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Friday, September 16, 2016

5 Books That Changed My Life.

I started this out as a single post, but to be honest, it's definitely going to be a series of posts. There's just no way to fit all the books I've felt were life-changing into one single blog post.

I'm kind of hippie-esque in the sense that I think every book you read changes your life in some small way. Even the bad ones have some small influence on your views or opinions. But these are (five of) the books that just straight up changed my life for one reason or another. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know this is a popular, more recent read, but it was a truly life-changing read for me. I think anyone with a creative side (or passion for anything, really) should read this. I listened to this one on Audible and there were so many times that I was talking out loud, saying YES, me too, me too, me too.

I felt like I had so much in common with the author, especially when she talked about her childhood (growing up to be afraid of calling to make a dinner reservation [why?!], being timid and afraid to ask for what you want), and fear of wanting a creative life.

She writes that pursuing a creative life is a wonderful gift to yourself. You don't have to make money from your passion, you don't have to make a career out of it in order to be successful. If your creativity brings you joy, you're already a success. 

Read this if: You consider yourself a creative, or you want to be.

Paper Towns by John Green. I've talked about my zealous-like love for this book before. Even though it's about seniors in high school, I think everyone can understand the sudden desire for things to be different, the need for something exciting to happen, and the panic that comes along with big life changes. This book covers all of that.

Honestly, I'm not sure why this was so life-changing for me. I just know that it was. That when I finished it, it took me a long time to be able to get into another book, because I had that book that just changed your life hangover going on. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's the EXACT kind of book I want to write one day. 

Read this if: You enjoy YA lit or John Green books.

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. My dad read this book and then mailed everyone he's ever loved a copy of it within 24 hours. He doesn't recommend books so passionately very often, so I paid attention and read the copy he sent me. And I'm so glad I did...I don't think there has ever been a book I've read that so quickly changed such a huge part of my life.

My faith, which is a giant part of who I am, is something that is ever changing. I think that's true for everyone. It changes based on what you go through, it changes based on who is speaking into your life, what books you're reading, etc, etc. Your faith gets stronger, it gets weaker, you have questions, you find's a lifelong journey, you know?

I grew up in church and have always been around it in some aspect. I think a lot of times, religion comes in and focuses on "do" and "do not" more than focusing on Jesus as a person. When reading this, I had to ask myself, "Have I ever actually thought about the type of person Jesus was?"

It's a beautiful, beautiful book. It talks about Jesus' personality in a way that almost felt irreverent, but were exactly what I needed to reset my perspective. 

Read this if: Your view of Jesus has become (or has always been) monotonous and not personal, and you'd like to change that. Or if maybe you've become accustomed to the views of just one church or just one person, and would like to explore more of what your own views of Jesus may be. 

The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. This is a sweet, sweet young adult series. I grew up with Christy. If you haven't read my blog for too long, you might not know that my parents ripped me away from everything I knew in our home in Tenessee (did that sound dramatic enough?) and moved us to Florida the week I was turning fourteen (the horror). I didn't know anyone at all. Christy is in a similar boat. 

Here's the thing about this series: I have always been a good, rule-following, stick to the plan girl. Always. Also a little awkward, but that's beside the point. And in all the YA books I've read featuring girls like that, the big breakout moment happens when the girl changes who she is, or she takes a major risk or breaks the rules or goes skinny dipping or something drastic like that. And, even as a young teenager, I knew that was just never going to be me. 

But here's a series about an awkward, rule-following girl who I had pretty much everything common with, and things worked out pretty good for her. She meets a surfer boy named Todd who, since he is a fictional character, is basically everyone's dream guy. When I felt so depressed over moving to Florida, my mom would say to me, "Maybe you needed to come here so you could meet your Todd." 

In one of the books, Todd takes Christy to Disney for Christmas. The first year we were dating, Chris took me to Disney for Christmas, and I remember coming home that night and telling my mom, "I think I might have found my Todd." 

I cannot tell you how many times I thought about Christy as I as growing up. She may have been fictional, but she was a pretty good role model.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This is the first book I studied after switching my major to English (the best and worst decision, as I'm sure all English majors can agree), and I cried so many times while reading it because it just made me feel like yes, this is where I'm supposed to be. Side note: I may have accidentally named my baby after this author.

It's a fascinating look into that era, into author's lives (something we actually don't see a lot of books about!), and into the mind of someone who is desperate for life to happen to him.

It's a raw (and often severely inappropriate, at times) book, but it woke something up inside of me that has stayed awake ever since. It walks the line of life can be so good if you just out there and live it and life is so hard, we've just got to do what we can to survive.

Read this if: You're interested in the beat movement. Or you've been itching for some adventure in your own life and you need some inspiration. I will say that because of the way it's written, go into it less like you're reading a novel and more like you're turning to some art for inspiration, if that makes sense.

I'll be back with many more, but we'll stop at five for now. Your turn: What's a book that changed your life?
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