Friday, April 14, 2017

Books that Changed My Life

Anyone who spends any amount of time reading will have read at least one book that really impacted them - perhaps because it was a book that changed their way of thinking or because it touched on something that was important to them. I have been an avid reader since I was incredibly young, and I have gone through stages of reading different types of books. Right now, I read almost exclusively non fiction where I hardly ever read it before college. I go through phases where I'll focus on a particular topic or author and really dive in, immersing myself, and hopefully coming out of that more knowledgeable.

Some books have certainly been more impactful than others. The Boxcar Children books were huge for me, when I was eight or so; now not so much. But back then, I certainly wouldn't have been at all interested in books about climate responsibility or the nature of disease. Some really important books didn't do much for me (like Frankenstein) - probably because they weren't new thoughts - and some insignificant books really shaped my world view because I read them at the right time.

Here is a list with brief summaries of books that significantly impacted my thought life, my world view, and the way I live. The Bible will not be on this list, as it is an obvious choice and complicated to summarize.
  • Essentialism
    I read this book at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed by the obligation to live in a way that would make other people happy. Although well intentioned, it was ultimately a strain on my life, and this book was instrumental in helping me decide to put my foot down and say: "no!"
  • Redeeming Love
    This is a fictional work about a child sold into prostitution and her life as an adult prostitute. It touched me deeply and delves into the beauty of the forgiveness and love of God, which are unconditional and boundless. 
  • Just Do Something
    This book, in a nutshell: if you want to do something and God hasn't given a direct command, through scripture, you can make the decision however you desire. A freeing book. 
  • Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
    This book came at a time when I desperately needed it. I felt like the authors hit the line between legalism and apathy well. It made a huge difference in the way I run my household. 
  • Intended for Pleasure
    I read this book right after a difficult time in my marriage, when I was truly confused about my role as a sexual companion. Although I won't go into detail, I will say we agreed to take a brief hiatus from sex, and this book was necessary to put me in a place to be intimate again. It's mostly practical, but it was timely. 
  • Hands Free Life
    This book touches on how permeating screens are in our current culture and strongly encourages limiting how much you surround yourself with them. The author goes into detail, describing her life before and after being "hands free". It's concise and lovely, and it was convicting to me as a wife and momma.
  • Zero Waste Lifestyle
    If you've spent any time on this blog, you know I'm a minimalist. A zero waste lifestyle seems to naturally follow minimalism, and this book helped me to be creative in adopting those ideals into my family. 
  • Les Miserables
    A story of sin, forgiveness, and righteousness. It doesn't get much better than this.
  • Screwtape Letters
    One of C.S. Lewis' most famous works, and it's no wonder. It is timeless, a backwards look at morality, sin, and evil. You can't help but think as you read it, and rereading it never gets boring.
  • In the Garden of Beasts
    An intriguing viewpoint of Germany as Hitler took power, from the perspective of the American ambassador to Nazi Germany. It is chilling and eye-opening. Unlike any other WW2 book you will read.
  • On Immunity: An Inoculation
    You know how some say once a person has an opinion you can't change it? I was strongly anti-vax, five years ago. That changed once I read this book, and I encourage anyone to read it who has questions about the wisdom of vaccination. 
  • The Great Influenza
    This book triggered my curiosity about sickness, how it's spread, and how we can stop it from spreading. It's also a scary account about a recent part of history that few know well. 
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
    I end my list with my favourite work of fiction. Although much of my love of this book has to do with how much I admire the work that went into writing it, its question also runs deep: should we seek revenge or let it come naturally to those who deserve it?

There you have it! All of these were incredibly important to me and molded me into who I am right now. Others will follow in the years to come, but for now, you can check these out and see if they impact you. Enjoy!

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