I know that one of the big New Year’s resolutions a lot of people have this year is to read more books. Not just fiction but books with substance, books about real issues, books that you read to LEARN something. I read a blog recently where the writer listed books that had impacted her, and I added many of her suggestions to my “to read for 2010” list. I thought I would do likewise and tell you all about some of the books that have really made a difference in my life. There’s so much out there to read, and it’s hard to separate the fluff from the substance, which makes good recommendations so helpful. (Maybe all of you will do me the same favor and write a blog with your own list. Hint, hint!)
Here are just a handful that I’ve been able to recall this morning, in no particular order…
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande — Wes read this one for a counseling class during seminary. I read it after he was done, and while all of the concepts for resolving conflict are entirely Biblical and I should have known them and been practicing them LONG before I read this book, it still totally revolutionized the way I looked at dealing with people. Jesus really knew what He was talking about, obviously, and this author does an excellent job of fleshing out Christ’s model for conflict resolution. It will change the way you deal with people in your conversations, actions, and every day life.
Desiring God by John Piper — Or actually, anything by John Piper. I read this in college for fun, then re-read it for a worship class during seminary. I appreciate how Piper doesn’t dumb anything down, calling his readers to a higher level of thinking when they read his books. This one especially calls us out of our complacent Christian walks and puts all of life and eternity into proper perspective. (I also highly recommend Let the Nations Be Glad and Don’t Waste Your Life. These books may seem redundant since the central theme of Piper’s writings — to glorify God and enjoy Him forever — pops up again and again, but in my worldliness, that’s some redundancy I tend to need, you know?)
Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore — I did the workbook version of this study during my last few months in Namibia and taught what I was learning to my high school girls’ discipleship group. The Gospels had never been more real to me than they were while I went through this study so tediously and carefully. The book is written straight from the workbook, and even though you miss out on the interactive answering and searching on your own, this is still a fabulous book.
From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife by Marla Taviano — I just love this book. The humorous and frankly honest way that it deals with new marriage is refreshing and encouraging. I “met” Marla online after I had already been married two years, but when she sent this book to me, so many of the chapters hit home like I was still a newlywed. I’ve often wished that I could have read it while I was engaged, and I make it a point now to gift it to brides-to-be so that they’ll be encouraged and challenged as they prepare for marriage.
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers — This was the first devotional book I was given when I became a Christian in high school. I would have assumed that it was so challenging then because I didn’t know anything about the faith, but when I read it today, post seminary education, I’m still challenged. Great book!
And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler — This was another one introduced to me during seminary. It’s the story of a woman who went to a remote and unreached part of the Philippines to translate the Bible into a local dialect and saw God change the people forever. It’s convicting to read how people who once had no concept of Christ or the Bible so faithfully and wholly embraced the truth and walked in obedience. (And, of course, inspiring to see what came of Ms. Shetler’s obedience to go and tell. Incredible!)
Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman — You knew I would include this one, didn’t you? Regardless of whether or not you choose to have your child with you during the worship service at your church, you’ll still learn so much about how to teach even the smallest child about worshiping God. I go back to this book often to figure out how to make abstract concepts in the modern church more relevant and meaningful to my squirmy-wormy toddlers.
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas — Another seminary selection! This book approaches marriage as a spiritual discipline, a covenant whose first purpose is to make us holy, not happy. This flies in the face of what our culture teaches, but the text leans heavily on Scripture and shows how a marriage lived for the glory of God brings contentment, peace, and (yes!) happiness. (I also loved Sacred Influence, which was written for wives.)
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom — A friend in Namibia lent this to me, and I read it in a day. The story is incredible, convicting, and clear evidence of how the true joy of Christ remains even when circumstances are horrific. I still remember the part where she thanked God for the fleas in their concentration camp beds, knowing that there must have been some wonderfully glorious reason that they were there that would ultimately lead to her good in God’s greater glory. Oh, that we could all have that kind of attitude!
Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper — I read this right before Emmy’s first Christmas and was impacted by how much our traditions in everyday life, not just during the holiday seasons, can provide teachable moments for our children. The advice given in this book is very helpful, and if you’re like me, it will really get you to thinking about how every moment is a moment to teach the children in your life something about God.
Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones — I hesitated to even include this because I think I own the oldest edition in print (seriously!), and I’m not sure what the newer expanded editions include. So, keep that in mind if you read something crazy in the newer parts — ha! I read this book in high school about once a month probably, then again and again in college. It was all about glorifiying God as a single woman as you waited and prepared yourself for marriage. I remember appreciating that the book never guaranteed marriage for everyone and that it had a heavy emphasis on being content without a mate. I’m going to make sure both of my girls read it when they’re the right age. (And I might just spring for a brand new, non-ancient copy. Just maybe!)
A Promise Kept by Robertson McQuilkin — I don’t recommend reading this one while pregnant and all hormonal, which is what I did while Em was onboard. This small book is the story of a husband who puts his career behind him and takes on the full care of his wife when she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the early part of their golden years. The way he writes about his failures, his struggles, and the sweet moments he and his wife are still able to share as she loses all ability to communicate are heartbreaking. I wouldn’t even recommend it if it wasn’t such a shining example of what it truly means to love someone in sickness and in health. You’ll need a lot of tissues for this one!
Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur — The WHBC ladies did a Bible study on this one during the spring of 2008. MacArthur looks at twelve women from the Bible, tells their stories, and “unpacks” the Scripture. I don’t know if the great discussions we had while reading through this were what made the book so enlightening or if it was just that the content was so full. I’m guessing that it was a little bit of both. Great book!
How about you? Do you have some good recommendations for me?