Reading is a lifestyle choice!
Over the years, and I’m in my 60th year, I have read thousands of books. I love to read. Every year I challenge myself to read at least 52, minimum. One year, I challenged myself to read 104 books.
My reading habit was picked up early. I’m told I could read well in grade school. I don’t remember. But I do remember the “Dick & Jane” primers we used. Books were my transportation to places in the world I may never visit or experience. I never owned a horse, visited the China Sea or felt the cold of the North Pole, but through my reading, I found these to be beautiful, sometimes treacherous and oftentimes, exciting places and things.
Here is my list of 8 books I’ve read and all have helped to shape my life.
These are not in any order but for the number one spot, I was young and impressionable when I read many Zane Grey novels written about the West. My father was a fan of these Western Novels and I was allowed to read them at home but not take the books out of the house. This was when I was young and a few of these novels were considered scandalous. But who can forget “Riders of the Purple Sage” with a female heroin! You can find Mr. Grey’s novels, many are free, for the Kindle at Amazon.
She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes: The discovery of friendship by Mary Kay Shanley. Twenty years ago I attended a lay counseling training from a great Biblical counselor, Dan Allender. While at this small, intimate, week long training, I met and befriended two women from California. As the week went along, the friendship deepened, much as it would during every summer camp I’d attend as a young girl. We shared secrets from our home and family life. I’m from Michigan, they from California. We don’t grow artichokes where I’m from but they do. Wanting to share a little of their life with me, they surprised me with this book they found at a local bookstore. Both wrote a note inside the cover before giving it to me. If you are out there, Chrissy O’Keefe or Teresa Sharp, I still have the book you gave me. The book about discovering a deeper friendship by sharing of oneself. So let me ask you: Do you know if your neighbor likes to eat artichokes?
Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. I found Mr. Peretti’s novels at the same time I was stepping away from the “faith” of my fathers. I was raised in a conservative church which taught spiritual gifts were for another time in history. Never was I encouraged to see beyond what is seen with my eyes. In these two novels, I entered into another realm of warfare not seen with human eyes but felt with the heart. I was given permission to believe Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” I have given these books away so many times, I’ve lost count. I search secondhand stores and buy them as often as I see them.
Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. When our oldest son was twelve, I couldn’t figure him out. He moved so slow, his actions so precise and this was a lifelong pattern, not anything that came on suddenly. But by 12, when I thought he’d be changing, I couldn’t take much more. As a young child, he lined up his pencils and crayons by order of length. Then, while playing with his small cars, there was always order to his roads. It made no sense to me. And now, we were 15 years into our marriage. My husband was a control freak while the same was said about me. The difference was how we get things done. He wanted clean, neat and precise, I used sloppy, wacky and no-system to get things done. I thought “What is going on in my home?” THEN, I read Personality Plus and learned, we were all normal. We were just individuals with different types of personalities God created us to have. If you’d like to understand the personality of your spouse or children, try reading this book. Personalities are God-given gifts to help us all navigate this world together.
Foxes Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. Each day, around our world, people die for their simple confession, Jesus is their Lord and Savior. This book is about both historical and modern day people which have paid the ultimate price of their confession. I was so moved by this book, I have never forgotten the details of many of their deaths. I often wonder if I would have the courage to die for my own confession, for my own love of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Yet in reading this book, I believe I am a stronger Christian by knowing these people, if only through a book.
If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes. In the early part of my marriage, 40+ years ago, my mother-in-law taught me to drink tea. We would share a pot of Constant Comment Tea and discuss whatever came to mind. I learned from her the power of sharing tea. It began my life long love of sharing a cup of tea with friends. Then reading book by Ms. Barnes, I learned to give myself permission to set aside time, enjoy flowers and pretty napkins, all while sharing tea and conversation with my silver and gold friends. I learned the elegance of tea and the simple sharing of a cup of tea could help build relationships. Tea cannot be hurried. I learned to drink and enjoy.
Good or God? Why Good without God isn’t enough John Bevere. Is good good enough? What is the difference between being good and being the best God intends you to be? This book challenged me to think beyond the surface issues…isn’t helping others, treating everyone with respect, being generous Good? The answer is definitely yes! These are good things yet at times, God has a better idea. God has His best in mind for each of us. This book helped me learn the difference. I learned waiting for God’s best is better than reaching for the immediate good. The author, Mr. Bevere, has sold millions of books. He and his wife Lisa, together, started Messenger International. This book, along with all their books, are available on their website or through Amazon.
Radical, taking back your faith from the American dream by David Platt. What would a life lived radically for Jesus really look like? Would it be different from the life you are now living? Mine did. I read this book and knew I had settled into the America lifestyle of living my dream. When I measured my American dream life against a radical life lived for Jesus, my life fell far short. I determined to change. This little book is a life changer…if you allow the words to sink into your heart.
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. There are more than one book by this name but the best one by far is this original by Marcia Brown. Here’s a link to Amazon to be sure you purchase the correct one. I have used the premise of this book to plan a bridal shower and even a ladies retreat. The story goes: three soldiers enter a village hungry. Every door slammed in their faces with all claiming to have no food to share. The industrious soldiers then gather a pot to boil water to start a pot of stone soup. No one in the town had ever seen stones for soup so being curious they ventured out. Soon someone found an onion to share, another found cabbage. Then entire town was involved in sharing. This in an excellent story to prove caring and sharing is good for all.