On Reading

I am a reader. And that is my Papa's fault.

From my later elementary years on, every time I would see my Papa the first question he would ask me was, "What book are you reading?" It honestly never occurred to me that my answer could be, "I am not reading anything." And so I read. Sometimes I read because I enjoyed it. Sometimes I read just so I could have an answer to give to my Papa. Along the way, though, I fell in love with reading.

I breathe it, I gulp it, I am sustained by it. I love books. I love to read. So if you are in a conversation with me, and I am repeatedly bringing up this book or that book - know that I am not trying to sound "smart" or show off the number of books I read - but I am showing you a part of myself and to not talk about reading or books would be inauthentic of me.

Below my some of my favorite books. These books are not highbrow - just my comfortable favorites - the ones I read multiple times a year and go back to when I feel like I need an encouraging friend. I am also going to post often about books I love in different genres: Fiction, Productivity, Language, Philosophy, Biography, Self-Help, etc. Also, please comment below the answer to this question, "What book are you reading?"

All time favorites:

1.) To Kill A Mockingbird , by Harper Lee

I read this book often. I love Harper Lee's language. I love the dialogue. I love the way it makes me think about humanity, parenting, and justice. And I love that this book makes feel homesick in the best sort of way. (On another note, why oh why did she have to publish Go Set A Watchman?!? It made me wonder if the Capote theory is true.)

2.) My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme

I love My Life in France and read it at least twice a year. I love Child's precise, yet relaxed attitude toward cooking. She inspires me to experience life in big gulps and be persistent. She proves that a job worth doing is a worth doing right - and yet - we don't all have to be so tense about it. We can have fun as we do the job right. I read this book when I want to dream about France in another time and also when I need a good kick in the pants just to do the damn thing.

3.) Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist

This book is about the table. It is about food, and it is about life. Niequist writes honestly about the things that hold us back, bravery, and beauty in the small stuff, but mostly she writes about the way the food connects us and fuels us. This book makes me want to invite every person I know over to my house and feed them, love on them, and hear their stories. Between reading and listening to this book - I probably read it twice a month, every month - I like it that much.

4.) On Writing, by Steven King

Confession. This is the only book that I have ever read by Steven King. I have seen The Green Mile and the Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), but that is it. However, my dad had heard an interview with Steven King and thought King's thoughts on writing, in general, were interesting, so he purchased King's memoir for me. I love this book. If you have any interest in writing at all - buy this book.

5.) Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Fun little fact. My husband falls asleep in just about every movie he watches. In fact, the first time I saw him stay awake during a whole movie was three or four years into our marriage. We were at my grandparent's lake place, which has a limited set of movies to watch. However, they have Anne of Green Gables (the Kevin Sullivan version and the ONLY version that should exist, in my very humble opinion). Since Jon typically falls asleep in every movie, he watches it made sense that I pick the movie to watch. We popped in Anne of Green Gables, and my man was hooked! Not only did he stay up through the whole movie, but he also sat cross-legged on the floor about two feet away from the TV. Obviously, this story doesn't have much to do with the book other than to say - it's a good story, if you haven't read it, stop missing out.

6.) C.S. Lewis Letters, edited by Walter Hooper

The C.S. Lewis Letters span a three-volume collection and are impeccably edited by Walter Hooper. The letters begin when C.S. Lewis is five and end at his death. C.S. Lewis is raw, honest, and brave. He says hard things, approaches his relationship with Christ with logic and faith. Although I knew that the letters would end with his death, I still cried. It felt like losing a friend. C.S. Lewis also impacted me through the way he opened his home. He actually had children living in his house during World War II (just like Narnia) and was an incredibly loyal friend. I always find a friend that inspires me to live bravely and say what I mean when I read C.S. Lewis' letters.

7.) Too Anxious for Rivers, by Robert Frost

This isn't a book. It is a poem. But I read it over and over and over again. It is a poem that calms me when I am feeling overwhelmed. Or I read it to remind myself to "stay in my own lane." The line "The truth is the river flows into the canyon/ Of Ceasing-to-Question-What-Doesn't-Concern-Us..." beats like a drum in my ear. The poem as a whole sweeps beautifully through the valley of questioning, and I always end the journey knowing what I must do next.

8.) Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros

This is a cookbook, but it is also my favorite parenting book. In Apples for Jam, Kiros beautifully weaves together a narrative through stories, colors, and recipes that inspire me to love my children well and presents me with a world through children’s eyes. This book has shaped my parenting philosophy and also the way that I feed my children. Lines like, "Let me forget and just giggle with them, and leave apples lying around the house with just a couple of bites taken out, and fly with the winds of now as I collect the pearls that spill from their mouths" remind me to chill out and just have fun with my children. And "May I just get to the end of my road and say, I have done this important thing in my life, and I have done it well" sums up the heart of my goal as a parent. I just want to love my children well, and when I am stressed, I follow the "big whole wheat bread crumbs" that Kiros has scattered for her reader and follow the trail all the way back to the beauty of parenthood.

9.) Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

My dad and I have a long-term debate. He thinks the world is getting worse and I think things have always had some good in it and plenty of bad. Walden is my proof. I love it because, obviously, it was written before radio or television or social media and yet he discusses the EXACT same stinking thing that we are still talking about today. Thoreau writes about comparison and how people buy things they don't need. He writes about caring for the planet and the need to live simply. He writes about racial injustices and societal propensity to gossip. Literally, all I would have to do is insert "I saw on Instagram" here and there, and unknowing people would think that it was a book written for the modern age. Classic.

10.) A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

This book tells the beautiful story of an aristocratic man living in Moscow shortly after the revolution in the early 1900s. Because he is an aristocrat, he is sentenced to house arrest in a hotel in Moscow. Towles has an incredible ability to create beautiful pictures in his story - I felt like I was reading a piece of art. I treasured each sentence of this book and return to it again and again whenever I feel like my imagination needs a little stirring.