intensely trivial

Life-changing reads from 2009

If you click on my What I’m Reading tab near the top of the page, you’ll be able to see a full list of the books I chewed through this year. Yes, I started the Twilight series, and it was a comforting and necessary season of fluff for me. However, it did not change my life. 😉 The following five books are the ones that had the deepest influence on me this year.

1. The Complete Book of Running for Women, by Claire Kowalchik

Ann Berg might not even know this, but when she mentioned this book in a Facebook status, my interest was piqued. I borrowed it from the library (and then bought my own copy), read every word, and then started running. Kowalchik made running seem attainable and desirable. The chapter on what to wear removed my weather-related excuses (it also helped that I invested a little money in comfortable, non-ugly running clothes). And the training schedules have been my daily companions for months now. Because of this book, I am stronger and more confident now than I have been before in my life. I am so thankful for this book!

2. Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster

It’s so easy to overlook the classics, because their titles become mundane, and then the spines become invisible on my bookshelf. I finally took this modern classic off the shelf because Maris had recommended it as instructive for learning to meditate. This is one book on spiritual disciplines that is never dogmatic or legalistic. It never makes you feel guilty for what you’re not doing, just reveals God himself as the ultimate good and the disciplines as aids to clear the path to God. The chapter on meditation was good, but so were all the rest. Celebration of Discipline is simple and elegant, practical and pointed. It has become a treasure to me.

3. Count It All Joy, by Judy Kay Jones

You’ll never see this midwife’s memoir on the shelves at your chain bookstore. You might even have a hard time finding one online. Jill loaned it to me; the author is her aunt. In it, Jones tells the stories of births she has attended and the story of her prosecution for practicing midwifery in a state where it was not legal; she also (somewhat artificially, it seems to me) turns every story into a devotional complete with Bible verses. I started reading this book the night after I attended a frustrating birth in the hospital. Reading about homebirths from the midwife’s point of view was balm to my frustrated doula soul. Although in my head I knew there were other options for birth, I needed to experience those other options. This book, even though it is not beautifully written, marked the turning point that led out of my denial about becoming a midwife.

4. Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, by Jeanne Guyon

Christian mystic Madame Guyon lived in France in the 1700s. In this dense little book she describes how she connects spiritually with Jesus. There is nothing bizarre about her practices, although they are very intense, which could make some modern Christians uncomfortable. But imagine! She believes Jesus is a real person and that she can interact with him! She actually believes he inhabits her in a real way in the person of the Holy Spirit! This book whetted my appetite for God himself — not just the self-driven practices of reading the Bible, praying through a list of prayer requests, singing the familiar songs. To actually interact with the Person Jesus — now there is a depth of riches that can make me lovesick for all eternity!

5. Paths to Becoming a Midwife, published by Midwifery Today

After deciding to study midwifery, I needed some direction as to how to go about it, and this book gave me more than enough to chew on. It includes both factual information about the myriad educational paths, certifications, and abbreviations, and essays comparing the differing philosophies in the world of midwifery. It really helped clarify what was going on with me. And that, my friends, is a whole ‘nother story.

Questions? Comments? What books were most influential in your life this year?


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  1. * Morgan says:

    All books sound fantastic, I am planning a library trip TOMORROW! I’m so excited, I’m also going to get “In Defense of Food, an Eater’s Manifesto” I want to see if the library has The Complete Book of Running for Women, and I need to talk to you about this whole midwife thing. It’s on my horizon as well, but not for years…

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  2. * frenchgirl says:

    thanks so much. i have been wanting to get the Bible study book you wrote about a while ago, but just haven’t yet. add The Good and Beautiful God to your list, by James B. Smith. He teaches at Friends here in Wichita, and our church is going through the book together.

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago

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