For this week’s seven quick takes (linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum), I’d like to share 7 of the most influential books in my life. Kevin and I often make lists together and it’s kind of a way of taking inventory of where we’re at with things or maybe there’s just more to learn about the other. For this list, he likes to make very clear: it’s not your favorites but rather books that have had a profound impact on you – whatever that may mean. Anyway, I may have forgotten some (and I’m going preface saying the bible is numero uno, but not on the list below), but I think for the most part this list is pretty accurate.
[ 1 ] Harry Potter 1-7 by JK Rowling
Yes. I mean, how could this not be on here? Let’s just say middle school was not exactly my favorite time of life, and I ended up diving into this magical world in a super deep way. Honestly, these stories got me through a lot. Granted, I didn’t really know the Lord at that time, so I’m sure God would have been a better replacement. But as it was, I would turn to these books when relationships were tough or when drama was about. I think to a degree it kept me a little more innocent and distant from some things I didn’t need in my life. Also, they are just so dang good. I still go back every now and again to enjoy the sweetness of these books.
[ 2 ] Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen. Oh how I love her writing. I’m not sure how to explain how this book has been such a great influence. But it may just be that it’s an exceptionally well-written novel that left me feeling content and better off for having read it. I don’t often read fiction books that have characters of such depth, along with simply beautiful language. When I read a page of Jane Austen, I feel like I’ve gained something. That may not make sense, but it is what it is. 🙂
[ 3 ] Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
Really, all of CS Lewis’ writings could be on here (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Till We Have Faces, etc.), but this was the first one I read, and it was at a time when I was experiencing a great “reversion” to the faith. I was a sophomore in college and began going back to the Church for nourishment, and this book proved to be a wealth of wisdom in helping me understand certain truths better than I ever had before. I remember taking this book into confession at one point and just saying to the Priest, “with great knowledge comes great responsibility. I have way more sins to confess than I ever realized.” So thank you CS Lewis.
[ 4 ] The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
I had to read this book for a business leadership course my senior year in college, and it is by far one of the most fruitful reads I’ve ever done for school in my life. I actually read the whole thing, way ahead of schedule (which was not super characteristic of me for class reading), and even took notes! While I doubt I integrate all seven habits into my life in the day-to-day, they certainly left a powerful impression on me. Certain chapters truly made me re-evaluate the way I live my life (at that time as a super type-A personality, always on a mission and on the go, planning like my life depends on it). Simple things like “put first things first” brought to mind Matthew 6 and seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s definitely a book I could benefit from going back to every now and then.
[ 5 ] Confessions by St. Augustine
I remember going home to PA for a two week period after graduating college. I’d soon be going back to Boston, but not to BU. I reflected on the transition I was about to experience and I honestly didn’t have a ton of confidence I was ready for it. The Catholic community I had in school was phenomenal; in just three short years, I felt like I had learned and grown more than I ever thought possible. And to be honest, I was afraid there wouldn’t be more to come after that. During those two weeks, I picked up St. Augustine’s Confessions at a used book shop, which was one of the most providential things to ever happen. The beauty of it was two-fold. First, I felt like I could connect to him on a personal level, having experienced certain intensities in my spiritual life through times of conversion/reversion. Second, I realized how naive I was to think that my learning and growing would ever stop, unless I simply decided to turn away from the faith. He showed me just a glimpse into the immeasurable depths of God, and how I can seek out truth my entire life and I still may never scratch the surface. This revelation is what pushed me forward, and still often does.
[ 6 ] Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
This was another one I read the year after graduating college, and what a good time as well. As I was figuring out how my prayer life would look now that I was working full-time and trying to be involved in young adult life (not to mention dating), I could not have asked for a better guide. St. Francis de Sales just gets it. He gets it all. His words to the laity are understanding, but not demeaning. He doesn’t give us lay people an easy out because we have to live in the world, but he also wasn’t advocating for 10 hours of adoration a day. He provides detailed instruction as to how to live a devout life even with all the demands of work, relationships, home life, etc. It is an incredibly timeless read; it was written in the late 1500’s/early 1600’s, and yet everything he was saying felt applicable to my own life.
[ 7 ] True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort
While St. Louis de Montfort can sometimes come off a bit harsh and intense depending where I am in my spiritual life, this is a book I think I will always need to re-visit as a devotional read. It has had a profound effect on my life by helping me deepen my relationship with the Blessed Mother. And in countless ways, this has shaped my spiritual life.
There it is! The books that have left a mark. Please let me know if you’ve read any of the above and feel similarly! And what books have been most influential in your own life? I want to know!