James’s Book Challenge

My mate James, challenged me to come up with a list of ten books that had ‘affected me’.

It took me a while to get round to it but here’s the first ten off the top of my head. Not much thought has gone into this, it’s in no particular order, and it’s likely to have changed by the time I get to the bottom of the list.

0) God et al.; The Bible
– tells the first part of a story we’re all invited to be part of the current stages of.

1) Goscinny & Uderzo; The Asterix comics
– mean and grumpy adults (as opposed to kids) could be funny. Both a revelation and an inspiration.

2) James Alison; On Being Liked
– broadened my mind with regards to the cross and theories of The Atonement, and got me thinking.

3) Frank Perretti; This Present Darkness
– I’d seen this book in the local Christian bookshop at a young (and broke) teen age, it looked like the kind of thing that Mum & Dad wouldn’t want around but when I found it on their shelves, Mum said, ‘It’s pretty good, why not give it a go?’ So, I did – and it was pretty good, and gave me permission to like books with odd, supernatural things going, nasty villains, and human protagonists.

4) Tim Hardy; Opalescence
– it’s small, but got some good stuff inside it. I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t got a copy (I have very reasonably-priced spares). It was brilliant to create something concrete and the positive reception was wonderful but has kind of left me with a lack of ambition to write more (which sucks).

5) Rob Bell; Velvet Elvis, Michael Lloyd; Café Theology, Donald Miller; Blue Like Jazz
– I remember all these books helping to shape my theology at the time, particularly the idea of things (including us) being a work in progress, constantly developing, and that that’s all right.

6) CS Lewis; A Grief Observed & The Great Divorce
– these first of these two books helped massively with a sense of normalisation of the depression I was going through at the time – if one of the modern heroes of my faith could experience and describe things as close to what I’d been feeling then maybe there was hope for me. The second provided me with a backing (from a trusted source) for my growing unease with the idea of ‘eternal conscious torment’.

7) Douglas Adams; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a trilogy in four parts)
– funny science fiction! And a world-view that I found very appealing.

8) Tom Wright; Surprised by Hope (or Simply Christian)
– yet another “it’s all right to be thinking what you’re thinking” books – particularly the idea that received church/Christian/pop-cultural wisdom might not be entirely-based on an accurate understanding of reality/what the Bible really says.

9) Alan Moore; V for Vendetta
– Watchmen was brilliant but V was my first experience of a comic written specifically to discuss the ins and outs of a philosophical/political position (in this case, anarchism). All wrapped up in a terrifying, dystopian vision of the near future.

10) Michael Rosen; Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
– Another ’empathy’ book, all the better for both suggesting that there are ways to help with the SAD and ending with the idea that it will creep up and clobber you at the most unexpected of times…

The more observant of you will have noticed that there are more than ten books here – congratulations, have a picture from the Sad Book:
sad book back cover