Ten Books

So you may have seen this going around Facebook...the prompt is "here are 10 books (in no particular order) that have contributed to changing my perspective on life/the world at different points".

I think this is quite possibly the ONLY time I've thought, OOOOHHHHH I hope someone tags meeeeee! And then my friend Jenn did! I took this very seriously, in that it took me 3 days to come up with my answer. As required, I posted my list to Facebook, but it isn't enough for me to write a list, I like to give explanations. Basically, I want to tell you all why I love all of these books in hopes that I'll inspire someone else to read and love them too. Here's the list:

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
While written for children, these have changed my perspective on God, heaven, and spirituality as it relates to the world in which we live more than any other work of fiction. I cannot tell you how many times I've reread these books to myself, read them aloud to nanny children, listened to the audiobooks, etc.

2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I love how Steinbeck tells stories. It inspires me to want to write better, to speak better even. Also, this story changed my perspective God and humanity all while keeping me highly entertained for 700 pages. When asked, East of Eden is most often my answer for favorite book.

3. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
I read this after traveling to Cambodia, its a powerful story of one girl's life under the Khmer Rouge, giving a personal perspective on historical events. I couldn't imagine going through something like this. This memoir left me me amazed at the strength within a person, inspired to be stronger in my own life and thankful for everything that I have.

4. My Life in France by Julia Child
This is the story of a middle aged woman who couldn't cook, who worked incredibly hard and didn't give up when people told her she'd never succeed. She proved them all wrong in the end. I want to be her.

5. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
The memoir of a boy growing up black in apartheid South Africa. Mark recounts an time in his childhood where he is searching for food with his mom in a dump, they are thrilled to discover rotten eggs. Every time I boil an egg, I think of this scene.

6. The Bang Bang Club by Greg Marinovich
This is a memoir of photojournalists capturing the ending of apartheid South Africa, they saw some crazy things and had to walk that line fine line of shooting things as they happened or choosing to step in and get involved. Even though I've never seen anything as extreme as what these guys were shooting, I am reminded of this book when we shoot in the developing world and the question of which is more important- shooting what's happening to tell the story, or immediate assistance- the question has to be answered over and over and yet still sometimes you walk away wondering if you made the right choice.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I think this should be required reading for everyone, ever. I love this book. If you haven't read it, go do so now.

8. King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
This shaped my understanding on the impact of colonialism on an entire continent and how that's impacted the world today.

9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
Among other things, this book has helped me to come to terms with my non-traditional creative lifestyle. If Mindy says it's OK to work from bed, I will no longer feel guilty when I've gotten 10 hours of work done and I'm still in my pajamas.

10. When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman
Reading this book was eerie. It the story of someone else's adolescence, but so similar to my own. I recommend this to anyone who grew up in an evangelical Christian church in the 90's/00's, whether you identify as a Christian now or not, this book is healing.

Honorable mention goes to everything written by J.D. Salinger. The only reason he didn't make the list is because I couldn't pick one book! I love all of his short stories about the Glass family and you should read them too!


  1. Love this list <3 to kill a mockingbird my all time favourite, I'm currently obsessed with the Mindy project, and as a South African, Bang Bang Club is a must read!

    1. Anja! I'm thrilled you know Bang Bang Club! Not many people around here have read it. South Africa holds a special place in my heart and Teresa as well, we studied in Cape Town in college. I even wrote my thesis on Desmond Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. So if the list had been 20 books long No Future Without Forgiveness, Country of My Skull and Long Walk to Freedom would have made the list too!

      I if you like The Mindy Project, definitely read Mindy Kaling's book. I mean, even the title is awesome.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I tried to add "Bang Bang Club" to my queue at the library and it's not listed as a title...grr.. will try amazon next. Great list, I have some new reads to add to my list. :)