I read. A lot. Some would say too much.

People occasionally ask me how I became a writer, and my standard answer is, “I was raised in a family of readers.”

And over the years I’ve read more than 1,200 books (that I can remember by title and author, that is). Not counting comic books. Not counting text books. Oh, and not counting my own books.

So when I sat down recently to try to list my favorite fifty books, I faced a daunting task. I absolutely love books, and there have been so many good ones that narrowing them down to a list of fifty seems a lot like picking a favorite child or grandchild.

But I did it. I present below my list. I’m not saying these are the greatest books ever written (though some would qualify); I’m saying these books have either changed my life or brought me so much pleasure or made me think or are just so flat-out wonderful that they make the top four percent of all the books I’ve ever read.

They are listed in roughly the order I read them (as well as I can remember at my advanced age):

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Cleary)

Emil and the Detectives (Kastner)

My Side of the Mountain (George)

Portrait of a Prophet (Hall)

A Man Called Peter (Marshall)

In His Steps (Sheldon)

Winnie the Pooh (Milne)

The House at Pooh Corner (Milne)

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (Lewis)

The Walking Drum (L’Amour)

The Maltese Falcon (Hammett)

With Christ in the School of Prayer (Murray)

Sit Walk Stand (Nee)

Dracula (Stoker)

Hand Me Another Brick (Swindoll)

Walden (Thoreau)

Exodus (Uris)

Alaska (Michener)

The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner)

David Copperfield (Dickens)

East of Eden (Steinbeck)

The Pillars of the Earth (Follett)

Spoon River Anthology (Masters)

The Indian in the Cupboard (Banks)

The Daughter of Time (Tey)

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Dillard)

The Writing Life (Dillard)

Robinson Crusoe (Devoe)

Knowing God (Packer)

Pudd’nhead Wilson (Twain)

Sphere (Crichton)

Bird by Bird (Lamott)

The Orchard (Robertson)

Treasure Island (Stevenson)

Orthodoxy (Chesterton)

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly (Dawn)

A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving)

Traveling Mercies (Lamott)

The Cloister Walk (Norris)

Women in the Church (Grenz)

The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkein)

The Two Towers (Tolkein)

The Return of the King (Tolkein)

The Contemplative Pastor (Peterson)

A Diary of Private Prayer (Baillie)

Prayer (Foster)

Answering God (Peterson)

Leap Over a Wall (Peterson)

A New Kind of Christian (McLaren)

The Last Word and the Word After That (McLaren)

Copyright © 2007, Bob Hostetler, use only with permission