I’ve Been Tagged

I’ve Been Tagged August 9, 2006

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.

4. One book that made you laugh: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I blogged about this book awhile ago and memories of reading it still make me chuckle.

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?

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  • Chuck

    One book that:
    1. changed my life: The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg
    2. I’ve read more than once: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    3. I’d want on a desert island: The Story of Civilization by Will Duranct
    4. made me laugh: Herb ‘n Lorna by Eric Kraft
    5. made me cry: none, but Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert was really sad.
    6. I wish had been written: How to be a Banjo Virtuoso without Even Practicing
    7. I wish had never been written: Moby Dick
    8. I’m currently reading: Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Morris
    9. I’ve been meaning to read: A History of God by Karen Armstrong

  • Michael Westmoreland-White

    Great list, Amy, even though you “cheated.” (I’m jealous because I worked so hard to keep to one book each time.) I’ve never read the Elliott book, but I have heard several women make similar comments. That ought to count as spiritual malpractice or something.

  • Amy

    Got this email from my mother in law, Virginia, and I thought her response should certainly be posted here in the comments:

    I am a sucker for lists, so here is mine – first thing that came to mind and some might change if I thought about it.

    1. Changed my life – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: It helped me become a writer and continues to change my life as I keep going back to it for writing instructions and inspiration.

    2. Read more than once – Little Women: Much like you feel about Love Comes Softly, this could also qualify for “made me cry” – when Beth dies but even more when the loneliness overwhelms Jo and for joy when Mr. Bhear turns up. Like yours, none of the movies have done it justice.

    3. Want on a desert island – Tale of Two Cities: No contest, my best loved book of all time, and it qualifies for several other categories as well – lost track of how many times I’ve read it, for instance.

    4. Made me laugh – Belles on Their Toes: And made me laugh again and again as it was a read-aloud every year for my eighth graders. There is one passage they loved because I invariably got so tickled I couldn’t continue reading.

    5. Made me cry – All Over but the Shoutin’: I knew that scene all too well from growing up as a preacher’s daughter in the rural South. Those were the people to whom Daddy ministered.

    6. A book I wish had been written – Nonviolent Methods for Nations to Negotiate Differences: For obvious reasons and then figure out some way to make those in charge actually read and follow the suggestions.

    7. Wish had never been written – Moby Dick: I am not copying Chuck. I knew this one as soon as I saw it and before I read his comment. I hated it as a teen-ager and gave it another chance as a “mature adult” thinking I might see what has made it so famous. I wasted good reading time on it twice!

    8. Currently reading – Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women: It was recommended, and I thought it would help me have a better understanding of the Muslim women in our Internationals group. It is a disturbing book in that once again another religious group takes away rights of women while making them responsible for any ill of the community.

    9. Been meaning to read – Blessings by Anna Quindlen: I like her as a columnist because she is a good writer with whom I usually agree. I got the book to see if she was as good as a novelist. It has been sittin on my “to read” shelf for a while.

  • Michael Westmoreland-White

    Wow! Am I the only person who likes Moby Dick? It has far more psychological and theological depth than most American novels. Agreed that it can be longwinded (a chapter to describe a whale’s ear!), but so can Dickens, such as when David Copperfield takes an entire long chapter just to be born. (These 19th C. novelists were paid by the word, often a penny a word, so had little motivation for brevity.)

    But I found Moby Dick powerful when I read it as a young teen and I still can remember large sections of it.

  • Musings

    Check out my responses to these questions…

  • revrachel

    No lie–this is how I am planning to begin my sermon this Sunday:

    G.K. Chesterton and several other literary figures were once asked what book they would prefer to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

    “The complete works of Shakespeare,” said one writer without hesitation.

    “I choose the Bible,” said another.

    “How about you?” they asked Chesterton.

    “I would choose Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding,” replied Chesterton.

    I am reading “Eat This Book: a conversation on the art of spiritual reading” by Eugene Peterson and it’s really good.