Thursday, May 4, 2017

Books That Changed My Life

The Bible
In the circles in which I was raised, the question "What's your favorite book?" was always a certain conversation-starter. One very important part of that question, however, was the words the Bible. Either the answerer would start the answer with, "Well, after the Bible, my favorite book is..." or they would finish the answer with, "after the Bible, of course." Often, the asker would automatically just include, "Besides the Bible," in their question. Sometimes, if they did not ask it that way, and the answerer failed to include it, the original asker might just throw it in as their response: "You mean, after the Bible, right?" To which the answerer would respond, "Oh, of course! I just assumed you meant my second favorite book."

Perhaps I exaggerate? Slightly, if at all. Twelve-year-old girls can be incredibly predictable. At this point I look back and can't help but wonder a bit if that answer was always...strictly...true. I love books and have as long as I can remember...and some of my earliest memories are of listening to the New Testament on tape every night to help me fall asleep. (I still do this. It's better than Ambien.) I loved the book of Acts even as a three-year-old...and in deciding the Bible should be my favorite book, I made it so. I read it every day and worked to memorize pieces of it all the time.

Given that, it has certainly changed my life the most. Even beyond the reality-altering Truth it contains - that the Creator of the Universe died so that we could know Him - it is a beautiful book, filled with glory and majesty that no other book can hope to match. It is my standard for life, for death, for being a doctor or a writer or a person of any kind.

Sufficient Grace 
by Jessica Greyson
This wasn't a book I expected would change my life...but how often do we know which things will? The difference it has made in my life has been incredible. Not only was I shocked to find a heroine I completely understood (this is a very rare thing :) who also inspired me to be better person, the book actually hugely helped me to write the personal statement for my medical school application. It also led to deepening several friendships, including one in particular which makes my life better every day, and is a life-changing friendship if ever there was one. We were friends years before I read this book...but when I look back, I find myself thinking of SG as the book that knit us together and that is a symbol of the friendship that is in so large part responsible for the person I am today. 

And It Was Love  

by me
If I did not expect Sufficient Grace to change my life, I expected it of AIWL even less. An unplanned prequel to a novel that ended up growing longer than the original novel, AIWL was a book I fought with for-seeming-ever, arguing with characters and wrestling with scenes and eventually finishing it more in exhaustion than triumph. But it was a snippet from that book that led another person to comment on my blog, and her reactions as she beta-read the story did not stop at just the story. Chapter by chapter we got to know each other, sharing first one thing and then another, and by the end we were well on our way to a friendship that has changed my life in ways I did not even know were possible.

Elizabeth Blackwell the First Woman Doctor

There are so many books with this title/variations on this title. I felt like I read half a dozen as a child, and I've teased my mom that she began brainwashing me in first grade to become a doctor. XD Elizabeth's pioneer thought process, her iron will, and her insistence on doing exactly what she felt called to do with absolute disregard for what rules other people tried to force on her always stuck with me. As the first female doctor in the US she remains one of my heroes, and the hodge-podge of books I read about her as a child definitely had their effect.

“I do not wish to give (women) a first place, still less a second one- but the complete freedom to take their true place, whatever it may be.”  ~ Elizabeth Blackwell

The Queen's Thief series {The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick As Thieves soon-to-come}
by Megan Whalen Turner

As a child, any book I liked I read repeatedly - Johnny Tremain, Rifles for Watie, Crushed yet Conquering, The Shadow of the Bear, The Black Stallion, Moccasin Trail, Wild-Life Cameraman, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, By Far Euphrates, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Captain Blood, and many others were devoured multiple times over the years and all left their mark. {If you want a blog post on books that helped to shape my life...XD}
Once I started college, however, my time for re-reading dropped dramatically, and since starting medical school, my time for reading at all has been very rare. The Queen's Thief series is one I discovered when I was 18, and has become one of the very, very few sets of books that I have read and reread repeatedly since that time. It's a historical fantasy series that provoked me to believe I could write whatever style I wished if only I did it well, one that showed me a multi-book salvation journey better than any I'd seen in Christian fiction, and one that did politics and relationships and life in a brilliant manner that continues to inspire me as a writer.

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
by Immaculee Ilibagiza

This is a book I've read only once, but it was one of the first times that current world horror hit me in a way that changed my thinking. Realizing that 500,000-1,000,000 people (what kind of span even is that?) people were killed in such a calculated and horrendous fashion while I was a baby and the world did nothing...that had to change me.
Shortly after finishing this book, I found myself talking to someone who had been a middle-aged adult when all this was going on. Still somewhat in shock from what I had read, I actually asked him if he had known this was happening. He had. Why didn't you DO SOMETHING? I asked, thinking surely people could have stopped the slaughter earlier if they'd only tried. But this person shrugged. "They're always killing each other over there," he answered, and I was left reeling.
It is so easy to turn a blind eye, to believe there is nothing I can do in the face of tremendous world tragedy. But I pray this memory always stays with me and that when those who come after me ask, about abortion, about North Korea, about refugees...I will be able to say I did something.

What books would you say have changed your life?

2 thoughts shared:

Arielle Melody (Muffin) Bailey said...

AIWL. :) <3 <3


This was a great post to read. :D

Katherine Sophia said...

<3 <3 <3 :)

yesssssssssssss... :D

XD Thank you!


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