I write mostly because I have to. I’ve always loved order, and writing is the way I find it in the messy world of emotions, relationships, and dreams. I write to be known to myself; to study the parts that are hard to reach, until, reluctantly, they begin to come into view. How accurate these parts are remains to be seen, but they are precious to me, because by them, I understand.
But sometimes, I lift my pen to write, only to find my hand and heart empty. I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said.
It is during these times that I look to my many friends, whose stories and complexities are written down entirely. They welcome me, and speak to me, to those parts of my soul which are muddled so I can’t get a clear view, and they slowly sort them out. These are the books that have changed me, shaped me, and whispered to my soul. They have watered a barren land and calmed a turbulent storm. They have cultivated hopes and dreams, and given knowledge of sorrow and loss. They have found their way to me through blissful accident or required reading, but they have each made their mark.
Whether they will have the same effect on another, I cannot say. I only know that they are dear to me, and I suppose, for this post, that will have to be enough.
The Star Gardenby Nancy E. Turner- See this post. The third in the series, Nancy E. Turner brings us the end of Sarah’s story in a beautiful, intricately woven way. I’ve shed many tears both happy and sad over this one.
The Water and the Blood: A Novelby Nancy E. Turner- See this post. This book, completey different in plot and theme from her others, still managed to grip my heart and gain my loyalty in the same way.
The Beautiful and Damnedby F. Scott Fitzgerald- This is a book about the young, rich, beautiful and restless. Fitzgerald focuses on the fickle beings that are humans,and how easy it is to hold to lofty ideals, but to live quite otherwise.
The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald- A classic, as it should be. This is a book about marriage, fidelity, coming of age, and the many sides to a man’s character, all with the exciting backdrop of the roaring twenties.
This Side of Paradiseby Scott Fitzgerald- Another book that is about more than just the exciting time of the twenties; it examines the morality of the Post World War I youth.
To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee- Another classic, humorous, gentle, and challenging, about issues of rape and racial inequality.
Hannah Coulterby Wendell Berry- One of Wendell Berry’s novels in his series about people in the town of Port William. This is the first novel I read by him, and I finished desperate to read more. It is about work, life, loss, and “living right on”.
Jayber Crowby Wendell Berry- Another novel in the series about people in the town of Port William. This is a story about love, community, and living together.
The Forgotten Garden: A Novelby Kate Morton- This book somehow manages to delicately weave both fairy tale and real life into the same novel. It touched me because of the ways it tied into my own life.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- This book began my love affair with the south.
Anne of Green Gablesby L.M. Montgomery- I have laughed and cried over the whole series. This is a great book for anyone with an ounce of imagination.
Sarah, Plain and Tallby Patricia MacLachlan- I read this book in third grade, and still jump right back into that person whenever I reread it. This is a book about more than the ocean, the prairie, and learning to sing.
A Little Princessby Frances Hodgson Burnett- “All girls are princesses”. I’ve believed that since I read this book.
The Kite Runnerby Khaled Hosseini- A novel set in Afganistan about a wealthy young boy and his friendship with the son of his father’s servant.
A Thousand Splendid Sunsby Khaled Hosseini – A novel about two Afghan woman in the same unhappy marriage, and the power of a woman’s love for her family.
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novelby Arthur Golden- an inside look into the life of one of Japan’s most renowned geisha.
A Tale of Two Citiesby Charles Dickens
The Hunchback of Notre-Dameby Victor Hugo- Even better than the Disney version!
The Brothers Karamazovby Fyodor Dostoevsky- Called by some the “ultimate Christian novel”, I’m still working through the ways this book has challenged me.
Pride and Prejudiceby Jane Austen- This book, about Elizabeth Bennet’s search for love, for morality, character, and self. It is humorous and complete with a very satisfying ending.
Jane Eyreby Charlotte Brontë- Jane tries to overcome her burdened childhood, become an independent, confident woman, and find love in the arms of the wild, moody, intriguing Mr. Rochester.
Little Womenby Louisa M. Alcott- I hope to raise my own children to be as cultured, kind, and adventurous.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finnby Mark Twain
Ahab’s Wifeby Sena Jeter Naslund- A novel that branches off of the story of Moby Dick.
The Color Purpleby Alice Walker- Letters to God and a woman’s search for beauty, love, and identity.
The Harry Potter Box Set by J.K. Rowling- This series is packed with imagination, adventure, love, heroics, and the struggle of good vs. evil.
Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldviewby Albert M. Wolters- This book discusses how Christ came to restore all of creation; how every aspect belongs to him.
Water from a Deep Wellby Gerald L. Sittser- This book is about the history of the church- the martyrs , the modern day Christian, and everything in between.
The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Societyby Henri J. M.
The Way of the Heartby Henri J. M. Nouwen- Nouwen explores the lives of the Desert Saints, their silence, solitude, and prayer, and how their example could heal the compulsive busyness and identity crisis of our generation.
Reason to Believeby R.C. Sproul- A series of questions, arguments, and “reasons to believe” in the Christian faith. This is a great book for anyone asking hard questions.
Book of Common Prayer– An Anglican collection of prayers and readings for a variety of occasions.
The Screwtape Lettersby C.S. Lewis- My family read this book together while I was a teenager. It is humorous, comical,challenging, and assuring. I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
Chronicles of Narnia Box Setby C.S. Lewis- I’ve never looked at a wardrobe, painting, or lamppost the same way since.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis- Originally a radio series, this book covers all the basics of Christianity. It’s beneficial to both those who are skeptical about the Christian faith, and those who have been Christians their whole lives.
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Communityby Detreich Bonehoffer- A glance into what Christian community should look like.
The Hiding Placeby Corrie Ten Boom- Corrie Ten Boom’s recollection of her family, of hiding Jews, and eventually facing concentration camps during World War II. It’s a book about compassion and forgiveness in the most profound way.
Humility : The Beauty of Holinessby Andrew Murray- In this book, Murray argues that at the root of every sin is pride, and at the root of love is the humility of Christ.
Absolute Surrenderby Andrew Murray- A book centered around the idea that we are a vessel, created to do God’s good work, which can only happen when we are fully surrendered to him.
Desiring the Kingdomby Jamie Smith- This is a book about how the Christian faith is as essential to our hearts as it is to our heads.
Tell It Slantby Eugene Peterson- A look into the parables of Jesus, why he told them, and what he was trying to say.
The Animals of Farthing Woodby Colin Dann: A sweet tale of the fictional Farthing Wood, in danger of being destroyed in order to build human homes. I fell in love with the group of brave little animals, led by Fox, and their endeavor to leave Farthing Wood for White Deer Park, a nature reserve. This book brings back very dear memories of sitting on my Grandad’s lap in their English home.
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Talesby Beatrix Potter- More classics that I grew up with, but don’t think I’ll ever outgrow. Who can resist the tales of Jeremy Fisher, or the adventures of Tom Kitten?
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!by Dr. Seuss- I read this book whenever I need some inspiration or encouragement.
Where the Sidewalk Endsby Shel Silverstein- A great book of poems and short stories.
Guess How Much I Love Youby Sam McBratney- A sweet book at first glance, but with a theme that has shaped my life.