decided to add this qualification; thus, I left off a book like The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which has had a significant influence in some “big” life-direction decisions for me, but is not a book that is likely I will ever read again…and certainly not for enjoyment or literary pleasure. (As great as Bonhoeffer’s theology is, this book -to me- is dry. (Confession: I didn’t even read the whole thing through the first time!) Nevertheless, it still significantly influenced me…

Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, both by Elisabeth Elliot, also had a significant influence on my thinking during my early college years when I was making some “big” life-shaping/direction related decisions. I don’t consider them particularly “literary,” however (like, they probably wouldn’t show up on the syllabus for a college Lit course – although they were written with a certain amount of skill and I enjoyed reading them at the time), and, like C.O.D., I don’t have plans to re-read them anytime soon, or possibly ever. (Not so with the other books on my list – perhaps that’s the key distinction in my mind…I’m not really sure. Whatever.)

Finally, you may (or may not) have noticed that the Bible is missing from my list; I sort of considered it as an underlying, given book to all of the above. The Bible has been, is, and will (God-willing) continue to be a hugely significant and influential book in my life, one that I have read and am continuously reading, and plan on continuously reading throughout my life, and -incidentally- is also a book that I (and many others much wiser than me) consider to be highly literary. (My personal preference in the English language is the NKJV. ESV is another version I like, and Holman Christian Standard has some pretty rich/nifty wording. And of course, there are those who argue that the good ole King James Version is the literary best…there’s no doubt that the KJV in particularly has certainly had an enormous influence on American Literature and even the use of the English language itself over the past 403 years. But! I’m starting to get beyond my depth once again and into waters where I’m not really qualified to offer any substantial or credible comment…so I’ll leave that to others more competent in that area than myself. If you’re really interested in the topic of the KJV’s historical and linguistic influence on the English language and literature, I’d recommend that you check out stuff by scholar Leland Ryken of Wheaton College, in particular his book The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation – which I have not read, just so you know.)


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