I do love a good list. And if you’re a listmaker like I am, you probably also like to make lists in your head -or on paper with JUST the right pen and JUST the right paper, right? But although I’m a listmaker, I’m also super short attention span… so lots of my lists are actually just floating around my head. Although, one time, I can’t remember where or why? But a teacher told me the way to organize your thoughts was to envision a filing cabinet in your head? And you should put all the facts about say, biology! in a file cabinet and file it away. Then when you take the biology test, you open that drawer and pull out the facts. This worked for me in all subjects except Algebra, in which my filing cabinet was basically more just a giant question mark, because WHO EVEN GETS THIS THIS MAKES NO SENSE PLEASE DO NOT FILE THIS AWAY BRAIN BECAUSE I DO NOT EVEN WANT TO REMEMBER IT EVER EVER. Now that my daughter is in Algebra, and asking me why she needs to know it, and I’m having to say you know why you need to understand Algebra? Because someday your precious daughter is going to need your help in Algebra. Circular reasoning = illogical arguments, but alas, it’s true. So I open my disorganized Algebra file drawer and actually can remember a lot of it, which I never admit. Because then I’d have to admit Algebra does actually make sense.
^My brain -very disorganized & messed up^
How did I get to file cabinets when really I just want to tell you my top five favorite books of all time? My daughter just finished a book by John Steinbeck and I immediately gushed about him, as he is one of my favorite authors of all time. Then I thought about my top five books I’ve ever read. And decided to write out my list. So here they are:
TOP FIVE BOOKS I’VE READ IN MY LIFETIME
Subtitled: They really did change my life in some tangible or intangible, large or small way. That doesn’t mean they will change your life. They changed mine.
Well, yes. This is number one on the list. And if reading the Bible is overwhelming because how will you ever understand everything?? Here are a couple helps: 1. Keep reading it. It will start to sink in. 2. Go to church. Join Bible studies. Find a church that encourages Bible reading. Also, make sure the pastor is someone who can explain it and doesn’t take things out of context and explains things intelligently and doesn’t try to act too cool. Side fact: Those who are trying TOO HARD are just acting cool to compensate and anyone who has to compensate for who they are is not cool, nor should they be listened to. In fact, if they’re slightly nerdy, this is even better, because it means they did well in Greek class. For the record, I got solid B’s in Greek. (Also, I sat beside my friend who was also my secret crush and he would help me on assignments and I paid attention because I loved languages and secret crushes, so I got good grades.) But anyway, if you ever have a question about the Bible or reading the Bible, you could also ask me and I’ll gladly research for you. 3. Read a book about how to study the Bible. One that is good is Open Your Bible by She Reads Truth (Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams.
The point is: the Bible is a living book. It continues to convict me, encourage me, grow me and show me new things about God every time I open it. So grateful for the living, active Word of God.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I love stories. It’s how I’m created – my mind wraps itself around stories and people and not around facts. This story follows a family’s history and… it’s not pretty. A realistic portrayal of people and sin nature. It ends with the famous quote about Timshel and teaches the truth that we do all have a choice. This book came to me at just the right time. I was recovering from being a boundary-less person and a grieving person and this book gave me the insight that I did, in fact, have a choice about how I let other people affect me and how my choices affected others – and myself. Love this book. Also one of the very few books I have cried at. I remember finishing it, laying it down on my lap and just sobbing. This is NOT something I do. But this book managed to find its way into my soul. Thankful for his writing.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The number one thing I took away from this book is to write a list of who really has earned the right to hear your “story” or speak into your life. (Sorry those were super cliche phrases, but they explain what I mean.) Again, as a people-pleasing individual, her suggestion to write down the names of the people whose opinions actually matter was brilliant and ever so helpful. Do I have the actual list written down? No, but you bet I have a brain file cabinet with the name “PEOPLE WHOSE OPINIONS ACTUALLY MATTER TO ME” on it.
It’s a very short list. Five names on it. And one of those is God. So… very short list.
Brene Brown also discusses vulnerability, shame and connection in this book. I’ve read it six times.
The Four Loves by CS Lewis
Recently, I had to take a personality test where it pointed out your strengths. This was soon after I had read a book on the enneagram, which sort of points out how your strength has a proclivity toward a certain sin or negative reaction. So, within a timeframe of two months, I was clearly shown my strengths and my correlating weaknesses.
It was a difficult time in my life and I ate a lot of cookies.
Just kidding. One of my strengths is loyalty. I joke that I would make a good Hobbit.
(Even though CLEARLY I’d rather be Arwen. She was slightly cuter than Samwise Gamgee, yes?) I would rather go deep with a few people, than love a lot of people. And so when I read this book on friendship and love way back in college, it meant a lot to me, because it spoke about friendship and love in a way that affirmed how I felt about it – I mean, if Lewis says it, it has to be true, right? Right. But really, it showed me that God created those ways of loving others, and that in doing so, He created something good that should be treasured and taken seriously. Read this book!
“Alone among unsympathetic companions, I hold certain views and standards timidly, half ashamed to avow them and half doubtful if they can after all be right. Put me back among my Friends and in half an hour – in ten minutes – these same views and standards become once more indisputable. The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders: as Friendship strengthens, it will do this even when my Friends are far away. For we all wish to be judged by our peers, by the men “after our own heart.” Only they really know our mind and only they judge it by standards we fully acknowledge. Theirs is the praise we really covet and the blame we really dread.”
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I love a particular genre of book: that is, the slightly sarcastic, dry sense of humor in a good English rom-com novel. Enter: I Capture the Castle. Read it. Enjoy it. Why would I say it changed my life? Because I realized my dry sense of humor was the funniest of all.
Again, just kidding. This book made me realize you can be funny and teach good lessons. You can be funny and strip the situation of the falseness. You can be funny and write a good book. You can be funny and it’s okay. (For more in this genre, check out: Love in a Cold Climate, Cold Sassy Tree and Confessions of a Shopaholic.)
“Rose doesn’t like the flat country, but I always did – flat country seems to give the sky such a chance.”
― Dodie Smith,
And that’s my list. Agree? Disagree? What would your books be on your list?