I often tell you about my favorite books, and they are usually fiction (my first love). But these are the non-fiction books that have embedded in my brain and shifted how I think about life, family, and love. I would give each of them two big thumbs up.
Four years ago, I read Quiet and it revolutionized my perception of my personality and many of the essential parts of who I am deep down. I had believed the subtle lie that extroverts are better than introverts, and my response had been to try to adapt and appear extroverted and talkative and squash the parts of me that craved solitude and deep-thinking and a night at home instead of a night at a club. At the end of my 20s, this book is the catalyst that helped me become really comfortable in my own skin.
Bioethics: A Primer for Christians
by Gilbert Meilaender
This is probably a book you’ve never heard of before. Bioethics covers the difficult topics of life, death, and human flourishing – an how we deal with them as a culture, scientific community, and particularly as Christians. There are chapters about assisted reproduction, abortion, organ donation, stem cell research, etc. It is thin book, but very thorough. I first read this book because I was co-teaching a Bioethics high school class. The discussions and differing opinions that we had through each chapter were so valuable. Often there aren’t cut and dry answers or simple fixes, so we grappled with the complexity of life. But what has really surprised me, is how often I have referenced this book since staying home. When I have friends considering in vitro fertilization, I have a frame of reference to talk with them about the choices they have to make (and also the book’s continual reminder of grace and love to people in very hard situations). When my parents have had to grapple with how to deal with grandparents end of life care and refusing treatment, I sent them sections of the book to help them navigate critical choices. This has convinced me of the critical importance of learning about these topics (and ideally talking about them with other people).
This is far and away my favorite parenting book. I have a general rule to stay away from parenting how-to’s because my experience with this books has always been contradictory and more frustrating than helpful. This is the exception. Simplicity has become a passion of mine. Before we had kids, I wouldn’t say I was very strategic about creating a simple home. But this book gave me the encouragement to simplify, spelled out the benefits of less, and has created this internal voice that now runs through my brain when I think about what type of home I want. I like that the author starts with the stuff in your home, but also covers media use, your calendar, and adult topics that shouldn’t be part of a kids’ world. I’ve found their promise of calmer, happier, and more secure kids to be really true – all you have to do is give your kids a free-for-all media day or two (like when Zach and I were down with the flu) to see the negative effects of more. When things start to get stressful or topsy-turvy in our house, we come back to this book for perspective and try to reorient back towards simplicity. It truly helps.
Growing up, I went to a Christian school. An NIV bible was part of the supply list, and it is the version I was most familiar with from church too. After school, I wanted my own grown-up bible to start fresh. After some recommendations from friends, I settled on this ESV study bible (mine is leather). The extensive study notes are very, very helpful, and the version is readable and clear. It has a “read the bible in a year” plan included at the back, and I’m going through it for the second time. The plan helps me see the whole scope of God’s work in the world and there are days when it is so obvious how the Old Testament and New Testament connect. One note: it is huge.
The Meaning of Marriage
by Tim and Kathy Keller
Zach and I read this a couple years ago together, with our house church. Modern culture and ideas of romance, soul mates, and divorce, are so pervasive and often destructive. This book reoriented us back to God’s intent for marriage, spelled out in the Bible. I think we were about 6 years into marriage, and to be honest, our premarital counseling wasn’t that great. This book taught us so much more and gave us a lot to talk about and work through with the other couples in our house church. I would highly recommend it, not only for married or engaged couples (it’s practical and honest and encouraging), but also for singles because it reframes romance.
What are some books that have changed the way you think?