25 Books every Christian Should Read is a compilation work which includes summaries and excerpts from 25 Christian classics. The list was put together by the editorial board of Renovare and, as described in the Introduction, “bends toward the contemplative in nature.” So, while the list contains a broad range of books from many genres, periods, and traditions, the common thread that runs through nearly all the selections, is the interior and devotional life of the Christian.
Solidness: Plus+ Inevitably, in such a broad range of books from a variety of Christian traditions, there will some with which you will agree with wholeheartedly and some you will be less comfortable with. I was pretty pleased with the inclusion of Confessions, The Cost of Discipleship, and Mere Christianity, and less pleased with Revelations of Divine Love, The Philokalia, and The Cloud of Unknowing. I read excerpts from these last three in one of my Seminary classes and was not terribly impressed with how these authors approached the topics of revelation, contemplation, and prayer (always felt a bit too mystical to me). Nevertheless, one of the goals of this book is to broaden the reader’s theological horizon, so the inclusion of these books makes sense.
Freshness: Neutral: The goal of this is really to point the reader to the classics, not really to editorialize on them. The real editorializing really takes place in the selection of the books. So, this book doesn’t exactly provide new content, but it will, no doubt, point the reader to new content. Of the books listed I have probably only read about four or five completely, and exceprts (aside from this book) of around ten more so this book has provided me a path to a lot more content in the future. Additionally, the summaries and excerpts were very helpful in giving me some great “big ideas” from the selected authors.
Recommendation: Honestly, while I feel good that I picked up a copy of this book, you might just want to consult the list at the beginning, or a similar list, and find summaries and excerpts on your own to decide which books to read in the future. Ultimately, I’m pretty sure it’s the list, not the content, of this book that I will end up using in the future.