A friend asked me recently which books have changed my life. I’ve been thinking about that question more since that conversation, and I want to share a few of them.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. This book is the amazing true story (much of it told through the journal entries of the survivors) of Shackleton’s attempt to reach the south pole. This book– along with Annie Dillard’s essay "Polar Exploration"– started my fascination with polar voyages, and I read multiple others… none as good. Despite Shackleton’s crushing disappointment, he is able to change his goal. This changed how I look at my own goals.
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. She writes about about childhood, but this book is also about the topography of our inner life. (My dad’s most groaner joke also makes an appearance in this book, which endears it to me.) Dillard’s ability to capture the moments in which we as children wake up "midstream" into ourselves and the world takes my breath away. Again and again.
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Shaffer McAuley. This book began our journey toward home schooling.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. Her desciption of the persistence of Jesus in pursuing her is beautiful and has stayed with me for years.
Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire. I reviewed it here but will just add that it is a book about forgiveness and redemption– without ever trying to say that things weren’t as bad as they really were.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. More on this book here, but it was the book that jump-started our stalled process of eating locally again. Deep Economy and Kingsolver’s book continue to come to my mind as I seek to live responsibly and gratefully with all I’ve been given.
Streams of Living Water and The Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster. The first is a book about the different streams of focus and tradition that form the river of the Church over history. It gave me a good framework to house my understanding of the strengths and weakness of the "evangelical movement" and the "social justice" movements within the Church. The Freedom of Simplicity speaks to me on so many levels… in fact, I think it’s time for me to reread it.
What books have changed you?