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Ruthe’s Recommendations | Fall 2023

By First Dallas Staff

Welcome to our page dedicated to Ruthe’s Recommendations, your ultimate guide to a remarkable reading experience. Ruthe Turner, our beloved librarian at First Baptist Dallas, provides a collection of her top 10 favorite books to read this fall to inspire, entertain, and deepen your love for literature. 

The Truett Memorial Library, located in the basement below the Historic Sanctuary, is home to over 27,000 physical items and 5,000 Ebooks and MP3 audiobooks. Ruthe’s Top 10 Recommendations for the quarter are hand-picked to captivate readers of all ages, and visitors are encouraged to stop by and pick up a copy during their next visit.

  1. What Every Christian Should Know: 10 Core Beliefs for Standing Strong in a Shifting World by Robert Jeffress. Our pastor gets an A+ for writing one of the most significant books you’ll ever read, next to the Bible. When you feel a little shaky as to your own core beliefs about God—your theology—you will find solid answers in this book. Read it alone, study it with friends, or read it aloud at family devotions. Just make sure you have a copy handy because the information will excite you, strengthen you, and prepare you to “always be ready to make a defense . . . for the hope that is in you.” (1Peters 3:15).
  2. The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sarah Brunsvold. The author could have won two awards for her debut novel—one for the most unappealing titles ever and one for the best book by a debut author. She did receive the “Best Book by a Debut Author” at the recent American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. That’s kind of a big deal.  It is truly that good. However, not to spoil it, that’s all that can be said about the story, other than to strongly encourage you to read the book. As for the title, it’s perfect and biblical and a reminder of what we are to do over and over.
  3. Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot’s only true desire was to serve God at any cost, even willing to die. When Jim was killed by a native’s spear in Ecuador, people all around the world mourned. Tragedy turned to triumph when many people surrendered to missions and ministry because of Jim’s story. As for Jim’s widow, Elisabeth, her reaction was absolutely astounding. Many books have been written about her and by her, and for good reason. This latest biography is the most comprehensive, as it covers her entire life.   
  4. No Reason to Hide by Erwin Lutzer, pastor Emeritus of Moody Church, Chicago. Dr. Lutzer is a thoughtful man of great Godly wisdom. We can trust his guidance in helping us survive the “future that is already here.” He speaks on many issues of today—freedom of religion, the value of every person, gender and sex issues, racism, deconstruction of faith, artificial intelligence, and more. If you have questions about what’s going on and what to do about it, this book will provide answers and encouragement to not hide but to stand up boldly, strive in prayer, and keep our eyes on Jesus.
  5. God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender by Marty Machowski. Following Dr. Lutzer’s example of saying what needs to be said concerning issues of today, this book is recommended in response to the recent misinformation about gender identity. The purpose of the book, as the author points out in the beginning, is to provide a tool for parents to use when explaining gender to their children from a biblical worldview that includes solid science. More helpful information is provided for the parents at the end of the book.
  6. William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim by Gary D. Schmidt. With Thanksgiving Day approaching soon, our thoughts turn to those brave heroes who fought so hard to bravely win something bigger than our traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. William Brewster and William Bradford were up against a mighty foe in the form of King James of England, who had the home team advantage (he thought) and of whom it could be said he played a dirty game. At one point, the pilgrims lost everything, but it didn’t stop them. With great endurance and commitment, they pressed on toward the goal of religious liberty. The book is a great read and includes a few pictures.
  7. The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by PJ. Lynch. Though not his actual words, the book contains the true story of John Howland, who really did fall off the Mayflower during a howling storm at sea. Was he rescued? Yes, he was. While he was sinking fast to his death in the stormy sea, he happened to see a rope from the ship floating by and grabbed it. A sailor on the ship had seen it all transpire and pulled him up to safety. It seems unbelievable. However, the event is documented in William Bradford’s famous journal “Of Plymouth Plantation,” available in Truett Library. Moreover, among the notable descendants of Mr. Howland (as found listed on the John Howland Society webpage) are three special descendants who became Presidents of the United States.
  8. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning by M.J. Thomas. This little chapter book has it all—an entertaining story, humor, time travel, a mystery, and even some pictures. Kids of all ages enjoy them, and the print is just the right size for young readers. Parents love the Bible-based themes that offer more than just entertainment.   Even better, this is just Book #1, one of the 9-book series!
  9. Katie and the Waterlily Pond: A Magical Journey through Five Monet Masterpieces by James Mayhew. The author considers himself a sort of ambassador of art and music, introducing children to the fine arts through his beautifully illustrated story books. This book is from his “Katie” series about a little girl who often visits the art gallery with her grandmother. In this book, Katie visits the gallery and magically steps into five of Monet’s paintings, where she chats with the painted subjects and enjoys some delightful adventures as well. What an enjoyable way to fully “immerse” yourself in a Monet Masterpiece!
  10. The Story Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens. A wonderful way to introduce children to classical music is to just hand them one of the interactive and beautifully illustrated books from “The Story Orchestra” series. As with all the books in the series, the illustrations are mesmerizing, and the storyline is easy to follow. A brief biography of the composer is included, as well as a glossary and a short explanation of some of the movements in the music. The best part of the book is the embedded music clips the child can access by simply pushing the “button” on each page. Children’s faces light up as they hear the marvelous symphonic music flow out of the book and into their souls.

We hope these handpicked literary gems have sparked your curiosity, kindled your imagination, and enriched your fall season with delightful stories, wisdom, and insights. Whether you’re diving into profound theological discussions, embarking on historical adventures, or introducing the young ones to the wonders of art and music, Ruthe’s list has something for everyone! So, as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, we hope these books warm your heart and nourish your soul. Happy reading!