Wess Daniels, a Ph.D. student at Fuller Theological Seminary, has posted a list of pre-seminary summer reading for a friend who is starting at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the fall. See his "A List for Pre-Seminary Summer Reading" Wess is someone worth listening to.
I have listed Wess's top five selections below and then made a few comments on what else students entering seminary might consider reading during the summer.
Affirming Wess's Picks
Good picks. I love all five of these authors. All five are good respected scholars you could cite in a paper. And all are evangelical, even Yoder in my opinion. "For some, the adjective 'evangelical' belongs to those who read the Bible with a special kind of respect; some of them consider me as fitting in that realm." John Howard Yoder: For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public p.6-7)
Biographies of theologians worth considering
I wonder if reading easy-to-read biographies of Augustine, Aquinas (by Chesterton perhaps), Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Pope John Paul II, and Billy Graham might not be the best way to get used to theology in a user-friendly way. It would help you to connect the "big ideas" with the situations and personalities that helped produce them. I read John Stott and J.I. Packer biographies and found them enlightening for understanding the theological landscape of 20th century evangelical British scholarship.
A biblical studies book worth considering
I would also add a Bible book worth working through:
Fee taught at Gordon-Conwell and Stuart still does so. That is a bonus for understanding Gordon-Conwell.
Easy to read books worth considering
If we are placing the emphasis on the summer part of pre-seminary summer reading, I would recommend some beach books that will inspire you for seminary but may not be sufficiently academic to cite in academic writing.
For thinking about pastoring,
was helpful for me. Easy to read.
Or read something current to remind you what all of this is about:
A novel worth considering
Or read one big book:
I love all the parts at the beginning of the book about Father Zosima.
Pick what looks good
Or, read whatever you want! You will have to read what the professors want you to read after you arrive. Part of your vocation, you calling, are the books that you pick off the shelf and read. Notice what you find yourself choosing. That may be part of where God is directing you.
For more about seminaries, see my March 12, 2006 post Seminaries for Evangelicals