I don' limit myself to reading just Christian books as you can tell by checking out my current reading list for 2011. I really think there is much that God wants to show us in books written by secular authors as well.
Besides, the mindset of sacred vs. secular is a Hellenistic (Greek) invention. To the Jew, everything was spiritual. The Hebrews did not compartmentalize their lives according to sacred vs. secular. Having said that, a "secular" and spiritual book you need to read before you die is "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. It's on Amazon's top-10 bestsellers list for the past year.
If you are having a rough day, week, or year and feel like throwing in the towel, then this is the book for you. You come face-to-face with a man who wouldn't give up and couldn't be broken by man, but only by God who used all these unbelievable circumstances of endurance & torture to prepare him for his ultimate surrender.
Unbroken is the amazing story of Louis Zamperini, a kid from Torrance, CA. in the mid-30's who was a running phenomenon. He competed in Hitler's Berlin Olympics, shook hands with the Fuhrer. He enlists in the U.S. Air Force, and his plane is shot down over the Pacific. He and 2 other crewmen survive the crash and spend 47 days afloat on a disintegrating raft, fighting off aggressive sharks, scorched by the sun, unquenchable thirst, starvation, only to be rescued by the Japanese who spend 3 yrs trying to break his spirit.
Louis Zamperini amazingly survives these 3 yrs as a POW, and then struggles as a war hero upon his return home. In 1949, when Billy Graham held his first major evangelistic crusade in Los Angeles, Louis' wife dragged him to the big circus tent on Figueroa St. to hear the young evangelist. God (the wonderful "hound of heaven") tracked Louis down and brought him to the point of surrender that night as Louis left that tent a changed man, having encountered Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.
This book will give you insight into the Japanese culture and mindset and their treatment of POWs, as well as our military effort in WWII. You'll learn about the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. planes that carried our servicemen over vast distances of the Pacific Ocean.
"Unbroken" is an incredible story of courage, survival and redemption in the life of one man, Louis Zamperini. It's a spellbinding story which will leave you with nothing but praise to God for his goodness and mercy which He so richly poured out on Mr. Zamperini and graciously bestows on all of us daily!