Some of my best friends are books. They fill my shelves and closets, bed stands and book cases. Some books are acquaintances, here and gone, passing in and out of my life. Some are like cheap dates that you might tell your friends about but you’d never recommend to your mom. A lot of books become much more than that to me and I can’t let go of them, even if I know I’m not likely to re-read them any time soon, or even in this decade. They’ve meant something to me and their influence continues to be felt in my life.
I think books are one of the most subversive forms of communication that exist, and one of the most personal. As I read I not only understand the words but they become thoughts and what were once the thoughts of the author now become my own thoughts. I might choose to forget those thoughts or ignore the thoughts but once they’re in my little brain they’ve become part of me for good or ill.
Here’s a very short list of some books that I’m under the influence of (in no particular order):
Maus/Maus II – Art Spiegelman
Heart wrenching. An incredible account of a father and son’s relationship revolving around the sharing of the father’s story of survival (of a sort) from the holocaust. This is one I re-read often. A powerful tale of two very different survivors that has made a greater impact on me than any other book or movie I’ve experienced about those dark years.
An Abundance of Katherines- John Green
This is a new one. The heart of the book is the essence of what I find most precious about life. It appeals to me on so many levels that I could write all day about it and anyone who reads it would get some great insights into me even though it’s not my book. The last few pages sum up what this generation needs to embrace.
The Lord of The Rings- J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s not an understatement to say that this book/trilogy changed my life. I re-read it occasionally and find something new in it every time I do. This epic tale is made beautiful and life altering by Tolkien’s use of language, but more than that, by his emphasis on relationships. What the movies sorely missed was the deep love of the four hobbits for each other and their Shire and the ending is what makes the printed version forever superior to the film (which was brilliant).
The Great Divorce- C.S. Lewis
How Lewis has ever become the poster boy for evangelicalism is beyond me. I could have picked just about any book written and published in his life time. (He’s a little ahead of Tolkien still on the number of books he’s managed to publish since his death. Remarkable really.) This one in particular though inspires me, amuses me and scares me. I think it’s one of his finest books and greatest insights into the great mystery.
Lake Wobegon Days- Garrison Keillor
Again, you could pick any book written by Keillor. I’m a huge fan and I love the world he’s written about and the characters he creates. A brilliant sense of humour and every time I read one of his books I can’t wait to get back to my mid-west roots. He’s made me love the little things, the simple things and see the beauty and wonder in a Sunday dinner with family and your run of the mill Lutheran.
The Irresistible Revolution- Shane Claiborne
A deceptively simple little book that has completely messed up my life. A humble prophet, which is a rare combination that makes me things he might be the real deal. There are sections that make me laugh, some that make me cry and even more that make me wonder. Not a comfortable book but a brilliant one.
Not an exhaustive list, just a start. Let me know what you think of any that you’ve read too.