100 Recommended reads part 1
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Date: 8 September, 2009


'A stunning, multi-layered story that shows grace in action.'

Surefish asked a variety of well-known and not so well-known Christians to recommend books that have helped shape their faith.

The results include the Bible, traditional books of faith, political titles, eco-conscious books, collections of poetry and good pieces of fiction.

This first collection of titles includes the reasons why they were selected by those asked.

Next week, we'll publish the next batch of recommended titles with notes about the books from Charlotte Haines-Lyon

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Books chosen by: Father Christopher Jamison
Author of Finding Sanctuary and Finding Happiness and the abbot from the BBC’s series The Monastery.

Marilynne Robinson
A stunning, multi-layered story that shows grace in action. Luminous writing by Marilynne Robinson, the only living author who writes religious novels that win widespread acclaim (rather than the populist acclaim of The Shack). Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 and her latest novel, Home, has just won the Orange Prize in Britain.


The Rule of St Benedict
Still a peerless guide to Christian community living, with the chapter on the abbot now framed in many a chief exec’s office.





Shusaku Endo
A strong narrative by one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest novelists. A practising Japanese Catholic, Endo weaves a fictional story around the historical fact that the head of the Jesuit mission to Japan in the Seventeenth Century apostatised under persecution.

The silence of the title is God’s silence when the Jesuit prays for a word of comfort and answer came there none. A brilliant insight into loss of faith by a faithful writer.

The Spiritual Letters of Abbot John Chapman
Short bursts of spiritual insight for lay correspondents who wrote for advice to this early Twentieth Century Benedictine abbot. This is the original source of that most memorable piece of spiritual counsel: ‘pray as you can not as you can’t.’  Still relevant and happily still in print.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church
This encyclopedia of faith is used as a point of reference not only by Catholics but by many others who seek to understand the Christian tradition. Consistently thorough, succinct and sensible.




Books chosen by: Cole Moreton
Author, journalist and broadcaster currently writing a book about the soul of England to be published next Easter by Little, Brown

Top of the list is To Scorch or Freeze To Scorch or Freeze by Donald Davie (Carcanet), a Modernist reworking of the Psalms based on the experience of flying over the Arctic and the Celtic idea that the presence of God is either glorious or unendurable (hellish, if you like) depending on whether you are prepared for it.

Second, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, because coupled with the vivid portrayal of oppressive religion is the determined view that there is still something higher, greater to aim for. In the novel it is art, but that can also be seen as the unknowable divine.



Reading Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Hunger to Belong by John O'Donoghue feels like having a gentle, understanding voice describe your life, in all its complexity, back at you, with added hope.




Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams, is a love story wrapped around a magnificent, deeply moving description of what religious vision (real or otherwise) can do to a life.




The Book of God by Walter Wangerin tells familiar stories in a way that allows you to inhabit them, and transforms your understanding.”




Books chosen by: Bobby Baker
Performance artist

King James Pocket Bible, Leather Bound
I've had my copy for years. It was published by OUP - but there's several available online. It's a travelling one with a zip - so I have stuffed notes and cards inside. The zip broke ages ago but it somehow hangs together.

The language is sensational and surprisingly modern e.g. Psalm 73 vs. 7: “Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish,” and vs. 9: “They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.”

Re-enchanting Christianity
Dave Tomlinson
Top of my list to read- everyone says "You've got to read this" (See Charlotte’s comments below)



I Shall Not Want: Spiritual Wisdom from the Twenty Third Psalm
Dave Tomlinson
It’s brilliant, and I have given it to several people. It should be re-printed. Dave Tomlinson expounds on the popular psalm ‘it is really a song of life, which teaches about the nature of faith in every situation’.



Enfolded in Love: Daily Readings with Julian of Norwich
edited by Robert Llewelyn
A modern version of the Christian classic by the Norwich mystic.



Books chosen by: G P Taylor
Children’s author whose works include Shadowmancer, and The Tizzle Sisters

The Bloke's Bible
Dave Hopwood

I have never enjoyed a book so much. It was hugely entertaining and provocative at the same time. It is written in a thrilling and ambitious way. A real joy to read and not what I expected. It refreshed my faith in an honest and frank way.



Looking Good, Being Bad
Adrian Plass

I have been in love with Adrian Plass since I took my first steps as a Christian. Out of every book he has written this in my opinion is by far the best. It takes the lid off Church and makes us look at what we are doing.

More (Unavailable from Amazon)
Philippa Hanna

I didn't think a new book would ever make it into my top 5, but this book is just too much fun to keep out. It is true honest and heart warming and shows how God can change lives. Such a young writer with so much to offer.

Questions of Life
Nicky Gumble
It was a life saver in my time as a priest. This book grew the church I was in and changed peoples hearts.

From Orphans to Heirs. Celebrating Celebrating Our Spiritual Adoption
Mark Stibbe
If there is one book every Christian should read then this is it. Totally amazing, life changing and incredible.




The Screwtape Letters
CS Lewis

This was the book that made me want to write by first best seller Shadowmancer. Spirituality at its best.




Books chosen by: Timothy Radcliffe OP (Order of Preachers)
Catholic priest and Dominican friar, author of award winning

What's the Point of Being a Christian?  
Law, love and Language (unavailable on Amazon)
Herbert McCabe OP
It is perhaps the best book on Christian ethics available.

Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in
James Alison
A stimulating and challenging book that invites one to see the world differently.



Tokens of Trust
Rowan Williams
A wonderful brief introduction to the Christian Faith




A Life Poured Out: Pierre Claverie of Algeria
A moving exploration of the friendship of a Bishop with Islam, even unto death.




Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: the Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony
Richard Bauckhman
It has just won the Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing!



Books chosen by: Charlotte Haines-Lyon
Surefish Books Editor and freelance writer

The Post Evangelical
Dave Tomlinson
Post Evangelical Having felt long term guilt for not believing enough, Dave Tomlinson showed me that there was at least one other person in the world who had the same questions as me.


Honest to God
John Robinson
The former Bishop of Woolwich ignited debate in the 60s by trying to put forward a new theology for a new generation. Despite dated language its still rocked my world and ignited my search for faith again.



Re-enchanting Christianity
Dave Tomlinson
Fifteen years after reading his earlier book I read this one and it provided a pathway that enabled to me to say maybe I am a Christian after all.




Proverbs of Ashes
Rita Nakishma Brock and Rebecca Parker
The biggest problem I have had with Christianity is the seeming need for violence to satisfy God. Brock and Park use their own lives to illustrate how Christianity has misunderstood and misused the story of the passion.


Christ in Focus: Radical Christocentricism in Christian Theology
Clive Marsh
Having decided that maybe God was worth another go I thought I would revisit my Christology. Marsh’s exploration of different concepts of Christ, especially Nakishima Brock’s “Christ in community”, were exhilarating.


Deep Economy
Bill Mckibben
A passionate, realistic and hopeful look at how we can live sustainably. The most important book I’ve read this year.




Read part two of the series here