Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ten books that have influenced me...

Or, what I did Saturday morning (write this list) instead of the laundry.

In no particular order these are books that have influenced me or my reading...

1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - Chris recommended this book when we were dating. I read the chapter on pride, and it was painful. It was the first time I really understood that God wasn't super-excited to have me on his team since I was a "good kid" and the beginning of understanding sin and grace.

2. Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins - I told my friend Kara that I did not understand poetry, and she recommended Billy Collins. I love reading his poems because I understand (I think) what he's talking about. (for the poetry novice I also recommend Good Poems collected by Garrison Keillor.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - This isn't my favorite classic, but it's an important first for me. I saw it on my Senior reading list in high school and groaned because it sounded so boring. Wuthering... withering... ughhh. I was so surprised to find that it's actually interesting. The story grabbed a hold of me and gave me confidence to try Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo and more.

4. Incidents in the of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs - This was written by a runaway slave in the mid-1800's. The scariest part of this book to me was the damage that was done by generally well-meaning people who lacked the courage or oomph to do the hard right thing. It's a fascinating window into what it was like to live with slavery. It turned me on to good historical nonfiction books.

5. The Histories by Herodotus - This was not easy to read, but it was worth it. It helped me see how much we inherit from Judaic law. And there are so many good stories here: the culture that auctioned off its unmarried women in order of beauty (men were paid to take the ugly ones and had to pay for the good looking ones), the Spartans brushing their hair and dancing as a pre-battle routine,...

6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - I think this was the first REALLY good children's book I fell in love with. I wanted to be Anne. I kind of still do.

7. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - For years Chris tried to get me to read this, but I had no confidence that he could pick something I'd find readable. Someone else recommended it, so I read it (he'll be mad about that until the end of time) and really enjoyed it. Now Chris is my fantasy guru. He knows what I will and will not like and has recommended several other good ones - Name of the Wind, Way of Kings, Wheel of Time, ...

8. Winnie the Pooh - I read this in college on a whim and was surprised to find much more sophisticated humor than I expected (I've read it to my kids a few times, and the older kids always enjoy it in a different way than they did when they were younger.) It was the beginning of rediscovering children's literature as an adult.

9. Where is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey - I read this at a time when I felt set upon by God. I was too angry to read the Bible but wanted to read something spiritualish. This book helped me understand that I was not the only person in the world who had been hurt and helped me come to terms with my unanswered questions.

10. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy - I tried to read this in college and found it unbelievably boring. I picked up again as an adult and loved it. It's one of my all time favorites now. So, this book helped me give a whole category of books a second chance. Some (Madame Bovary) I still hate, but some that I hated as a teenager I was able to enjoy as an adult.

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