The Story of Christianity, by Justo L. González
I wanted to know how we got here so that I could know what story I’d stepped into and what my role in it might be. This two-volume summary of church history, from inception to present day, shocked me and prompted questions I’ll ask for the rest of my life.
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, by Justin Lee
For almost 15 years, Justin Lee has been executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a non-profit he founded to build bridges and help the church better navigate this contentious issue. One of only two books I recommend on the subject of faith and homosexuality.
Bible, Gender, Sexuality, by James V. Brownson
The most thorough, scholarly text I’ve read on why and how the church should reconsider whether biblical prohibitions on same-sex behavior in the context of the ancient world should apply to contemporary, committed gay relationships. Received a well-earned starred review from Booklist.
The Naked Gospel, by Andrew Farley
A fearless and accessible defense of freedom in Christ from a guy who had to learn grace the hard way, by working himself into a total breakdown.
Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey
My favorite of Yancey’s books; a thorough and excellent resource for people struggling to maintain faith through painful disappointment.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron
A brief but harrowing account of one man’s near-fatal bout with depression. A National Bestseller.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison
I never understood Manic-Depression, or Bipolar Disorder as it is now called, until reading this personal account. For anyone who doubts mental illness is truly an illness.
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
Lewis takes a stab at imagining heaven and hell. I don’t know if he got them right, but his attempt is one of his best books.
The Canon of Scripture, by F. F. Bruce
Dry as dirt. And fascinating. Best book I know on how the Bible came to be.
A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle
I love anything by L’Engle, but this is my favorite. Though best-known for her children’s fiction book, A Wrinkle In Time, I most enjoy L’Engle’s non-fiction reflections on life.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard
The Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about the glory and horror of the natural world. Among the most beautifully written books I’ve read.