My Top Books for a Personal Library

Book corner
Photo by: Islxndis

JP and Bryce did a podcast on building a man’s library (almost 5 months ago – and I just finished listening to it). In the podcast they had top-5 lists from four people plus two more books from a fifth person and they invited listeners to compile their own top-5 lists.

Before I share my top-5 list I’d like to say that I really liked how their focus wasn’t about promoting some definitive list but on talking about how and why to develop a library of books based on your own values and interests. Considering that core message I want to share my thoughts on the lists they shared (as a point of reference) and how I chose my list (especially considering that I had the benefit of listening to the podcast and hearing the lists that were already shared there).

When I think of their invitation to build a man’s library it focuses my attention on books that help to shape men into better men as opposed to just books that are good and deserve to be included in a well-rounded library. Because this is a top-5 list I tried to hit a variety of aspects of personal development in the 5 books I chose. I found that I was familiar with nine of the 21 books in their top-5 lists (two of the lists had a common book). I had read eight and the ninth has been a long-time entry on my list of books to read and the eight I had read were all worthy candidates for a good personal library. Of the twelve I wasn’t familiar with I have since added three to my list of books to read and another seven sound like they would be good (but not compelling/intriguing enough to add to an already long list of books to read) leaving two books that I have no opinion of out of the 21. With that background, here is my Top Five list:

  1. Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
  2. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  3. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
  4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  5. Ender’s Game (the whole series – including the Ender’s Shadow series) by Orson Scott Card

I admit that I altered my list because of having the other lists already in front of me. I chose not to seriously consider any of the following because they were already included in the lists they presented:

  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Anatomy of Peace
  • The Chosen

Without the self-imposed requirement of not repeating what was in the other lists the Chronicles of Narnia would have supplanted Ender’s Game on my top 5 and Man’s Search for Meaning and Anatomy of Peace would have been competing with Cure for the Common Life, the Tao of Pooh, and Mere Christianity for three available slots on the top-5 (four slots if I hadn’t made a point to include Your Money or Your Life as an alternative to the other financial books on the existing lists). Thanks to the limitation of 5 books The Chosen would have been considered but ultimately fallen outside the top 5 to be included in the honorable mentions list along with:

  • The Miracle of Forgiveness (Spencer W. Kimball)
  • The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
  • Small Gods (or Discworld books in general, especially Guards! Guards!, Reaper Man, Going Postal, and Men at Arms) (Terry Pratchett)
  • The Giver (also Gathering Blue and Messenger) (Lois Lowry)
  • The Fourth Turning (William Strauss)
  • Season of Life (Jeffrey Marx)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (series) (Madeleine L’Engle)
  • The Hiding Place (Corrie ten Boom)
  • Lectures on Faith
  • many of Charles Dickens’ works

In trying to form my list I have concluded that a good library should include a healthy mix of fiction, biography, and philosophy.

Out of curiosity I counted up the books included on these lists (using 5 as a generic number of Dickens’ books to include) considering individual books when any whole series has been listed and there are 44 books on this top-5 books post.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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