Christmas break is around the corner, and that means four precious weeks of literally zero homework. Books are a beautiful way to spend your wide-open hours, so here are a few of my favorites—ones that have changed the way I think and speak and write and listen and love. These are the most important books of my life.
1. Novel—“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
“The Giver” was the first book that made me realize that my mind can change because of what I read. This is a better, more complex, and deeper Hunger Games/Maze Runner/Divergent. Lois Lowry was writing dystopian young adult literature before it was cool. When I watched the movie last year, I left the theater feeling deeply
grateful for the beauty of life, which is one of the best feelings to feel. It is pretty short (270 pages) and intended for a teenage audience, so it’s quick and easy.
Close seconds: “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse, “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin, “A Wrinkle in Time”
by Madeleine L’Engle
2. Writing—”Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird was the first book by Lamott that I read and will forever bow at the feet of St. Anne. Hilarious and honest. This is not just a book for those who write, but it is an absolute must read for writers. I live more awake
and aware because of this book.
Best quotes: “Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and
their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.”
Close seconds: “Anything Else” by Anne Lamott, “A Circle of Quiet” by Madeleine L’Engle, “Pilgrim at Tinker
Creek” by Annie Dillard
3. Spiritual—“One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp
I love this book. I read it in high school, and it changed the trajectory of my life. Learning to see the whole of life as a gift and being thankful for every piece of it has led to a fuller and richer life. The writing is gorgeous and makes me feel close to God.
Best quote: “Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.”
Close seconds: “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey, “Bread and Wine” by Shauna Niequist.
4. Poetry—“I Wrote This For You” by pleasefindthis
This one is a little hard to describe. It’s a book of words and photography and it’s so lovely that I cried when I read it in a bookstore for the first time. Everything about it is confusing and mysterious and that’s part of the allure. I will always keep it on my bookshelf, even if I live in a tiny house some day.
Best quote[s] (one of): “You keep telling me to be glad for what we had while we had it. That the brightest flame burns quickest. Which means you saw us as a candle. And I saw us as the sun.”
Close seconds: “New Collected Poems” by Wendell Berry, “Chasers of the Light” by Tyler Knott Gregson
5. Self-Help/Inspirational/Memoir—“Carry On, Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton
I do not know what to call this category. “The One Most Important Book Ever” felt like a little too much, but this one really does matter so much to me. There is no other book that more clearly defines what I believe about humans, God and love. It makes my throat swell up and my head hurt because it’s so beautiful. Because it is a series of essays, it would be easy to set it down and pick it back up anytime, but you won’t want to set it down.
Best quotes: “Be confident because you are a child of God. Be humble because everyone else is too,” and “The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.”
Close seconds: “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown, “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed, “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Guy is a senior majoring in psychology. She can be reached at GuyLN@jbu.edu.