When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (1 Timothy 4:13)
Now, I’m aware that some of you will see this as a case of special pleading. I do have an awful lot of books, and I as I am keen to point out to anyone who doesn’t ask: I collect books which is a different thing to reading books! But don’t let this mislead you, the reading of books is still of great benefit to the Christian.
The reasons for this are many, but underlying them all is that Christianity is an endlessly fascinating and uplifting subject. Biographies of great figures of the past can inspire, and books on particular issues can distill the wisdom of the ages into a dozen chapters. Bible atlases can open up the landscape and geography of the ancient world, and other books on the Bible can describe everyday life in ancient Israel. Some texts help you get to grips with Paul’s thought, and others will trace themes from Genesis to Revelation. A commentary will gently guide you though a single book of the Bible.
So where to start? That is a more difficult question now than it was twenty years ago. By and large Christian bookshops have disappeared, and even a city as large as Bristol has none. Surprisingly, though, there are two near us: one in Newent with a cafe attached, and another in Bromyard. Neither are huge, but they do give an opportunity to flip through some pages before you buy.
In an effort to be helpful, I have put together a page of suggested books on our website, with links to an online bookseller. I have only scratched the surface, and would be delighted to give recommendations.