5 Steps to Finding Great Books

Reading is not lame!  I can remember as a child getting a hold of my very first copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress”.  Mrs. Kerber was my Sunday school teacher and I was was only 9 years old when our class had a contest that ended in me winning 2nd place and the a fore mentioned christian classic.  The book was obviously published by someone trying to market to my age group.  Christian was on the cover with a shiny sword, a suit of armor, and a look of determination on his face that clearly stated his strength in the face of peril.  That book changed the direction of my life in 2 BIG ways.  First, I began to look at the christian life as a journey and an adventure. Secondly, I fell in love with books.

With so many good books being published at record numbers today how can someone be sure to find the best of the best?

 I have a few ideas.

 1.  Ask Other Readers

Find someone you respect in an area of expertise and ask them what they are reading.  If someone has a successful small group ministry, ask them which books helped them most in preparing for small groups.  If someone seems to lead well, ask them what leadership books they have enjoyed.  Readers are not only leaders they also are great resources for finding the best books.

 2.  Trust the Classics

Though they may not be as popular as they once were they have stood the test of time for a reason.  The writings of Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, and Oswald Chambers should be required reading for every Christian.  Recently, I had a pastor friend from college recommend a work by the English churchman Richard Baxter called, “The Reformed Pastor”. “It’s not what you think.” he said.  It wasn’t.  It was an incredible book that truly helped me in my pastoral calling.

 3.  Listen for the Buzz

There are certain books that, it seems, everyone is talking about.  These books are normally wonderful reads.  For example, I had heard from multiple people and in multiple venues about Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point”.  It was everywhere but I had yet to pick it up.  While on a family trip with my brother and father’s family, they were both talking about the “Tipping Point”.  At that point, I had tipped.  I had to get in the conversation and I am so glad I did.  Great Book!  The same was true with “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer.  I kept hearing about this book and finally read it, devoured it, loved it!  So glad I listened to the buzz on that one, it has highly influenced our church.

 4.  Don’t reject it because it’s Popular

Just as there are men who only read what is “now”, there are also men who reject everything that wasn’t written by a puritan.  There is value in modern church literature.  If you haven’t read “Purpose Driven Church”, because it happened to be written in the nineties, then you are missing a great book.  I can’t say I agree with everything in Warren’s book, but neither can I say that I agree with everything in “The Reformed Pastor”.  When I first saw “Experiencing God” by Blackaby at Family Christian Stores I turned my nose up, but then I kept hearing my friends reference the work and found it powerful and inspirational in many ways.  Not every new release is worth the time, but some of them are.

5. Pick a Format

A lot of people enjoy different ways to read a book. I read a good portion of my books through audio format. You may like to hold a book in your hand, or you may enjoy reading it on your Kindle or iPad. Pick the format that is best for you and enjoy your book.

 Any good book recommendations?  List them below in the comment section:

  1. Charlotte Sousa says:

    Josh,

    High on my list of mostly-overlooked gems is the classic collected works of Ralph Waldo Emerson- particularly a lecture he gave to the Mechanics Apprentices Association in Boston early in 1841. It was called “Man, The Reformer.”

    He counseled that Man should, in his daily walk, be elevated by personal connection to the spiritual world. He also told his audience to “cast aside all evil customs, timidities and limitations.” One point which always gets my attention (remember that this was 1841…) was Emerson’s notation that “the functions for which we were mainly created are grown so rare in society, that the memory of them is only kept alive in old books and in dim traditions….. ” Even then, they pined for “the good old days.”

    Wow. Old traditions. That definitely includes reading, in OUR days– for way too many people. What a rich heritage we have on the written page. OK, I also find myself remarking to Walt, after finishing something on my Kindle– “Goodness, that was a real “button-pusher!” The reality is, that while I’m glad we have this level of technology to tap, NOTHING tops the tactile pleasure of holding a well-bound leather, cherished book in your hands and turning pages the old-fashioned way– by hand.

    Your notes made again me pick up “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell off my shelf. Did you know that, when she met President Abraham Lincoln, he looked at the tiny little woman before him and remarked, “Ah, so YOU’re the little lady who started such a great war!”

    Reading is a lifelong pleasure and treasure. Thank you, Josh for reminding each of us that the priceless privilege is ours for the taking.

  2. Joshua Teis says:

    Charlotte,

    Thank you for reading my blog! I too share your love for reading and for Emerson. I’m glad the blog has pointed you back to our beloved books.

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