Tuesday, January 3, 2012

25 Books

For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.    C.S. Lewis, Introduction to Athanasius’ On The Incarnation

I saw this book the other day at National Book Store. I was disappointed after reading the blurb but I bought it anyway just to kill the “thrill of immediacy”.  As pointed by the editors, this book is not the list of the best Christian books ever but books from dead authors that “served as the best guides for living life with God”. Many of these books are considered “devotional classics” that I bet, except for Nouwen’s Prodigal are all available on-line for free. Obviously, the reader will likely not agree with the choices. Here’s the list in order:

1.  On the Incarnation  by St. Athanasius
2.  Confessions  by St. Augustine 
3.  The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
4.  The Rule of St. Benedict  by St. Benedict
5.  The Divine Comedy  by Dante Alighieri
6.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Anonymous
7.  Revelations of Divine Love (Showings)  by Julian of Norwich
8.  The Imitation of Christ  by Thomas à Kempis
9.  The Philokalia
10.  Institutes of the Christian Religion  by John Calvin
11.  The Interior Castle  by St. Teresa of Avila
12.  Dark Night of the Soul  by St. John of the Cross
13.  Pensées  by Blaise Pascal
14.  The Pilgrim's Progress  by John Bunyan
15.  The Practice of the Presence of God  by Brother Lawrence
16.  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life  by William Law
17.  The Way of a Pilgrim  by Unknown Author
18.  The Brothers Karamazov  by Fyodor Dostoevsky
19.  Orthodoxy  by G. K. Chesterton
20.  The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
21.  The Cost of Discipleship  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
22.  A Testament of Devotion  by Thomas R. Kelly
23.  The Seven Storey Mountain  by Thomas Merton
24.  Mere Christianity  by C. S. Lewis
25.  The Return of the Prodigal Son  by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Interestingly, seven of these are in my sleek bookshelf including the surprising choices- The Brothers Karamazov and Hopkin’s collection of poems.  Added as an extra is a list of Top 9 contemporary authors which disappointed me the more:
  • 1.     Wendell Berry
  • 2.      Richard J. Foster
  • 3.      Anne Lamott
  • 4.      Brian McLaren
  • 5.      Eugene H. Peterson
  • 6.      John Stott
  • 7.      Walter Wangerin, Jr.
  • 8.      Dallas Willard
  • 9.      N.T. Wright

Lamott in Top 3?  I have read two of her non-fiction works. Putting her even in Top 100 is a lousy choice. 

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