Ten Most Influential Books (In My Life)

download1.  The Bible

(Anything written here will be an understatement.  The Word of God.  My place of instruction, comfort, guidance, a humbling source of Hope and edification, and a history of the Faith to which I cling, as well as a place I find surprise, wonder, and ominous obligation.)


386787 2.  The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

(Certainly the work of fiction that has most influenced my life, my perception of reality, my imagination, my vision of courage, nobility, honor, and sacrifice.  Tolkien’s best known work, if not his masterpiece, has kept the idea of “a better world” in my mind and heart.  Middle Earth reminds me that there are ideals worth fighting for, ideals that have at times inspired me to reach them, and at times have been markers of times I’ve fallen.  I’m greatly indebted to “The Professor,” as Tolkien is called in some circles, his work continues to educate, entertain, and edify.)


0b40b220dca036e1b6b45010.L3.  The History of the Christian Church (8 vols.) by Philip Schaff

(Oh, when I think back to the days when I was a Calvinistic Presbyterian Protestant, and I began reading Schaff’s history that masterfully detailed (for starters) the first few hundred years of Christianity… seeing so little of my own (then) church experience reflected in the ancient practices and teachings of the Church, I began to wonder about things, a great many things it turned out.  Learning this history loosened my Protestant foundation.  In short, it was in a great part through the work of this tremendous historian, Schaff, that I began seeing the intellectual (at least) basis for Traditional orthodox Christianity.)


karamazov-cover-34.  The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

(If Schaff’s work (above) was the intellectual loosening of my past idea of faith, then Dostoyevsky was in many ways the visceral, emotive, effusive loosening of my heart towards traditional Orthodox Christianity.  Here was a Christian author who clearly understood at such a deep level the gritty human struggle with sin juxtaposed with our noble calling from God.  Here was a writer who deeply understood faith… who deeply understood Grace, even and especially in the face of despicable human Sins- realities that I’ve all too often related to in my own life.)


Wiesel+Elie5.  Night by Ellie Wiesel

(The book that, for me, put all human suffering at the hands of Man into context.  This first person account of a Holocaust survivor details the depths of human depravity as shown through the tyranny of Nazism, and the carnage of innocents that resulted.  The question still remains: why?)


tumblr_m6n0y3nymL1qaouh8o1_5006.  The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

(Whenever I read this book, or even a selected letter from it, I see again and again my own failings.  I see how how I have fallen short of the glory of God- how I have played right into the hands of my very own Screwtape.)


41yH--fP9gL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_7.  The Christian Tradition: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600 by Jaroslav Pelikan

(Pelikan’s history of Christianity provides a comprehensive tandem to Schaff’s own History (above).  Where Schaff invited me in to the history, I feel as if Pelikan gave me a guided tour.)


51q1WKPC8lL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_8.  Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right by Barry Scheck, Jim Dwyer, Peter Neufeld

(I encourage you to read this crucial book for yourself.  Form your own conclusions.  I believe this should be mandatory reading in every high school civics class and law school in America.)


515udHOLMSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_9.  The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(If there’s one book that in many ways summarizes the past twenty years of my life, this would be the book.  I lived as a solitary, lone figure, the vast majority of my time spent alone- even when surrounded by people.  I brought a lot of trouble upon myself as a result, not unlike young Werther.  A wrenching story that harkened to the melancholy of my past.)


HTRGREGORY-0110.  How to Live a Holy Life by Metropolitan Gregory Postnikov

(If The Sorrows of Young Werther is my past, this book is the future towards which I’m working, by the Grace of God.  The most potent rule of faith- a gift that keeps giving when I have the courage to read it.  For each time I do, it begs for me to change- to turn yet again towards God.  A thing often easier to say than do.)


4 thoughts on “Ten Most Influential Books (In My Life)

  1. Well I have not yet read the Bible in its entirety but I’ve read a good portion of it :). Tolkien is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy two times!

    • Wow, that’s very exciting! Yes, the Lord of the Rings rewards numerous readings. I’d encourage you to read it once every couple years if youre able to. The Bible is great to work through all the time. A little bit here, a little bit there, goes a long way when it’s on a regular, prayerful basis. Thank you once again for writing.

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