As I’m writing this it’s as if I can hear the voice of my younger brother asking his frequent question, What are you reading? And if you know me well, you know that I’ve been known to recommend more than a few books. Truth is, reading has the ability to stretch our thinking. When reading a novel, your mind is pulled into the life and emotions of a fictional character. Reading a memoir deepens our sense of empathy. Non-fiction reading expands our knowledge of topics and events. With the popularity of podcasts and audio books, you might wonder why you need to read. We have many different ways to take in information but in my humble opinion, nothing is quite the same as words printed on paper. Books are a very important part of Christian culture and Christian life. I encourage all Christian women to take up the discipline of reading to honor God and for the growth of the church. You might be asking, In addition to the Bible, which books should Christians read to help them grow?
First, books that point to the Bible and help us to better understand the Bible are of most importance. “Living by the Book” by Howard Hendricks walks readers through the the art and science of reading the Bible. Books like “Read the Bible for Life” by George Guthrie, a conversational book with biblical scholars who excel in each of their fields, and “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart help readers with Bible comprehension and application. “The God who is There” by D. A. Carson takes readers through the entire storyline of the Bible while highlighting biblical theology, systematic theology, and exposition as a model for good ways of reading and putting the Bible together.
In the way of expanding our knowledge of Christianity, there’s the history of the church (both from the reformation era and the church in America). There are writings of the early church fathers and the great men of God we gain from. Christians need to know how we came to be where we are and the people we came to be, as well as the foundations that were built on. Simply put, there are great men and women of the past who we need to read and understand. Moving beyond church fathers, some good authors to explore would be the works of John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Elisabeth Elliott, or J. I. Packer.
As for my own ever-growing reading stack, it leans heavily into theology and counseling. As a lifelong learner, reading improves my critical thinking skills. Most people associate learning with formal education and although that is important, reading helps to develop the skills you need throughout the Christian life. Because I teach, counsel, and live out Christian theology, consistent intake is a deliberate and voluntary act.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is sad when we find so much of our modern-day writing that is not faithful to the scriptures, yet marketed as Christian books. But with that said there is plenty out there that has not been diluted or distorted and is faithful to God’s Word. I am intentional to seek out worthwhile books and you can be too! It’s important we choose from steadfast authors who’ve proved themselves devoted to biblical Truth and whose books will always point the reader to Christ. Remember, good books worthy of your time and attention will drive you to the scriptures themselves and cause you to grow and serve in Christian community for the glory of God. After all, it is He who best knows the value of words and who gives us these great treasures to enjoy.
God has ordained reading as one way for us to grow in knowledge that we haven’t experienced. – John Piper
Lastly, knowing where a friend is in walking out her faith is most helpful when making a recommendation, but if I were to recommend only three books that every Christian woman should read, they would be:
- The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
- Knowing God by J.I. Packer
- Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
For more on discernment in reading choices go here.