“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~C. Eliot
Everywhere you turn in my house, there’s a stack of books. I TRY to keep them put away but no matter how much I hope to reform myself, I’m forever getting books off the shelves and re-reading passages, looking for quotes, and in general wanting to NOT FORGET the words of the authors that have changed my life. My nightstand is loaded down like a pack mule. I have 3-4 books in my car, one in my purse, and a teetering stack on my desk. I was tagged on Facebook and decided to post my answers here since I know how much y’all love books, too.
A few weeks ago on Instagram, I wrote a note of apology to my nightstand. She’s a workhorse that’s for sure.
But, when I think about the books that have most influenced me, I get emotional. Books have changed everything about how I live my life. They have taught me to see the world differently. They have enlivened my mind but more importantly, they have broadened my heart and made me more curious and compassionate and thoughtful. And since I still have such a long ways to go, I never want to stop reading!
These authors feel like my closest friends and I’m so thankful for their influence and their commitment to their work—work that continues on and makes us better and more human. Here’s my top 10!
- Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis—this was a game changer for me. I first read this book when I was so teetering on unbelief, after a bad church experience. I’ve reread it many times since but that first read through was life altering.
- Angela’s Ashes—memoir at its finest, I adore Frank McCourt (who needs fiction with a life story like this?)
- Grace Upon Grace, John Kleinig—one of the best books on everyday spirituality that I’ve ever read, SUCH A GIFT!
- Captivating, Stasi Eldredge—so influential on me when I left my medical career on offering ourselves to others
- Telling the Truth—Frederick Buechner, such a powerful book, haven’t had it out of my reach all summer
- The Liar’s Club, Mary Karr—a memoir that made me know I wasn’t alone and a writer that has such a memorable voice and style that I so admire
- Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott—her advice for writing could be translated to nearly every pursuit in life
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- Gilead, Marilynne Robinson—exquisite writing and characters that live on in my mind everyday
- God at Work, Gene Veith—this book on the teaching of vocation set me free from the tyranny of trying to do important, spiritual things
Coming in closely behind would be the Harry Potter books and Amusing Ourselves to Death and Orthodoxy. Okay, I’ll stop now.
Although if you’re a book worm like me, you might enjoy my 2014 reading list, which I’m still adding to every week. This podcast on a Life of Learning will encourage you to start reading with more intention.
Okay, name a few of yours, my friends. What book changed you, made you see the world different, influenced you in lasting ways?
And? What are you reading right now?
Oh, how I love this list! I can’t wait to get started on it. I recently finished Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted. Before that, it was Restless by Jennie Allen. Right now, I’m in the middle of Unstoppable by Christine Caine and Multiply by Francis Chan.
So deep and so convicting…always. Each of these books makes me want to stay up for weeks to read the Bible cover to cover.
P.S. I listened to a Life of Calling this morning as I got ready. I kind of went backwards but I can’t stop thinking about a Life of Learning. Thanks for introducing me to podcasts!
I just read a memoir that was so deep and thoughtful by Lindsey O’Connor called The Long Awakening. It was so good, well written and beautiful. I can’t stop thinking about it. Now I’m reading For The Children’s Sake, very good for parents homeschooling or not. As for books that have forever changed me, reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at age 4 and then over and over again in my childhood profoundly influenced my ability to understand the gospel.
Trish @TheOldPostRoad says
My first CS Lewis book was Screwtape Letters and that was the “game changer” for me – in a similar situation with church dis-function (I was in a too-liberal church) – thinking all intelligent people were non-believers and all the idiots I met were Christians. Could never think that again after reading my first CS Lewis book. What a genius.
Just added a couple of yours to my “Christmas List” pin board! Thanks!
Stephanie Lewis says
I have just finished The Freedom of Self Forgetfullness by Timothy Keller. A life changer for me! A great book (booklet) for everyone.
Me too! I agree. Great book.
Tracy Jackson says
Francine Rivers- Redeemed (changed my marriage)
Warren Bowles- Christianity Reconsidered
Daniel Gruber- Copernicus and the Jews
L. Grant Luton- In His Own Words (I’ve read it 8 times!)
Jennifer B says
I’m reading Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller. It’s good.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers changed my heart. My mind is a jumbled mess right now, and that is all I can think of at the moment. 🙂 Thanks for your list.
I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s updated Interrupted. (I had read the original, too.) Right now I am reading Quiet, which is to be followed by a introverts in the Church and The Highly Sensitive Person. I have stacks of books everywhere, too. So many books, so little time.
kelly n says
Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson – unique writing style and surprising perspective left me pondering and rereading – truly refreshing. Best read in a long time.
Edie Wadsworth says
It’s been on my list forever, I need to get it.
Molly B says
I love your reading heart! I enjoyed the Glass Castle, have you read it? PS Let’s beat Oklahoma! GBO!
Edie Wadsworth says
Yes, one of the first memoirs I read that made me think I should tell my story too. LOVED it!
Kristen Trueblood says
Have you read Thorpe by Mary Dutton? Since To Kill a Mockingbird is on your list, I HIGHLY recommend this one!
Edie Wadsworth says
No, but thank you so much!
Will definitely add it.
Here’s my Top 10 (in no particular order):
1. The Hiding Place
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. The Shack
4. Celebration of Discipline
5. Who Moved My Cheese?
6. Keeper of the Bees
7. From Eternity to Here
8. Hinds Feet in High Places
9. Jumping Ship
10. Les Miserables
Right now, I’m currently re-reading Celebration of Discipline. 🙂
Theresa @ My Jesse Tree says
Love Who Moved my Cheese… 🙂 great book 🙂
I’ve actually started writing books, after having my son I started to realized I couldn’t always find the perfect book I wanted for him, so I started writing some of my own. It has been an incredible experience 🙂 There is nothing more exciting than sitting down and reading your a kids a book that you wrote!
