There’s a Facebook Meme going around my friends about the “Top 10 Books that Stuck With Me”. I love the concept, because it reveals a lot about a person. I could easily write this up as a facebook post, but I want this to stick around. I believe theses books will help you understand my mindset and where I’m coming from.
Without further ado, here’s my Top Ten Books that Stuck with Me
- The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. For some reason, a book arguing for globalization was my first foray into non-fiction reading. Friedman’s ability to explain the history of computers, open-source software and outsourcing opened my mind to a larger world of economics. While Friedman’s arguments are out-of-date and his attempts at updating the material are mediocre, this book opened my mind to a whole new (flat) world
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game introduced me to a new world of stories, of complex minds, of philosophical ideas, and hard sci-fi that still holds up today. I’ve only read the novel once, but that one reading left a deep imprint on my mind. I enjoyed the sequels (Both the SPEAKER OF THE DEAD trilogy and ENDER’S SHADOW series), but none of them had the depth and impact that Ender’s Game had for me.
- The Republic, Plato: I originally studied Plato during a course that tried to analyze it from a “Biblical worldview”. The author was obsessed with trying to prove how Platonism was incompatible with “Biblical/Hebrew thought”. But as I read Plato’s Republic, I began to see how Plato’s ideas (at least the ones about the nature of things) could be compatible with Christian thought. I began to see how they influenced Augustine and other thinkers. It was even clear how Plato’s ideas could help us understand the nature of God and the nature of Man, and how they interacted with reality. It was because of Plato that I saw how Non-Christian ideas could be compatible with a Scriptural view of reality. While I’m no longer a Platonist (I prefer Aristotelian thought, instead), I still cherish Plato’s ideas and the historical attempts to reconcile his ideas with Christian thought.
- Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris: I originally viewed the Harris Twins as saints, as men who changed everything for me.. It’s because of them that I developed a love of non-fiction, of writing, and of philosophical debate. They taught me to strive for more than the status quo and to do my best in order to glorify God. After 5 years of reading them, I’ve now learned how their movement was invested in a certain sect of conservatism that promotes unhelpful ideas about politics, gender, and other issues. I’ve met people who were negatively impacted by Do Hard Things, and who suffered because of it. I still think some of the ideas were valuable for me, but it’s hard to say whether I would recommend the book today.
- The Truth is Out There, Thomas Bertroneau: This simple book that explored certain Christian ideas in classic sci-fi left me with a desire for deep thought about pop culture. While the book is a bit niche, it’s still one of my favorite books on the topic.
- The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell is one of my journalism heroes. He tells stories and expressed ideas in a way that everyone loved and that was accessible. I’ve read every one of his books. But the one I will revere above all others was my first: the Tipping Point.
- Why People Believe in Weird Things, Michael Shermer: I believe skepticism and Christianity are compatible. Being a Skeptic doesn’t mean being an atheist; It just means critically testing all the evidence before you and making sure all claims and evidence are valid. Enter Michael Shermer, a prominent atheist and skeptic. His book Why People Believe in Weird Things is on my list because it was a perfect book for taking on nonsensical claims. In it, Shermer doesn’t try to dismiss religion (Though he does critique the modern Creationist movement), but challenges popular non-religious views on subjects such as the lunar hoax, Objectivism and Holocaust Denialism. He showed me how to critically think through the evidence and events and find the truth. In fact, it’s because of Shermer and his skeptical view of the world that want to help cultural Christianity avoid these falsities and seek the truth. While Shermer and I disagree on many things, including God’s existence, religion’s value and Intelligent design, I still appreciate his work and how it can help a person build a stronger critical lens.
- The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading about Apologetics, but most books are either condemning of the other side or unhelpful for engaging with the complexities of other groups’ ideas. However, the one apologetic text I would heartily approve of is The Reason For God. Keller is a master of using thoughtful prose to make complex ideas accessible. While his book doesn’t answer every argument, it is still one of my favorites to use in conversations with Non-Christians.
- On Writing Well, Will Zinsser: This book was recommended to me by an old editor. I’ve read it multiple times, and learned many things about the nonfiction writing craft because of it. If it weren’t for this book, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. HP was the song of my generation. Thousands of my fellow students read it. However, HP was more than just a good book to me. HP was the gateway drug to my Geekdom. Through Harry Potter, I helped me develop a love of story, a love of fantasy, and a love of good reading. I learned that fantasy could be fantastic, and that loving a good story didn’t have to end with the book.