Books Worth Revisiting Over and Over

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
I've been trying to put together a list of books (outside of Scripture) that I want to ensure I return to multiple times throughout life, so as to really absorb their ideas. Reading broadly is great; but it seems to me that reading a few really good books repeatedly, so as to fully absorb their ideas, is also a beneficial practice.

So with that in mind, what books would be on your list, if you were to make one?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Augustine's Confessions, Athanasius's On the Incarnation of the Word, John Calvin's Institutes, Francis Turretin's Institutes, nearly everything that John Owen wrote, J. C. Ryle's Holiness, various books by Thomas Watson and Jeremiah Burroughs, to name but a few such works.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Anything by Hugh Martin or John Colquhoun is worth reading multiple times. In recent years, however, I have started re-reading books by comparatively modern authors, which I found to be earth-shattering when I read the first time around when I was (fairly) newly Reformed. Generally speaking, my reaction to them is meh. I may still largely concur with the point(s) that they are making, but they are not as convincing as I initially thought that they were.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
Anything by Hugh Martin or John Colquhoun is worth reading multiple times. In recent years, however, I have started re-reading books by comparatively modern authors, which I found to be earth-shattering when I read the first time around when I was (fairly) newly Reformed. Generally speaking, my reaction to them is meh. I may still largely concur with the point(s) that they are making, but they are not as convincing as I initially thought that they were.
I don’t believe I’ve read anything by either of those men. I’ll have to check them out.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Thomas Watson and Jeremiah Burroughs, to name but a few such works.
I love these Puritans. Add to that Richard Sibbes. I thought, Daniel, you would have also mentioned Octavius Winslow. You have mentioned his works a number of times. His book Help Heavenward is a spiritual gem.

Re Thomas Watson read his classic work on meditation 'A Christian on the Mount'. His Body of Divinity is a full commentary on the WSC. Great work. Re Burroughs, his 'Rare Jewell of Christian Contentment' is one of his great works. He also preached a sermon series on how to handle affliction and persecution. This series is excellent and is published in 3 volumes:
  • Moses Self Denial (Soli Deo Gloria)
  • Moses Choice (Northampton Press)
  • The Excellency of Holy Courage in Evil Times (Puritan Publications)
 
Last edited:

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Martyn Lloyd-Jones has been a blessing to me. His book on the Sermon on the Mount is a spiritual gem, also his 'Knowing the Times' is a work you will want to read many times. Add to that his works on Ephesians and Romans. Joel Beeke is an edifying pastor who follows in the legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A great starting place is his work 'Puritan Reformed Spirituality' then 'A radical comprehensive call to holiness'.

Herman Bavinck and Geerhardus Vos are amongst the best for serious theology. Talking of the Dutch, Van der Groe's work on the Heidelberg Catechism is a tremendous blend of theology and piety.
 
Last edited:

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Oliver O'Donovan. Anything by him, but primarily Bonds of Imperfection.
Augustine, City of God.
Dante's Divine Comedy. I read it every 12-18 months.
WGT Shedd, Dogmatic Theology
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Augustine's On the Trinity, Confessions, and City of God; Calvin's Institutes, Luther's Bondage of the Will, Edwards's Treatise on Religious Affections, Brooks's Precious Remedies, Fisher's Marrow of Modern Divinity, Marshall's Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Vos's Biblical Theology and Reformed Dogmatics, Machen's Christianity and Liberalism, Sproul's The Holiness of God, Ferguson's The Whole Christ.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Mortification of Sin, Owen
A Call to Prayer, Ryle

Both are short and good to read every year.
 
Last edited:

Sovereign Grace

Puritan Board Freshman
The Five Solas Series set
Recovering the Gospel series by Paul Washer
The Potter‘s Freedom by James White
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen
The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink
 
Last edited:

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
The Five Solas Series set
Recovering the Gospel series by Paul Washer
The Potter‘s Freedom by James White
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen
The Attribute of God by A. W. Pink
I’m not familiar with the first set you mention. Who’s that edited/published by?
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I am rereading The Sovereignty of God by Pink, and it is really helping me deal with my emotional reaction to what is going on in the USA in so many ways. I am thinking I may need to reread it regularly.
 

