January 19, 2017

10 Books That Have Influenced Me & Impacted How I Do Life

Sep23

My phone rang last week and it was my precious friend, Christy from Southern Plate.

“Let’s share what ten books influenced us. You don’t have to spend a ton of time thinking about it and they don’t all have to be super deep. Let’s do it.”

If you’ve spent anytime at my home, books frame the doorways of our home. You can find them in baskets, on bookshelves, stuffed in closets, scattered throughout our attic, so yes, over the years, they’ve taken over.  If I have a free day, there’s nothing I enjoy doing more than curling up with some good books and reading. Well, even if I don’t have a free day, you may find me doing that. It’s my escape and as a homeschool mom, my hope was to raise bibliophiles just like myself.

Unfortunately, only our eldest chooses to read non stop, but I’m still working on the others because books transform us. They take us places that are instrumental in shaping who we are and  I’ve realized that my younger ones haven’t had books impact them like my older guys.

As I talked with Christy about writing this post (you can find her ten here), I had to confess that I’ve let my reading habits lean lately towards the easy and instantaneous entertainment genre.  Yes, I admit it. I’ve curled up with non stop fiction and it’s been relaxing, yet for the most part, mindless fluff. Sometimes that is just what is in order, but as I think back on the books that have had a transformational impact on my life, it’s those that I had to chew over, digest and meditate on.

Some that I’ve listed, I haven’t read in years, and it’s time I pull them back out and engage my higher level thinking again because since I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote, I am convicted.

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”  ~Oscar Wilde 

It’s been said we’ll be the “same person in 5 years except for the books you read and the people you meet,” but I’d also add on the places you visit and experiences created.

I don’t want to become stagnant, and challenging ourselves in the books we read is a perfect way to grow in so many areas.  So here’s my attempt to identify past books that have influenced me, thus impacting how I do life.

I've been convicted. Books transform us. 10 Books that have influenced me and how I do life

This list has been nearly impossible to narrow down and I know I should have good classics in here too, but they’ve been pushed out.

Emilie Barnes Welcome Home and The Spirit of Loveliness: Bringing Beauty, Creativity, and Order to Your Life.

I’m beginning with a women whose writing shaped my early married years more than any other. She inspired me so much in the area of my home, decor, celebrating the simple thing, and encouraging me in the area of hospitality.  It’s so interesting because I’ve used the phrase “Welcome Home mentality,” since I first started my blog. I often refer to wanting people to feel as if they could come kick off their shoes and feel at home in our house,  thus a Welcome Home mentality. Not until today did I realize that seed must have been planted decades ago by her “Welcome Home” book. She would be the worlds #1 home decor, organizational and all around amazing blogger if the blogosphere were around when she wrote. In fact, I feel many of her mantras are repeated everywhere.

I spent significant hours devouring Welcome Homewhich profoundly affected me, and her Spirit of Loveliness stirred a passion for instilling loveliness throughout every aspect of my home. She is women behind the amazing More Hours in My Day and Proven Ways to Organize Your Home but unfortunately, that is one thing I never quite implemented fully. Just wait though, I intend to all October with my Clutter Countdown series. I had no idea Emilie went on to write 70 books, with the majority relating to home management, organization etc. I’m way behind. I’m so inspired to go re-read those now. It will be a miracle if I can find them, so that might be a goal of my Clutter Countdown.

cookbooks on shelves_opt

Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book. 

As a newlywed, I came across a 1963 printing of the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook at an estate sale. It definitely was one of the best $3 I’ve ever spent and since then, real live cookbooks, the kind I can hold in my hands and mull over are some of my favorite books. In fact, I posed the question, “What’s your favorite cookbook?” awhile ago and I LOVED all the comments.

While I love having so many great recipes online and I want you to follow me on pinterest and pin mine, there’s nothing I love more than snuggling up in bed and paging through classic cookbooks. I was born in the wrong era.

See how my shelf bends? That is only one of FOUR cookbook shelves and they continue to grow. So since I love cookbooks and the south, Christy’s many cookbooks will not steer you wrong. She’s become a dear friend and her recipes (and heart) encourage so many. Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family

C.S. Lewis’s  The Chronicles of Narnia 

This series marked the first extended out loud reading I had with our children. At the time, our sons were just 4, 5 and 6, yet we’d snuggle on the sofa and they’d beg me to continue hour after hour. Sometimes I’d read until my voice was hoarse.  I’m convicted writing this even now because I realize our girls didn’t get the same privilege from me. I need to change that.  C.S. Lewis allowed this beautiful allegory to be the gateway to so many discussions over the years with our kids. Such powerful messages with underlying truth that is for both young and old alike.

Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover:  A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

While my husband and I were influenced more directly by Larry Burket’s financial principles, I recommend Dave Ramsey these days since Larry passed away over ten years ago. If you are dealing with debt or just desiring to get a grasp on wise financial principles, this is a good place to start.  So much of what I share now encourages debt free living and these books play a huge role in encouraging others on their financial journey.

