Lent: Book Recommendations

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Some people take on the spiritual discipline of reading a Christian book during Lent. I have been asked what books I would recommend. Here is a short list of titles I would suggest folks consider. If you have a book you would recommend, comment and let me know.

    Non-fiction

The Prodigal God, Tim Keller
Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning
The Prayer Life, Andrew Murray
Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen
The Cross of Christ, John Stott

    Fiction

The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
Silence, Shusaku Endo
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

[Editor’s note: Also great for Lent–our own Russ Ramsey’s Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative.]

Thomas McKenzie is the author of The Anglican Way, a book he describes as a traveler’s guide to the Anglican tradition, as well as The Harpooner, an Advent reader featuring harpoons—how awesome is that. He graduated from the University of Texas and attended seminary at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1998 and planted the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville in 2004, where he is the still pastor. He’s also keeps samurai swords in his office, and wears a skull ring.


23 Comments

  1. Julie Silander

    Great books! Life of the Beloved is at the top of my list a well. I’d add:

    Reliving the Passion, by Walt Wangerin
    Amon’s Adventures, by Arnold Yuletide (perfect family read-aloud)
    The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

  2. laura grace

    I’m (re-, re-)reading Tempted & Tried by Russell Moore: great account of the theological significance of Jesus’ proto-Lenten 😉 sojourn in the wilderness.

    Pilgrim’s Progress was another one I thought about re-reading.

  3. Eowyn

    Has anybody read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy? It’s a bit long (okay, over five hundred pages), but it’s a truly fascinating biography of a very brave, godly man. Equally fascinating is the fact that a Christian book like that hit #1 Bestseller in the New York Times. Anyway…

    I’ve been wanting to read the Great Divorce actually…might have to look that up. ;D

  4. Linnea Wheeler

    I am re-reading “Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, A Breviary of Sin” by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. Here’s what The Christian Century wrote about it:

    “Plantinga’s treatment of sin is comprehensive, articulate, and well written. It confirms the orthodox and neo-orthodox doctrine of sin, lavishly illustrates it from contemporary events, and plumbs depths in understanding sin’s complexities and banalities.”

    Except for a brief picture of God’s Shalom at the beginning and end of this book, there is no Easter in this book…it really plunges you into deep despair and awe at the extent and all consuming nature of Sin. Which then of course makes Good Friday really, really good, and Easter absolutely amazing!!!

  5. Leah Phillippi

    Pete–I read Book of the Dun Cow two months ago, and have The Book of Sorrows sitting on my coffee table waiting for me. I was waiting for some friends to read Book of the Dun Cow so that they could join me in reading Sorrows, but perhaps I’ll dig in once I’ve finished Fiddler’s Green.

    (Also, how do you italicize on this page? My Mac pulls up “page info” when I “command-i” Thanks!)

  6. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    To italicize, use the “em” tag between “< " and ">” to start the italics and “/em” between “< " and ">” to end them.

    (I can’t type it out exactly as it should look because it gets interpreted as code and isn’t shown.)

  7. Libby

    God so Loved, He Gave by Kelly Kapic

    I’m reading My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach by Calvin Stapert.

    I’m not too far into it yet but so far it has been amazing. It has a lot of neat information on Bach and the music but Stapert’s goal is for people to use it as a guide to listening to Bach as a part of devotions. I highly recommend it.

  8. Jessica

    The End of the Affair by Graham Greene would be amazing to read for Lent too. I just read it for a book club and it blew me away.

  9. Corby

    In order to facilitate a deeper contemplation of Christ and to help me be mindful of the liturgy of Lent, I am using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, and Okoro. So far, reading and praying these prayers, songs, and quotes has been a pleasant experience that has been surprisingly spiritual and challenging. Basically, the book has been helping me to remember the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice.

  10. Chris C

    The Great Divorce – one of my all-time favorite books (if not my very favorite). I’ve read it several times and it still doesn’t get old.

    I haven’t read any of those listed non-fiction books yet. I think I’ll look into those.

    I’ve been reading a lot of George MacDonald lately. I absolutely loved “Sir Gibbie”. As a fictional story it kept me engaged and as a “real life” fictional story, it portrayed character trait comparisons to show the good, the bad and the ugly. Actually, any explanation of the book won’t give it justice. It was a great read. There were so many times that it hit me really hard. I definitely want to read it again in the future.

    Libby – “My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach by Calvin Stapert” sounds really interesting! I think I’ll put that on my list!

  11. Jen

    Corby: I really want to get Common Prayer! I’ve had it on my list a long time.

    I’m almost finished with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and it keeps surprising me with its relevance to Lent. I got Behold the Lamb of God too late to read during Advent, so maybe now is a good time to do that!

    Thinking about re-reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (one of the first really life-changing books for me) or The Book of the Dun Cow next. Thanks for all the great recommendations!

  12. mm

    Torn between posting this book recommendation here, or under the latest post from Oxford… But here I am, and here goes!

    I just stumbled onto a great read: Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber. If the posts from Oxford have whet (have whetted?) your appetite for more, check this one out! I’m nearly finished with it, and truly don’t want it to end!

  13. Jen

    MM: I read Surprised by Oxford last year… Loved it! She speaks all of my nerd love languages. 🙂 I second that recommendation… Perfectly rabbit roomish.

  14. Allison

    I didn’t plan it this way, but I’m rereading Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott and it’s been quite apropos.

  15. larissa

    great list. i am going to start at least one of these. i also recommend (under fiction) Holy Masquerade by Olov Hartman, if it’s still in print.

  16. Brian

    Anything by Andrew Murray is just wonderful. The Prayer Life is excellent, but I really loved, ‘Lord Teach Us to Pray’

  17. Melinda

    ‘The Day Christ Died’ by Jim Bishop is a perfectly posed Lenten read.
    In his Introduction to the 1977 edition of the book, Paul L. Maier writes:

    It is not irreverent to wish that Jim Bishop had lived two thousand years ago instead, so that the New Testament might have contained five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Bishop.  His fifth evangel would have been vastly different from the other four in that he would have taken care of all the little details missing in the standard Gospels, which unfold their great story by focusing only on the major events. The Day Christ Died comes close to what Jim Bishop might have written under those circumstances.  Ever the meticulous journalist with panoramic vision, Bishop searches where even scholars sometimes forget to look, and supplies us with all the colorful data from everyday life in first-century Palestine to make “the greatest story ever told” more credible and alive than would seem possible on the printed page.

  18. becky from NE

    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is my absolute favorite book (thanks, RR, for the recommendation), SO beautiful, and full of things to think about. Better the 2nd (or 3rd) time through. Can’t say enough about it.

    I’m also a fan of The Book of the Dun Cow and Book of Sorrows. Well worth reading.

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