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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Five Books that Changed Who I Am

My blogging friend Meredith tagged me in a meme "Five Books that Changed Who I Am." What fun it has been to reflect on which books, more than others, have changed who I am. (Meredith's list is here.)

Because the Bible is hands-down the most influential and life-changing book I've ever read, I'm going to put it in a category all by itself, off the list.

Desiring God by John Piper. Christian hedonism was a completely life-changing idea for me. I've long been committed to the Gospel and a believer in Jesus, but it wasn't until I read this book by John Piper and heard several of his sermons, that I began to see that the source of happiness and soul-satisfaction is not in being holy, having faith, or gaining eternal life, but it is in Christ Himself. Piper's book prompted a paradigm-shift in the way I understood what it was to be a Christian and to live for the glory of God. If you haven't read this book, I challenge you to check it out. Click the book title for a link to read the book online for free. Or, download the pdf here. Or purchase the actual book here.

When a book changes you, it often becomes a gateway toward reading other books in a similar vein. Following  Desiring God I read books such as This Momentary Marriage (Piper), God's Passion for His Glory (Piper, with the essay "The End for Which God Created the World" by Jonathan Edwards), The Sovereignty of God (Pink), The Pursuit of Holiness (Bridges), The Pursuit of God (Tozer), and For the Love of God (Carson) and The Weight of Glory (Lewis).

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.  Eight years ago our twin daughters were three and our son was a baby. Mothering was simple and my days were filled with playtime, naps, and outings. I spent a lot of time reading in those days. Curious about homeschooling and impressed with the children of some homeschooling families I knew, I decided to read up on the subject. Providentially, I came across this book in the library. The Well-Trained Mind proved paradigm-shifting to me. Classical education, the trivium, studying history (not social studies) and doing it chronologically are key themes of this book that have come to characterize our homeschool and, in some ways, our lifestyle. In the ensuing years homeschool literature has abounded, but The Well-Trained Mind remains a standard.

After discovering The Well-Trained Mind, I went on to read Dorothy Sayers' essay "The Lost Tools of Learning," Climbing Parnassus (Simmons), Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctly Christian Education (Wilson and Olasky), and Norms and Nobility (Hicks). I continue to read books and articles about education, most recently reading Charlotte Mason's books.

Anne of Green Gables and all the Anne books by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I read and re-read the entire series of Anne books, beginning as a child but continuing through adulthood. I can see in my mind's eye the pages of my beloved hardback trilogy that I received as a young girl, in which I discovered the first and best Anne book, as well as Anne of Avonlea and Anne's House of Dreams. I went on to read the others and found Anne of the Island to be one of my favorites. Anne books don't seem very high-minded for a list such as this one, but it just isn't possible to pretend that reading these books and holding them as dear as I did for so long didn't change me.

Anne books are a bridge from children's books to so-called "adult fiction." When I think of the novels that captivated me as a young girl I immediately remember Dawn's Early Light (Thane), Gone with the Wind (Mitchell), Rebecca (Du Maurier), Mrs. Mike (Freedman), Madam, Will You Talk? and other books by Mary Stewart, The Count of Monte Christo (Dumas) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy).

The Complete Works of Francis Shaeffer by Francis Shaeffer (especially The God Who is There, Escape from Reason, and How Should We Then Live?). After opting to take Business Ethics in college because I feared the unknown subject of philosophy, I've been spending the years since trying to right this wrong! Francis Shaeffer's books opened the door to philosophy for me, which is why I include it as a book that changed who I am.

After dipping into philosophy with Shaeffer, I've read other books related to philosophy, faith, and apologetics, such as Total Truth (Pearcey), The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Noll),  and What's So Great About Christianity (D'Souza).

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. This slim volume took me beyond the wonderful world of Narnia to the greater world of C. S. Lewis. I first read Mere Christianity as a junior in high school and the little book made a deep impression in my mind. I sought out other Lewis books, such as his science fiction trilogy, and developed a life-long affection for C. S. Lewis and his writings.

I cheated considerably by listing off much more than five books, but when a book really changes who you are, it inevitably leads to further reading or study.

Back to the meme.  Here are the rules.
  • Tag between 3 and 5 people
  • link back to this post
  • call the post ’5 books that changed who I am’
  • enjoy
I tag Laura, Chris, Alicia and Kellie. Even if I didn't formally tag you, do join in and leave a comment with your blog's link.


Kellie said...

Very nice list! I can't believe I've never read any of John Piper's books (although I've read several articles by him), so I will put Desiring God at the top of my list.

Thank you for tagging me! I have a long track meet to attend this weekend, so coming up with my own list will help pass the time. : )

Meredith said...

What a great list! And one that captures you just as I described who loves God, your family, writing, books, education...all represented here.

Any thoughts on Spurgeon for me?


Mrs. Edwards said...

Kellie, yes, do read Desiring God. I look forward to your reaction and reading what five books you think of.

Meredith, I love Spurgeon. In fact, I wondered as I wrote this post why Spurgeon wasn't in the list somehow, but I can't really say I've read as much of his sermons as I wish I had. I have a collection of them and also read Morning and Evening from time to time. Excellent stuff.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Lookin forward to John Piper's book as well. Thanks so much for including me.

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