6 Books That Shaped Me Into Who I Am

When my daughter was about 6 years old, I asked her this thought-provoking question: "If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 books would you want to have with you?"

As a dad who led family devotions, and as a children's pastor, I expected her to name the Bible as one of her choices. And if I did a good enough job in my role as her spiritual leader, she would also want a Bible storybook or a family devotional.

But it wasn't to be.

Without missing a beat, Hannah  replied, "I'd want a book about boats, a book about islands, and a book about how to get off islands and get back home."

Fortunately, we have never been stranded a la Gilligan's Island. (Though if we were, I'd want my creative and quick-thinking daughter with me.)

Nonetheless, there have been some books that have shaped my life. And in a sense, these books have rescued me from my own ignorance and some bad choices.

So, if I had to restart my adult life with a repertoire of a half-dozen books, these are the ones I would choose:
  1. Bible.  I know; it's cliche. And I don't mean that I've used God's word as a mere roadmap for life, How-to guide, or instruction manual. The Bible has helped me see who I am -- a great sinner who is infinitely treasured by a greater God.
  2. Mere Christianity.  I don't agree with all of CS Lewis's theology. But this book (which I've read at least 4 times) has challenged me to think and grow. Plus, I'll never foget the moment when God used this book to show me how I was full of pride.
  3. What Did You Expect?  Hands down, this gospel-centered book by Paul Tripp is the best book on marriage that I've ever read. Every single chapter challenged me, and encouraged me. (You can read my recommendation of this book.)
  4. Shepherding a Child's Heart.  Another book that I've read multiple times, Ted Tripp (Paul's brother) has helped me to have a loftier vision for parenting, beyond raising good kids. In parenting (as in all of life), we must focus on the heart more than external behaviors. (You can also read my recommendation of this book.)
  5. Good to Great (by Jim Collins).  I've carried the language of a "Level 5 Leader" with me in every role I've had since I read this book in 2006.
  6. Now, Discover Your Strengths.  The first of several books I've read by Marcus Buckingham, this helped me to seek out and recognize my own strengths, and the strengths of those around me. I also highly recommend his latest book StandOut.
Looking for summer reading? Click on one (or more) of these links to buy one of these great books!

Do you have any books that shaped who you are? Let everyone know in the comments.

Related Links:


  1. _The Pursuit of Holiness_ by Jerry Bridges
    _Passion and Purity_ by Elisabeth Eliot
    _Lies Women Believe_ by Nancy Leigh Demoss

    The Prep for Parenting/Toddlerhood/Growing Kids God's Way series by the Ezzos

    _The Gift of Fear_ by Gavin De Becker

  2. Forgot _Protecting the Gift_ by Gavin De Becker

    1. Looks like a great list. Thanks for sharing!