Books that Changed My Life

010While preparing for an interview that ended up getting postponed, I found myself reflecting on my reading journey. Being a writer and book lover, one would naturally assume that I started devouring literature the moment I learned that C-A-T spelled cat. The truth is that at one time my grandmother and mom had to pay me to read. Growing up with low vision in a school environment where teachers didn’t know quite what to do with students like me, I saw reading as a dreaded chore that would always be difficult. Then I discovered books that grabbed my imagination—stories like The Little House Series, the biography of Helen Keller, and A Little Princess—and mom and grandma had to stop paying me for fear of going broke. How like God to transform a reluctant reader into a bookworm and later an author.


This row of “Books that Changed My Life” now adorns my desk. There are actually more in storage that I look forward to adding later, but for now, this is a beautiful representation of stories that were so precious that they feel like part of me.

Ann Likes Red, An Early Preschool Reader – The first book I learned to read (and part of the story behind my obsession with the color red—a post for another time).

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett I wanted to be Sara Crewe!

The Secret Garden (same author) I was convinced that if I looked hard enough, I would find a neglected garden in my back yard and bring it back to life.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – This is the book that made me want to be a writer someday

Helen Keller: The Story of My Life – Helen Keller was my first hero.

An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr I bought this book at my very first writers conference and had it signed by the author, who became one of my dearest friends and writing mentors. I miss you, Ethel! I can’t wait to see you again in heaven.

Les Miserable by Victor Hugo I thought reading this fat book would just give me impressive bragging rights. Instead I wrote a three-part blog post for Books for Christian Kids, started giving it as gifts, and still list it as one of my favorite stories of all time.

A Friend in the Storm by Cheryl Ricker – This book of poetry, written by another sweet author friend, has ministered to me through some of life’s most intense storms.

Every book in the row inspired, comforted, or challenged me. I realized today that, while many are well-known titles, a few were written by not-so-famous friends, reminding me that we never know what God will do with our talents.

Maybe you have a collection of books like mine, even if they are only listed in your mind. What are some of the titles? Why did you choose them? How have these books made you a better writer?