I first began reviewing books nearly a decade ago, for two simple reasons: a) As a writer, and someone on a writer’s salary, I knew I could get books for free if I was a good reviewer; b) I had nobody else to talk to about my books – so I wrote down my thoughts instead. I have always enjoyed talking about books, and hearing passionate people talk passionately about books they are passionate about.
When I first heard word of You Must Read: Books that have shaped our lives, from Banner of Truth, I was immediately intrigued. Not only have I always loved Banner of Truth’s books, but I have always enjoyed being able to read what other author’s like reading. Thus, “You Must Read brings together more than thirty well-known Christian leaders and gives them the opportunity to talk about a book that has made a lasting impact on their lives.”
The who’s who of authors who have contributed to this work boggles the mind. Advertised on the front cover alone are names such as Alistair Begg, Jerry Bridges, Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul — and there are over 3o in total. I have not read every entry in this book prior to writing this review, rather, I have read those reviews written by author’s I was already acquainted with, or reviews of books I was intrigued by.
I wrote on Twitter when I first started reading that reading this book “is not going to be healthy on my bank account.” I was unsurprisingly correct. The first entry in the book — R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s review of The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain H. Murray, saw the book immediately end up on my (ever-expanding) wishlist. It was soon followed by Murray’s biography of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray; and the Diary of Kenneth A. MacRae (edited by, again, Iain H. Murray).
That Iain H. Murray is such an integral figure to the books reviewed in this edition is unsurprising — founder of the Banner of Truth Trust, Murray is also a widely-respected and highly-praised biographer. You Must Read’s Introduction includes a brief but loving tribute to Iain and his wife, Jean. Many of the books bear his name, as either editor or author.
Reviewing a book of reviews is, in and of itself, somewhat difficult. Each entry in this book is a single review of a Banner of Truth-published book that the respective author has loved, benefited from, and cherished. Each entry is written in the author’s own style, and therefore the reviews therein do not follow any particular format. This is not a detriment to the book’s value — each author is allowed to express their love for their chosen book in the manner that best suits them. Albert Mohler takes a very academic, literary-review style, while John MacArthur relies on notes he had written long ago, and creates several categorised lists of specific points he believes readers will find enjoyable.
At the end of the day, You Must Read is likely to become the first in a series of such books, for the treasure trove of books published by Banner of Truth is unlikely to be completely mined any time soon. Similarly, those of us who have benefited from Banner of Truth books are not small in number, and are likely to be champing at the bit to share their personal stories of books that have changed their lives and encouraged their ministry.
You Must Read is going to be sitting on my coffee table for some time to come, or living by my desk as I write — a continual reminder of the work of God in our world through the men and women that have authored or been featured in Banner of Truth books (and a perpetual source of new books to buy).
You can buy You Must Read: Books that have shaped our lives, from Banner of Truth, here.