A fellow blogger has taken on the mammoth task of blogging through her bookshelves all this week—and I admire her for it! I wish I was able to do the same, but alas, most of my books have found themselves on the bookshelves of others and so I’m left with my measly top ten.
(Full disclosure: in writing this down tonight, I’m mostly procrastinating on the other writing I’m supposed to be doing. But I’m hoping that this small exercise will get my fingers moving in the right direction. Also, if you buy one of these books after clicking off my site, I might make a penny or two of that sale. So if enough of you buy, I might be able to get a snow-cone next week.)
These are not in any sort of order, except the order in which I thought they looked the prettiest all stacked on top of one another. Call me OCD or call me an artist, I think they’re interchangeable.
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
This was the first piece of creative memoir I ever read, back in high-school. It set the stage for every single thing I have written since. Every sentence of mine has been crafted through the sieve of Madeleine’s books, fiction and non-fiction. Her Crosswicks Journals are my favorite four of her books, of which this is one.
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
I read this book in about two sittings, a rarity for a Winner book (Girl Meets God, Real Sex, etc.). It was probably the first book I ever read on theology and perhaps the one which tempers me back, draws me in, and helps me to find some medium of faithfulness to the small things when my nature is to shout Grace! more loudly than anything else.
Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer
This book was recommended to me by Jared Wilson (who wrote one of the books further down) as the closest book he could recommend for a memoir[ish] about someone who’d experienced what his book called Gospel Wakefulness. I only just recently read it, but Spencer’s story and thoughts on being in church for decades and only fully understanding the gospel recently resonated very strongly in me. It’s not memoir, but it could be.
The Valley of Vision, a book of puritan prayers
For several years, while my mind was teetering on the edge of dangerous thoughts and my soul was tempered with a form of the gospel, and not the fullness of it, my wise mentor and friend would have me take these prayers and rewrite them in my own words. There has been no discipline better for my fingers or my soul than this. So often my spiritual problem is that I cannot say the words that are simmering deeply in me, these prayers unlocked those words.
The Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner
This book is more yellowed, written in, and falling apart than any of my books. I have read and reread it numerous times, each time more captured by his fluid sentences and depth of story. Buechner is one of my favorite authors, but this book stands apart from all the rest as he tells the story of his life and faith.
Desiring God by John Piper
I have not so much read this book as absorbed it. I have “been reading” it for years, still unfinished. The concept that God is most glorified when we are most joy-filled, and that our fullness of God comes from seeing the glory of God has absolutely, unequivocally changed my life. And it changes it yearly, weekly, daily, moment by moment. At every moment when my joy lacks, it is easily found in Him. At every moment when my joy is found, it is easily found in more fullness of Him.
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
This book, to me, is so much like The Sacred Journey in so many ways. I saw it on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble and stood there reading it for over an hour. I could not put it down until I inched nearer and near to the end, which is when I began reading it as slowly as I could to make it last. The last several chapters of this book have profoundly affected me recently.
Somewhere More Holy by Tony Woodlief
I would like to tell you that I love this book because Tony is a friend or because I know what this book meant to his family, but the truth is that I loved this book, wept through this book, healed from this book long before I knew Tony at all. When we finally did become friends, I had to confess that a year after I bought the book, it was still sitting on my side table, teaching me things, reading me as much as I have read it.
Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson
If there is only one book on this list that I recommend to every person, it is this one. I say that because of these words by D.A. Carson, “The first generation loved the gospel, the second generation assumed the gospel, and the third generation hated the gospel.” Whoever we are, we are one of those people, and every one of us needs the gospel more and more every day. I do not know of a better book to commend for that purpose but this one.
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
You didn’t think I’d forget this one, did you? I don’t care who you are, you ought to have read Flannery O’Connor. In one of these stories we find ourselves, a putrid, filthy mirrored reflection or a stark, staggering realization, it’s there. I do not know of a better communicator of the state of the heart than dear Flannery.
A Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle
Here’s another one of her Crosswick’s Journals and my second favorite of all her books. This one is about her marriage and family. Beautiful.
Okay, what about you? What are your top ten books? Blog them or comment below! I’d love some new recommendations (even though, I confess, I read the same books over and over and over again…).
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