Favorite Bibles – Reading Bibles

Cambridge Cameo 003

I’ve always said that you need more than one Bible. The reason I say this is there’s no one Bible that is best for every situation. One example is a general reading Bible. I don’t always pick up my primary carry/study Bible for general reading. I have different needs for my reading Bible than I have for my carry Bible. Buying a reading Bible is not an easy choice. There are four main things I look for in a reading Bible:

  1. Font
  2. Paper
  3. Cover and binding
  4. Size

The most important factor is the font. It can have great paper and a nice binding, but if the font is too small or not bold enough I won’t use it. It doesn’t have to be a large print. I prefer at least an 8-point font that’s fairly bold. Bibles that fit this requirement include the Cambridge Concord, the ESV Single Column Legacy Bible from Crossway, and Holman’s Hand Size Giant Print.

ESV Single Column Legacy Bible 009

Next is the paper. It needs to be as opaque as possible. I prefer paper that has a cream tint. Bibles with my favorite paper includes most Bibles from Cambridge, and the TBS Westminster and Windsor.

TBS Westminster Reference Bible KJV 020

TBS Windsor Text Bible 010

The cover doesn’t have to be leather but it does need to be durable. I can use a hard cover, imitation leather, calfskin, or goatskin. I prefer to hold the Bible in one hand and I like it to lay flat instead of droop down. I also want a sewn binding. This allows the Bible to stay open no matter where I’m reading. Bibles that fit this requirement include the Cambridge Concord in split-calf, the TBS Windsor in calfskin, and any edition of the Cambridge Clarion with either a calfskin or split-calf cover.

Cambridge Clarion Bible

As far as size, I prefer a Bible that easily fits in one hand. It doesn’t need to be a small Bible, just small enough. For me, the best size range for one hand is around 7.5 x 5.5 x 1. Bibles that fit in this range include the TBS Windsor (7.5 x 5.25 x 1), the Cambridge Clarion (7.5 x 5.5 x 1.5), the Cambridge Cameo (7.5 x 5 x 1.25), the Cambridge Pitt Minion (6.75 x 4.75 x 7/8), the Holman Hand Size Giant Print (8.5 x 5.75 x 1.5), and just slightly larger is the Cambridge Concord (8.5 x 6 x 1.25) and the TBS Westminster (8.5 x 6 x 1.5).

Holman Hand Size Giant Print Reference Bible KJV 055

Cambridge KJV Pitt Minion Bible 021

Cambridge Cameo 014

Reading Bibles don’t have to have all the features that I would need in a study or carry Bible, but there are some features that are nice to have. As far as layout, most prefer paragraph format over verse format. I prefer at least one ribbon, but 2 ribbons are better. A reading plan is nice but not a must-have. Thumb-index is nice. I’ll choose it if it’s an option but not having it won’t make me not use that Bible. I also like to have references and translation notes.

There are other good choices, but these are a few of my favorites. You’ll notice this list includes a lot of Cambridge Bibles. There are many good Bibles out there, but Cambridge has the features I like the most. It’s hard to choose when there are so many good options. My personal choice is the Cambridge Concord. It’s one of the larger Bibles on this list, but it has my favorite font. It has a clean text for reading without distractions and it includes references and translation notes in the center column.

Concord Calf Split 082

Here are the Bibles I’ve listed with links to my reviews for each:

Cambridge Concord

Cambridge Clarion KJV

Cambridge Clarion ESV

Cambridge Cameo

Cambridge Pitt Minion

Crossway Single Column Legacy

Holman Hand Size Giant Print

TBS Windsor

TBS Westminster

Do you have a favorite reading Bible?

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.

13 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    My KJV Clarion is really starting to grow on me. I love everything about this bible, however I am new to paragraph formats. I really want to settle down with a bible that can be my reading and carry to church. The size of the Clarion is perfect and I love the font. Taking it to church and trying to find specific verses prevents the Clarion from being my favorite all around. I am leaning heavily toward the Westminster and Windsor if I can’t get the hang of the Clarion. I will keep the Longprimer, Clarendon and Concords as travelers… I know the Longprimer is kind of large, but it seems that WHENEVER I take a text only Bible out with me, I get curious about a particular verse or someone asks me a question that I cannot think of the scripture right then.

    Reply
    • Randy Brown

      Hi Stephanie. We have the same issues. I love reading the Clarion, but I’m so used to verse format that it’s difficult to find what I’m looking for. I even have trouble finding the verse number just so I can look at the reference or note in the margin. It is an awesome Bible. I haven’t seen the Clarendon (other than the wide margin). The Westminster, Windsor, Concord, and Longprimer are all winners. I’ve also taken Bibles to Church without references and I always feel like I need my references with me. I get the same feeling when I take a Bible that I haven’t marked my favorite verses. That’s the only reason I don’t take the Longprimer to Church- I can’t bring myself to write in it.

