I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and to this day there are only two books in my life that would qualify as truly life-changing:
The Bible (details of what versions and language-learning aids here)
DeMello, Anthony J The Call to Love (new edition: The Way to Love)
This books speaks much of 'attachment'. Just substitute in the word 'idol' or 'idolatry', and there you have my view on what constitutes such. The man points out so many subtle ways that we allow various things in our lives to occupy a place that should be occupied only by God. He even takes up the statement often made by religious people that 'I can't live without God.' And even that is an idol, as it turns out.
As I recall, he may have had in mind something that I might describe as worshiping what we get from God instead of God Himself. But I have concluded that while it is true we cannot live without God – after all, He is our Creator – it is also true that He did not have to give us life at all. And so when people say, 'I can't live without God,' what they often mean is, 'I can't live without my own life.' And that is indeed idolatry. So while this may or may not be what the author had in mind, it is at least in the spirit of what he wrote.
So bottom line: This book has been of inestimable value in gaining insight into what it means to truly worship only one God.
Actually, there is a third one:
Morison, Frank Who Moved the Stone? – the testimony and findings of an atheist who set out to disprove the Gospel, but...
This book was one that I turned to in a crisis during my senior year in college about how I was going to view and treat the Bible. By that time, I knew enough about the Bible to realize that its entire message and its veracity turns upon the question of whether Jesus really, historically, rose from the dead. And this book turned out to be very helpful to me in putting together a coherent view of this issue which I could use to present either to myself or to a person who might have doubts about this issue.
There are a handful of other books written by people whose views I do not necessarily share, but useful in clarifying my own views. They are listed here in the chronological order in which they appeared in my life:
Watchtower, Should you Believe in the Trinity? – I will no doubt do a more detailed post on the Trinity in due time, but I will note here that most of my current thinking on this matter was developed during reflection on and discussion of this publication with a long-time friend of mine.
Watchtower, The Divine Name that Will Endure Forever – I ended up with a very surprising conclusion from studying the Bible as I strove to formulate a response to this publication and discuss it with my friend. It can be summed up in such concise fashion that I don't think I will even do a post on it. And here it is: God does not HAVE a name – He IS His Name. And the corollary to this is that it is entirely possible to worship 'God's Name' at the expense of God Himself...
Chopra, Deepak How to Know God – Chopra basically took a look at many different religions and looked for common elements in the process of spiritual growth. He found 7 elements in particular, which appear in a certain logical order in people's lives, and the process as a whole is detailed in this book.
Thich Nhat Hanh Living Buddha, Living Christ – Thich Nhat Hanh is an amazing Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has extensively explored Christianity, and these are some of his thoughts about the commonalities between the two religions.
The Qur'an – I read the Qur'an in a manner that will be familiar to Protestants: just the book itself. It turns out to be a very different book when you read it this way than when you have recourse to tradition. Contact with the absolute monotheistic view presented in the Qur'an has obliged me to refine my views on the Trinity, the Gospel, cast it all in the light of the aim to worship God and only God.
Ehrman, Bart Misquoting Jesus – My mother has been trying for years to get me to stop believing that the Bible is God's Word. Part of her efforts involved sending me this book a few years ago as a present. And indeed, I received a great present from reading it, although I'm sure not quite what my mother had hoped: When I was younger in the faith, I'm sure that this business of there being different manuscripts and variant readings, this discussion of the possible whys and wherefores for this would have disturbed me. But as it was, I sat back and reflected, 'I have known and lived the Scriptures for [nearly] 30 years now. I know the power of their words, and I need no one to tell me whether they are the Word of God.'
Brother Andrew's book was probably the first one of this lot that I read; I don't remember in what order I read the others, so that I have listed them here in alphabetical order by author.
