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Best book I read this year or every year | Columnist

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My Labor Day column usually consists of an annual list of book recommendations. But before I share my literary advice, let me take a quick detour.

On Valentine’s Day 1992, I started my first job as a medical pastor at Houston Northwest Medical Center. Orientation During his tour, the boss proudly showed us the beautiful, well-equipped chapel. She made careful reference to the Qur’an, the Hebrew Scriptures, and the altar containing the Bible.

I was impressed with the multi-religious exhibits, but upon closer inspection I realized something was wrong. There was a chain that ran through the binding of the book and was attached to the altar. The shackles allowed visitors to turn the pages, but not to pick up the book.

Noticing my surprised expression, my boss said, “I’ll leave if I don’t secure it.”

Hospitals rarely display religious books these days. They avoid the risk of theft by encouraging patients to obtain their religious literature online or from a pastor.

Yet I fear that the Bible is still a target for thieves. These robberies are not deterred by chains because their thievery is not a physical act.

These robbers are trying to steal meaning from the Bible. Theft is carried out by illiterate people who misquote the Bible for their own gain. They escape the biblical context in great effort to prove their political or theological ideals.

These are the people who cite apocalyptic scriptures to justify storming the capital. These are the people who stick scriptures onto placards and bumper stickers to back up their medical opinions.

The best theft deterrent against these thieves is education, not chains. That’s why I use this annual book column to recommend the world’s best-selling Bible.

Many people read the Bible, but some find it difficult.

If the latter describes you, first swapping your grandmother’s King James Bible for a modern version might make reading more enjoyable. (Multiple versions available online at can be searched).

If you want the highest accuracy, get the “New International Version”.

However, if you’re looking for readability and comprehension, I’d recommend the ones I use a lot in this column.

The “Message” Bible was published in 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

You don’t have to read the entire Bible. I suggest starting with a few of the 66 books contained in the religious library called “The Holy Bible” (if you are Catholic he adds 14).

Find John’s book, starting with the table of contents.

You’ll learn a lot about Jesus’ teachings in this two-hour reading. Also, John 3:16 has the most quoted Bible verse. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Then, supplement John’s reading with a lively account of Jesus’ ministry in Luke.

Then turn to the Acts of the Apostles to uncover the story of the early church and help frame the story of Jesus with its impact on the known world.

Jacob’s book is what I recommend all new Christians read. It is a practical and powerful how-to guide to the faith.

The Book of Job (pronounced Job) is a must read if you want to philosophize on the pain issues of this world. It is a literary masterpiece that the poet Alfred Tennyson called “the greatest poem of ancient or modern”.

Of course, don’t forget the Psalms. Originally written as a songbook for the Hebrews, the book advises that the safest place to keep your Bible is always in your heart. Psalm 119:11 NIV says:

Multiple books in one collection – the Bible. You can’t beat a deal like that.

If you love books, consider joining the Chispa Project in 2023 to start a library in Honduras. February 12-19 or March 12-19. Click here for more information.

Finally, see my book on Share your reading recommendations by emailing us at or leave us a voicemail at (843) 608-9715.