There have been six books that I’ve read in the past couple of years that have significantly shaped my life. (Other than the Bible.)
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This is the only fiction work that appears on my Top Six List. This book by Foer is about a little boy’s journey through New York City. After his father dies in the 9/11 attacks, the boy finds a key with the name “Black” on it in his father’s closet. He goes through NYC attempting to find the purpose of the key and seal up a mystery left behind by his late father.
After reading this book, my love for fiction was re-ignited. I absolutely loved the writing style of Foer and didn’t want the book to end. In fact, I wrote the next chapter to the book for an English project. My version of what the book’s next chapter should have been remains one of my best written pieces of fiction I think I’ve ever written.
5. Jacob’s Ladder: Ten Steps to Truth by Peter Kreeft
I actually just got done reading this book last month. It was a quick read, thanks to Kreeft’s dialogue-style of writing. Peter Kreeft is well known for his logic-based books. He has a doctorate in philosophy and specializes in writing on themes pertaining to Christianity. This particular book leads you step by step through ten things that logically follow each other on your journey to discovering some of life’s ultimate truths. It’s comforting to know that such a smart man can unravel some of the logic behind Christianity.
4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This torn-up book was in a “Free” pile at school and the title caught my eye. I read it and had a hard time putting it down. Frankl spends the first half of the book describing his horrid experience in a Jewish concentration camp. The things he learned during that time led him to speculate the meaning of life. Frankl spends the second half of his book explaining what he thinks is the meaning of life, sometimes referring back to his experiences in the concentration camp. For sure an eye-opening read that makes you think about your existence on Earth.
3. Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly is one of my favorite Christian writers. In his book Rediscovering Catholicism, Kelly attempts to re-energize Catholics world-wide. He writes in a way that any age and any background can relate to. He does not spend time teaching complex theology issues related to the Catholic faith, he simply addresses things you may have been taking for granted as you rediscover Catholicism.
2. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
This memoir by Beah, read in 11th grade, opened my eyes to the evils of the world. A Long Way Gone is about Beah’s time as a child soldier in Sierra Leone, Africa. Beah recalls the horrors that he participated in and witnessed. Once he was rescued, he was rehabilitated until he was “normal” enough to start a new life in New York City. As he recalled his time being rehabilitated, he put an emphasis on recalling how the doctors, teachers, and counselors made the former soldiers feel loved. They would constantly remind the children “This was not your fault. You are not a bad person. You are loved.” After being told that so many times, many of the soldiers (including Beah) eventually believed it and were able to move on with their lives.
After reading the book, I knew I had to do something with my life that would deal with helping children who were going through some sort of adversity. I wanted to be that voice for a kid that convinced them they were loved and try to set up as good of a future as I could for them.
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Without a doubt, the book that has helped me the most in recent years is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In tenth grade, I did not believe in God. I no longer wanted to be Catholic. I no longer wanted to be Christian. I’d had enough of believing in something I could not see.
I still went to youth group to hang out with my friends. One night, someone gave a presentation on the first chapters of Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis, a former Atheist, walks through some of the arguments he used to throw out that attempted to disprove the idea of God and Christianity. He uses metaphors and analogies to help us wrap our minds around some of the most important elements of God. Everything from the existence of human morality to the concept of time is talked about in a way that leaves even the most skeptical reader having a hard time pointing out flaws in his logic.
What’s your number one book?