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The five books that have impacted my life the most.
Well, Bailey, you aren’t asking for much, are you? ;]
I’m not sure how to only take five books to share about, because there are so many that I love. But when I sift my literary experience a little further, I do find there are some I’ve circled over and over with bright neon lights (in my head, anyway).
take one • harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone by j. k. rowling
I remember reading this or the second book for the first time in third grade at my friend RAH’s house. I remember five years later pulling an all-nighter at my friend EJV’s house to read the fourth book. And I remember the time I sat down to read “just a chapter” of the seventh book, then looking up some hours later to realize I had finished it.
My favorite HP books are the later books, but this, the first, is what started it all. If I hadn’t read it at RAH’s, I wouldn’t have grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione the way I did. I wouldn’t have learned that we can find friendship and bravery and strength in the darkest of places in quite the same way. Rowling reflects humanity so beautifully: there is not one character unflawed, and yet not one is past redemption. Even Voldemort, Dumbledore tells Harry, is not quite past love.
I was raised Southern Baptist and many people I know weren’t allowed to read the books. I understand their reasoning and I agree with it, but I am still handing my children the Harry Potter series as soon as their maturity and reading comprehension are capable of handling it. They won’t grow up with it the same way I did, waiting for the books and then the movies to release, but I’m hoping they’ll learn many of the same things I did. Rowling isn’t a Christian that I’m aware, but the art she created in the these books reflects our Creator and the gospel nonetheless.
take two • the years before “anne”: the early career of lucy maud montgomery, author of anne of green gables by francis w. p. bolger
I read this in seventh grade and by the time I had finished it, I realized I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I have climbed my own Alpine path since then, trying my hand at fiction and nonfiction in turn. Journaling and blogging have been constants through many of those years. I’ve been writing in journals since I was seven (that’s nearly 17 years!), but without this book, I wouldn’t have realized I wanted to make that a vocation.
Also, as Courtney reminded me yesterday, this sparked my long-held desire to visit PEI.
take three • the great fire: one american’s mission to rescue victims of the 20th century’s first genocide by lou ureneck
I read this at the beginning of August, and I highly recommend it. It’s a nigh unto unbelievable chronicle that indifference is more helpful to permitting hatred than hatred itself. To think of Turkish soldiers standing guard to keep Christians on the quay, trapped by fire, is both dumbfounding and heartrending. History repeats itself, but not always with the same characters. Dehumanization is the first step to eradication and it’s something we’re fighting visibly in America today.
take four • the help by kathryn stockett
This fits in with The Great Fire in addressing themes we’re still wrestling with today. It’s a stirring, challenging novel set in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. You’ll love Skeeter; she’s a brilliant heroine. And for those of you who prefer movies, The Help features an all-star cast in what I consider to be the best book-to-movie adaptation, hands down. You won’t want to miss Emma Stone or Viola Davis as Skeeter and Aibileen. You is kind, you is important, but most critically, you is smart, so I know you won’t fail to read and watch this if you haven’t already.
PS. This was rejected something near sixty times before it was purchased by a publisher, so let that tell you something about the industry.
take five • chasing God by angie smith
I read this at the beginning of 2014, in what I hope will be a tradition of starting every year by reading a book to grow my faith. This was an especially great book to read at the beginning of my year of still; I think it helped me lay down the desperation we often feel when we’re trying to grow closer to God. Contrary to what you might think when reading the title (and what I definitely thought), the book is about not chasing God, a pursuit that ultimately leaves us weary and unfulfilled, especially since we already have Him in our hearts. If you read anything from this post, this is the book you have to read.
bonus takes • the historian by elizabeth kostova and the cellist of sarajevo by steven galloway
Brilliantly moving accounts: one of a girl discovering both herself and her family, the other of a cellist in war-torn Sarajevo during the 1990s. You have to add these both to your list.