** I realize the rest of my recommendations come from my Christian background, so maybe I’ll do a second list with all those fun books that I enjoy too. 🙂

 C. S. Lewis  Classics (this one book has all the classics under one cover)  Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, Screwtape Letters and more.

Ok, this is cheating, but C.S. Lewis anything pushes me to think more critically. Mere Christianity is a must read for every person, from atheist to believer and will have a profound impact on how you view “Christianity.”

The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My junior year of college, this was not just required reading, but I had to do a research paper on it. It was Life Changing! In today’s Christian society, the word “Grace” is thrown around with varying definitions and implications, yet Bonhoeffer challenged us all with his distinction between cheap vs. costly grace. Standing up against the Nazis and executed in a concentration camp, he penned these words with no knowledge of where his ideology would take him.  We have much to learn about what it means to truly follow Christ and Bonhoeffer challenges and convicts me in profound ways.

My Utmost for His Highest: Chambers

Along with the bible, Oswald Chambers daily devotional has been a lifeline at times. While penned in the early 1900s, you may need to read each devotional a few times to let it truly sink in. Each day is packed with inspiration and deep insights to mull over.

(In)courage writer’s Books

Over the last five years, being included as one  (in)courage’s original contributors has been an honor. In fact, I’m one of the only original writers that have not authored an amazing book and maybe my day will come, but for now, I’ve had to say “No” to the thought until I can dig out from under my laundry.

I have a whole shelf of just my friend’s books and these are words you want to read. From Ann’s 1000 Gifts that changed how we think about gratitude to Lysa’s The Best Yes, Lisa Jo’s Surprised by Motherhood, Nester’s Nesting Place, Emily’s A Million Little Ways and so many more., these are words that hit you right where you are living today.

Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist: Jon Piper

I almost took this one out because I had no idea that Jon Piper had become a controversial figure in the Christian church. I’m always about opening dialogue and agreeing to disagree but this was another assigned reading in college that shaped me. At first it ruffled my feathers because just reading the words Christian Hedonist seemed so wrong and then I began diving into what he was trying to address.

Few truths are more powerful than Piper’s mantra, “God is most glorified in us when you are most satisfied in him.” The Christian church has become about wanting God in our lives when we need him. He’s a quick fix kind of God and if He doesn’t bring us happiness, then we are onto the next thing. This challenged so much of my 20 something thought process.

Elizabeth Elliot’s books 

Many know her as the wife of Jim Elliot, missionary that was murdered while attempting to evangelize the Auca people in Ecuador. I’ve sat under her teaching for years and especially as a young mother gleaned so much from her simple and direct wisdom.

Redeeming Love and Karen Kingsbury fiction books

Since I mentioned loving my fiction books, Redeeming Love is one of those rare historical fiction reads that actually impacts you with more than just entertainment. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If I want to stay up half the night reading and being transported to other family’s, I do that with Karen Kingsbury. Now, they haven’t “influenced me,” but for those that just like light fiction, they’re always enjoyable. Her books are a quick read, nothing too deep, and I always want the next in the Baxter series.

WHEW – there’s a lot packed in that post and I’m sure if you give me another day to think about this some more,  I would come up with ten other books. It’s nearly impossible to narrow down books that have impacted me because so many have done so at different times in my life. Of course, the bible tops all of these, but I left that out since it’s a given for me. 🙂

Now we could go onto parenting books, gardening books, books for kids, prepping books, home decor books, and so many more fun ones, but maybe those are a new list.

I’d love to hear: What are some of the books that have made an impact on you or even some that you want to read?


Comments

  1. You’ve got me thinking. I’ll need to check out the ones you’ve mentioned because some are new to me.

    Narrow down ? That’s hard.

    To Kill a Mockingbird for sure. I like many old classics.

    We are Dave Ramsey fans too.

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  2. Have you ever read the Mitford series by Jan Karon? They’re the BEST fiction series ever.

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    Jen Reply:

    OH Toni – I need to revisit those. I think I read the first one years ago and then forgot about them. They are set in NC, so it’s a “hometown” author for me.

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  3. Off the top of my head – the Bible, Redeeming Love, and Knowing God by J.I.Packer. Thanks for sharing your favs with us.

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  4. Oh, and I love the Oscar Wilde quote and I’ve always wanted to read Desiring God. Thanks for the reminder.

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  5. Oh, I was just thinking how important the Chronicles of Narnia have been in our family… And if you ever need another shelf full of old cookbooks, I know just where to get them – I volunteer at a used book warehouse and we have SO many. I love looking through old spiral bound Jr. League and church recipes, and 50’s era recipes!

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    Jen Reply:

    Suz – I would be in so much trouble if I visited you at that store. I can NOT stop buying the old cookbooks. It’s an addiction I tell you. I just love them and love the nostalgia. 🙂

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    Suz Reply:

    @Jen, I know exactly what you mean! Well if you want to let me know if there’s anything particular you’re on the lookout for, I would be happy to go strolling through the stacks….!

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Be sure and check out my dear friend Jen’s books over at her website, Balancing Beauty and Bed… Her list really inspired me! […]

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