My bible(s) is (are) worn out from daily use, and I've read a floor-to-ceiling stack of "kid lit"with my son. It's not that I don't read. I do. But. It takes me a while to get through a book for me.
Biographies of missionaries are a favorite, as is anything written by Anne Lamott. Ten years ago I read her Christian testimony, Traveling Mercies, on the recommendation of a writer friend. I've read it several times since. Brilliant. (Note to the pure of heart: Anne uses naughty words. And I forgive her.) If you know me well, you've probably got a used copy stashed in your closet, sent to you by me, via amazon.com. If you are a friend who writes, you've probably got also got her "Instructions on Writing and Life," Bird by Bird. Same amazon.com scenario. It's what I do.
I have read books besides the bible that were not biographies of missionaries, or written by Anne Lamott, because I had to. I had to read A Woman's Guide to Fasting by Lisa Nelson because it was sent to me by an editor friend who asked me to write a review. As the title suggests, it is a how-to book. What you can't tell from the title or the cover, however, is that Lisa's Guide to Fasting also tells the amazing story of her on-going, ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. It is beautiful, and unexpected, and helpful.
The same editor friend recommended Praying for Strangers, by River Jordan. I read it a year ago. River's stories, and the way she compiled them, still come to mind. Every. Single. Day.
Currently I am half-way through Ann Voskamp's best-seller, One Thousand Gifts. Oh, Ann. Ann, Ann, Ann. You ask all the right questions—the tough ones, the questions that nag and are rarely answered to our satisfaction. (Not to mine, anyway.) And then, get this... you answer them. Without being preachy, or didactic. You "make poetry out of what in many of us is a tangle of confused whimpers."* This one I'm reading because a crazy Filipino epidemiologist had someone in the States buy and ship a copy to her, so she could write a note inside and then ship it half-way around the world, to me. Her version of amazon.com. Not exactly point-and-click.
Each of these books is different in tone and voice, but they share the common threads of seeking and wooing: women, seeking God in a variety of ways; God, wooing them into his wide-open self. Every single story made me laugh and cry. They spurred my faith. Each was worth the time away from my family, because the lessons they taught made me a better mom, a better wife, a more committed believer. These books made me want more of God. And I wouldn't have read a single one of them, if not for the people who sent and recommended them. Thank you, bookish friends. Amen.
Therefore encourage each other and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV
* From Eugene Peterson's introduction to Job, The Message.