I had the privilege of leading a World Book Day assembly last week. I talked about a few books from my shelves that had shaped the way my life turned out. Here goes!
Philips’ Concise World Atlas
I loved this as a kid, trying to imagine what it would be like in all the different places. And I was fascinated by the section at the front with dozens of graphs showing climate and other data. It sparked an interest in science.
How it works: The Rocket
I went on to gain an MEng in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Enough said.
Gideons’ New Testament and Psalms
I was given this (actually, not this exact one – it was a red-vinyl one that I gave away years ago) in a school assembly when I was around twelve years old. It’s how I first met God.
I got into painting through a love of renaissance art, from borrowing books from the library. When I was seventeen I went to see an exhibition of Raphael’s paintings at the National Gallery and bought this. Un-trendy as it may be, he’s still my favourite artist.
The Blind Watchmaker
After finishing my degree I trained to be a science teacher, and it forced me to consider properly what I thought about evolution. I’d previously been led into thinking that it was false, but through a trip to the Natural History Museum, and reading this and Darwin’s The Origin of Species, I changed my mind. It was the first time I realised that not everything I heard through church culture was necessarily right.
The Post Evangelical
After years of unpicking some Christian dogmas, and feeling a bit of a heretic, I was so relieved to read this. It was the first time I realised that some other Christians thought the way that I did.
Franny and Zooey
This novel helped me to resolve a lot of the questions I had about prayer and God’s presence. I’d always struggled with the biblical imperative to ‘pray without ceasing’. If that was what prayer meant, then prayer had to be very different to what I had assumed it to be: something that took up a few minutes a day. I won’t give away the plot of the book, but it is a long-wrestle with the same question, with a fantastic answer that really helped me.
So… what would your seven books be?