Today I’m taking a break from introspective, theological, decision making writing and instead I’ve decided to do something a bit more fun.
I’m going to share some books/writers with you.
It’s a list of ten, though not every point is a separate book – some are author recommendations, some are series recommendations. It’s not an all encompassing list, but it is a list that has shaped me (for worse or for better). I’d love to hear what’s on your top ten list!
1. Anne of Green Gables
Anyone who has encountered Anne through L.M. Montgomery’s books will know what I mean when I say Anne has helped shape me as a person. If you haven’t read them or only have a vague picture of a girl with red hair in your head, I’m begging you to give them a go, whether you are old or young, male or female, a reader or a writer. It’s a story about finding a home and growing up and changing and learning. It’s about friendship and mistakes and nature and people. It has everything – from schoolyard stories to family tales to the adventures of a group of girls studying at university and sharing a house, to a brand new teacher out in the world dealing with being an outsider, to marriage to family to war to heartbreak to loss and sorrow and joy and love. Read it.
2. Sarah Bessey (Out of Sorts/Jesus Feminist)
Without Sarah Bessey this blog might not exist and I might not be still trusting Jesus. I encountered her blog and her first book, Jesus Feminist at a time when I had a lot of questions I felt no one wanted to hear. I thought I’d never find the answers or that the answers might destroy me. Instead Sarah Bessey’s words picked me up and sat me down for a chat and showed me how God is big enough and good enough to handle all our questions and doubts. I had the privilege of being included in the launch team for her most recent book, Out of Sorts. I found a group of kindred spirits, all asking questions and trusting Jesus and in the book I found it was okay to be still sorting yourself out and changing your mind.
3. C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but was also a leading Christian writer and thinker. All his books show a very rare and true insight into the human heart and mind and our profound need for God. I loved Narnia as a kid and The Last Battle still has me in joyful tears at the end every time, but particularly The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and A Grief Observed are my favourite re-reads from C.S. Lewis’ vast collection.
4. Harry Potter
To say I like Harry Potter doesn’t quite describe it – it often doesn’t occur to me to put the series by J.K. Rowling on lists like these because of course I’ve read Harry Potter and of course I loved it and of course it’s simply one of those things that were a key part of my childhood. It’s the ultimate coming of age story, in many ways not unlike Anne of Green Gables, as we see friendship and truth and bravery prevail in a world that’s often too dark. I can revisit the pages anytime and feel like I’m coming home. I’m a true Hufflepuff at heart, because I firmly believe Hufflepuff is the house of just doing your best.
5. Half the Church
This book was inspired by a secular book called Half the Sky, which explores the economic, political and social ramifications of women living lives under oppression. Carolyn Custis James’ takes this concept and explores what it would mean for the church if men and women joined together in the mission God’s has set us on, to take the Gospel to his world. This book was also the inspiration behind my longest ‘series’ here on the blog, which you can start reading here.
6. Innocent Traitor
Historical fiction is what I read the most these days, and Innocent Traitor is my favourite. By Alison Weir (and really, you should check out all her work), it looks at the life of Lady Jane Grey, the doomed ‘Nine Days Queen’ of England, from the perspectives of everyone involved in the tragedy. It’s brilliant, and my favourite part is the portrayal of Jane’s faith, which we see evolve throughout the story.
7. The Little Princess
While The Secret Garden, also by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is more popular, The Little Princess was her book that impacted me the most. Set in London, Sara Crewe starts with the life most of us have dreamed of at one point or another – loved and surrounded by luxury. When tragedy takes away everything that made her special, Sara is faced with challenges she’s never had before and tries desperately to hold on to her true self through it all.
8. Emily Rodda
My main diet of reading growing up were Emily Rodda’s various fantasy series. Deltora Quest, Finders Keepers, Raven Hill, Rondo, and my favourite, favourite favourite; Rowan of Rin. Emily Rodda’s writing and world creating is magical. Her characters are funny and real and lifelike. When I’m a teacher it’s fairly possible I’ll make my students fall in love with the fantasy worlds like I did by reading her books to them over and over again.
9. Mozart’s Sister
Back to historical fiction. When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a small boy, he was part of a duo with his older sister Nannerl. Nancy Moser brings Nannerl’s story to life, and explores what life would have been life, first as a travelling child prodigy, and then as a young woman left behind. I re-read this book after visiting Salzburg and Vienna earlier this year, and I can’t wait to go back to Austria early next year. In this book Nannerl feels like a kindred spirit waiting for a friend.
10. Introverts in the Church
Okay, for a long time I wasn’t 100% certain whether I was an introvert or an extrovert. I got tired with people, I got anxious alone. I’m a weird mix. But I do know that large groups of people and social settings are overwhelming and I never feel comfortable in them. There are parts of church I will always struggle with, particularly as society as a whole and therefore churches are wired for extroverts and the socially confident. Anyway, while I could write a whole blog post on this topic, I probably don’t need to because Adam S. McHugh has written a book on it. Introverts, read this book and begin healing from all the times we’ve been made to feel other, not good enough or out of place.
If you are interested in any of these books, you can find any of them on Book Depository (free shipping)! Or, if like me you consume so many books buying them is impractical, most public libraries will have them. Let’s all stop and appreciate public libraries for a second. What a beautiful, wonderful thing they are.
So, which of these books are on your top ten list? Which ones do you want to read? Please share your list with me – I’m fascinated by how our reading shapes us!