I love to read. I've always loved to read. My entire life has been inspired and swept away by one story or another. In first grade I got in trouble for reading under my desk. Up until I had babies, I would regularly stay up until early in the morning soaking up words, emotions and glorious stories. I love to write simply because I love to read.
The past few years have left me little time to read. My love for fiction, non fiction and anything in between has been suffocated by the struggle of surviving a separation. Instead of staying up late to read - I've been staying up late to work. And that was ok - for a season.
And then came this new, beautiful season. Quiet settled over our house like a soft cloud, my work schedule slowed down and I picked up a book. I can't even tell you how profound it feels to have finished a book. The first book I read was on my kindle - it was called The Midwife of Hope River and it was a beautiful story. Stories, friends, are everything to me. The only reason I'm ever drawn to a tv show, or a movie, is if the story is intriguing (I know I'm not the minority in that).
I'm halfway through Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey right now and it honest to goodness feels like rays of light cutting through a monsoon. I am overflowing with words and beauty and YES. How can words find us out in our rawest spaces and still make us feel alive? How can they sway our hearts and bend our resistance? We can stand confidently on one ledge until words, and stories, come pouring in - and then we're swept away to another ledge all together. Not just because they are convincing and pretty - but because they have the power to soften our pride, to cut back our hastily built walls. God made us with a DESIRE for words, not just with the ability to speak them.
If you're looking for a few books to add to your list, I have plenty. Stories that have broken me and then rebuilt me. Authors who have inspired me as if they were sitting across the table from me, their hands on mine.
Emily of New Moon: I have loved Emily since I was a little girl. I didn't have as much love for Anne of Green Gables as the rest of the world, but I felt like Emily would have been my best friend. I still read this series sometimes. L.M. Montgomery is ethereal and practical at the same time. In a few years I'll read these with Aravis and maybe my heart will explode with remembrance and excitement.
The Furious Longing of God: Anything Brennan Manning has ever written is probably my favorite expression of Jesus, Grace and Humanity. He has influenced my faith in ways absolutely no one else ever has. I'm so grateful for his life, his struggle and his honesty. This particular book makes me cry every single time I've read it. And I don't even know how many times that's been - maybe hundreds.
Story: Steven James wrote the whole Bible like it was a story. And he includes beautiful imagery, including a story of a man who could be free if he was willing to set aside the things that he craved, but died imprisoned. It's a powerful book and I love skimming back through it when I need an inch of inspiration.
A Long Way Gone: This story is hard to read. Its written by Ishmael Beah, who was a child soldier. It is honest, detailed and sometimes painful, and his story is the kind that shakes you until you want to shout that the world is in desperate need of mercy.
God on Mute: Pete Greig, you guys. This man tackled the subject of unanswered prayer by letting us into his own personal story. If you don't know, Pete is the founder of the 24/7 prayer movement and his wife has suffered with a brain tumor. He addresses the old "there must be unconfessed sin in her life" garbage and sets it all straight with the proclamation that God is not absent or angry. God is sometimes on mute, listening but silent.
There are a million and one other books that have shaped me, inspired me and made me want to write until my fingers cramped. Ask me tomorrow and I'll probably even have a new list for you ;)
What books make you want to create, engage and come alive?