The Why of My 10 Books

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A recent tagging initiative on Facebook has been for friends to post ten books by which they have been influenced and/or inspired. As is true for most, I’m sure, choosing ten out of hundreds was a little bit of a toss-up for me.   There are easily ten more and ten more and ten more.

For whatever reason, my list has been coursing through my mind rather than having been written and forgotten. I have been mulling each of these books in more detail and remembering their impact…so…for those who want to read more, here are the “whys.”

  1. The Boxcar Children (book 1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The author wrote the beginning books in this series with the goal of providing stories with good plots for young readers so children would be enticed to learn to read, something many basal readers did not offer. Of course I had no idea of that at the time I read the book and I will say that Dick, Jane, Spot and Puff have a place in my heart.

Living in my imagination is second nature so the notion of discovering and living in a boxcar, finding all things needed to supply it (and of course the perfect things at the perfect time), and a stray dog coming along looking for a home simply fueled the sense of adventure for me. I do not recall being affected by the fact that the children had no parents and were trying to find their grandfather. What scared me more were the cracks and snaps outside the boxcar at night.

So often as adults we overlay our perspectives about what children might think and deem books too scary when often that is not the child’s perception; at times, it is true. I recommend that parents know each child well in order to gauge that piece.

Of course, all ends magically for the children when they find their grandfather and live happily ever after.

I am as enthralled by the book now as I was as a child…perhaps because I always will be that. The wonderful writer, Madeleine L’Engle says that we are all the ages we have been.

I want to always spend time living in my imagination.

  1. Uncle Wiggly Stories by Howard Garis

Uncle Wiggly is never afraid of the wolf. Maybe that sums it up as a life lesson. I will add, however, that his eternal optimism and good cheer matched my father’s and I will read a good Uncle Wiggly story anytime to remind me of those qualities.

I want to be an optimist and not be afraid of the wolves that come my way.

  1. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Arielle North Olson

I discovered this book when working at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, OH and remember reading it to a group of Kindergarten through Fourth Grade girls. The main character is a great role model for young girls, even if they live in an environment completely different from a lighthouse and without the same demands for survival. It is about the strengths girls possess and never forgetting it. It also has just enough tense moments that there are a few times of sighs of relief as the story is read. A bit like The Boxcar Children, I have a sense of wonder about living in a lighthouse and what it would be like to be that isolated.

I ask myself what levels of strength and courage I have for adverse conditions and challenges that may feel undoable.

  1. The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson

I don’t recall how I heard about Todd’s book but I read it not long after my mother had passed away. For most of the book I was laughing or crying and the minute I closed the back cover I sat down and wrote Todd an email of thanks.

It is the most wonderful story of two women in an eldercare home and several women who work with them. For anyone who has had a parent or grandparent in an assisted living home for any time at all, it is uncanny how Todd has captured so many details of what life is like even as the inspiration for the book and dedication of it is his two grandmothers.

It was in the reading of this book that I realized the last years of a person’s life and those who are with them are precarious and precious, both.

Todd and I had several email exchanges, he included one of my comments in his paperback version, and I was delighted to meet him at the Decatur Book Festival several years ago.   I am hoping for another book!

I hope to have the gumption of Margaret!

  1. Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

It would take pages to comment on these two books separately. I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are not necessarily easy reads in terms of facing truths about ourselves but do not let that keep you from them. The inspiration to accept our imperfections and to living a life of daring greatly, willing to live in vulnerability and see the amazing outcomes in store, is life changing.

Brene Brown shares her own stories. She does not shy away from her own life, which makes you feel like you are in good company. Her books are based on sound, extensive research.

I am choosing more and more on the side of daring greatly.

  1. Faith and Will by Julia Cameron

This is one of the only books I turned around and read all over again right away though I am learning to do that more and more so as to cement ideas and steps to incorporate them.

Perhaps a sentence inside the cover sums it up best:

“Where do I turn when my soul is urging me to keep growing toward God but my mind and being, stubbornly, will not follow?”

Julia Cameron is best known for The Artist’s Way and numerous other books about “the intersection of art and faith and between creativity and spirit.”

I have them all.

I want to be willing to engage in faith struggles rather than live with pat answers.

  1. Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

A new book in 2014 by a woman who is not afraid to question her faith, Barbara Brown Taylor names so many piece of my life that have made darkness uncomfortable for me. I still do not like it when I am alone, especially outside. It doesn’t help that my brother and sister would always create stories about all the creatures that could be in our woods when I was a child living in the country.

What struck me most in the writing was how much I resonated with the fact that the church, in her experience and certainly in mine, made darkness the symbol of all that is wrong. Barbara gives example after example and shone a light on that piece in a way I had never put together as perhaps having an impact on why darkness feels as it does to me.

She does, indeed, bring a whole new perspective and I am grateful. I wrote about this book in my last blog.

I hope someday that I will LOVE the dark!

  1. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

People may tire of hearing me talk about this book, or more likely, writing about it. It has significantly changed the way my days begin. For a long time I have started each day with extensive journaling, a habit I will never put aside because the benefits are simply too good. This book has only enriched the journaling by adding several components that, when woven together, create an awesome beginning. I use the word “awesome” in the true sense, not the overused one.

Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scripting are the SAVERS Hal created. Having survived a head on collision at 20 (you can read about Hal’s experience in his book, Taking Life Head On), Hal made a choice to live life magnificently and to make sure that every day is full and lived on purpose. For a young man in his early 30s he has shared great wisdom.

I am eager to get up each morning to make sure I have my miracle morning time and the same energy is being shared by hundreds of others for whom the book has made a difference. I am living my life with far greater intention.

I commit to this beautiful ritual, as I think of it, wholeheartedly.

10. Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner

I discovered this book several years ago and it has been the guide for my morning journaling, creating a more meaningful experience and one in which I come to understand myself better all the time, to say nothing of hashing out life and faith.

I want always to engage in vibrant conversations with God.

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Impact of Affirmation That Wasn’t Even For Me
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Darkness and Light

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks for the detailed reasons why you liked a book. Makes me want to read them. I have only read Boxcar Children and I think children love it because children like the idea of being an orphan and having that power of not being told what to do. Like James and the Giant Peach is another example. Thanks for sharing. I will have to think about these books and reread your descriptions. Liking a book is so personal. Some people like the same books as me and others do not. And I like and read all kinds of books. I just cannot read the predictable ones. Joan

  • Don’t know how I’ve overlooked Faith and Will — but it’s now ordered. I also ordered The Sweet By and By. Thank you for this!


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