I discovered a love for reading in my senior year of high school.  It happened like this:  a friend who I knew who is a creative genius said to me one day over a bagel and cream cheese, “I’m reading The Fountainhead.  It’s amazing.  You should read it.”  Because I have friend crushes on creative, funny, interesting people, I went to the Babylon Jr. Sr. High School Library and checked it out.  The book was so freaking massive, that I had to return it before finishing it and then promptly found a book store (1992, people… pre Borders and Barnes and Noble being cool) and bought my own copy.

Thank you, Rachel Mason, for the few sentences of conversation that changed the trajectory of conversations that took place in my life from that moment on.  Rock on, 1992.

Here’s an ongoing list:

  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes; most books that mean something to me are recommended to me by friends.  This one was recommended by one of my best friends, Sarah Wright, who has gotten me into just a few crazy, life changing adventures (one of those things being a little thing called Young Life).  Please check out Sarah blog; it’s freaking incredible.
  • Rising Strong and Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown.  There are certain journeys that you should not walk alone, and these are both examples.  My husband, Steve, and I read both of these books together.  At the end of long work days, we would get the kids to bed and retreat in our room while I read aloud both of these books, stopping along the way to process, question, and converse about Brene’s amazing work.
  • Scary Close by Donald Miller started the journey where Steve and I would read at night together.  The fruit of the labor of reading aloud to my husband, who doesn’t like to read, has been worth it a million times over.  We have had more intentional and meaningful conversations in the past year than I could have ever imagined.  Wanna get close to someone?  Read a book together, a loud, at the same time.  So worth it.  (PS. Blue Like Jazz…read it; enough said).
  • Savor by Shauna Niequist is a devotional that is a gift to buy for a friend and yourself.  Shauna does something I don’t- she cooks, a lot, and well (I assume; everyone is always coming over to her house to eat).  I love people who inspire me to do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily want to do, and Shauna makes me want to cook  things like risotto and bundt cakes.  Why?  Because she reminds me of the spiritual practice of making things.  I want to write and breathe like Shauna Niequist one day.  ALL OF HER BOOKS ARE STAPLES TO MY MINISTRY. Her work is of extraordinary value.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was a book I picked up at the recommendation of my friend Linda Nikcevich.  As war is recalled and remembered, the stories that often aren’t told are those of women.  Women during WW I & II fought on different battle fronts, often not shared.  In this work of fiction, two women’s stories are told in a powerful way.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  My life has been connected by unlikely people and places that has added layers of beauty and questions to my awareness.  This book is a beautiful story of how two unlikely people connected in a time of great conflict and sadness.
  • An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor.  Annie Houghton recommended this one to me, and if you know Annie, you want to be in her brain.  This book slowed me down, which is a challenge for me.  It made me notice the breath in my lungs, why I would love to have a glass of wine if it didn’t make me drunk in two sips, and the patterns of clouds.  Read it and be ready to slow down and see, smell, taste, hear, and feel.