It all came together for me one summer afternoon when I was about four years old. I sat on a green glider on the front porch of my grandparents’ brick row house while cicada chirped in the trees and lowriders eased through the stop sign at the corner. The air hung heavy all around and I had a book about Dick, Jane, and Sally spread across my lap.
They chased Spot across the pages and something inside me made the connection that letters made sounds, and sounds linked up with one another to make words, and words linked up to make sentences, and sentences linked up to make entire stories. And on that green glider under heavy air, the whole world opened up to me. I didn’t have the words to name it then, but what I learned that day is that story is a gift God uses to change the world.
Here are some of my favorites:
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller always used to feel a bit out of place in church. It seemed I was the only one who had more questions than answers. When I read Blue Like Jazz, I felt as if I’d found a friend in Donald Miller. I’ve never met him, but he gave me the freedom to admit out loud that I sometimes I just don’t “get” this whole faith thing. I don’t have all the answers and I’m not always comfortable with God. I read this book and knew the gospel was for misfits just like me.
The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson
This is the first book in the spectacular Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Neta Jackson weaves a beautiful story of women from different cultural, socio-economic, educational, age, and racial backgrounds who forge an amazing relationship together. They share life and all of its ups and downs and reinforce the strength of the friendships of women – no matter how different they may seem from the outside looking in.
One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land by Priscilla Shirer
I think everything this woman writes was written just for me. If you are in the middle of your own personal wilderness, I’m here to tell you that this book is written just for you. If you are wondering if God has forgotten all about you and left you alone to fend for yourself, I’m encouraging you to stop what you’re doing, get this book, and read it. Trust. Me.
Night by Elie Wiesel
This book will always be with me. Elie Wiesel survived the horrors of a concentration camp and went on to win the Nobel Peace prize. I feel like I have to whisper when I talk about this book. Wiesel shares what no one should ever have to experience, and his sharing of it is holy. This book is a gift to the world. It speaks of suffering and the power of love and the strength of hate and what it’s like to live through the worst of it all.
The Help by Karen Stockett
If you haven’t read this book yet, you should add it to your summer reading list. This book tells the story of one community during the American Civil Rights movement. It tells the story from both sides of the movement and unpacks the complexity of love and hate and how the two can wind themselves together in a tangle of emotion that can settle in the heart of a town, a family, and even a person. This is the story of what it looks like when all of that begins to unravel.
So…let’s not make this all about me and the books that I recommend for you. Tell me – what books would you recommend for me?