Thursday, May 6, 2010

Life Changers

My friend Elissa just posted a list of books that changed her worldview, based on a challenge from her editor. It sounded like an interesting list, so I thought I would do mine here.

These are not particularly in order except maybe close to the order I read them in and some of them are not #1 best sellers, but they have all made a serious impact on how I look at the world.

1. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter - Sue Monk Kidd
This book opened my eyes to a world beyond what I knew - a world that recognized an aspect of the Divine that was LIKE ME. Kidd's journey from a world very similar to mine into a world I didn't even know existed stirred my mind and opened me to the experiences that were yet to come.

2. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
Diamant gave me a new read on biblical history and made the think about the back stories and the stories we didn't get told as kids. It also made me yearn for a tribe that honored womanhood in a new and different way.

3. The Spiritual Art of Creative Silence and Christheart - Jeanie Miley
I cheated here and put two. When I discovered Jeanie, I had my eyes opened to a whole new way to relate to God, and a whole new way to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus. It changed my world and set me on the path I'm on today.

4. The Road Less Traveled - M. Scott Peck
What can I say? It's a classic.

5. Stages of Faith - James Fowler
This book helped me see I wasn't going crazy. Following a developmental model that I understood, Fowler showed me that what I was experiencing was a growth process, and one that others had gone through. It gave me a framework to hang onto when the seas were rough.

6. I Thought it was Just Me: (but it isn't) - Brené Brown
For anyone who lives with shame (which is all of us right?) this book is a must read. Brown's thorough research and exercises to identify and counteract shame moved me through a tough period and helped me see that I really was going to be okay.

7. Jesus for the Rest of Us - John Selby
Blew me out of the water! I don't even have words to really put around it. This book changed my already shifting perception of Jesus and what it means to be divine. I'm sticking a warning on this one for any of my more traditional friends - it will blow your mind.

8. The Drama of The Gifted Child - Alice Miller
I threw this book at my analyst after I read it. I also poured out life-long toxic feelings into a letter I never mailed that elicited a phone call to make sure I wasn't standing on a ledge somewhere ready to jump when I shared it with someone safe. But after that, I wrote a fairy tale that was in some ways the antidote to all that poison - and opened up a creativity inside of me that I had never tapped into before. It's a short book - but a dangerous and possibly painful one.

9. The Invisible Church: Finding Spirituality Where you Are - J. Pittman McGehee
What is church? What ideals and responsibilities do we lay at her feet? How do we take responsibility and authority for our own lives? McGehee sets church in it's place in myth - and showed me how what I was really looking for wasn't going to be found inside the institution.

10. Family Evaluation - Michael Kerr & Murray Bowen
This is a textbook. It isn't fun reading. But Bowen's concepts of family systems changed the way I look at my own life and the lives of everyone around me. None of us are islands to ourselves. Our families leave imprints and we make decisions often unknowingly because of them. Becoming conscious of the patterns changed my story - and is helping to change my life.

There are others of course - Ernest Hemingway and JRR Tolkien in high school. Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel. Madeline L'Engle. Maya Angelou. Carl Jung. Thomas Moore. But these ten jumped out particularly. And like Elissa, my list consists mostly of books that have revised my faith, my view of family, and my self-concept. Only one is fiction. But all of them have shifted something within me in a significant way. What are yours? How have the moved you?


  1. Ooh, I'm stealing some of these I haven't read. Thank you!

  2. I love these lists!! I have learned so much from yours and Elissa's.
    I adore Brene Brown and am happy to see her here.

  3. I loved The Red Tent. Totally loved it. From the get-go of biblical history, it's a whole 'nother angle on the sons of Jacob.

  4. @Christa - Yes it was PIVOTAL for me. You should check out Elissa (above) and pick up Eve - it's in the same vein.