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I read a LOT of books. And I enjoy most of them. But only a handful of titles have truly changed my life. The transformative power of these books lies partially in the books themselves, but more often than not, the books that effect deep change in me do so because, whether by random circumstance or divine intervention, they came into my life at just the right time.

The five books I’m sharing today each played a unique role at a specific point in my life: some altered the way I view the world, others had a profound impact on my faith, and one served as a practical guide that literally kept food on our table during the first year of our marriage. Here’s a look at five books that might not necessarily change your life, but certainly transformed mine!

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

I grew up going to church and have always had a close personal relationship with God, but it wasn’t until reading The Hiding Place as a sophomore in high school that I began to understand what an active faith could look like. Corrie’s courage, faithful obedience, and willingness to forgive served as a powerful model for how I wanted to live out my own beliefs. Corrie ten Boom immediately became a personal role model and to this day I cite her as my hero.

This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti

Prior to handing me this book when I was a teenager, my dad warned me that it would forever alter the way I viewed my spiritual life, and he was right! Frank Peretti is an amazing storyteller, but none of his other books affected me quite like this one did. The novel’s depiction of spiritual warfare opened my eyes to the supernatural forces at play in the world and in my own life. I developed a new appreciation for the power of prayer and became aware of the eternal significance of my earthly words and actions.

Anyone Can Cook, from Better Homes and Gardens

My mom didn’t learn to cook until after she got married and moved out of her parents’ home, and she expected that I would do the same. At my bridal shower I was given a copy of this cookbook—an updated version of the same book my mom had used to teach herself how to cook! In our first year of marriage (a time before internet recipes were as accessible as they are today) this book became my kitchen Bible, teaching me how to do everything from boiling eggs to chopping onions. I studied the book’s tutorials, cooked from its recipes, and gradually developed confidence as a home cook. Today, I am nowhere close to a master chef, but I’ve mastered a healthy repertoire of kitchen skills and go-to recipes, and I have this book to thank!

Faith & Doubt, by John Ortberg

Three years ago I fell into a deep depression that coincided with a crisis of faith. For the first time in my thirty years of walking with the Lord, I began to question God’s existence and His sovereignty over my life. On a whim, I downloaded this audiobook from the library and allowed the book’s message to seep into my soul. Through John Ortberg, God reminded me of a truth I’d known but had never before needed: that it was okay to have doubts, but that those doubts didn’t negate His existence and, if I allowed Him, God could use those questions to draw me closer to Him. I finished listening to this book and then started it from the beginning, and then listened to it again. I lost track of how many times I listened through the book from start to finish. Through Ortberg’s words, as well as much prayer and Godly counsel, I pushed through my spiritual struggle and can honestly say that my faith today is stronger because of it.

Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch

I enjoyed this book as a child and found it a comforting reminder of how my own parents would love me forever. But back then, it was mostly just a book that I really liked. It wasn’t until becoming a mother myself that I developed a profound attachment to this story. Love You Forever has become my de facto manual for parenthood, reminding me that regardless of my son’s age or his behavior, my love for him is the one thing that matters most of all. Charlie and I read this book together all the time, and I sing him the song every night when I rock him to sleep. Just like the mother in the story, I loved my baby as a newborn, I’m loving him through his terrible twos, and I will keep on loving him right on into adulthood. (The verdict is still out on where or not I will break into his adult home to rock him to sleep at night.)

Have you ever read a book that transformed your life? Please tell me about it!


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