Looking for some great books to add to your 2013 reading list? We've surveyed Crossway staff to compile some suggestions below. Whether you're looking for something old or something new—from theology to fiction, from business to children's books—we've got you covered. Feel free to leave your top book recommendations in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!
Vice President of Book Publishing:
Below are four books that have shaped my life and thinking and theology and worship that I would commend to others. They will stretch your thinking, but it's worth the effort. As John Piper has written, "Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves. Digging is hard, but you might find gold!"
The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame — There are too many books being published to read them all—in fact, as my colleagues can attest, my office bookshelves overfloweth! This also means that I rarely read a book more than once. Frame's book—the first in his Theology of Lordship series—is an exception. It has profoundly shaped my approach to theology, showing the insightful application of tri-perspectivalism and reinforcing that Yahweh is not only the Lord of our hearts but must be the Lord of our thinking as well.
Future Grace by John Piper — This Piper book may be one of his most theological, most practical, and least read. The application chapters on battling unbelief (of lust, impatience, bitterness, misplaced shame, anxiety, etc.) are worth their weight in gold. It's just been published in a new edition, making a very good book even better.
Knowing God by J. I. Packer —There's a reason this is a modern-day classic, which means it can be read more than once with increasing benefit. A master writer and theologian writing on the most important Person in the universe and what it means to know him.
The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul — You simply will not know the beauty of grace until you know the depth of your sin, and you will not know the depth of your sin until you understand the holiness of God. If you have ever struggled with a low view of God or a high view of self or a blasé view of grace, this is a book you need to consider reading.
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes — Although this was first published more than 20 years ago, it remains one of my favorites and one of our bestsellers (nearly 500,000 sold). I first heard this material preached, as Kent Hughes was my pastor at the time, and it has had continued impact on my life. It is a biblical, practical, and challenging book on the disciplines that should be part of a man's life—disciplines of purity, marriage, fatherhood, mind, devotion, prayer, worship, character, work, church, perseverance, leadership, giving, witness, and ministry.
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm, illustrated by Gail Schoonmaker — A wonderful, big, and colorful look at the overarching story of the Bible—God's plan to redeem sinful people in Christ. The illustrations are big and attractive for kids, and the story is told in a way that engages them. This is a must have for any home with young children.
Daily Light on the Daily Path compiled by Jonathan Bagster, from an idea by Samuel Bagster — This classic devotional book has been recently released in attractive gift editions. The text is purely Scripture, collected and organized by theme. It is an excellent guide for daily reading and prayer.
Grace Transforming by Phil Ryken — A brief, accessible, and encouraging book by Phil Ryken on the riches of God's grace.
ESV Study Bible — For anyone who wants to understand the Bible in a deeper way and to study and treasure it more fully, the ESV Study Bible is an amazing resource.
Good to Great by Jim Collins — Perhaps there is no better foundational business book in the market.
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything by Patrick Lencionni — I have listened to the book, read it, and am working to apply some of these principles to my own work life.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky — This book (and others by Dostoevsky) had an enormous impact on my spiritual journey.
What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert — Very important book for me as I think through the gospel implications for my life at home, work, and church.
The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock — I love this series about the way in which God takes a proud man and turns him into a dove—I can identify with the first part and trust God will work in such a way in my life that I might live a Spirit-filled life!
This would be my list if I could only choose 5...
Valley of Vision edited by Arthur G. Bennett — This is a collection of beautifully orchestrated Puritan prayers. I use this almost every day and it has been the most instrumental book in my life apart from the Bible.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom — This is the autobiography of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian, and the story of she and her family's response to the Nazi's invasion of Holland during World War II. I was so moved and encouraged by their faith and endurance, as well as Corrie's transparency, during a time of great darkness and loss.
Joy by Lydia Brownback — This book was written as a daily devotional for women and discusses unconditional joy. The content is meaty and I would be stunned if one didn't finish the book feeling challenged and changed. Lydia is not a flowery writer and really gets to the heart of the issue. I would recommend any one of her books.
Phantastes by George MacDonald — George MacDonald is easily my favorite writer of all time. He was a Scottish poet, author, and pastor with an imagination like you wouldn't believe and it's brilliantly shown in this dream-like, amazingly fantastical novel—no wonder he mentored and inspired writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan — This book is a must-read classic! It's a stirring, fictional story of a man named Christian taking a journey to the Celestial City and the obstacles and inspirations that he encounters along the way. I would describe this book as an experience and, at the end of it, I was left with a greater longing and excitement for the Celestial City and a stronger appreciation for the significant milestones I will face along the way.
Bible Publishing Director:
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien — C. S. Lewis wrote to Tolkien in 1949, after reading this category-defying epic, and said: “I have drained the rich cup and satisfied a long thirst.” Have you?
