10 Books Every College Christian Absolutely Needs to Read


If someone were to ask me for a book recommendation, there are several factors that I would take into consideration. But if that person was a college student (or college-aged even if they weren’t currently attending a specific school), there would be an even more specific set of criteria that I would apply. You see, college is an incredibly important and formative time in any person’s life. The decisions that you make during this time have the potential to impact the rest of your life and shape your future in very tangible ways. And what you read influences-at least to some extent-how you go about making those decisions.

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So I’ve complied a list of ten books that I would immediately recommend to any and all college students. Wait a second, you might say. TEN books? Isn’t that a bit much? My answer is no: if you just read one book a semester and one during your summer breaks you’d still have to come back for more recommendations from me before you finished your degree! But I’ll limit myself to ten here for now. Before actually getting to the list, a disclaimer and then the set of criteria I applied to this particular listing.

The DISCLAIMER is that I personally did not read most of these books until after completing my four years as a student at CSULB. But I wish I had! So if you are reading this and have already graduated, keep reading! Although the list is aimed at college-age students, it’s still a great list no matter who you are if there are some you haven’t read.

The set of QUALIFICATIONS that I used in selecting the books were as follows. The books had to be:

  • Short/Accessible. No overly technical or academic volumes here. Why recommend something that people might read 10 pages of and lose interest in just because of the form or style of the book and not the content?
  • Comprehensive as a group. The ten books couldn’t all be on one subject. Instead, I tried to compile a list that included fiction, personal finance, theology, and a whole host of other subjects/focuses.
  • Rereadable. A test of how valuable I consider a book’s contents to be is whether or not I would spend time rereading it. There are books that are just worth reading once and there are books worth reading a half dozen or more times. Each of these books on the list I have already reread or plan to reread.
  • Sharable. If you came over to my home and I found out you hadn’t read any one of these books, it’s almost certain that you’d leave with my personal copy in your hand to borrow OR to keep! These are books to buy multiple copies of so you can give them away and bless others with!

So what books made the list? Here they are (ordered alphabetically by author):

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My Top Seven Books of 2014


This year I read a lot of books. As such, I decided it was a better idea to write a blog with a list of my top seven books of 2014 instead of everything I read this year. These are not necessarily books published in 2014–though several were–and these are not in any particular order. Instead, it’s simply a list of my favorite books that I read in 2014. I’ve broken them down into a few categories and included some thoughts on each. Enjoy!

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1. Words of Radiance-Brandon Sanderson
I previously reviewed this book on my Goodreads account. Here’s an excerpt:
If you already have read some or all of Sanderson’s other books, rest assured-this is his best yet. But if you consider yourself a fan of fantasy (from Tolkien to Jordan to Martin to Rothfuss) and yet DON’T know about Sanderson-FIX THAT NOW! You will NOT regret it…Sanderson picks up all the threads he left them at the end of book one [of the series] with confidence and aplomb and deftly spins them out into gripping, surprising, and inspiring webs that reveal the true purpose and history of the Shattered Plains. Couldn’t recommend this book enough, even if I were to go on for several thousand more words, so I’ll leave it at this. Read this book!
That was how I felt back in March and it’s still how I feel now. This book is emblematic of why Sanderson is my favorite currently-living fantasy author. One of the most well-balanced, exciting, and just plain quality fantasy books I’ve ever read.

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2. The Lions of Al-Rassan-Guy Gavriel Kay

Again, here’s an excerpt from a previous review (this time from this very blog):

The Reconquest of Al-Rassan is at hand. The three hundred year golden age of the caliphate’s rule is ending, and three characters-a Jaddite commander named Rodrigo Belmonte, a Kindath doctornamed Jehane, and an Asharite poet and soldier named Ammar ibn Khairan-are caught in the middle. The world is changing and they must find their place within it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the writing, and the characters. If you’re looking for another new fantasy author, look no further.

Theology/Devotional

51G4bZO8VML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_3. The Cost of Discipleship-Bohnoeffer
Perhaps one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read. And not just challenging, but paradigm shifting. In examining the difference between cheap grace and costly grace, commenting at length on the Sermon on the Mount, defining the believer’s part in this, and painting a vision of what the church should look like, Bonhoeffer answers the question of “what can the call to discipleship mean to-day?” (38) I already know I will be revisiting this one often.

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4. Celebration of Discipline-Richard J. Foster
Again, from a previous blog review:
[In reading this book] I found myself continually challenged and stretched in the best way possible. This is a book to read slowly and savor. Time and time again I found myself setting the book down to reflect or pray. Both a helpful book to read straight-through and also to serve as a reference in the future as a refresher.

51xmLGfqceL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_5. Evangelism in the Early Church-Michael Green
Evangelism in the Early Church is a superb introduction to, resource on, and portrait of the early Church’s evangelistic endeavors. Green is both careful and skillful in his analysis, presentation, and application of his insights on the state of the early Church. While it is not for everyone and while it has its areas of weakness, those who are dedicated enough to the material will reap rich rewards from his study on the message, messengers, and methods God used to spread the gospel and grow the Church in the first few centuries. As our culture increasingly reflects the circumstances the early Church encountered in the ancient world, it is a more timely set of lessons than ever. May we as the Church and the successors to the earliest believers rise to Green’s challenge of being willing to pay the price to return evangelism to the place of first importance that it held for them. (**I may post an extended review of this book in the future**)

91wDmVN6shL6. Prayer-Tim Keller
Disclaimer: As of the writing of this post, I haven’t fully finished the book. That said, this just might be the most important book on prayer written for quite some time (and certainly that I have personally read). I will CERTAINLY be reviewing this book in more detail in the coming days/weeks, but I couldn’t post this list and exclude this book. It’s just that good.

Biography

amazing-grace7. Amazing Grace-Eric Metaxas
I previously said that this book is “a heroic story about an amazingly humble and incredibly influential individual that is masterfully told by Metaxas. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!” As with my previous reviews, I’m sticking to my guns. This is the best biography I read this year. There’s a reason that Abraham Lincoln and David Livingstone (among countless others) considered William Wilberforce to be one of their heroes. An invaluable look at the life of a great man of faith.

Runners Up:

I initially wanted to include these books but will simply list the links to my reviews elsewhere for those who might be interested.
What about you? What were your top three or five or ten books that you read in 2014? I’d love to hear your recommendations for my to-read list for 2015! Sound off in the comments to join the conversation.