  2. Tiffany Tucker

    I have fallen in love with the waterproof bible. And it has some positives and negatives. I am a huge high-lighting nerd and the smooth glossy paper is amazing. I have never seen another bible have this type of thick paper and it is not see thru at all. Of course the options are limited on binding and after long time usage the pages are beginning to turn wavy. I am on the market searching for a new bible and I am disappointed in options. The publisher for the waterproof bible is bardin-marsee and has many versions available. Thank you for your post of favorite bibles.

    Reply
    • Randy Brown

      Hi Tiffany. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Waterproof Bible. I think I need to check it out.

  3. Brian

    I have a cambridge cameo wide margin and an in touch ministries NASB that I like but I recently bought an ESV legacy bible that is amazing. To me it is very easy to read. I love the paper too. I’m trying to decide between the longprimer or clarion righ now. I need a KJV that’s easy to read and to carry to church. My family makes fun of me because I’m OCD with bibles. I rather have a bible than a TV (not because im a super christian)but that’s just me. Anyways I appreciate your reviews Randy and God Bless!

    John 3:30

    Reply
  4. Don Denison

    Dear Randy:

    I gave away to a nephew my father’s 1954 vintage Oxford Schofield Reference Bible, he needed the personal ties to his grandfather. I have bought a few Bibles since looking for a replacement:
    1. a very small KJV reduced Pitt Minion from TBS it gets a surprising amount of use probably since it is even though a reference Bible very very portable
    2. a Personal Concord Reference Bible in French Morocco from Cambridge bought as a stand in until If found a really good one because it was inexpensive
    3. A Westminister Reference Bible from TBS
    4. The Thompson’s from LCBP
    5. a few others for gifts.

    Surprisingly, the best for reading and casual study was one of the least expensive (under $50.00 from Evangelical Bible), the Personal Concord from Cambridge. The dimensions are 7 1/4″X5 1/8″X1 1/4″, it is easily held while seated, the French Morocco cover softened and stabilized, but has sufficient body to make it easily hand held. The concordance is about 150 pages, enough for general study, there is a small glossary of common words, a very good biblical dictionary with many charts and lists for money, time, etc. the newest Cambridge maps and an index for them is also included, there are as well, excellent center column references. Best of all though, is the size, how it feels while holding it seated in my favorite chair, and also how it lives comfortably on the lamp stand next to that chair. It is not a pocket Bible, but is very portable and easy to manage. I’ve also grown to enjoy the smell of that French Morocco cover, I don’t understand why such covers don’t get more respect, they have a history with God’s Word going back many many years.

    I love my TBS Westminister, and will probably learn to love my LCBP Thompson’s for use seated at a table surrounded by my dictionaries, my Matthew Henry, my collection of Spurgeons work etc.etc. and with notebook and all the other things needed for serious study. For general reading and study though, I love that Personal Concord. I haven’t tried a Brevier Clarendon in French Morocco yet, the larger type size might change my mind, but the type in the Personal Concord is clear and easy to read, for now. For good and sufficient reasons, this humble little Bible is my favorite general reading Bible.

    Sincerely Yours

    Don Denison

    Reply
    • Randy Brown

      Hi Don. Thanks for the info. I recently asked Cambridge what their best selling Bible was. It’s the personal size Concord. Now I see why. It sounds like a Bible I would spend a lot of time with. I’ll put that one on my review list.

  5. JimmyG

    I lust after so many different types of Bibles but I simply can’t justify buying anymore. Ideally I really only want to have one Bible which I develop a great realtionship with (that is, we’d grow old and worn together), but as you all know, no one Bible is perfect. My everyday Bible is an ESV Classic Readers Reference edition from Allan’s, but on a whim I also bought one of their cute KJV Oxford Ruby’s (full yapp) too. While I am satisfied with my Classic Readers Reference I love the aesthetics of the Cambridge Clarion Reference edition. *sigh*

    Reply
    • Randy Brown

      Hi Jimmy. Thanks for the comment. I know what you mean about having a Bible you can grow old with. I change Bibles every few years and I still haven’t found that perfect companion. Maybe one day. I’m jealous of your Classic Readers :0) I haven’t seen that one, but I know it’s an amazing Bible. I also haven’t seen the Ruby. How big is the text? Is it similar to the Pitt Minion (6.75 font)? The Clarion’s aesthetics are awesome, I have to admit. I can see buying that one. The NKJV Clarion is my everyday reader and my primary Bible is the Concord. I’ve been lusting on the Brevier Clarendon in brown vachetta: http://evangelicalbible.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12_115&products_id=899

  6. JimmyG

    Actually, come to think of it (and I don’t have the Bibles with me at the moment) the Ruby’s text is about the same size as that of my wife’s NKJV Pitt Minion, the only real difference though is that the Pitt’s print is a lot clearer, that is, not as thick/bold. The Ruby, though cute and nostalgic, isn’t very kind on my eyes.

    Reply
    • Randy Brown

      Thanks for the info and the link. I like the font of the 2nd edition KJV Pitt Minion. It’s probably the same as the NKJV. It’s a digital font that’s sharp and clean. That makes a smaller font easier to read. I’d love the see the Allan’s done with the newer fonts.

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