I am a book lover, but this hasn’t always been true. For most of my life, I absolutely hated the idea of reading. Any time I picked up something to read, I’d fall asleep within 10 minutes of opening the first page. Needless to say, I didn’t complete many books. And those that I did, it took months to do so.
Nine years ago when I entered grad school, I had to basically learn to read. Not that I was illiterate, but reading became a necessity for survival over the next six years.
Through this journey however, I developed a love for reading. Now, I’m not one who likes to spend an entire day just reading, but I do enjoy the times when I can get lost in the pages of a good novel, or the times when I am stretched by a different thought or idea.
What follows is a list of books that have shaped my life over the past several years. I can’t say that I have one absolute favorite, and choosing just a few books that have influenced my life is difficult, but here are some that come to mind. I’ve decided to share some of the books that have helped shape the way I think, and that I would highly recommend. These are in no particular order.

  1. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I picked this book up by chance while walking through a bookstore, and I’m so very glad I did. I grew up in a traditional church and family – in this book, Donald Miller presents a few nontraditional thoughts on Christian spirituality. This is a great read for everyone. He has a new book due out anytime now (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years), I’ve read the first three chapters and it looks to be as good as Blue Like Jazz.
  2. The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. A classic work looking at an aspect of our life that shapes every area of our life – love. Worth the read.
  3. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. A refreshing look at the idea of God’s grace and how we all are basically ragamuffins in need of the freely given and unmerited favor and love of God. Excellent.
  4. The Boy Who Cried Abba by Brennan Manning. A short little parable about an orphaned, physically disabled, and friendless boy meeting Jesus. You can read this in one sitting, and it’s worth the read.
  5. Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski. A story about two friends and their journey as homeless men in six American cities. This will change the way you look at others.
  6. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I came across this book and Under the Overpass in the past two months, read them both in a couple of days. Great reads.
  7. Wild at Heart and Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. Reading about living from your heart and desire makes these books worth the read alone. In fact, John and his wife, Staci, have a book on marriage coming out toward the end of the year. I’m interested to read their take.
  8. Sex God by Rob Bell. A great look at how spirituality and sexuality are intertwined, in fact you can’t have one without the other.
  9. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. Taught me more about compassion and love, for that reason alone it’s worth the read.
  10. The Answer to How Is Yes by Peter Block. Asking how is the wrong question if you want to live according to what matters in life.
  11. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. A popular book in the productivity world. Worth the read if you’re interested in a new look at how life, work, career, and basically everything else can be approached.

Other books I love: The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, anything by C.S. Lewis, The Power of Less by Leo, Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields, Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, there are more but I’ll end the list here.
As a side note: I struggled a great deal with leaving the Bible off this list. While many of my favorites are considered religious, sadly, I don’t spend enough time in the Scriptures – which is a sad statement, at least to me. My relationship with Christ shapes my life but too often I’ve found I read other people’s take on Scriptures more than the source. A fact I aim to change this fall.
What are your favorites, or those that have helped shape your life? Please share them in the comments.

Photo courtesy Terwilliger911

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