A friend on the cusp of faith and/or exploring Christian doctrine wants a book to read. Here are five that would come to mind, although depending on the friend and his general position in the journey I may recommend one over another.
In no particular order:
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This is the classic; accept no substitutes. Rumors of its irrelevance are greatly exaggerated. Originally written as radio addresses in war-torn Britain, it just as timely, just as relevant, just as poignant now as it was then. Lewis's illustrations and analogies are iconic. And I actually think the "old fashioned" writing gives it a bit more gravity than some of the newer attempts at usurping its status.
2. Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
In terms of poetically and powerfully illuminating the basics of Christian faith, this one is the heir to Lewis's throne. Written for a post-postmodern world, Wright is brilliant at applying "mere Christianity" to the wide array of issues and predicaments awaiting redemption in our broken world.
3. "Myth Became Fact" by C.S. Lewis
This is an essay, actually, an entry in the Lewis collection published as God in the Dock, and it remains one of the most formative influences on my own apologetics. I'd recommend this to the lit-geek who's into Eliot and what-not and wonders how those blokes got from classicism and modernism into the romance of the Church.
4. The Unknown God by Alister McGrath
A great book that introduces and explores the Big Questions of the first steps toward faith. It's short, highly readable, and really brilliant.
McGrath's Glimpsing the Face of God is a great next-step follow-up, also.
5. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
A more nuts-and-bolts tackling of the hot potatoes (theodicy, exclusivism, etc.), I'd recommend this to the inquisitive skeptic who likes his information clear, straight, and succinct and is ambivalent about literary quality or depth.
That fifth spot could've gone a few ways.
Packer's Knowing God is good. Something by Schaeffer could've worked. McDowell's expansion of Lewis's famous trilemma (More Than a Carpenter) is serviceable. Even Grudem's abridged systematic (Introduction to Christian Doctrine) could be recommended, depending on the reader.
Tim Keller's new book, The Reason for God, would probably make the list too, but I haven't read it yet.
What would you recommend?