Little did I know how many suggestions I was going to get. You can see the FULL COMMENT THREAD for yourself, but clearly there was a great deal of energy around this question. I have tried my best to combine my own personal preferences with some of the suggestions from you all.
I will say that I was saddened that my list is did include as many books by people of color that I would have hoped. I have some, but none came to me as Top 10'ers. *sigh* I know they are out there, so please feel free to offer them up here for all of our edification! In any case, here is my list of 10 Books that I would suggest for a brand new Christian.
Let the second guessing begin . . .
#1 BIBLE: I figure this is a given, but I did get a few comments/replies saying basically that "all a person needs is a Bible." And while I agree a Bible is required for anyone exploring the Christian faith, it is NOT the only book one should read. Still, you should get a good study bible as well as one that you could just sit and absorb. Here are the three that I would suggest.
- Study Bible - HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version : This is a well-respected translation and the study notes are solid. There are many study Bible out there, but this is the one I give out at church.
- Reading Bible - REMIX Parallel Bible (Today's New International Version and The Message): There are some nice editions of this, but the TNIV is no longer being published. Still, I love this version that has both a solid translation and beautiful paraphrase.
- Travel Bible - NRSV Go-Anywhere Bible: often take this one with my on trips. Not SO small that you can't actually read the type, but small enough to drop in your bag.
#2-4 Books ABOUT THE BIBLE
- Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally by Marcus Borg: The title kind of gives it away. A somewhat controversial figure, Borg makes a good case for how we can engage with this central place of our faith.
- Struggling with Scripture by Walter Brueggemann, Brian Blount and William C. Placher: This is a wonderfully trenchant book on how one may approach scripture.
- Esther Interpretation: a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching by Carol Bechtel: While the first two suggestions are about the Bible in general, this last one is a commentary on a specific book. This one, written on the Hebrew text Esther, is accessible and you get an idea about how to engage the fullness of a particular text.
#5-7 Books on THEOLOGY - These are for those who want to dig a little deeper into some theological questions and issues.
- Christian Doctrine by Shirley Guthrie: This book is one that many seminaries use for their theology classes so it is not quite an all-night page-turner. But . . . it does read pretty easily and gives an in-depth explanation of some basic theological ideas.
- The Apostles' Creed for Today by Justo Gonzales: This is a book written about a particular historic statement of the belief of the church. It is short but a powerful exploration into some of the basic bounds of the faith. The introduction written by Shirley Guthrie, who died before writing the book, is worth the cost alone.
- A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass: Lumped a little church history into this category because this book doesn't simply give a run down of historic happenings, but gives us some insight into why these things matter and how they have impacted the faith.
#8-10 Books on LIFE and FAITH - This was the hardest category to choose from. I certainly have my favorites and there were plenty of great suggestions.
- Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles: this is a wonderful story the conversion of this atheist reporter and the story of a food program that she started at her church. I Also noticed that her new one is out and looks pretty awesome, Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead
- Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel: Might seem a little odd to have this one on the list, but this book underscore one of the crucial questions of our world today, "What does in mean to be a person of faith in a religiously pluralist world?" so I think this is well worth a read for anyone trying to figure out what it means to profess faith today.
- Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Written as he was imprisoned by the Nazis and held at the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Powerful in itself, but even more so was that he was hung just before the camp was liberated.
- Bonus: Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television by Nadia Bolz-Weber: Plain funny as she offers up a witty commentary of one visible version of the Christian church today. Laugh out loud funny for sure!
There are so many GREAT books out there in each of these areas, feel free to add some more in the comments, check out the original status update and/or would love to see your own blogged list.