12 Old(Ish) Books to Read When You Are Young

May 1, 2023

These 12 books are classics in the best sense of the word-classics not just because they are from another century but because they deal with topics that never go out of style and are written in a way that transcends their own time and culture. One of the most important things we can do when we are young and our beliefs and opinions have not yet fully formed is to make sure we read good books. I hope the annotated bibliography below will help point you in the right direction. I've tried to pick books that are rich and deep, but also accessible and not overly long.

There may be no more influential theologian in the history of the church than Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in North Africa. This autobiographical work traces Augustine's spiritual journey toward Christ through unbelief, philosophical wandering, and sexual promiscuity.

This little book of devotion and discipleship comes out of Calvin's much larger work 'The Institutes of the Christian Religion'. The French theologian and Genevan Reformer provides a beautiful and stirring picture of true spirituality.

In this work by English preacher and author Thomas Brooks, we see the genius of the Puritans for clearheaded organization and heart-probing spiritual diagnosis and gospel cure.

This is the most famous Christian allegory ever written and, by some accounts, the most widely distributed book in the world (after the Bible). Bunyan understood the trials and triumphs of the Christian life and presented the journey of faith in a way that has inspired millions of Christians.


Ryle, an Anglican bishop in Liverpool, combined a sharp theological mind with unusually crisp communication. This is the best book for understanding the doctrine of progressive sanctification and growing in practical godliness.


From theological treatises to biographies to detective stories, Chesterton was one of the greatest writers in the English language from the 20th century. This is Chesterton's witty and intellectually robust defense of the joys of Christian orthodoxy.

Bavinck is best known for his multi-volume 'Reformed Dogmatics' but this exploration of sex, marriage, and family life, though originally written in Dutch over a hundred years ago, remains incredibly relevant for our day.

It's often been said that the most important word in this title is "and". Machen, the Princeton Seminary professor who left to start Westminster Theological Seminary, argues persuasively that theological liberalism is not a different version of Christianity but a different religion altogether.

While Lewis is better known for 'Mere Christianity' and 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' page for page this is one of the most important things Lewis ever wrote. Lewis argues that in forgetting the God-given natural order of morality, we have made 'men without chests' who try to see through first principles and therefore no longer see.

A Scottish-born pastor and professor, Murray originally wrote this work of soteriology as a series of articles for ordinary church members. You would be hard pressed to find a more succinct and readable theological exploration of the work of Christ and the salvation of sinners.

There are very few books that communicate such glorious truth—and communicate it as succinctly and as well—as Knowing God. Through Packer’s penetrating mind and gifted pen, the majesty of God and the wonder of the gospel shine through on every page. Easily one of the most influential books of the last half century.

No one did more in recent decades to remind us of the bigness of God than R. C. Sproul. This book will make sure we who were created in God's image do not recreate him in ours.

This content was originally published on WTS Books

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