Books shape us. Books impact us. The words on the page seep into our minds and souls, changing who we are. Books are like magic – only so much better. Which books changed your life?

For awhile now, I’ve seen a popular list floating around on various facebook profiles. People have been asked to list the 10 books that changed them/stuck with them/ made the biggest impact on their life.

Being a bibliophile (a person who collects or has a great love for books), I knew I had to make a list of my own. Books have played such a huge role in my life. They have been close friends, escapes, inspiration, and the source of many powerful realizations. Books have set me on different journeys, opened my  mind, and sparked creativity.

The “rules” of the post going around is that you should write down the first ten books that come to your mind. I played by the rules. Without really thinking, each of these books jumped to mind. I recommend a lot of books on this website. My book lists are well-known. However, I’m so excited to share these books with you – as these books changed me. Their words had an impact. I am more because of them.


The Message1. The Bible

Yes, I know – the pastor’s wife picking the Bible….but if I’m going to talk about life-changing books, I simply cannot make my list without including The Bible. My kindergarten teacher taught us an old hymn with the lyric, “I love my beautiful Bible,” and now that I’m grown – I can honestly say that I do. God’s Word is active and illuminating in my life.The Bible is my “go-to guide” and manual for everyday living. It shows me how to live and draws me closer to Jesus.

My favorite books of the Bible are James, Ephesians, and Hebrews. I read through the Bible each year, and like to read in a different version each year to keep things fresh. While the classic NIV is a must-have, I love reading The Message version. The Message uses everyday English, and makes even difficult passages of Scripture much easier to understand and digest. Seasoned Bible readers will enjoy the fresh take on favorite passages and stories.

Andy Andrews books2. The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews

I adore Andy Andrews. His writing is easy to read yet packed with takeaways.

The Seven Decisions hang on a paper above my desk, allowing me to read and reflect on them daily. The decisions are simple, practical, and thought-provoking. They deal with day-to-day, small, “do-able” changes you can make to better yourself and your outlook.  (I also love The Noticer by Andy Andrews.)

Basil_E_Frankweiler3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

This was hands-down my favorite book of all-time as a child. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read this absolute classic. I daydreamed about exploring The Met at night with Jamie and Claudia – longing for their sense of adventure and independence.

This book doubles as a fantastic read-aloud. I’ve read this to several of my classes as a teacher, and can’t wait to read it with my children.

zen4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

My favorite teacher in high school had our AP English class read this book. This book is one of the reasons I believe reading MUST be taught as a process. This was not a book I could simply read – it required depth of thought, wait time, and plenty of re-reading. I sat and read, and re-read paragraphs – sometimes individual sentences – just digesting and working through the layers of meaning.

This book is an intellectual work-out and fun philosophical inquiry.

*And no, this book has nothing to do with motorcycle maintenance.

book thief5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

This book is beautiful and haunting. If you read one historical fiction piece in the coming year – choose The Book Thief. (And really, how can you resist a protagonist who steals one of our world’s greatest creative resources – books?!)


catcher in the rye6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I remember being asked by a teacher in high school who we would marry if we were to choose a fictional character. My choice? J.D. Salinger’s protagonist – Holden Caulfield. (And yes, I know how the book ends…) As a teenager, I fell in love with Holden’s raw honesty.

Holden offers a wry, cynical, and authentic look at the teenage experience.


demian7. Demian by Hermann Hesse

I fell in love with Hermann Hesse in college. My World Lit professor, a spunky plain-clothes nun required us to read Demian. Demian explores the duality of man, and the internal struggles we wrestle with. Not a casual or light read by any stretch, but rather is complex, layered, and thought-provoking.

During the same course, I chose to do my term paper on Hesse’s  Steppenwolf, and LOVED it! (I thought it would be redundant to include more than one book by the same author.) I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every book by Hesse I’ve read.


love and respect8. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

My husband and I have been through two Love & Respect workshops, taught a 12 week study, and presented the material in a one-time session. I’ve read this book A LOT. And yet, each time I read through the book, my marriage improves.

Learn how to get off of “the crazy cycle” with your spouse, and how to re-energize as a couple.


baxter family series9. The Baxter Family Series by Karen Kingsbury

I resisted reading these books for a long time. I didn’t want to be the cliche – the pastor’s wife who reads Karen Kingsbury books. However, I gave in, and was hooked from the first book. I read these books with the same voracity I had with The Hunger Games and Twilight. The books in this ongoing series are compelling, full of rich plot-lines and characters that quickly feel like family.

Additionally, Karen inspired my faith with her stories. The Baxters have inner monologues that flow with Scripture. They listen for God’s direction. They try. They fail. They get back up. (And oh  how you miss them when the stories run out.)


hunger games10.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes, these books had me somewhat ignoring my family for a few days. I voraciously devoured each of these books – and the week I had to wait in-between Catching Fire and Mockingjay was TORTURE.

However, these books are making my list because they expanded my literary world. I had dabbled in YA lit prior to reading this series, but fell in love with YA, especially YA dystopian lit after reading this trilogy.

If you enjoyed the movies, READ THE BOOKS. (The movies were great – but the books are a zillion times better!!)

I would LOVE for you to list your ten books in the comments!


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