three things i hope of my children: that they will love God with all of their heart, soul and mind; that they will love their neighbors as themselves; and that they will love to read.

because books are doorways to the soul, and when the world is unfriendly, books say, “it’s alright. enter here, for awhile. sit back, enjoy a cup of tea and let us tell you a story.”

within words is the power the change, and all of these books i’m about to tell you about, they all changed me. they are like monuments to my life. i look at them, and i don’t just see their story. i see my face reflected, my heart, because their characters and their plots and their worldviews have all shaped me as powerfully as any friend, any church, any romance ever could.

so here we go:

anne of green gables.
need i say more? need i tell you how gilbert blythe romanced not just anne, but myself? how i looked for gilbert in my husband? how i dreamt of him at night? and how anne’s escapades and temper and adventures and love of writing made her my bosom friend?

geez magazine. if you don’t know this magazine, you must. its slogan is “holy mischief in an age of fast faith” and it’s shaped my heart in a way no other religious periodical has. it is out of the box, daring, bold and is like a bright candle on a very black night. there is nothing hypocritical about it.

writing to change the world. mary pipher has a way of changing my world, from reviving ophelia to this book on words and how we might harness their power to captivate an audience. as a writer, you must read it. the end.

the glass castle. i rarely read books twice, but i’ve read this memoir multiple times and i still can’t get enough of this girl’s knack for spinning gold from grime. she woos me every time with her family’s insane road trips, running from bills and normalcy of life and her father’s alcoholism and her mother’s eccentric painting and the way the kids had to fend for themselves while the parents acted like children. it’s all enough to put my life into perspective, and then some.

fall on your knees.
it’s a dark, somewhat sad and twisted story but it’s the book i read when i couldn’t sleep those nights of anorexia, when i was newly married. it helped me not feel as sorry for myself. and ann-marie’s writing is to die for.

life of pi. it’s got color and passion and travel and adventure, and a powerful story that will leave you weeping. it’s got soul and heart and everything you need to make you believe again.

animal dreams. kingsolver is one of my favorite novelists and the poisonwood bible is by far my favorite, but this is a close second. it’s a love story and an eye into native american culture and a soulful book that keeps you praying for more.

pilgrim’s progress. my mum read this to us as kids. i plan to read it to mine. it’s enchanting and poignant and speaks the Bible more clearly than any other children’s book. and it sounds best on the tongue of someone that loves you.

angela’s ashes. frank mccourt is a brilliant author whose book ’tis knocked me flat and made me gasp. he’s a poet with a powerful story. it’s the truth of the hardship that makes it so good, and he doesn’t abuse words. he uses them carefully and artfully and in a way that makes you cry.

women, food and god. it’s not a christian book by any means. it’s spiritual, though, for sure, and it woke up my soul from its eating disorder-slumber. it made me realize i had the power to choose good from bad, right from wrong, and to love on myself as a temple of the holy spirit instead of a piece of despised flesh. it taught me to be kind to myself. that said, read your bible while you absorb this one, and compare notes. absorb its goodness with a grain of salt and a red pen.

and finally,

generation x. a book i read in university, which transformed and revolutionized my idea of the story. it opened my eyes in a way i’d never imagined and made me want to be an author. it’s not poignant, really, or poetic, or even very well-written, but it tests the boundaries of where a story might go, offering multiple conclusions, and making me laugh for the boldness of it all.

so there you have it. 10 pieces of literature that have made me the word-stunned writer that i am.

how about you? do you like any of these books? do you not? what DO you like? and do you have a passion for your children to learn to read, too?