Choosing five books that changed my life ranks up there with the challenge of choosing one book as my all-time favorite. I love books, so much so I don’t believe in getting rid of books—ever. I tried once. And then I cried over the small stack of books my husband, Rob, pried from my hands. I have To Be Read piles. Plural. Rob cheered when I purchased an e-reader, envisioning all my books disappearing into virtual oblivion. Didn’t happen. I just added an invisible TBR pile to the ones beside the couch and our bed and my desk and favorite chair.
But for the sake of this blog post, can I choose five books that changed my life? Yes.
Dick and Jane readers by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp
All authors are asked—many, many times—what their favorite book is. I always dodged that question until I realized my favorite books are the books that helped me learn to read. Why? Because those oh-so-simple volumes opened the world of story to me. (And yes, I realize I’m lumping a series of readers into one.) I recall sitting at my first-grade desk, turning the pages that held just a few words and simple illustrations. With each book, the more I understood, and the more there was to learn.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women was the first book I reread many times. I loved the March family as if they were real people: wise Marmee, bossy Meg, impetuous Jo, patient Beth, and yes, even spoiled little Amy. I lost myself in the pages of Alcott’s book, catching a glimpse of the power of story to touch our emotions and to challenge us, to change us.
Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur
It wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I understood that God wants a relationship with us. In my thirties, I taught women’s Bible studies for almost 15 years, and the first one I ever taught was Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries. This devotional study examines the names of God, such as Elohim (Creator) and Jehovah Shalom (The God of Peace). Understanding who God says He is—instead of settling for letting other people tell me who God is—deepened my intimacy with Him.
The Beauty of Broken by Elisa Morgan
I came to admire Elisa Morgan, who was the president of MOPS International for 20 years, when I was the editor of MOPS’ leadership magazine. In The Beauty of Broken, Morgan’s willingness to be honest about her hurts and wounds invited me to own my brokenness too.
The Story Equation: How to Plot and Write a Brilliant Story from One Powerful Question by Susan May Warren
Susan May Warren is a dear friend and a respected mentor. If it weren’t for her, as well as author Rachel Hauck, I wouldn’t be a published novelist. And that is not overstating the truth at all. The Story Equation is the best tool for crafting a compelling, layered novel. Her work text is almost as good as sitting down with Susie and talking with her because it contains all her best writing tips and tricks.
Beth K. Vogt, Author of Moments We Forget
Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.
Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.
Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?
I loved reading about your five books Beth. I too learned to read with Sally, Dick and Jane. Kids these days have never heard of them. My grandson in second grade is already reading chapter books.
I remember telling my grandmother that I would read her a story when I came home from my first day in first grade. Such simple hopes in a small child. I’ve always loved to read and even more so being retired now.
We’re so glad you enjoyed the article, Gail– especially reminiscing about the classic Dick and Jane series. Happy reading!