I have a lifelong love affair with reading. Reading expands my mind in ways little else does, teaches me empathy, helps me to think through problems and provides context and a platform from which to expand into new territories of thought. In no particular order, here are some books I enjoyed which greatly affected the way I think:
Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkhin
Fabulous. Not only is it a particularly interesting story told from the fascinating viewpoint of the boy who grows to become a fine healer, with a troubled secret. He becomes a “holy fool” and…oh, I’m not doing it justice. Trust me. Read this book. This helped explain some of the mind and heart of Orthodoxy, and to understand Russians in some small way.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Though I haven’t read this in years, I remember the feeling, the utter pain in and beauty of the story. My heart still squeezes tight at the ending. I cannot forget. This book fuels my courage when it is faint, and inspires me to small acts of self-sacrifice, and a longing to be the kind of person who would make great sacrifices should the need and opportunity arise.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
I highly recommend the first two trilogies in this series. There is a third, but I could not get into it at all. These series are very dark, and Thomas Covenant is an anti-hero, reluctant, horribly flawed…yet this series taught me the value of pain. Having dealt with fibromyalgia for twenty-four years, this series helped me greatly to accept that pain has a vital purpose in our lives. This is not a light read.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
This is the edition that I own, though I also have this volume on my Kindle.
For a frightened child wanting to be brave, Bilbo delighted me. From the opening pages I wanted to be brave enough to head off on adventures, but how I longed for a Hobbit hole with a perfectly round green door with a brass knob right in the middle. Tolkein’s wonderful descriptions of places and peoples, his characters, some of whom drip with goodness, some with evil, there is an innocence that is surprisingly sophisticated, a sophistication that loves the simple in an honest, non-mocking way that is soothing in the midst of our derisive, contemptuous media.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
This is the edition that I own, though I also have this volume on my Kindle and am currently listening to this on Audible. In Audible, make sure you get the unabridged versions. why on earth would you bother with anything else?
I can’t say enough about these books. Adventure, courage, salvation, loss, self-sacrifice, friendship, treachery…I’ve read these and “The Hobbit” more times than I can count, and am currently listening to this in an Audible (unabridged) version. Though the movies are great, the books are rich and worthy of reading again and again and again.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I’m not stepping out on a great limb here to praise these books. To this day, many of my friends will occasionally repeat Lewis’s assertion that Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is good. This theological understanding of God is rather profound and has influenced me and many others. Lewis was such a deep thinker, it is no wonder that his books breath his understanding of life and faith, but in a form that delights children and adults alike.
Longitude by Dava Sobel
A friend recommended this to me, and it has inspired a fascination with the men and women of science who labored long and hard amidst great difficulty to solve problems. Their solutions seem commonplace today, but Sobel guides the reader through the need for these advances through rich story-telling that brings the past alive. Because of this book I see science and scientists in a new way.
Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father : Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father, translated by Vera Bouteneff
Father George Calciu: Interviews, Talks, and Homilies by Father George Calciu
In the same way that we collectively gasped hearing the story of Jim Elliott and his fellow missionaries killed in Ecuador, these stories of faith, courage, suffering, endurance and of God’s faithfulness and miraculous presence will challenge you, will open your eyes, and for me, encouraged me greatly in my faith. You may ask why men can be so awful to other men, but these two will have you asking how can a man be good in the face of such evil.
The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
Another story of courage and faith amid some of the darkest adversity known to man. Such beauty! Such suffering!
So…this is a long-enough list for today, don’t you think? There are so many more books to read and to write about. Share your list with me!