Certainly taking the time to be thankful is not only a biblical command, but also an attitude that cheers the spirits. And in these dark days of November, being cheerful over our favorite books is the perfect occupation to put a smile on the face of any bibliophile. :)
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
So, since 7 is the perfect number, I'm going to give 7 fiction and 7 nonfiction books I'm most thankful for, many of which I've reviewed here on the blog.
Top 7 Nonfiction
-Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Why: It's hard for introverts to talk about themselves. Though Cain doesn't come at the introvert/extrovert issue from a biblical perspective, a careful reading can equip introverted readers to express themselves just as confidently as extroverts. We have just as much to say; we just need a little more time to prepare beforehand. The scientific experiments detailed in this book are very interesting, and as an introvert looking for words to describe myself, I enjoyed it heartily. Nor am I the only one; several introverts of my acquaintance like this hands-down. If you're an introvert looking for a book written expressly for you, or an extrovert looking to understand introverts, Susan Cain's Quiet is the perfect choice.
-Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle, by Corrie Ten Boom
Why: I read this book several times a year to learn to embrace Jesus' finished work on the cross, and get rid of the chains of worry that took over my life. Now I don't read it as often--whether that's lack of wisdom, or merely because I've learned the lesson, I'm not quite sure. I think it's time for another go-round--but during several hard years, Corrie Ten Boom's hard-hitting yet comforting teachings on worry helped me cope one day at a time.
-It's (Not That) Complicated, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
Why: Don't look at boys, don't talk to them, and maybe you'll be able to keep your perfect cellophane heart wrapped up for your future husband. That was my motto, until I read the Botkin sisters' It's (Not That) Complicated, and learned not only that boys are real people too, and like talking to girls, but also, it is possible to carry on pure and enjoyable discussions with our brothers in Christ. I've never viewed young men the same way since, and I'm no longer afraid of them (too often) but enjoy rousing discussions whenever I'm in their company.
-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas
Why: I count Dietrich Bonhoeffer as one of my spiritual mentors, a man who fundamentally shaped my theology. I had the privilege of reading this book fairly close to its release, and I had to read 600 pages in 3 weeks, as there were 11 other people waiting for me to finish with it. In spite of the cramming it took to read it, I eagerly drank up the details of the man who nearly took the life of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer is a spiritual mentor, and a Christian hero that I highly esteem and honor. As a side note, I'm glad Metaxas wrote such a long biography. It took every page to do the concepts justice that Bonhoeffer's life illustrates.
-The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Why: Bonhoeffer wrote this book as if he were speaking to today's Christians. In a world where the church universal preaches a gospel of cheap grace, Bonhoeffer calls us to a costly dedication to our Lord. A life that lays down and sacrifices, and follows in Jesus' footsteps. This was a concept I always believed and held strongly to, but was never able to put into words until Bonhoeffer did it for me.
-Damsels in Distress, by Martha Peace
Why: This book, written specifically for women, addresses how to take captive our own emotions, and how to navigate the emotions of others. Let's face it: some days are tough days, and Peace teaches through nouthetic counseling how to control our emotions to the glory of God. This book taught me how to deal with manipulation, hit me pretty hard on some feministic ideas that were still hanging on, and also introduced me to the concept of nouthetic counseling, the idea that we give solutions from Scripture instead of focusing on emotions.
-Dream Big...But Beware of Dream killers, by Todd Wilson
Why: I was always a terrified little dreamer before I read this book. But the summer my mother bought it for me at a homeschool conference, it gave me the courage to keep going on my novel, Which is still going today, and might not have been written otherwise. Todd's book helps me not only to forgive dream killers, but also to keep on dreaming during the dark days. Of all the books here, this one has probably had the most practical day-to-day impact on my life, and I'm mightily grateful for it.
