15

May 7, 2010

A friend ran through her list of 15 recently, and I thought I would, too. So, herewith, a list of 15 books that changed my life. (Can I really claim they changed my life when I’m only 22?)

1. The Bible. Oh, cliche, yeah. Shut up. Read it. Crazy book. Simultaneously more inspiring and disturbing than Sunday school gives it credit for being. Plus all the fun Jewish mythology that sprung up around it? Lilith is AWESOME.

2. How (not) to Speak of God. Yes. A second “God” book. It’ll be a recurring theme. I wrestle, and this book made me wrestle in uncomfortable ways.

3. Guns, Germs, and Steel. This one– no hyperbole– changed the way I think about the world, and the development of “civilization.”

4. Scruffy the Tugboat. My parents and grandparents read this book to me all the time when I was little. Probably my favorite book from the ages 1.5-5.

5. The Big Book of Questions and Answers. I was (am?) very curious. This book let me satisfy that curiosity.

6. The Great Divorce. Set me a good way down the theological road I’m currently traveling.

7. Nonviolence. Wee book, powerful idea.

8. Les Miserables. Read this for the first time as a junior in high school. Rekindled my love of fiction and the classics.

9. Shock Doctrine. Gave me a way to express myself economically.

10. Madness and Civilization. Forms the lynch-pins of a lot of my headspace.

11. The Qur’an. Ever read it? Not nearly as nuts as folk would have you believe. Makes it hard to hate people whose holy book is just as crazy– and no more so– than your own.

12. Velvet Elvis. I knew I didn’t agree with the Reformed Church on much when I was in high school. This book made me feel like I wasn’t insane for disagreeing so much.

13. The Master and Margarita. Absolutely surreal book that began my recent obsession with Russian lit. Without this, I doubt I’d have bought my Chekhov books, and Chekhov is now my favorite author.

14. And speaking of Chekhov, the collection of his short novels isn’t life changing, per se, but it’s my absolute favorite book. It. Is. Perfect.

15. Sabbath. Abraham Joshua Heschel explains the day of rest in a way that makes it impossibly beautiful and appealing. How can a person not want to experience rest after reading this book?

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2 Responses to “15”

  1. Jacob B. said

    I totally remember Scruffy The Tugboat! I remember reading that.

  2. Katie said

    I like this list.

    Don’t know how I would narrow it down if I tried to do a list like this, but I’m pretty sure Les Mis would be on mine too. I first read it as a freshman in high school and think it was the first piece of classic lit that I seriously connected with. The Great Divorce might make the cut too.

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