Books Everyone Should Have

Crux serves the theological colleges that make up the Toronto School of Theology. This means many of our customers are future priests and ministers. Part of the fun of being in seminary and close to a great bookstore is building a good personal theological library! Book collecting continues after graduation, of course, but the foundations are laid while in school. Here are some books that the Crux staff think that everyone should have in their library.

Alain: Jesus and the God of Israel by Richard Bauckham

Andrew: The book we should all read and own is Augustine’s Confessions. The Confessions is a beautiful example of what an exercise in patience looks like. In it, Augustine finds God’s own patience, so I would argue, to come to bear upon his own life. The God so encountered is not a “god” to re-assure us, but the God of Jesus Christ and, as a result, is the God who sanctifies us in the fire of God’s own love. Augustine, confessing such a God, can only find his own life (re)narrated according to God’s own love given to us in Christ.

Carolyn: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor. If you want a reading challenge, pick up a copy of renowned Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor’s masterful journey through Western history. Taylor looks at the pervasive secularity of the modern West and traces the historical trajectories of ideas and beliefs that have led us to this place—trajectories that lead to some surprising starting points. Ultimately Taylor hopes to open space for transcendence and religious life in the midst of our secular age. Admittedly the book could have used some editing, but no one can deny Taylor’s vast historical knowledge, the keenness of his insights, or the sympathetic respect with which he engages each viewpoint along the way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Bonus: at 896 pages, this book can help you out with any weightlifting goals you might have.

Cindy: A Bible Atlas of some kind. This helps you understand the importance of places in the biblical narratives. Geography is important in understanding what happened in different stories.

Connor: From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun. This work of cultural history, tracing the patterns of the last 500 years (the Modern Era), is both an excellent read and erudite account of the timespan. Written by Barzun in his later years, it shows the polish of writing that comes from a life spent discussing these topics.

Heather L: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book speaks to the eternal human condition. It also makes you a more interesting person if you read it. (Especially if you teach yourself Elvish.)

Heather W: An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis. This small book is an extended essay on reading critically and what makes a book great. It will shift the way you look at literature. According to Lewis great writing supports, and even compels, re-reading. You should read this book. You should own your a copy to re-read it.

Sheila: The book everyone should have is the Oxford English Dictionary.   I know that many who read this are going to say that you can look up any word that you like on-line; you can even use the OED on-line resource.  And this is true. However, there is something to holding a dictionary in your hands and looking up a word. For one, the tactile sensation of looking up the word can help you remember the word better.  Another reason? Every time I look up a word, I put a little pencil dot beside the word (this works well for those of us studying foreign languages, too!); when I reach five dots, it is time to fill out a vocabulary card.  A third reason: the undiscovered word.  I cannot tell you the number of words which I have found on the way to looking a word (abligurition and waulked are too of the most recent ones).  My favourite definition for grace (“unmerited love; strengthening influence”) comes from the Oxford.  When you look up a word, you can start to see the story behind the word, its import.