Top 10Posted: March 26, 2010
I’m sick. Sneezing and wheezing, I’ve spent the last two (arguably three) days riding the couch, waiting for this awful thing (whatever it is) to go on and be done with me.
Just now found this blog post by Ross Douthat of the NY Times, where he follows along some current blogging trend and lists the “10 books which have influenced your view of the world.” Not the best books you’ve ever read, mind, just the most influential. I’m leaving out the Bible, because that goes without saying.
In light of my current boredom, here goes:
1. “Little House in the Big Woods,” Laura Ingalls Wilder
My mom started reading these to me when I was about 5 years old. The “Little House” books are the first books I can remember, and I loved them. I was fascinated with all things pioneer, the tiny details of 1800s life, the story of the Ingalls family. At some point, I got tired of waiting for my mother to have time to read these and took over on my own.
2.” Anne of Green Gables” (and, quite honestly, everything else ever written by L.M. Montgomery)
I first read Anne when I was about 7 and it changed my life. No, really. I love the way Montgomery writes about friendship, growing up, beauty, nature, ambition, love. Reading her was like finding a friend who finally understood the things I felt about life–or maybe reading her gave words to things I had never realized I was thinking.
3. “The Chronicles of Narnia,” CS Lewis
Yes, I realize that I am only writing down children’s books. I can’t help it. I was a child when I learned to read and learned to love books, and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to believe very firmly that the best children’s literature only improves with age. I think that Lewis once said he hoped these books would be a “baptism of the imagination” for children. That is just what they were for me, as they helped me to realize the beauty and wonder and (most of all) love of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice.
4. “Traveling Mercies,” Anne Lamott
Lamott is not your conventional Christian; in fact, I have to say that I don’t know enough about her theology to even be certain if she believes in the basic tenents of faith. However, “Traveling Mercies” was the first book I ever read that opened me up to really realize that all Christians did not have to look or live or think or approach life like I do. She shook my world, and I am grateful.
5. “Perelandra,” CS Lewis
Yes, that’s twice for Lewis now, I know. “Perelandra” is the second book in Lewis’s space trilogy. In it he describes, with quiet passion and power, the creation of a new world. This world, unlike our own, avoids the Fall. This book helped me to see how deviously sin warps and twists all things, and showed me (again) how loving and giving our God is, that He would sacrifice Himself for us wilfully fallen humans.
6. “Wild Swans,” Jung Chang
I first read this in college, in World History II. By the time I moved to Asia three (?) years later, I had forgotten everything, so I read it again. This book explains so, so much about the culture of China today, and it does it by filling us in on what happened in the not-so-distant past.
7. “Anna Karenina,” Leo Tolstoy
My friend Erika recommended this after she finished it, and although I was a bit daunted by the name and the title and the very Russianness of the whole thing, in I plunged. Probably the best and most powerful book I have ever read. Specifically, the wedding and conversion scenes touched me deeply: I felt as if I was inside the main character (Levin’s) body, experiencing and feeling everything he did.
8. “Harry Potter,” JK Rowling
Jumped on the bandwagon a few years late with these but was caught up so that, with the rest of the world, I could immediately buy and read Book 7 in the summer of 2007. What is influential about Harry Potter? I’m not even sure I could label it, but the story of the boy misfit and his pursuit of justice (within the context of friendship) will be a lifelong favorite. Plus, Michael and I have been reading these out loud to each other: they make me happy. 🙂
9. “The Dangerous Duty of Delight,” John Piper
The premise is simple: Piper calls it “Christian hedonism.” That is, as Christians, we are called to abandon ourselves to the task of making ourselves crazily and giddily joyful. The way to do that? Pursue God with everything that is within us and see Him–and Him alone–as the source of all true pleasure. This is the condensed version of Piper’s longer “Desiring God,” and when I found it one night in my sister’s closet, I read it, all (it’s not long!) right then and there. This book changed my whole approach to the Christian life.
10. “Knowing God,” JI Packer
Taught me so much about who God is by pointing me to His Word, where I discover Him. The beauty of the book is that it helped me to wade in the waters of theology without feeling like I was sinking in the deep end. Best of all, reading this really did increase my love for God as I came to know Him more fully.