You may not know this about me, but I am a booklion. (If you don’t know what that means, google Christine Riccio). I have a collection of over 150 books, and so far I’ve read 29 books this year. You could say that reading is an important part of my life. It only makes sense that I’ve read some books about God and faith. Hopefully you’ve read some (or all) of these books, but if you haven’t, definitely consider checking them out.
These are some of the books that have influenced my faith in the past twenty years (excluding the Bible, of course).
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The first books I ever read about faith were the Narnia books. These books hold a special place in my heart because my fourth grade teacher read them to me initially. Now, eleven years later, the series continues to be one of the most important series in my life and my faith.
Even though this is labeled as a children’s fantasy series, it contains a staggering amount of allusions to Christianity. As a child I read about Aslan cracking the stone table, but as a twenty year-old I can only picture the resurrection of Christ. Although I didn’t realize it in fourth grade, these books shaped my faith into something tangible. Reading about characters like Aslan and Lucy and Eustace gave me an easy way to see God and how He worked. The series also gave me a love for C.S. Lewis, which later led me to read some of his more theological books.
Narnia did not tell me what to believe. Narnia did not, necessarily, make me into the strong Christian I am today. However, it did open my eyes to the wonders of God and it did lead me to pursue Him as I grew up. Narnia opened the floodgates of Christ by making me excited about His kingdom. To this day, I still hope to visit Narnia and to meet Aslan, or at least, the things they were modeled after.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Many people recommend this book, and many people rave about C.S. Lewis’s theological teachings. I am no different. To me Lewis is one of the few people with whom I whole-heartedly agree about God. Whether or not Lewis is right, I do believe a number of the things he’s written.
Lewis wrote this book in the mid 1900s as a written compilation of the radio talks he made on BBC during World War II. The book aims to describe Christianity in more basic terms. As a result, there are a number of passages that are worthy of highlighting and quoting.
Although the book is almost pure theology, I think it is a masterpiece. When I first read the book I found myself nodding and agreeing with almost everything I read. It became the book that encouraged me that what I believed was true. Even though the Bible is the most influential book in any Christian’s life, I have found that this is my number two. This is the book that has given me the deepest information about theology, and this is the book that enforced my beliefs. It’s one of the books that really makes me feel that Christianity is the only correct answer.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
I have been told by a number of people to read this book, and in turn, it has become the Christian book I recommend most. Although C.S. Lewis has a number of brilliant books, this one continues to baffle me.
It tells the story of a man who travels from Hell to Heaven on a bus. This ultimately leads to discussion about these two places. What’s striking about the book isn’t necessarily how Lewis imagines Heaven or Hell, but how he discusses the afterlife. I have highlighted so much of this book, and it has really made me think about what happens after this life. It has also made me rethink some of the things that happen on Earth. It’s hard to explain how important this book is until you read it for yourself.
This book once again encouraged my faith, but more importantly, it caused me to reconsider how I view God and how I view salvation. It addressed my feelings on earthly idols and ultimately, what I value here on Earth. Although it did not influence my main beliefs, it did adjust how I pursue my faith.
When you finish reading this, the only thing you can do is listen to “Break Us” by The Orchardist. (That song was inspired by the book)
Love Does by Bob Goff
Bob Goff is one of those names that you constantly hear in the Christian community. I learned of him after he came to speak at my school, and my friends and I decided to read his book with our bible study.
The cool thing about this book is that even though it is about Jesus and God, it is also incredibly entertaining. The book is centered around Bob’s life and some of his wacky experiences. He shares some lessons he’s learned through stories about his life, and ultimately relates these lessons back to God. However, this isn’t some older man lecturing you on Jesus. The book itself reads more like a work of fiction because of the extremity of the stories. (The only way to understand this is to read the book, trust me).
This book reminded me how my faith plays into my everyday life. Even though I believe in God, it’s hard to remember that the whole point of His kingdom is love. Bob does his best to embrace love in his everyday life, and in turn, he embraces the Lord. His zeal for life and love is incredibly inspiring and it really showed me what love can do.
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
So this is the one book on this list that doesn’t belong. If you know anything about this book or this series, you’ll know that is has nothing to do with Christianity. This book is the fourth in the Song of Ice and Fire series, also known by the television title Game of Thrones. Although this is a fantasy series, I’ve found that this installment has influenced my faith quite a bit.
In this novel, a number of characters come face-to-face with some sort of religion. In the SOIAF world, there are a number of different faiths. Some of these include the old gods, the Faith of the Seven, the Drowned God, the Lord of Light, and the Many-Faced God. These religions and gods guide the characters to do some questionable acts, and ultimately lead the reader to think about religion from a more detached point of view. Because none of these religions exist in our world today, it’s much easier to see religion in general as some sort of non-existent fantasy when reading about them. This novel caused me to think about religion from the point of view of a nonbeliever, and it scared me. Being a nonbeliever, you see religion as poppycock and nonsense. You question faith rather than encourage it, and in the end you search for proof rather than belief. At least, that’s how I felt when I read this series.
Of course I’m not saying that any of these fictional religions should replace God or that I know exactly how it feels to be a non-believer, but this book made me question my faith just a little. It made me think about Christianity from an outsider's perspective. Did non-Christians look at us as if we were crazy? Did they think we acted strange? Although the opinions of others should not drive our lives as Christians, we should be conscious of how we are perceived because we are representing Christ.
This book showed me faith through a nonbeliever’s eyes, but it also reminded me of the importance of spreading the gospel. God can be seen as scary and fantastical to those who do not know Him, and sometimes the best way to spread the gospel is by imitating His loving nature. We do not want to come across as crazy people who believe in an angry God; we need to be seen as loving people who worship a loving God.
Again, even though this is a strange choice for this list, this book has influenced how I view faith and how I come across to others.
Hopefully you pick up one (or all) of these books and find something life-changing within their pages. There are a number of other books I could have included on this list, but somehow these are the ones that stood out the most. Happy reading!
-Jenna // @jennaclarek