With November being National Novel Writing Month, I feel the urge and the pressure to write my first book growing. It’s long been a goal of mine to write a book and leave my mark upon the world.
After all, there are so many books which have shaped my life. A book has the power to impact a person like no other art form.
With that in mind, I want to share with you 5 of the books that have changed my life over the past 28 years. These are books I go back to time and time again for inspiration. If you’ve never read them, I encourage you to check them out on Amazon. Maybe one of them will inspire you too.
In chronological order of when I discovered them:
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary – This was my first favorite book in elementary school. Dear Mr. Henshaw tells the story of a young boy completing a class assignment of writing to his favorite author. Over the years the boy continues to correspond with Mr. Henshaw seeking advice and wisdom as he struggles with all the issues of adolescence, including his parent’s divorce. Dear Mr. Henshaw is engaging and captivating and honest – just like all of Beverly Cleary’s work. Most importantly for me, Dear Mr. Henshaw opened up the possibilities of what a book could be in my eyes. The entire book is written in the format of the boy’s letters to Mr. Henshaw. At a young age I learned every book doesn’t have to look the same or follow the same format. Ever since then I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing that plays with the traditional narrative.
My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers – When I was a senior in high school my faith was really starting to develop. I began actively attending youth group events. I started reading my Bible everyday. I wanted to learn more about Jesus and grow in my relationship with Him. So one night (at Walmart of all places) I was perusing through the book section. I saw this little white book called My Utmost For His Highest – Teen Edition. You could tell it was for teens because it had a kid skateboarding on the cover. I started turning through the pages and couldn’t put it down. It was just 5 dollars, so I added it to whatever else I was purchasing (probably pizza rolls and Dr. Pepper). Over the years I have returned over and over again to My Utmost. Oswald Chambers’ succinct devotionals are eye-opening and relevant no matter how many times I read them. He doesn’t waste a word. They are at the same time relevant for someone young in their faith and deep enough for a Biblical scholar to learn from. Besides the Bible itself, it is the one book that has impacted my faith more than any other.
You Are Special by Max Lucado – I’ve always had a soft spot for children’s entertainment – literature, tv shows, movies. I think the simple messages in a children’s book are often far deeper and meaningful than a book for grown-ups. My mom, an elementary school teacher, passed this book onto me when I was in high school. I don’t think she knew just how profound it’s message of God’s love was to a kid struggling with his purpose in the world. You Are Special was also a gateway into Max Lucado’s prolific writing career for me. The way he is able to break down complicated matters of faith into such simple and relatable language astounds me. He is as gifted a children’s writer as he is for adults.He is the author I most aspire to be.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – In one of my college English classes my professor did a lesson on Gladwell’s first book The Tipping Point. He just taught on the principles of the book – we weren’t assigned to read it – but something about the idea stuck with me. When I saw a review of Gladwell’s next book Blink in a magazine, I decided to check it out. Gladwell’s theories on the power of our mind’s initial judgments were fascinating to me. I truly believe there is a connection there in our obedience to the holy spirit. I believe if we keep our eyes on Jesus without blinking we can walk on water. If we live our lives listening to the holy spirit’s initial instincts without overthinking things we can find incredible success. He has his critics in the scientific world, but I Gladwell’s research and writing to be incredibly thought-provoking for anyone in the business field – especially when filtered through the lens of ministry.
A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller – One of my youth group students gave me this book as a Christmas present. I was familiar with Donald Miller’s work and was interested in the concept of this particular book. In it, Miller charts the struggles of adapting his previous book Blue Like Jazz into a feature film. I read from cover to cover in about two days – and I’m not really a fast reader. Miller tells of learning to see life as a story while working on the film. This illustration awakened my soul. Ever since then I’ve been desiring to live a better story with my life. I credit this book with setting in motion every great moment of the past four years of my life.
These are just a few of the books which have had a lasting impact on me. Maybe one day soon someone will add my book to their list.
For now, If you’ve never read any of these I encourage you again to pick up a copy. Or just ask to borrow mine.
Tell me – what’s a book that changed your life? Leave a comment below. I’d love to check out some of the books that have inspired you as well: