Thanks to a reader of this blog and new Internet friend, Michael, I have an assignment to complete today.
I realized as I thought about this that books intersect our lives at different times and meet us where we happen to be–the utter grace of that intersection is probably what makes the memory of a book so powerful. To celebrate that fact I’ve decided to be honest and not try to sound too spiritual (rather than listing all my books from seminary and pretending I actually read them all).
All of these I actually read. And, as a disclaimer, I had a hard time keeping my answers to just one so I cheated a little.
Feel free to join in! If you decide to play on your blog, leave a comment so we can all check in, or just play by posting a comment.
1. One book that changed your life: The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, which I think affected me so profoundly because of the conservative evangelical childhood I had. When I read this book I felt like my faith took on completely new meaning. Another one that changed me was Call Me Blessed by Faith Martin. I read this book for a class in college, Women in American Religion. As I recall, it provided a very clear explanation of biblical texts related to the roles of women and it liberated me to follow my calling. Okay, just one more: God in the Dark: Through Grief and Beyond by Luci Shaw. Cried a lot through this one, too. This book accompanied me through the discovery that God can handle my being angry. What revelation!
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: This is kind of embarrassing . . . Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. I read this the first time when I was probably 12 or 13 and I probably cannot count the times I’ve read it since. This one also always makes me cry. Every time. The Hallmark movie version of the book is horrible.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: I can’t pick just one. I would have to say I’d choose a series of books by John Jakes (The Kent Family Chronicles or the North and South Trilogy) or maybe a James Michener book . . . Hawaii? I would think that if you were all alone on a desert island you’d need long, engrossing narratives with lots of characters to keep you company. Of course I should probably say the Bible, which is what everyone always answered to this question during youth group summer camp.
5. One book that made you cry: Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker . . . I want to meet Neely and we’ve talked about having lunch, but schedules have not allowed it up until now. To be able to put down in words the considerable challenges of living in another culture, working to live a life that stands in opposition to racism, loving a child you don’t even know but knowing at the core of who you are that to lose that child would be utter devastation . . . this is one of my all-time favorites.
6. One book that you wish had been written: How to Meet Everyone’s Expectations and Still Be Happy
7. One book that you wish had never been written: This is one that warped me and offered considerable material for exploration in therapy: Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot. I deeply regret that adults in my life encouraged me to read this book during my formative years.
8. One book you’re currently reading: The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family and Fate, which is a compilation of the writings of Washington Post columnist and cancer victim Marjorie Williams. My book club is reading this together right now. I just finished Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead, which I thought was an engrossing read.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: my friend John Ballenger recommended The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence by Richard Lischer, so I’m guessing that’s next, although I’m really looking for a long, engrossing novel that I can get lost in. Any suggestions?