Recommended Books

BreakPoint 2009 Summer Recommended Reading


The Brothers Karamozov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Dostoyevsky dissects, in fiction, the great moral quandaries debated by philosophers through the ages, which he boils down to one, unforgettable dictum: If there is no God, then everything is permissible.

That Hideous Strength
C.S. Lewis
As with Lewis’s other fiction, the storyline is structured along great Christian themes.

Father Brown
G.K. Chesterton
Follow his clean, clear logic as Father Brown solves his cases, proving that if you immerse yourself in God’s truth, you’ll become a more rational thinker.

The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success
Rodney Stark
Stark describes how Christianity’s emphasis on reason led to the rise of Europe, and how our ideas about democracy and equality stem from the central teachings of Christianity.

Mere Christianity
C.S. Lewis
This book was instrumental in my own conversion. And it’s tough for a thinking person to deny Lewis’s logic.


Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian's Unfashionable is a shot of good medicine right when we need it most. The book reminds me that it isn't our attempts to be relevant or acceptable that draw people to the Gospel. It is the transcendence, the mystery, and the absolute otherness of the Christian faith that will attract people to our churches. At a time when even the faithful are hedging on deeply held truths to fit in, I believe we need this book more than ever.

Daisy Chain
Mary DeMuth
I don't read a lot of modern fiction. When I do, I try (as a general rule of thumb) to stay away from what’s on the bestseller shelf at the Christian bookstore. Mary DeMuth's work is a delightful exception to the usual one-dimensional characters, the predictable story-lines, the moral-bludgeoning of readers, (okay, I'm getting carried away). DeMuth gives us multi-faceted characters, and she doesn't shy away from the darker themes which are a part of the fallen world in which we live. Her writing is evocative, and her storytelling keeps you turning pages. Daisy Chain is her most recent novel, and an excellent one.

Makoto Fujimora
World-famous artist Makoto Fujimora brings us insights into the intersection of faith and art in his recently released Refractions. I’ve been intrigued by Makoto’s artwork for some time, and likewise these reflections are textured, multi-dimensional, and worthy of deep thought. It is a gift to have an artist so committed to fostering creativity and reflection, and his book is a gift to all who take the time to read it.

Mirror to the Church
Emmanuel Katongole
As you all know, after finishing my book As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda, I continue to be fascinated with this overlooked and misunderstood period of our history. Katongole peels back the shroud on the Rwandan genocide. This book raises important questions. Most profound is the question whether the blood of tribalism holds deeper sway in our own lives than the waters of baptism. It’s a question we need to be asking.

A Chance to Die
Elisabeth Elliot
This isn’t a recent release, but certainly it’s among my favorites. I’ve been nourished beyond words by good biographies of spiritual giants, and Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India, is definitely among the giants. The book, deftly written by another great missionary, Elisabeth Elliot, provides rich insights into the life of faith and the heart of perseverance.


Blue Hole Back Home
Joy Jordan-Lake
In a story that’s been compared with To Kill a Mockingbird, a girl from Sri Lanka moves to North Carolina in the 1970s. What happens to her, and to the kids who befriend her, ripped my heart out—and yet I loved this book. I had a feeling it would be great when I saw Leif Enger’s recommendation on the cover, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Last Dickens
Matthew Pearl
Pearl’s new novel posits a race to find and publish Dickens’s last manuscript after his death. It’s a little light on characterization but heavy on adventure and plot twists, and full of interesting historical details.

The Joys of Love
Madeleine L’Engle
Don’t be put off by the syrupy title. This early L’Engle novel, recently published for the first time, is a lovely coming-of-age story that feels original and fresh nearly 60 years after it was written.

The Book of the Dun Cow
Walter Wangerin, Jr.
A beast fable plus a biblical allegory adds up to a book that’s not quite like anything else I’ve ever read. Feeling antique and modern at the same time, it’s a strange, beautiful story about the battle between good and evil.

The Custom of the Country
Edith Wharton
A beautiful, heartless woman rises through the ranks of society, never quite sure what she wants, but willing to destroy anyone or anything to get it. Wharton’s satire and irony have never been sharper. And the ending is perfect.


Reordered Love, Reordered Lives
David K. Naugle
Despite abundant material wealth, many people are suffering from deep-seated unhappiness, Naugle’s book explains how we’ve messed up our lives through seeking security in things that should be secondary loves while ignoring our one true love, God. Naugle brings together many great writers from the past and weaves wonder into how to love truly God.

My Grandfather’s Son
Clarence Thomas
Warts and all, Clarence Thomas has written an autobiographical account of his life starting with his boyhood in the segregated South to his rise to Supreme Court Justice. The book reveals Thomas’s character, his love of family and friends, and his commitment to the rule of law. This is a good book for elder children.

10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help
Benjamin Wiker
It’s a well known fact that the 20th and the start of 21st centuries have been the bloodiest in the recorded history of the world, but what might not be so well known is that a few books have provided the impetus that sparked much of the violence. Benjamin Wiker discusses the authors and their ideas which have had bloody and far-reaching repercussions. Wiker’s writing style is engaging, but his message is stark reminder that trying to achieve positive change through evil ideas has produced the most pernicious destruction the world has ever seen.

Charity and Its Fruits
Jonathan Edwards
Charity encompasses more than just tithing—it is one of the seven virtues. Always concerned about man’s sinful nature and his most fundamental need for the love of God, Edwards writes a biblical and theological reflection about Christian love. Using 1 Corinthians 13, Edwards shows that through grace and sustained spiritual practices, man can is most like our Father through love. This primer on Christian ethics will not disappoint the reader.


The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857
William Dalrymple
This is not what you normally think of a “summer book” but it's a book that Christians would do well to read. Let's call it a story about what being salt and light doesn't look like.

Late Victorian Holocausts
Mike Davis
Did you know that 60 million people died in the first wave of “globalization”? Didn't think so. Thing is, people outside the West do know this. Something to ponder.

1491: New Revelations of the World Before Columbus
Charles C. Mann
Or, “How nearly everything you were told about the original inhabitants of the Americas was wrong.”

Guns, Germs & Steel: The Fate of Human Societies
Jared Diamond
Diamond's book, while overly deterministic, provides a badly-needed corrective to our understanding of culture.

The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis
Uultimately, we live in the shadow lands. When we forget this we do very stupid and destructive things to each other.