I’m basically dying to publish another one, I just have to finish the illustrations
Edie Wadsworth says
That’s so cool, Theresa!!
Jen Anderson says
Thank you for inspiring us to keep improving our minds and hearts Edie. So thankful for you! Here are the books that I’ve changed my life;
Reedeming Love- Francine Rivers
The Hiding Place- Corie Ten Boom
A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini
Captivating- Stasi Eldrege
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Marla Tognoli says
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis all read during childhood and had lasting impact on my life. Now, I continue to read.
Trudy K says
Oh Edie, I am very thankful for writers. Thank you for introducing me to classic Greek literature. It always seemed so daunting, but I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have so far read. I am currently reading a modern American classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Amazing. Great writers are timeless.
So glad you are here encouraging gourmet literacy.
Edie Wadsworth says
Love you, Ms. Trudy!
Thanks for sharing. I haven’t read that one and I don’t even know why!!
Man’s Search For Meaning……powerful, inspirational,meaningful work
I love book posts! (And while I’m here, I’ve loved your podcast series as well. Thank you so much for the time you put into producing that!)
I think of the Bible as more foundational than influential, so that one is assumed in this list. 🙂 Other influential books include: A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken; the Narnia series, especially Voyage of the Dawn Treader; Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis; Radical Gratitude by Ellen Vaughn; The Elephant in the Playroom by Denise Brodey; Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas.
Also key players in my early reading: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss; and the Wrinkle in Time series (?) by Madeleine L’Engle.
Currently reading: Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges; Hope Rising by Scott Todd; Glimpses of Grace by Madeleine L’Engle; Select Letters of John Newton; Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Children with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson; and just for fun, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. Thanks for the inspiration to go peruse my bookshelves. Very fun. 🙂
Right now I’m reading “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker and Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. Reading both books at the same time might be a little more “change” than this poor heart can take. 🙂
Elizabeth Highsmith says
1. The runaway bunny by Margaret Wise Brown not even joshing reminds me of His relentless love
2. Blue like Jazz (I drank the punch don’t tell the baptists)
3. Peace Child by Don Richardson
4. Desire by John Eldredge
Reading Mere Christianity right now and Kate Morton
In high school, my English teacher pulled me aside and handed me “Pigs in Heaven” by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver’s most recent book “Flight Behavior,” which takes place in Kentucky, is sorrowful and stunning all at once.
I’ve been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis lately since your podcasts. 😉
Edie Wadsworth says
I haven’t read that one, will have to add it my list!
I, too, did this on FB. One book that I cannot believe I forgot to include is: Love Does by Bob Goff. It is AMAZING. A very good, fast read that I highly recommend.
I just love books.
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Sarah Lahrman says
Many thanks to you Edie for sharing such an incredible list of books so worthy of reading and I have jotted down others reading everyone’s comments too (my list is now officially a mile long)! Some fav’s of mine 1. The Power of the Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian 2. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo 3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I absolutely loved Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, by David Platt. It has really changed my view of how we should be living and serving each other instead of following a very self-serving lifestyle. We’re so spoiled here in America and I have to admit I was a little ashamed after reading this. For being so young, this guy has a lot of insight! He’s a pastor and his sermons are excellent.
Rose from Brier by Amy Carmichael.
Mimosa by Amy Carmichael
Green Leave in Drought Time by Isobel Kuhn
love C.S. Lewis. in the Narnia series, ‘The Silver Chair’ is my favorite, of his other works, ‘A Grief Observed’ would be my favorite with ‘Surprised by Joy’ coming in a close second.
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne-i just feel like one is never too old for this one!
i could list 50, but i’d say these are my top top picks.
Edie Wadsworth says
I know, me too! It’s hard to stop at 10!
Thanks for sharing.
I’ve been looking for a new book recently, I will have to try one from your list, thanks for sharing!
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I do love to read! Although there are many novels that I can list, a story that has forever changed me is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. My first grade teacher first read this story to me so many years ago but it has stayed with me and inspired me to serve others with love. I read it often to my children and it moves me every single time.
Thanks Edie for continually inspiring me!
Kathleen T. Jaeger says
I love books, too, and have been mulling over my Facebook tag, too, so it is hard to say only one or two books of influence. Off the top I would say christy by Catherine Marshall and the Chosen by Chaim Potok. Reading now: Hood by Lawhead, the cost of discipleship by Bonhoeffer.
I’ve seen you mention Dr. Kleinig a few times so I finally ordered Grace Upon Grace. I agree that this book will be a game changer. He is hitting on something I think I’ve known, but struggle to remember in day to day life. THANK YOU for the recommendation.
Incidentally, I also loved Dr. Veith’s book on Vocation. When I read it, the idea of vocation was new to me. As I result of reading it, I felt so much more purpose in my life.
And I also must comment that To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel of all time. I want to be a female Atticus Finch, his character inspires me so. I have taught this novel for three years to high schoolers in out homeschool co-op. Love it!
FIrst time to your blog and I love what I see! You have a great list! I would add The Screwtape Letters also C.S. Lewis. I’m re-reading it now and every time I finish a chapter I’m like . . . “ughhhhh”, but in a good way, do you know what I mean?
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Lisa H. says
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch and Rise of the Time Lords: A Geek’s Guide to Christianity by Michael Belote. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King – I wept at the end because it felt like I was saying good-bye to friends.
I’ll be picking up God at Work based on what you’ve said about it and what I’ve gone and read about it. Sounds like something I could use.
Grace Upon Grace looks like a nice book, I should give it a try!
Love your blog by the way, keep it up! 🙂