Here is C.S. Lewis's list, which he didn't explain.
- The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
The story of Bilbo trying to pick the troll's pocket directly influenced me going to read aloud to my mother-in-law. (It's a long story, but that example made me realize that bravery is learned and you have to begin with small efforts.)
- The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
The fact that it is a rattling good yarn is, of course, the first attraction. I've never read such a work on the power of mercy, love, and justice. Ever. I never used to be able to pick a favorite book. Now I can and this is it.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
A fantastic soap opera, full of cliff hangers, and with a wonderful Christ figure. I reluctantly read this at my daughter Rose's urging. I'd thought of classics as being boring (with the notable exception of Jane Eyre). Afterward, I thought that if this classic was so good perhaps I should try another. So I picked A Tale of Two Cities up and found ... a love of Charles Dickens and the classics awaiting me. I haven't looked back. All thanks to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises (Scott Hahn)
The first serious theology book I read after my conversion. It taught me how to see below the surface of Scripture to the different levels of meaning. This changed not only how I read Scripture but how I watched movies and read books. It opened my mind to greater possibilities in each story.
- Catholic Christianity (Peter Kreeft)
When I'd joined the Church I had serious reservations about Catholic teachings on many social issues, among them abortion, gay marriage, and the death penalty. When I figured I'd better learn why the Church taught what she did, this book was just being published. Divine Providence? Possibly. Kreeft's inescapable logic is what reconciled me to those teachings, which I eventually was able to embrace.
- The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom)
This may be the most inspirational book I've ever read. Every time I read it I come away resolving to be a better Christian, a better person.
- The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis)
The newest addition to my list. I just read this a few weeks ago. I've never read anything that so vividly made me understand how necessary it is to make daily sacrifices to toughen myself up in order to make it to Heaven. Also, it gives a wonderful interpretation of Purgatory which has greatly inspired me.
- Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
The book that taught me to look critically at the "truths" business and science tell us. And a rattling good yarn. If you've only seen the movie, you're missing the whole story. The book is much better. I reread this often just for the fun of it.
- The Stand (Stephen King)
Good and evil are real and here is how they manifest themselves in the world. As with so many others, a rattling good yarn that I've reread many times for the sheer pleasure of it.
- In Conversation with God (Francis Fernandez)
This is more properly a series of seven devotionals, with entries for every day of the liturgical year as well as two volumes devoted to special feast days. I discovered these soon after I converted and reading them daily for at least four years was deeply formational. I cannot recommend these books too highly. The one most people have tried is the Lent/Easter book but the one I began with was for this time of year. I soon bought all the others.
I don't need an excuse to make a list, but that's a good 'un!