• Christopher Tanner

Top-10 Books That Changed My Life


My life as a reader really began while tearing through “The Cooper Kids Adventure Series,” by Frank Peretti. My parents bought me the entire series as a gift, and I read at least a few of the books during an family vacation spent winding through the western U.S. in (or around) the summer of 1992. Since that trip, and were I to guess, I’d say I’ve read 1,000+ books. Compared to many in my social circles, it’s a relatively modest number. Crunched into the calculator, it’s like averaging one-book-per-week for 22 years, or somewhere thereabout. But my reading habit waxes & wanes–and I’m no speed-reader! At times, my reading schedule is pure mania, barreling through book after book in my library. At other times, however, it’s difficult for me to even pick up at the pages I left off. (Life is life & seasons are seasons, right?) But through it all, through every one of my life’s many twists & turns, books have been an integral part of my day-to-day.

So I was especially excited when a friend of mine mentioned me on Facebook in a “Top-10 Books” challenge. (Well, it was something like that, anyway.) The idea is simple: name 10+ books that changed your life, then talk a little about them. This was a ton of fun! Among many things, it afforded me the opportunity to think back on the abundant number of authors I’ve admired over the years. I spent time contemplating to what degree (or another) any given author influenced my world- and life-view. Over and over again I’d find myself thinking, “Wow! how do I decide between so many great writers?” But after a day or two, I decided on my top-10; more than that, I thought it would be really cool to respond to my friend’s challenge with a video detailing my selection! *enjoy!*

CORRECTION: Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts tweeted me after watching the video to inform me that while I was right about him posting a status update in response to being challenged, I was wrong in saying that he challenged three people… turns out, he challenged no one. #BooHoo4Everyone

Post Script: John Medaille, a former colleague at the Distributist Review, watched my video and noted that not one of my selections were classics. It’s a valid point. My hope, however, is to create more videos discussing books that have changed my life, limiting myself to narrow(er) categories like theology, political economy, philosophy, media, et cetera. Let me say, also, that a lion’s share of the selections in “The Portable Atheist” (selected & with introductions by Christopher Hitchens) are penned by people of letters within the Western Canon.

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