Brother Andrew God's Smuggler – this book had much to do with the fact that I ended up living in Eastern Europe. The Communist government fell literally while I was visiting this country for the first time as part of a theretofore unprecedented Festival of Christian Culture
Franz, Raymond Crisis of Conscience – the testimony of a former Watchtower governing body member's conversion to Biblical Christianity, exhaustively referenced in the Bible and Watchtower publications
Gulshan Esther The Torn Veil – the testimony of a former Muslim who came to faith in Jesus from reading the Qur'an
Johnson Rowe, David Consider Jesus: Lessons from the Life and Ministry of an Indian Evangelist Called Azariah – discusses how to point out the uniqueness of Christianity with respect to other religions in a positive manner when speaking with adherents of non-Christian religions
Overseas Missionary Fellowship, When God Guides – assorted missionary testimonies of God's provision in various matters
Richardson, Don Eternity in Their Hearts, Peace Child – two amazing books about presenting the Gospel in a culturally relevant manner
Sheikh, Bilquis I Dared to Call Him Father – an amazing testimony of God's supernatural power in bringing a Muslim woman to know Jesus and guide her life thereafter
Telchin, Stan Betrayed – conversion testimony of a Jewish man, describes the process in a thoroughly, exhaustively detailed Biblically-based manner
Armchair Travel Part I: Fiction
An array of books have simply allowed me to travel, as it were in my armchair, to various more or less far-off places:
Michener, James Caravans
Jin, Ha Waiting
Shan Sa Impératrice, La Joueuse de go, Porte de la paix céleste
Soueif, Ahdaf The Map of Love
Chaucer, Geoffrey Tales of Caunterbury (Middle English - w/ glossary and optional parallel translation into Modern English)
Woolf, Virginia Mrs. Dalloway
Reza, Yasmina L'Homme du hasard, Conversations après un enterrement, La Traversée de l'hiver, Art
Banerjee Divakaruni, Chitra Arranged Marriage
Kapur, Manju Difficult Daughters
Roy, Arundhati The God of Small Things
Rushdie, Salman The Satanic Verses
Oz, Amos To Know a Woman
Binchy, Maeve Evening Class
Calvino, Italo Il barone rampante
Dalby, Liza The Tale of Murasaki
Golden, Arthur Memoirs of a Geisha
Ishiguro, Kazuo A Pale View of Hills
Hamid, Mohsin The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Alsanea, Rajaa Girls of Riyadh
Pamuk, Orhan My Name is Red
Isegawa, Moses Abyssinian Chronicles
Wharton, Edith The Age of Innocence
And, yes, even:
Tolkien, JRR The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
Adams, Douglas The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (trilogy in an ever-growing number of parts, of which I have read 3 or 4)
Lem, Stanisław Solaris
Armchair Travel Part II: Non-fiction
Poitier, Sidney The Measure of a Man
Rieger, Stefan Glenn Gould, czyli sztuka fugi
Li Cunxin Mao's Last Dancer
Wilson, G. Willow The Butterfly Mosque
Tammet, Daniel Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
Satrapi, Marjane Persepolis
Wallach, Janet Desert Queen
Muller, Karin Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa
Williamson, Kate A Year in Japan
Delisle, Guy Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Kim Il Sung With the Century
Dekker, Ted; Medearis, Carl Tea with Hezbollah
Ilibagiza, Immaculée Left to Tell
Ahmed, Qanta In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom
Dirie, Waris Desert Flower
Tenberken, Sabriye My Path Leads to Tibet: The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet
Burger, Joanna The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship (I include this book, dedicating it to my beloved Marcel and Ludwika)
Obama, Barack Dreams of My Father, The Audacity of Hope
Reed, Cheryl L Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns
Armstrong, Karen The Spiral Staircase (autobiographical); Through the Narrow Door (autobiographical); Muhammad (more or less biographical); A History of God (no comment)
Feiler, Bruce In Search of Class (England); Learning to Bow (Japan)
To read list: Abraham; Walking the Bible
Lewis, CS Mere Christianity; The Great Divorce (Heaven); The Screwtape Letters (Hell); The Chronicles of Narnia (England/Narnia)
Sasson, Jean Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia; Daughters of Arabia; Desert Royal
Seth, Vikram An Equal Music (Europe); The Golden Gate (San Francisco – in blank verse, no less); A Suitable Boy (India)
Wilde, Oscar The Importance of Being Ernest etc.
This section is dedicated to me, A and my beloved M
Attwood, Tony Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals
Durig, Alex How to Understand Autism – The Easy Way
Grossberg, Blythe Making ADD Work: On-the-job Strategies for Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder
Kennedy, Diane The ADHD Autism Connection: A Step Toward More Accurate Diagnosis and Effective Treatment
Shore, Steven Understanding Autism for Dummies
Jacobsen, Mary-Elaine The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius
Thomson Iserbyt, Charlotte The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America