Books to Help You Grow

A young believer, encouraged by some well-meaning older person, makes a trip to the local Christian bookstore. On a fine Saturday morning, he opens the door to what he expects to be a real adventure. He has in his pocket some hard-earned money and is ready to part with it for the learning he will find in the books he purchases. But upon entering, he is greeted with an array of gifts, videos, cards, music, and other assorted merchandise. He finally makes his way to the back of the store and finds the book department.

He then faces the next obstacle. Who are these authors? What do they believe? The prices are such that he surely doesn't want to make a mistake. The store clerk gives vague and unhelpful answers to his questions and our young believer finally leaves the store with no books (fortunately) and many unanswered questions. If he is like most, he never returns. Over 90% of professing Christians in the United States do not go to a Christian Bookstore--ever! Yet we have the largest range of good books in any language on earth today and the United States has one of the highest standards of living, with more income to spend on non-essentials than almost any other country in the world.

Now the preceding is not an indictment of all bookstores. There are many fine Christian bookstores with knowledgeable salespeople. I know, for I worked in one of the finest in the country, and there are many like it. But there is too large a segment of Christian bookstores who fit the above description, and this is why this column is written. We want to help believers make wise choices in the books they read. There is only one thing worse than a bad book on the market and that is if it gets read. It is important for all of us to read good books so that we can grow in our Christian lives.

I would like each of you to have in your hands a little booklet produced by Gospel Folio Press. It is called "Books to Help You Grow." It is a bibliography of 700 books that have been recommended by some very trusted people of a past and present generation. This list was first compiled in 1962 by brethren James Gunn, Peter J. Pell, F. W. Schwartz, and T. E. Wilson. A few years ago, this list was found in a drawer at Gospel Folio Press, mimeographed on some legal-sized papers. Jabe Nicholson showed it to men like Bill MacDonald, Boyd Nicholson, and Liddon Sheridan, who added some of the newer books that they have found helpful. Some books were subtracted which no longer addressed current concerns. A good portion of the books, while out of print, may eventually be found or reprinted.

It was done in a booklet form which is easy to put in your pocket and take with you to the bookstore. It also has space in which you can check off those books which are already on your bookshelf so you won't purchase duplicate titles.

Another feature of this booklet is a listing of a 100-volume basic library and a 250-volume "first choice" library, so the beginner can purchase the books that will be most helpful at the beginning of a life-long adventure into the world of books.

We are talking about a price that most elders, who are interested in helping young people in this way, can have a few copies around to give away to those who are interested.

Many of the books that you will see in this column will be from this list and in the next months this book will be the basis of the books reviewed. In this way, anyone can walk confidently into any bookstore and purchase books that will do you good and will help you grow.