Posted in theology

What are some good biographies to read?

By Elizabeth Prata

I like to read Christian biographies, especially missionary bios. I am currently reading the biography of William Borden, and I like it very much. Someone had asked me what were some good biographies, and I compiled a list. Some of these I have read and can recommend. Others come recommended from trustworthy sites.

Moody: A Biography, by John Charles Pollock

John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, by Iain H. Murray

Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth, by Rebecca VanDoodewaard (a 100-page book, each short chapter is a bio of one of the women)

The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward (Author), Christine Hunter (Contributor). There is another book named almost the same thing, not by Gladys herself. Get this one.

The Life of Moses: God’s First Deliverer of Israel, by James Montgomery Boice

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds. As a side note, I really enjoyed Ligonier’s short series by Steve Nichols of the Life of Jonathan Edwards. It was fascinating and interesting and worth it! Here is a link to a summary of the 6-part series. The teaching series is here.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon, by Ray Rhodes Jr.

Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ, by Tony Reinke

Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain Murray. A short but packed little biography of an important figure. Iain Murray wrote several other biographies, too.

Borden of Yale ’09 by Mrs Howard Taylor

Biography Recommendations according to Tim Challies, book reviewer: “Christians you should know”-

Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan by Faith Cook. A fast-paced and interesting account of Bunyan’s life.

Faith Cook is a well-known biographer who also wrote, Lady Jane Grey – the short, tragic life of Lady Jane Grey.

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold: The Olympic Champion Who Inspired Chariots of Fire, by David McCasland. An Olympic hero who left it all behind and died on the mission field.

"Reading is an important activity for the Christian. The way we are accustomed to taking in information on our phones, tablets, and computers has impacted how we approach reading books, too. Reinke wonders if Christians “will be patient enough to find meaning embedded in words” instead of surrendering to the idleness that entertainment affords. But Christians of all people should absolutely be patient enough. Not only is patience a fruit of the Spirit, but Christians are a reading people," says Andy Cassler. 
"I encourage you to make reading a priority in your life. Resolve to not only love God and your neighbor, but to love God with the mind He gave you. Exercise the life of the mind in your loving of God", says Dave Jenkins. 

What is one of the benefits of reading? Tony Reinke says that constantly swimming in social media fragments his mind and results in less ability to concentrate. He chooses classic books to read in order to combat this: Reinke says,

"I pick up Shakespeare’s works (the Jonathan Bate edition). In order for me to track with his works, I must pause at every antiquated word and look up the definition at the bottom of the page until the meaning becomes clear. To do this requires that I slow myself down and read with sustained concentration for 20-60 minutes. Rushing is not an option. As a result, I find that when I turn to read my Bible, I read it with much greater care and attention, able to once again focus my attention more carefully on each word and phrase that I read. So Shakespeare recalibrates my reading pace, restores my fragmenting brain, forces me to slow down, and ultimately helps me to read my Bible more carefully".

I myself feel that fragmentation. When I get home I’m tired and tend to scroll rather than read. My concentration suffers, and this spills over to Bible reading. With school nearing its year’s end I’ll have time to delve with concentration and energy this summer when I’m not working.

I hope these suggestions for good books and this little encouragement helps you think about spending some time during your day reading. Even if it’s 10 minutes, if it’s with concentration that is so much better than half an hour of mindless scrolling. I’m preaching to myself now!


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

2 thoughts on “What are some good biographies to read?

  1. Words of encouragement. I look forward to your posts every morning so please know you are thought of everyday and very much appreciated and loved. I will certainly check out some of these. I’m just finishing (although not a biography) J.I. Packard’s – Knowing God. It is a work of love and may I say overwhelming? Ha! It truly is amazing. Very interested in the Jonathan Edwards series too that you mentioned. I’m going to check it out. Blessings to you and your work for our Lord.


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