A long time ago, a pastor of mine mentioned to me the old adage that my development as a person will depend largely upon which friendships I chose to develop and which books I chose to read. He reminded me that the most important friendship was with Christ and the most important book was the Bible, but beyond that I would have to work hard to make sure that I was developing close friendships and reading helpful books. Shortly after that, I enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where the President at that time–Paige Patterson–encouraged us to acquire a library of at least 1,500 volumes if we were going to be thoughtful ministers of the gospel in a Western context.
Those words of encouragement were wise. I am profoundly grateful for their advice and, over the course of the past two decades, have developed a habit of reading. As a way of passing along their advice, from time to time I will publish lists of books that “ought” to be read. For what it is worth, here is a link to one of those lists, published as an interview with Matt Smethurst at The Gospel Coalition and entitled, “On My Shelf: Life and Books with Bruce Ashford.”