Ten books that marked me

My daughter-in-law tagged me in the challenge that’s making the rounds on Facebook: name 10 books that have had an impact on you at some stage in your life. How does a compulsive reader like me narrow it down to 10?

Rather than list favorites I decided to name 10 books that marked different stages of my life. Many of them prompted me to do something. Here they are, in chronological order:

The Bible. Before I went to school I was reading aloud from it in our nightly family devotions. My mother also read from a big blue Bible story book that I found more boring than the real thing.

teenie weeniesAdventures of the Teenie Weenies, by William Donahey. This is the first non-Bible-story book I remember being read to me–by my first-grade teacher in afternoon rest period. It fired my imagination. I carried little people with me wherever I went and showed them the big world. The Teenie Weenie books are dated and racist, by the way. Do not read them to your children!

Anne of Green Gables series, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Elementary school. Oh my, did I want to be Anne, orphan and all. I could only grow up to be a teacher, like Anne. I was wrong but it gave a 1950s girl something to aim for besides marriage and kids.

Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo. I read this in junior high and I remember thinking I wanted to read it in French, though foreign language instruction was way off the curriculum in my very rural school. Later, after I found someone to teach me French, I did.

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Assigned and discussed in a wonderful Christian high school sociology class. Faith as challenging and heroic–not Sunday School pablum.

the-tale-of-genjiTale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki. Japanese Lit class in college. Made me want to go to Japan. I did, right after college, for two years.

The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing. I began reading this South African writer when I was in Africa as a young adult. I learned and identified. This book enhanced a crazy Africa love that has never gone away.

Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Jung! Dreams! This book was my Bible in middle age. I found the themes of my own life had already been written in archetypes and myths. I learned to interpret my dreams and trade them with others.

rhodes-atomic-bombThe Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes. I read this in the 1980s when I had some of those 1940s and -50s bomb-makers on my board of directors, as an editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It gave me a sense of participating in major history and my role in a nation’s moral choices.

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, by Cynthia Bourgeault. The only book on this list that I have mentioned on this blog before, it prompted me to finally begin meditating regularly.

This was hard. I had to scrap a number of books in honing this list over the past few days. But I can’t remember what they were so I guess that says something.

What’s your list?

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