Books that Have Changed My Life

An idiosyncratic and very personal annotated bibliography

  • Benson, Robert. Living Prayer. New York: Putnam, 1998. How can you summarize a book that changes your  life? Benson speaks engagingly about how to live as a writer as well as a man of faith, and gives us a model for ours own walks of art and faith. 
  • Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. This is the sort of book that makes a fledgling writer grow some flight fleathers.  I took page after page of notes, and got a clue about what it means to think, act and live as a writer. 
  • Norris, Kathleen.  Dakota: A Spiritual Geography.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1993.  One afternoon, I stopped by the Friends of the Sierra Vista Public Library Bookstore, and found this in the "Free" cart outside the door.  No kidding.  I've been using this book as a prompt for lectio divina and my daily journal entries.  I've come away from Dakota with a greater understanding of the rural community in which I live, as well as a deeper love of God and of my own place in the world.  A good read - I highly recommend it.
  • Norris, Kathleen.  The Cloister Walk.  New York:  Penguin, 1996.  I impulsively checked this out from the Mesa Public Library, and discovered the Benedictine Tradition, opening a whole new chapter of Christian practice and history to me.  Stability, community, religion without narrow-mindedness - was this possible?  Apparently so!  
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1845. Available online at  Okay, so from my mom's perspective, it was not a great moment when I discovered a battered second-hand edition which included "Civil Disobedience."  But the idea of living deliberately and taking risks set my sheltered little teenaged heart aflame with excitement and hope.  I knew then that I would not be limited by a hateful office job or a high school education.  Even then, I knew that the life of art and letters was the life for me.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. I still remember the excitement and wonder I felt when on reading this book for the first time - in fifth grade. A very perceptive teacher loaned it to me. This book also marked the first moment that I grieved over the death of an author because our lives could not intersect. If he had lived a little longer, if I had been born a little sooner, I thought, we might have been friends.
    If the "Inklings are still meeting in heaven, maybe they'll let me sit in someday!

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