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What Book Would You Pass On to the Next Generation?
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011
It’s a simple but intriguing question: If you had only one book to pass on to the next generation, what would it be?
The Orange prize for fiction has joined forces with Vintage Classics to ask 100 people to do just that; to name the one book they would pass on to the next generation, their so-called “inheritance classic.”
The answers have proven fascinating. As you would imagine, certain authors make multiple appearances: Woolf, Austen, Tolstoy, Hardy, Faulkner, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Orwell, Harper Lee, and Homer.
Very few modern authors made the cut.
It prompted me to think about the specific Christian books and authors I would want to pass on to the next generation of Christ followers.
And don’t assume authors and their books don’t need to be passed on. For a taste of how quickly things can be lost, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life discovered that nearly one out of every three Americans under the age of 30 have never even heard of Billy Graham. In a mentoring group I led, made-up entirely of twentysomething men, not only had none read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, but one was shocked (having heard his name from time-to-time) to discover that he wasn’t still alive.
So just for fun, let’s pick our one book, two at the most, that we would hate to see lost for the next generation of Christ followers. Books that formed your soul, inspired your life, shaped your thinking. Simply put, they made you love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Let’s assume the Bible would deserve to head any list, so let’s skip that one. Let’s also skip the great systematics from earlier centuries, as it would seem they have made it past their generational launch.
So what books from, say, the mid-20th century forward would we want to ensure live beyond their day? Log on to this blog’s comment section on churchandculture.org with your one or two selections. Ones that really meant something to you.
Here are mine: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I’m pretty sure Lewis will be known to the next generation, but I name it just to be safe. I fear that Corrie’s story may be lost; I hope it isn’t. It’s the most stirring, inspiring biography I’ve ever read.
Not the deepest of books, or the most lengthy. To some, maybe not even the most impressive.
But they mattered to me, and I think they would matter to people in years to come.
Looking forward to reading yours.
James Emery White
“Read 'em and keep: what are the books to pass on to the next generation?,” Kate Mosse, The Guardian, Monday, March 28, 2011. Read online.
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