Top 7 Fiction
-Jane of Lantern Hill, by L.M. Montgomery
Why: One of my childhood griefs was slowly growing older than Jane. It hurt to be older than her. I wanted to stay her age forever, and be the best of friends, and follow her adventures every summer as she went to visit her father on Prince Edward Island. I don't know that I learned any startling, life-changing lessons from this book. But it's always been close to me, and it hits a soft spot whenever I see it on my shelf.
-Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Why: I picked this book off our library's used book shelf at 12 years of age. It's a ghastly edition; it has a blurb (thankfully no pictures) advertising the infamous Gwyneth Paltrow movie spin-off, with, um, inappropriate stuff to say the least. Don't look it up, bibliophiles. But in spite of the advertisement, this book started me on the very first story by the man who would later become my favorite fiction author. That's a pretty momentous moment, and I'll always set store by the book that first introduced me to the complicated characters and dramatic plots of Charles Dickens. :)
-The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Why: I liked Tolkien very much before I read Sil. Who wouldn't like Lord of the Rings? But Sil gave me a firmer grasp on Tolkien's worldview, and turned me into a die-hard fan. This man has the soundest fantasy I've ever read in my life, and his world and cultures are staggering to read about. If you want to read biblically-based fantasy, read Tolkien. He's worth a life-time of study, and the Sil explains a lot of questions and reservations that people have about LOTR.
-Guns of Thunder, by Douglas Bond
Why: I don't read this book often. It always sends a little shiver through me when I pick it up. It's a fantastic story, but the first time I read it I was going through a pretty tough stage of life. In spite of that, I will always thank God for it, for during the time I read this book I jumped out of the baby Christian stage, into a full understanding that Christianity required out and out surrender and commitment. God's grace is completely grace, and completely undeserved, and though I came to a full realization of my sin during this book, I also came to a full confidence in Jesus' righteousness imputed to me. And since then, I've never looked back.
-Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter
Why: Who wouldn't love Freckles? I love him at any rate, and though he's rather like Jane and I haven't learned any huge spiritual lessons from him, I'm still thankful for this book, just for the sheer joy of it. I need to read it again. I've walked the old Limberlost trail many times with this warm-hearted young Irishman, and fought with him, and loved with him, and seen him fail and triumph many times. He's a definite favorite, and I wouldn't trade his acquaintance for a room full of bookshelves.
-The Fisherman's Lady/The Marquis' Secret, by George MacDonald
Why: Malcolm is a hero worthy of all lauds and accolades. A straight speaker, a sincere Christian, a brawny fisherman, and a man who loves his womenfolk with all purity and honor. Very few men could lay claim to a better character that that. Besides some corking great plot twists, and none of them too tragic, (just a little for the spice of it), the characters that populate his adventures make lovely acquaintances. Dark villains war against chivalrous heroes, and throughout all of it, Malcolm's simple, great-heartedness keeps people relying on him in all their troubles. I've read these books many times, and this summer, I was blessed to secure my own copies at no cost.
-Pollyanna, by Eleanor Porter
Why: If you asked me who my best friends were around the age of 11, I probably would have said Jane (see above) and Pollyanna. I loved them to bits. These two girls--one who loved her father so much, and one who was so joyful all the time--were yearly must-reads throughout my early teens. Pollyanna's choice to be glad in all circumstances is one still near and dear to my heart today. I held strong by her, and defended her, and wanted to be as joyful as she was, and she definitely had a major impact on my childhood.
These books, each in their different way, shaped my childhood and young adulthood, and therefore have shaped a great deal of who I am today. I love them all, and have read them cover to cover many times.
It's good to remember our foundations. Good to remember where we've come from, and why it means so much to us. This is what these books mean to me, and why I chose to review most of them here on My Lady Bibliophile. I praise God for them, and take delight in them, and hope to read them many more times in the years to come. And I hope that you all find them to be the same good reads that I have.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~Colossians 3:15
Which books are you most thankful for? You certainly don't have to list this many (or you can list more!) but I would love to know, if you care to share. :)