I’m finally giving in to the numerous people who have tagged me in this “10 Most Influential Books” thing on Facebook. I haven’t resisted because of some principle about memes or anything. It’s just that, well, it’s hard to narrow it down to 10. But still, here goes.
1. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. This book taught me about identity and faith in a way I hadn’t seen before, and it also showed me how powerful a very specific story can be in a very broad way.
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot. Aside from giving me a model for how my own story affects the stories I write, the book also reminded me about the ways injustice is perpetuated, sometimes so pervasively that we are blind to it.
3. For the Time Being by Annie Dillard. Dillard’s work helped me understand that truth is often found in the white spaces between fragments, that we often see most honestly when we see life as mosaic not line.
4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. More than any other books, these showed me that magic is real, that every single person is important, and that redemption is possible.
5. Paradise by Toni Morrison. I loved Morrison’s other works, too, but this one touched on themes that I puzzle to again and again – community, religion, engagement vs. disengagement, and faith.
6. Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter. This collection of reworked fairy tales gave me an understanding of the way that story is shaped by the teller and the powerful. Plus, Carter’s work gave me the courage to tell things in new ways, despite the resistance so much of our culture feels to change.
7. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver’s decision to grow almost everything she and her family needed in a year, and her writing about the importance of food influenced a great deal of how I live and how we do work here at God’s Whisper Farm.
8. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Another book that reminded me that magic is present in the every day and that stories have incredible power.
9. Bringing It To The Table by Wendell Berry. This collection of essays has helped me think about the way our food culture has changed in the last century, and Berry’s ability to remind me that faith weaves through all always leaves me breathless.
10. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. In addition to being a book my mom and I shared as one of our favorites, this book showed me that faith isn’t about rules or about decorum but about the utter reliance on something larger than myself and about the fact that love always finds us if we let it.
So those are my 10 – or at least my 10 for today. What would be on your list? Have you read any of these?