I love to read and constantly have my nose in a book. I’m choosy about what goes in my book stack, and always expect a good book to give me something new to think about.
But there are some books that have profoundly changed the way I think and the way I live. Here are 7 of them:
1. L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon. I love the Anne books, but it was Montgomery’s lesser-known Emily trilogy that made me a reader. Emily of New Moon was the first book I finished under the covers with a flashlight at 2:00 a.m., because my 11-year-old self couldn’t go to sleep until she knew how it ended. (Sorry, Mom!)
2. Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity. This book completely changed the way I think about my money and my stuff.
3. Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I hated this book. I wasn’t expecting the heavy sexual themes and felt dirty after reading it. (I was only 22–I wonder if it would impact me differently now?) And yet–I’ve found myself returning to the novel’s central paradox of lightness vs. heaviness over and over through the years. We assume a weighty burden is a bad thing, but Kundera asks if a light existence–a meaningless one–is worse.
4. Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. When I first read Pilgrim as a college freshman, I’d never encountered anything like Dillard’s genre-defying reflections on the changing seasons in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
5. Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy. I can’t tell you strongly enough what a huge impact this book has had on my faith, and I have returned to it again and again since I first read it 9 years ago. (The Divine Conspiracy also happens to be the book I was reading when my son was diagnosed with cancer, and I remember reading it–clinging to it, more like–in doctor’s waiting rooms, airports, hotel rooms, and then back on the couch at home with my recuperating baby.)
6. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited. I came to this classic expecting a dry read, but was completely swept up in this epic coming-of-age story set in Britain between the world wars. I’ve read it ten times since then, and continue to be entranced by the story of the Flyte family’s unraveling–along with the rest of Britain’s aristocracy–and by its themes of love, loss, and grace. (Can you see why I can’t watch a single episode of Downton Abbey without thinking of Brideshead?)
7. John Cloud and Henry Townsend, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life. I’m a recovering people-pleaser, and reading this book (at the suggestion of my college prof, who told me I was “too nice for my own good”) was my first step on the path to recovery.
Would you share a book that’s changed your life in the comments?