Most Influential Books: Pt. 1

Maybe it is a memory, or maybe it is the recreation of a memory from a photograph, but most of my earliest remembrances involve my family sitting around the table in our yellow kitchen listening to my mother read out loud. Books have shaped me in more ways than I can even guess. So, when someone asked what the most formative books in my world had been, I thought creating a list might be helpful to process that in my own thinking.  I have linked each of these to a source where you can find them, just in case. . .

1. Heidi. Treasures of the SnowTanglewood Secret. Star of Light. I know, that is four books, not one.  These books are all written for children, and my mom read the first one to my brother and me several times. Although none of us identified it at the time, all  of them take place in another country and involve characters with disabilities.  Moms, don’t waste your reading!


2. Mary Jones and Her Bible. This is another book my mom read to us a number of times as a child. I was impacted by the story of this young girl who walked miles weekly to have an opportunity to learn to read the Scriptures. Her story inspired the formation of the Bible Society in Wales and England.

3. Operation World. This book catalogues the nations of the world into a daily prayer focus over a year. I got my first copy the year that I graduated from college and have had one by my desk for the past 20 years.  Now, this information is also available on a phone app and in a daily email.  Anybody else praying for Mozambique today?


4. Let the Nations Be Glad. This is Dr. Piper’s classic theology of missions, a critical text for anyone wondering what the Scripture says about missions.

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn’t.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.  When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity.  But worship abides forever.  Piper.

More tomorrow. . .



  1. […] My love of John Newton is no surprise, and one of my favorite books of all time is a collection of correspondence called Letters of John Newton.   First published in 1869 and covering more than 50 years of Newton’s personal correspondence with other preachers, Lords and Ladies, writers, and congregants, Newton’s letters are pithy, pastoral, tender.  Like this: […]


  2. Thank you for your list! My mom was from Mexico and my dad had a forth grade education so they didn’t read to us. I’ve always loved Shirley Temple’s movie version of Heidi but I will look to find these books and read them to my grandsons!!! Thank you!


  3. One of my strongest memories of my Mom is her reading Heidi and Treasures of the Snow to me and my sisters. She didn’t live long enough to read us more of Patricia St. John, but because she read them to me I’ve read many of her other books including The Tanglewood Secret and Star of Light. I am so glad you shared these books. I rarely hear her mentioned or listed in children’s book lists.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s