Sovereign Grace

Puritan Board Freshman
I’m not familiar with the first set you mention. Who’s that edited/published by?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Given the other books in your list were more monumental works, I’m wondering your reasoning for this one. It’s excellent, of course. No doubt about that. I would just like to see your particular reason.
He's a good writer and he is fun to read on metaphysical issues, especially when he starts analyzing Hodge and Nevin.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
In order to be worth revisiting multiple times a book has to be enjoyable to read, contain layers, and be suggestive. A lot of theology that is handled as technical writing rather than literary craft, is therefore unlikely to make the cut. The experience Daniel describes is not uncommon. A book might make a strong impression because of its novelty. But "novelty" is an adventitious and unpredictable quality, because it is different for nearly every reader. If I've already read the same thing somewhere else, it won't make such a vivid impression.

The Three Forms of Unity and The Westminster Standards will certainly repay rereading, and I think the enjoyment of them grows with more familiarity.
Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology also stands out. It can be reread with pleasure and profit.
Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress by its nature is well suited for frequent re-reading, perhaps in an occasional rather than systematic way (i.e., not necessarily reading it in sequence every time).
Lady Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love is ideal for dipping into again and again because her simple diction and telling phrases contain ideas that can't be exhausted.
John Newton's letters can be revisited, because their blend of clear sense with an atmosphere of grace really doesn't get old.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
We could list what we consider the greatest books, but that doesn't account for works that have personally had a great effect in ones own life. Books I revisit include Henry Scougal's Life of God in the Soul of Man, a compilation of Jonathan Edward's sermons called Knowing Christ, G. Vos Biblical Theology + a compilation of his sermons, and Richard Sibbes' A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break.
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
We could list what we consider the greatest books, but that doesn't account for works that have personally had a great effect in ones own life. Books I revisit include Henry Scougal's Life of God in the Soul of Man, a compilation of Jonathan Edward's sermons called Knowing Christ, G. Vos Biblical Theology + a compilation of his sermons, and Richard Sibbes' A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break.
Yes, the ones I revisit (or should revisit more often) are not necessarily what I'd put on a list of the greatest books. Here are some which I know, when I pick them up, I will be sure to find something like a reminder of what to put into practice, or else material I'll be able to chew on for a while.

* Matthew Henry, The Communicant's Companion
* John Murray, O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
* Shedd, Sermons to the Natural Man (somehow more often than his sermons To the Spiritual Man)
* Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted to God
 

LeeD

Puritan Board Freshman
Bunyan, Holy War and Pilgrim's Progress
Fisher, Marrow of Modern Divinity
Bennett, Valley of Vision
Ryle, Holiness
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Anything by Hugh Martin...
I heartily second this. I can't believe I went as long as I did without reading his works. Highly recommended! I think John Murray had it right when he said: ‘All his (Martin’s) writings exhibit an unexcelled warmth and fervour. No one could scale higher heights of sanctified eloquence.’
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
I heartily second this. I can't believe I went as long as I did without reading his works. Highly recommended! I think John Murray had it right when he said: ‘All his (Martin’s) writings exhibit an unexcelled warmth and fervour. No one could scale higher heights of sanctified eloquence.’
If you had to pick one work specifically to get started, which would you recommend?
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
If you had to pick one work specifically to get started, which would you recommend?
The Shadow of Calvary was the first one I read. They are sermons/meditations on the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane and at his trial. They are profound and deeply experiential.

And because when you ask for one recommendation you can never get just one (!), a close second would be The Abiding Presence. It is shorter, and a little meatier, but gives some great reflections for how to read the Gospels.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
The Shadow of Calvary was the first one I read. They are sermons/meditations on the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane and at his trial. They are profound and deeply experiential. So

And because when you ask for one recommendation you can never get just one (!), a close second would be The Abiding Presence. It is shorter, and a little meatier, but gives some great reflections for how to read the Gospels.
Thanks I will add these to my list
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I heartily second this. I can't believe I went as long as I did without reading his works. Highly recommended! I think John Murray had it right when he said: ‘All his (Martin’s) writings exhibit an unexcelled warmth and fervour. No one could scale higher heights of sanctified eloquence.’

I actually only began reading Hugh Martin about three years ago when Banner of Truth republished The Atonement. It really is amazing that it took me so long to get around to reading anything by him.
 

En Kristo

Puritan Board Freshman
By What Standard, An Analysis of the Theology of Cornelius Van Til - R. J. Rushdoony

This is the book that Cornelius Van Til would have written if he were not thinking in Dutch. It really gets at the authority of scripture. It is enormously helpful in developing a Christian worldview.
 
Top