Looking back, there are stages of my life defined by the type of books I have been reading. Recently, I have been listening to audio books rather than reading. Because my life is so full, my most consistent “down” time is often my drive to and from work- I have a 20-minute commute one way. I LOVE books and as far back as I can remember, books were a part of my life. They inspire me and help me learn. I found myself saying, “I don’t have time to read anymore.” I operate with the strategy that if I start annoying myself with a complaint, I either stop repeating the complaint or take some action to change it. I asked for guidance on how to find time to pursue my passion to read. Very quickly, I had the thought, “I have time in the car.” The next day, I was at the library checking out an audio book. Because I grew up in the 80’s I still say books on “tape.” I really wish I could stop saying that!? CD’s are even outdated. I digress… Often times, as Bishop T.D. Jakes says a solution to a problem is only “one thought” away. I challenge you to listen to one of your frequent complaints, ask for a solution, and the answer will come. Often the answer has been there all the time. It’s so obvious you can’t believe you didn’t think of it sooner. As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.” I am “reading” again and I love it!
I LOVE words, I LOVE books. Here are some of my favorites from different seasons of my life:
Childhood- my animal phase:
Curious George– I had a stuffed monkey named George of course, that went with me everywhere and I told my Aunt Jane I was, “NEVER getting married, NEVER having kids and living with only monkeys.” As any smart Aunt would do, she had me put it in writing and gave my declaration written in crayon, complete with pictures of me surrounded by “my monkeys” to me on my wedding day. Since my marriage ended in divorce 12 years later, perhaps my 8-year-old self was on to something.
Charlotte’s Web, Where the Red Fern Grows, All Creatures Great and Small are some of my favorites. I devoured the James Herriot books. It was the first time I was introduced to the self-deprecating, humorous writing style I am so attracted to. He had the art of describing the characters in his books so you felt as if you really knew them and he had the ability to really find the funny, and the spiritual in himself and those he interacted with. I LOVE his writing style. The Bible– it was around this time I decided I would attempt to read the Bible. I was struggling with many of the words so I started underlining all of the words I knew. Somewhere there is a copy of a Bible with pencil marks of all the words I knew at age 10. I still haven’t read every page but it continues to inspire me.
My coming of age phase:
Are you There God?, it’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High books. My best friend in 6th grade-Jessica introduced me to these books. For those of you who haven’t read them, the books revolve around the two character’s- twins Jessica, and Elizabeth. Jessica is the “fun”, spontaneous twin who gets all the boys, and Elizabeth is the “responsible” twin who is jealous of her free-spirited sister. They are both beautiful on the outside, but their insides could not be more different. I have a twin sister, Heather, so these books really spoke to me at that age and time. I loved Anne of Green Gables and Little Women.
I also was an avid magazine reader. Over the years I found time to read Bop Magazine, Tiger Beat, Seventeen (what American girl didn’t!?), Sassy– does anyone remember Sassy!? My room was covered in posters of Duran Duran, and Madonna! I currently get Time magazine but have a hard time keeping up with reading it. I love the pictures attached to the stories in magazines however.
My business book Phase:
I have come a long way from Bop or so I would like to believe. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Good to Great, Strength Finders, and Hardwiring Excellence, Lean In are some that stick out in this list. My latest favorite- The Story Teller’s Secret is one of the best I have read (listened to) in a LONG time. I still quote those authors often. I can hear my friends saying, “oh my Gosh she talks about these books all the time.” When I read a book that moves me, I feel compelled to share it with everyone. If I was Oprah I would buy everyone a copy just like she does and say you HAVE to read this! It will change your life. Because of my income, I usually borrow the books out, or give friends the CD’s from the library. What I have learned is, some books help people at different times, or not at all. That is what is so cool. Books are as unique as we are!
My inspirational people book phase:
I LOVE reading about inspirational people and leaders! The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, The Snowball about my business hero, Warren Buffet. A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren, Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln to name a few.
My spiritual book Phase:
I am still in this one… I can’t get enough! Some of my favorites are:
A New Earth, The Power, Heaven is for Real, Eat, Pray, Love, Broken Open, The Four Agreements, The Power of Intention, God Winks, The Power, Big Magic, Proof of Heaven, The Untethered Soul, Love Warrior, Radical Acceptance, The Gifts of Imperfection, The Universe has your Back, The Awakened Family. I could write a blog post on each of these books and how they have shaped and guided my life. I just might.
No matter what I am going through, the one thing that convinces me that God is speaking directly to us more than anything is through books. When I read a book that speaks right to my heart, right to my soul and it says, “you are not alone. Someone else has the same thoughts and feelings as me,” I am so energized because it feels that book was meant just for me. Most of these books are top seller’s which indicates it moved thousands of people. How cool as that? We are all connected by the energy of the books that we have mutually read.
I ordered Broken Open– How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lessor from Amazon after my divorce. It was a used copy, and there were tabbed and underlined phrases in the book that spoke right to what I was experiencing at the time. I still have the book tabbed just the way it came. One underlined quote is, “The question is, what does your soul want to learn?” That is the perfect question to ask when you are facing difficult times.
My Escape Phase:
The Twilight Series, The Divergent Series, and many Jodi Picoult books.
My word porn phase: What!? I can’t believe I wrote that:
50 Shades of Grey and Sandra Day… I am ashamed to admit this but the book sales from these two Author’s prove that I am not alone. If I was a true writing snob, I could not have read them. Although I noticed the writing quality, a writing snob I am not. I think the sexuality “theme” in my blog description came from the question, “Can you be a serious, spiritual person if you have read “50 Shades of Grey?” I have also had an ongoing debate with a friend about why those books went viral. More on that in my next blog post.
I am so grateful for all of the inspiring words that have been written, and for the opportunity to read them. I love when you read or hear something and it has the power to change your perspective. When words, quotes, or stories stick I believe they stick for a reason. There are lessons everywhere, and no doubt there are lessons to learn in books.
I am curious to know what books have inspired you for the different seasons of your life?