Christian Hipster Bookshelf

One of the best ways to learn about the type of person someone is is by looking at the books that populate their bookshelves. Books, I’ve found, play a large role in shaping how any of us understand and inhabit our worlds–so naturally they are a good place to go when seeking to understand a subculture. For example, the following is a list of the types of books that define the Christian hipster subculture.

How many of these 50 books have you read? If you’ve read more than 20 of them, there is a good chance that you are a Christian with artistic or intellectual tendencies. If you’ve read more than 30 of them, you are most likely a Christian hipster. If you’ve read more than 40 of them, let me know. You could probably write the sequel to Hipster Christianity.

Augustine – Confessions
C.S. Lewis – Till We Have Faces
Walker Percy – The Moviegoer
Dorothy Sayers – The Mind of the Maker
G.K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy
George MacDonald – Phantastes
Evelyn Underhill – Mysticism
Terry Eagleton – After Theory
Jean-Paul Sarte – Being and Nothingness
Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Donald Miller – Blue Like Jazz
Kathleen Norris – Acedia & Me
Marilynne Robinson – Gilead
Shushako Endo- Silence
George Steiner – Real Presences
William Shakespeare- King Lear
Anne Lamott – Traveling Mercies
Plato – The Republic
Jacques Ellul – The Technological Society
Flannery O’Connor – Wise Blood
Chuck Klosterman – Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs
Dave Eggers – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Martin Buber – I and Thou
Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death
Lauren Winner – Real Sex
Douglas Coupland – Life After God
Tim Keller – The Reason For God
N.T. Wright – Surprised by Hope
Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment
A.W. Tozer – The Knowledge of the Holy
Henri Nouwen – The Return of the Prodigal Son
Dietrich Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
John Steinbeck – East of Eden
Jean Baudrillard – Simulacra and Simulation
Rob Bell – Velvet Elvis
William P. Young – The Shack
Shane Claiborne – The Irresistible Revolution
Thomas a Kempis – The Imitation of Christ
Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy
Eugene Peterson – The Message
Paul Tillich – The Courage To Be
Francis Collins – The Language of God
J.I. Packer – Knowing God
Andy Crouch – Culture Making
Madeline L’Engle – Walking on Water
Mark Noll – The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
Jim Wallis – God’s Politics
William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying

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28 responses to “Christian Hipster Bookshelf

  1. shakespeherian

    What’s Christiany and hipstery about Augustine, Sarte, Shakespeare, Plato, Dostoyevsky, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Faulkner…?

  2. Ha! I actually bought Neil Postman at my Church.

  3. I’ve read 14 of them so far. The rest are now on my reading list!

    P.S. You forgot Thomas Merton and Wendell Berry

  4. Robert Farrar Capon. Charles Williams. Albert Wolters. Os Guinness. Marva Dawn. Terry Eagleton. Jeremy Begbie. And I need hardly mention that no list of this nature could possibly be complete without Francis Schaeffer.

  5. I’ve read more of the classical works, almost none of the contemporary ones; but I guess that’s fitting for an old-timer such as I.

  6. ZOMG! I guess I’m a 52-year-old Christian hipster. Was news to me.

    Wyclif’s authors are all worthy additions to your list (and I’ve read six out of his seven).

    I would add anything by James K. A. Smith, and Walsh and Keesmaat’s Colossians Remixed.

  7. Only 9, and I disliked two of those. I guess I’m either not an intellectual or not a particularly hip one.

  8. Is “The Shack” really all that hipster-y/intellectual? Most of the Christian hipsters I know just make fun of it (for good reason, IMHO).

  9. Yeah, i am also a Christian hipster per this list. For any of you who like some of the fiction on this list check out J. F. Powers. Morte d’Urban and The Stories of J.F. Powers are both good reads.

  10. 10. (11 if I can count The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor instead of Wise Blood.) Most of the rest are on my mental to-read list though.

  11. Just 9 of the books listed, but at least 25 of the authors (in other writings). Like others have noted, there are easily another 50 key writers, if not more, that could be included on this list.

    That said, characterizing Lewis, Augustine, Chesterton, MacDonald, a Kempis, Plato, Shakespeare, and a number of others on the list as “hipster” seems a stretch.

    When I think hipster, I think of pop writers – perhaps Miller, Winner, Bell, Young, and Crouch.

  12. John. They’re not characterizing those classic spiritual authors as hipster. They’re observing that those are the kinds of books today’s hipsters like to read, esp. to balance stuff like Donald Miller, Lauren Winner, Anne Lamott, &c.

  13. @John I also think you’re confusing “hipster” with “emergent.” There is some overlap, but I think hipster xians, like their secular counterparts, want to at least appear to be intellectuals, and thus read the classics.

  14. I will never understand why Christian hipsters would embrace Dosteovsky and ignore Tolstoy.

  15. I think it’s important to be mindful of the various “breeds” of the Christian hipster. At Wheaton 99% of the hipsters are primarily intellectual ones, and they’d rather die in mortal sin than be caught reading something like The Shack or Velvet Elvis (or god forbid, CS Lewis). So the non-fiction titles on the list, as it stands, might appeal to a more ‘casual’ hipster interested in appearing well read (at least in their own eyes). But at Wheaton people saunter around campus reading works by Barth, von Balthasar, Levinas, Derrida, Marion, Zizek, Ricoeur, Girard, Charles Taylor and the like. Everything else is just watered down for the masses, and clearly hipsters loathe being associated with the peasantry :)

  16. Seems like a good list to me. Most of my christian-hipster friends (as well as some non-christian hipster friends) have each of these on their shelves. I doubt Brett ever meant to suggest that his list was exhaustive. However, that said, he has spent much of his life the last few years researching and exploring what hipster do/read/watch/listen to, etc., so I figure if these are books he finds in his research he’s probably about right.

  17. Pingback: Worth Reading « Jonathan Shradar

  18. I’m surprised that Karl Barth isn’t included in this list…

  19. Brett, I think you forgot one possibility if you’ve read most of this list … either you’re a Christian hipster, or you’re a Wheaton grad who studied under Alan Jacobs and Roger Lundin and took a lot of philosophy :-)

  20. Oh cool, so the Hipster label is finally making it into Christian circles, huh?

    Labels labels everywhere, but what’s the point?

  21. I’ve only read one on this list. It appears that I’m quite the dud.

  22. I’ve read 40 of them, and was going to qualify myself therefore as a Christian hipster; but then I saw that Ruth pegged me instead as someone who holds an English degree from Wheaton, and did in fact take every class that Alan Jacobs taught while I was there and Roger Lundin taught my senior seminar… and now I feel much better. :)

  23. Well I mean, I *own* 40 of them…isn’t it also a kind’ve Christian hipster thing to own certain books to look like you’re cool? :)

  24. “One of the best ways to learn about the type of person someone is is by looking at the books that populate their bookshelves.” That is so true. Unfortunately many people today have only a small handful of books on their shelf, or perhaps no book shelf at all. I am not referring to those with new digital tools for reading, rather the fact that many today no longer read.

    This is an interesting mixed bag of titles. How much research went into this…ha ha!

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