Because I Read

Awhile back I was asked, by a reader (my mom- totally kidding), to give a list of books that I just love. I love to read but I didn't want to do it because I thought I would leave something out (you know the book might feel bad or something-I'm balanced) and I didn't want people to judge my choices.  After reading a book that added value to my life (always looking for those)- I decided that a list of books was worth me being vulnerable.  Before I get started I want to state that of course I LOVE my Bible but it's not just a book for me- it's the way I live- so let's not get mad that it's not listed. I'm not a book critic so I'm not going to summarize these books- I'll give you a quick caption into why I like them.  I am filled up because I read.  It makes my heart happy and helps to keep my mind busy- which for me is a good thing!

MY TOP TWENTY BOOKS (not in any in particular order)

1.  The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon  I dream in kilts now- just saying'....OH WOW- this series is a WELL worth it commitment.  THIS LOVE STORY ROCKS MY WORLD.  After the historical data in the first book that some think can be tedious-THEY are AMAZING!!  Ok so there is romance, sex, historical fiction and some time travel- I mean seriously though they were a completely guilty, yet wonderful pleasure.

2.  Into the Wilderness Series , by Sara Donati  After I finished book seven of The Outlander Series I was pretty sad (while waiting for 8).  My friend Lindsay told me about this series, Into the Wilderness.  I LOVED them.  Now, they weren't my fav's like The Outlander Series, but I love  the era.  I love the primitive life style.  The love story was beautiful and they really captured my heart.

3.  For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker  She is seriously funny, authentically real, and adoringly open.  Every mom and women should read this book.  She tells us what we all want to hear.... we are doing ok... and ok is great.  

4.  Loving Frank , by Nancy Horan OH MAN- I love reading stories about people that I want to know more about.  Coming from an area with Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpieces' and influence- I was intrigued by this book.  It did not disappoint. This love affair was absolutely unsettling in that it disregarded their marriage vows.  I was captivated throughout.  The ending was shocking.

5.  Sarah's Key- by Tatiana de Rosnay Get your tissue.  This book is set in WWII- which I'm completely intrigued with. I was unaware of the vast round ups that took place in France.  This story absorbed my attention with the different story lines.  Quick read-captivating story. 

6.  A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken- Best non fictional love story I've ever read. (Thank you Emily.)  This search for faith, friendship and love is just beautiful.  I've never read anything like it and it certainly imprinted on me.

7.  A Separate Piece, John Knowles  One of my all time favorite classic stories.  Again set in WWII era- their adolescence was robbing them of their innocence. This story made an impression on the younger me.

8.  Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Was recommend to me by someone I so respect.  Had a hard time 'getting into' the story but once I did it was one of my favorites!!  This story was about young loves who went their separate ways, had their separate lives and found their way back to each other.  Love this story so much!

9.  The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain This is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.  I was captivated by Paris in 1920, but more so this love that was so beautiful yet so ugly.  As in Loving Frank, I was mesmerized by how a person with such creative genius could have such a messy personal life.       

10.  Son of Hamas , by Mosab Hassan Yousef  This book captured me from the beginning.  Yousef grew up with an insiders view of the terrorist group Hamas.  His story connected dots that I wasn't connecting from watching the news and it provided me insights into the trials that are going on not only on the larger scale but within families in the middle east.  His story is heroic and mind blowing.

11.  Velvet Elvis , by Rob Bell.  This book, at the time that I read it, provided me with a refreshing way to look at my faith.  He felt more realistic to me than what I was otherwise exposed to.  He challenges us to express our doubts, concerns and our fears about faith.  I LOVED it and felt freed by it. 

12.  The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown  I totally pushed back on Dan Brown's books UNTIL I read this one!!  OH my goodness.  I devoured it.  I totally appreciated the Masonic history and the fact that the setting was in our own Capital.  

13.  The Shack , by Paul Young  First of all this book is fiction.  The reason I liked it so much was that God is represented in different ways.  In one way, in particular, God is represented as a big warm black woman.  Here's the reason I liked it.  I understand it's not legalistic and that it's not biblical- BUT some humans, with human brains, have a really hard time thinking of God as their father- especially if they've had a bad relationship with their earthly father.  The symbolism in this book was relatable.  For that reason, and many others, I thought it was a really good read!!

14.  Tribes, by Seth Godin It's in all of our nature to want to belong.  Godin inspires and ignites a passion in his reader to want to lead a tribe.  We are born for greatness and we can all lead- we choose to do it.  Inspirational and relatable!

15.  Do Over, Jon Acuff  THIS IS MY JAM.  Acuff rocks my world.  He is refreshing and honest, real and raw.  I love his humor and I relate to his passion.  We all have inner passion and desire. Most of us have sold out or given up- but we don't have to any longer!!  We don't need to be stuck doing the mundane- we can capture our hearts desire and create brilliance!  BEST BUSINESS BOOK I've read in a LONG time!

16.  Me Before You and  After You, by Jojo Moyes  Again, get your tissue and prepare to be engrossed in this storyline.  Sure it brings up some moral and ethical issues but oh man is it good.  I found myself thinking about it for DAYS after I had finished Me Before You.  After You kept my attention as well.  I did the ugly cry.  

17.  Cold Tangerines, by Shauna Neiquist  I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It's about seeing God and Greatness in the little things in life.  It gives comfort and peace to the mom trying to do it all- cause we aren't.  It gives us hope and redemption in our lives.  I devoured this book!

18.  Kisses from Katie-A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, Katie Davis I LOVE THIS STORY.  I have to be honest her story made me check myself in many ways but mostly because I knew I could do better.  At eighteen she gave up a great life in Nashville to become the adopted mother of thirteen girls in Uganda.  She went alone.  Through Gods mercy and love she gained so much more than she gave up but her story challenges each of us to follow our calling.

19.  The Nazi Officers Wife- How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith H. Beer She was a strong woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a camp. She went underground and became a different woman all together.  This is a story of heartache, survival and triumph.  

20.  Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline  This was part of American history that I never learned about- or slept through. (Entirely possible.)  It sent pangs of sadness and guilt through me as I read but I wanted to learn more.  Immigrant children were sent on trains from New York, to the midwest, if they had lost their families or had no families.  Said trains would stop in different town and by luck or chance a family may take a child or not.  The train would continue on its path- people choosing children like candy.  This story highlights resiliency and how friendship can help protect the human spirit.

I'm sure I could have added several more books to the mix.  These are just a few that stood out.   I have often said I'm a better me when I read.  Even if it's just 5 minutes a day, it calms my spirit and adds value to my life- or a kilt to my imagination- which is NOT a bad thing- trust me!

"The more you read the more things you know.  The more you learn the more places you will go."  Dr Seuss