Monday, December 8, 2014

things that change lives

I seem to have blundered into a reflective phase.  (Don't worry, I'll snap out of it.) 

For whatever reason, the other day the question popped into my head: what books have I read that have had the biggest impact on my life?  Let's say, ten most influential books so far, for me personally.  I'm 32. 

If you'd asked me in college, I would have said The Story of a Soul, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and The Imitation of Christ, while I thought about the next seven spots.  While I stand by the first one, I've spent the intervening decade or so trying to remedy the damage of the latter two.  (Not that I have anything personal against Thomas a Kempis or Joshua Harris, per se.  Just that I think the world - or at minimum a number of its people - would have been a better place had they tossed the manuscripts in the fire.) 

So I'm keeping The Story of a Soul.  I'm adding Gordon Korman's Son of Interflux, because.  If you'd read it twenty times, as I have, you'd know why. 

Keeping a wary eye on my college experience, and therefore considering that I might need some years to mull candidates over before I can fairly judge, I wonder whether I haven't read three of the top ten in just the past year.  That would be Susie Orbach's Bodies, Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples, and Conrad Baars's Feeling and Healing Your Emotions.  Is it interesting that all three are non-fiction?  I guess that was true of my first three, too.  And I claim to read only fiction. 

So from my current vantage, that's five total.  But I'm having trouble with the next five.  I've read lots of books, but which are really the most influential?  I'm inclined toward those I reach to for a quote on a constant basis because they most perfectly capture some idea that is inextricably part of how I view the world - in short, of course, because they are the place I found some notion that has become part of how I view the world.  But in some cases I can't remember the book's title, though the idea is indelible.  The good ideas are funny that way. 

Would love to hear what books others have found to leave a stamp on their lives. 


  1. "The Gift of Peace" by Cardinal Bernardin brought me back to the church in a big way. I'm actually going to read it again this Advent season....which really has become my season of prayer. I'm a reader of fiction and right now I've been reading most books by James crime novels. I like his short chapters...makes for an easy read before bed. Your books sound interesting...esp the Story of a Soul....hmmm...

  2. Someone in my book club just asked this question recently. I said "Reed of God" by Caryll Houselander and "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte. I am halfway through listening to "Born Only Once" by Conrad Baars and want to read his other two as well.

    I read "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" in High School and "Boy Meets Girl" in college. I think I should not have read the 1st one in H.S. because it made me think way too seriously of the guy I was dating at the time and I was not mature enough for courtship then, although I thought I was.

  3. I would struggle to list the books that have made an impact - though some of the feminist books of the 70s (or earlier, but I read them in the 70s and 80s - yes, I'm old!) certainly spoke to me.

    Just popping in to say hi, after seeing your comment on Greg's blog (A Few Pieces Missing).