A Dozen Book Favorites, Part 1


Only human beings read. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle thought the distinguishing feature of people is their ability to use language. And humans use their unique language ability to think, speak, write, and read.

From a historic Christian perspective, the idea of human exceptionalism is grounded in the biblical truth that people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). This imago Dei endowment makes people capable of hunting and gathering truth. And since Christians affirm a propositional (words, statements) revelation from God in the Bible, they join with the Jewish tradition as People of the Book. Thus, reading is a great gift and privilege, but one may also argue that it is a responsibility according to our profound created nature.

12 Book Favorites

This is part one of a three-part series on some of my favorite books. The topics cover theology, philosophy, apologetics, and education. I also note how the books have been helpful to me. The books are listed in alphabetical order, not order of preference:

1. Confessions by St. Augustine

This is St. Augustine’s most famous book and one of the most important Christian books in history. Augustine’s autobiography actually created the genre of biographical writings in Western civilization. Thus, this book is both a Christian and literary classic and it appears in all the great books reading programs. The title, Confessions, is understood in a triple sense: confession of sin, confession of a newfound faith, and confession of the glory of God. When I read this book, I benefit from Augustine’s great wisdom as a Christian philosopher and theologian. But personally, I feel I’m reading the words of an empathetic Christian friend and counselor.

2. God and Reason by Ed L. Miller

This book is a thorough introduction to the topic of philosophical theology. Miller explores the traditional arguments for God (cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral), religious experience, faith and reason, the problem of evil, the soul and immortality, and God and language. Miller, though a Christian by conviction, presents a fair and objective discussion of all topics. God and Reason has been a very helpful work to me as I have taught and written on various issues relating to God and philosophy.

3. Handbook of Basic Bible Texts by John Jefferson Davis

In this book, Christian theologian John Jefferson Davis takes every critical Scripture passage for the study of Christian doctrine and divides them according to the categories of systematic theology. This book thus contains all of the key passages that address basic Christian theological topics. Davis’s book is the most helpful work I’ve used in my research and study of Scripture and theology. When I write and speak on biblical and theological topics, I always use this very helpful volume.

4. How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

This book is a best-selling contemporary classic on the topic of reading. It explores all phases of reading, including elementary, skimming, analytical, and syntopical. It provides guidance in reading all kinds of books. How to Read a Book revolutionized my understanding of reading and became one of the most important books that I have ever read. I learned so much from this work that I return to it yearly for continuous review and study of the art and science of reading.

So these are four of my favorite and most useful books. In part two of this series, I’ll discuss four more on my list of a dozen favorite books.

From the Latin Tolle lege, I invite you to “take up and read”!

Reflections: Your Turn

What are some of your favorite books?


  One thought on “A Dozen Book Favorites, Part 1

  1. January 2, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

  2. January 3, 2018 at 10:17 am

    “He is there and he is not silent” by Francis Schaeffer is by far my favorite for saying so much in just 88 pages.

    • January 3, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Thanks for the thoughtful book recommendation, Jerimiah.

      Ken Samples

  3. January 6, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Waiting on God by Simone Weil is well worth reading, as a philosopher encountering the transcendent aspects of divinity. Also the Philokalia has much that is worth reflecting upon in it.

    • January 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, ThoughtfullyDetached.

      Best regards.

      Ken Samples

  4. January 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    I just finished “Delighting In The Trinity” by Michael Reeves. A terrific read on a complex topic. Quite revealing and edifying. I highly recommend it.

    Larry Peckham

    • January 10, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Yes, I’ve been recommending Reeves’ book for years.

      Very helpful.

      Ken Samples

  5. Scott Kessler
    January 15, 2018 at 6:59 am

    The following books and been life-changing and worldview changing for me:

    1.) Reason And Revelation by Gordon Clark
    2.) A Defense Of The Faith by Cornelius Van Til
    3.) A Philosophy of Science and Belief in God by Gordon Clark
    4.) The Universe Next Door by James Sire
    5.) Days Of Vengeance by David Chilton
    6.) The Death Of Death In The Death Of Christ by John Owen

    • January 15, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for the book list, Scott. You might consider my worldview book-A World of Difference.

      Best regards.

      Ken Samples

      • Scott Kessler
        January 15, 2018 at 1:38 pm

        Yes, Ken, Have that one too. Excellent.

  6. March 7, 2020 at 11:00 pm

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