As I am preparing to study abroad for a semester in the UK, I have been delving into learning about British culture, politics, history, literature, etc. I’ve been reminded of how much books and reading has influenced my life. My love of literature and words comes directly from my mother (which I didn’t appreciate until the more recent years of my life). Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are of my mom’s beautiful voice reading out loud to me and brother after breakfast during the school week. From Cronicles of Narnia to the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, she read us some of the greats. I remember laying on my couch anxiously awaiting to hear about Aslan’s return or Frodo’s next encounter with Gollum. This special time created in me the discovery of my imagination, love of education and a desire to be deepened by other’s words.
This morning I woke up remembering the one book that single-handedly changed my outlook on life and while I’ve referenced it many times in my writing, I wanted to simply give you (whoever “you” is) a list of a few of the books and words that have caused me to not only think profoundly, but to change.
1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This is that book. Yes, the book that if I could chose something to live my life by (other than the Bible, duh), this would be the one. Reading a concentration camp survivor’s story and intellectual thought process was not only the most unbelievable thing, but the most inspiring work I’ve ever read. This paragraph will always be in my head (in fact, it’s the namesake for my blog):
“And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of a typical inmate.”
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This book made me look at the reality of the spiritual world. I am rather skeptical about things in the spiritual world, mostly because so many Christians use spiritual terms at as a crutch for their sins. I never want to be the “overly-spiritual” Christian. But, this book opened my eyes to the spiritual world and the reality of demons. It also sharpened my mind to what I believe is right and wrong.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is my all time favorite book. It simply made me fall in love with literature again. The way that Fitzgerald composes his sentences and strings his words together is breath taking. (It also made me love 1920’s.)
Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
“But I am slow thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires…”
“He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.”
“He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him.”
These are just a few of the many books that have impacted me and they are probably at the top lists of many others as well. I dream of, one day, owning a giant bookshelf as tall as my living room wall full of all the books I’ve read. Ideas may be the foundation of knowledge, but books are the exportation of those thoughts that have been tried and proved by others. I have much more to read and not enough time to do it.