The Sermons of George Whitefield by George Whitefield (ed. Lee Gatiss) — Someone asked Ben Franklin why he was going to hear Whitefield preach if he did not believe what Whitefield said. “No, but he does!” replied Franklin. That steely conviction, wedded with gospel-richness, theological depth, and understanding of the human heart, make Whitefield’s sermons a powerful read.
Communion with the Triune God by John Owen (ed. K. Kapic and J. Taylor) — Roger Nicole, one of the great teachers of Reformed theology of our time, remarked that John Owen was the greatest theologian ever to write in the English language. And in this book the greatest theologian to write in our language says things like: “Exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams.”
Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson — With the wit and logic that have become characteristic of his writing, Wilson points to our misunderstanding of God the Father as the source of many of our social ills—including the breakdown of the family.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones — This sizable compilation of MLJ sermons is an unbelievable resource for anyone studying the Sermon on the Mount, or looking into what it means to be a Christian in the Kingdom of God.
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung — A quick, but important read on the importance of holiness in a believer's life. Pointing to Scripture, DeYoung encourages believers to live lives that reflect their union with Christ.
Lit! by Tony Reinke — A great treatise on what it means to read in light of Scripture. About halfway through Lit!, Reinke had so convinced me of the importance of reading I bought and read Beowulf before returning to finish his book.
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis — What kind of Wheaton College grad would I be if I didn't include Lewis on my list? But seriously, as with any quality fiction, Lewis uses narrative as a light. He shines it into the human heart and mind, revealing misconceptions whose sinful roots were previously veiled in darkness.Ben Krueger Conference and Event Manager
Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden — The Edwards family's devotion to the Lord has marked my thoughts for the few years since I read this book. In addition to Edwards's famous ministry I was struck by the Lord's continued blessings on his family and the many successes that his children went on to have.
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas — Five stars out of four. A fantastically engaging and thorough retelling of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and ministry.
Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson — As a dad of young boys, over-punishing to maintain peace in our home can be a temptation. My sons need regenerated hearts that come from our exalting the unmerited favor and kindnesses of the Lord in our home more than they need a law enforcing father. Elyse has helped us greatly to prioritize our boys' hearts over their performance in our parenting. With an emphasized grace-based mentality, our redirecting has become more joyful and fruitful.
All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon — I hope to read this book 100 times before my time is up. It truly is all of grace.
A Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer, preface by Lane T. Dennis, foreword by J. I. Packer — These three books (all in one volume) have helped me to solidify my commitment to absolute truth and the unshakeableness of God in any sphere of life. A "true truth", as I believe Schaeffer calls it, does exist and it does not evolve from person to person.Andrew Tebbe Marketing Manager:
The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders — This book was consistently insightful—full of "I hadn't thought of it that way" moments. Sanders writes from a general evangelical perspective in a way that promotes both theological faithfulness and unity.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card — I've read this sci-fi classic many times, and love it more and more each time. It's gripping, thoroughly enjoyable, and wrestles with themes related to war, childhood, and the role of government in a digital age. The book was first published back in 1985, but Card's fictional technology bears shockingly close resemblance to many of the tools we use today. It's being made into a major motion picture, so read it before it becomes mainstream!
Dominion and Dynasty by Stephen Dempster — This book transformed how I read the Old Testament. Dempster sketches a brief but eye-opening theology of the Old Testament in its original canonical form. I can guarantee this book will help you appreciate and understand the Old Testament more.Aaron Camp International Rights Representative:
Let the Nations Be Glad! by John Piper — I strongly recommend this book as a theological and practical starting place for any believer who lacks (or wants to cultivate) the international element of their faith. Dr. Piper clearly shows the trajectory and scope of the church's mission to reach the nations with the good news.
The Joy of Calvinism by Greg Forster — I'm not sure that any book I've read has done a better job of correcting misconceptions while also dragging us away from the "infinitesimal calculus" of theological debate; instead, pointing us toward a rich tradition of Trinitarian living. This is a must-read for all students of theology—Calvinist or not.
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — How could I resist leaving out a fun title? This may be Doyle at his best. The unique blend of history, mystery, plot twists, and the recognizable and adored characters of Holmes and Watson make this an all-time favorite of mine. This is the fourth and final of Doyle's excellent Sherlock Holmes novels.
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt — This book is a game-changer for the economic and political novice. Focusing particularly on free market solutions and questioning the legitimacy of intervention, Hazlitt helpfully highlights and dismantles common economic and political fallacies in a way that invites those who are unfamiliar with economics to dig deeper.
Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N. D. Wilson — Blurring the lines between art, theology, and apologetics, Wilson makes one of the most compelling cases for finding wonder in God that I've ever interacted with. I'm pretty sure I was reading a book, but it felt similar to beholding a painting or getting lost in a good song. Warning: You will probably laugh and cry. It is even more likely that you will offer up thanks to God with a glad heart.