20 years: 20 books


I never really read anything much until my mid 20’s (apart from the Beano, The Hobbit and Viz). It was then that my life took a turn I really wasn’t expecting; I started to follow Jesus, became part of a local church and got baptised! My baptism took place at the King’s Centre on Sunday 25th January 1998 (20 years ago). I had so many questions, so much to learn and was recommended some good books, which started a love for reading that hasn’t diminished to this day.

I think a good book is like a good tour-guide; they help us to pause, look more deeply and learn; they point out things we might have otherwise missed; they give us a different perspective on something we might have seen many times; they encourage us to delve beneath the surface of our understanding; and help grow our interest, fascination and wonder. 

Over the years I’ve read many books that have been excellent tour-guides, and thought I’d choose 20 of them that have played a part in my journey so far. I realise that not all the books that have helped me, will necessarily help you or be as meaningful to you. Much depends on what we’re going through when we read them, the stage of life we’re in or simply the style of the author.

But if you’re interested, here they are (in no particular order)… 

  1. The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning: Massively helped deepen my appreciation of the furious love and amazing grace of God.
  2. Water from a deep well, Gerald Sittser: Just simply one of the best books I’ve read (and re-read). A brilliant tour-guide through the rich history of Christian spirituality with insightful application to our lives today.
  3. A Resilient Life, Gordon MacDonald: I love reading anything Gordon writes, and this is one of his best. Brilliant wisdom for running the race of life.
  4. Serious Times, James E. White: An incisive overview of Western culture, with superb application of how we live lives that matter in our day.
  5. The Call, Os Guinness: Helping us find and fulfil the central purpose of our lives. Personally I think everything he writes is worth reading; one of the clearest and most compelling Christian thinkers out there.
  6. The Cross & the Prodigal, Kenneth Bailey: This expanded and enriched my view of one of my favourite stories Jesus told.  Bailey is a gifted tour-guide and all his writing is wonderfully rich in content.
  7. How Long O Lord? D. A Carson: Without giving simplistic answers, but rather grappling with the scriptures, this helped me get to grips with the age old question of why a sovereign God would allow so much suffering and evil in the world.
  8. D.L Moody on Spiritual Leadership, Steve Miller: So many leadership books are aimed at church leaders (rather than broader leadership within the church) this one isn’t. Full of really helpful wisdom and application for anyone learning to lead in more Christlike ways.
  9. Sifted, Wayne Corderio: Every leader will go through tough times and challenges. The question is not just how do we get through them; but how can we grow through them? This book came at just the right time, so helpful!
  10. The Glory of Christ, Peter Lewis: This enriched my soul, deepened my understanding and fuelled my worship. 
  11. Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp: We lead out of who we are; this insightful book helped me navigate some of the unique challenges that come through shepherding others and drove me to a deeper reliance on the gospel of grace.
  12. Loving Your Kids on Purpose, Danny SilkStating the obvious, parenting isn’t easy. This seriously helped me become a better and more gospel influenced parent (and hopefully love my kids more!).
  13. Mountain Rain, Eileen Crossman: I’ve read a number of biographies over the years (all of John Pollocks are great) but this one stands out for me. I don’t think any other biography has taught me more about patience, prayer and perseverance. 
  14. The Heart of Evangelism, Jerram Barrs: I’ve read quite a few books on this subject but this I found to be one of the most thoughtful, nuanced and biblically rich.
  15. A Praying Life, Paul E Miller: One of the most practical, helpful and insightful books on prayer I’ve read.
  16. Can Man Live without God?, Ravi Zacharias: I needed a dictionary when I first read this, but learnt so much from it. It was this book that started my love for apologetics (defence of the Christian faith) and desire to help others explore questions raised by the Christian faith.
  17. Preaching to a Post-Everthing World, Zach Eswine: Stayed on my desk for months, referring to it and hopefully helping improve my preaching!
  18. The Screwtape Letters, C.S Lewis: It’s Lewis, so it’s bound to be good, but this book was particularly helpful and insightful in understanding the spiritual battle we all face.
  19. The Good God & Christ Our Life, Michael Reeves: Ok, so that’s two books (but they are small, have some pictures and are so good!) The Good God is the best I’ve ever read on the Trinity and Christ Our Life richly expanded my view and appreciation of Christ.
  20. The Crucifixion, Fleming Rutledge: This is the most recent book I've read. Not a small book, but enlarged my view of the cross, so much to marvel at, chew over and think about! (Here’s 10 reasons to read it by Andrew Wilson https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/the-crucifixion/ )

Toby Skipper

Blog 7Kings Norwich