10 Books That Changed Me

10 Books That Changed Me

I usually keep it somewhat about food and life here but I’ve always looked at SouthernPlate as “What’s on my plate?”, which leaves the door wide open. I’ve also found that so many of us share the same interests in this world and I love getting to hear back and learn from you so today I’m sharing my answers to a really intriguing question I was asked in hopes of getting to hear your answers as well. I have a feeling a lot of good books will be discovered with this post!

My friend, Charlotte Miller, owner of Swiss Pantry in Belvedere Tennessee (where they just so happen to make the best doughnuts you’ve ever tasted in your life on Doughnut Saturday twice a month) asked me to name ten books that have influenced me in my life. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed coming up with my list as I mentally revisited each one I wrote about.

Before I share them, I want to share a warning first: this post contains opinions because I have a lot of them and sometimes I allow myself to express a few. If you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean I am a bad person or that you are, it just means we are different people, and that is a good thing because I am plum out of room in my head for more folks to move in. Back in the old days, when people of varying and different opinions got together it was called “interesting conversation”. You may know it by today’s more common concept of “How dare you disagree with me because I am unable to function as long as there exists any opinion in this world different from my own.”  I realize this warning doesn’t apply to 99.999% of you reading this so allow me to take a moment and thank you for your level headedness in a world gone mad.

Now back to books…here is my list 🙂

1. The Holy Bible – I became a voracious Bible reader around middle school and this one book has really helped direct my life, even during those times when I actively tried to ignore it. I generally use the NIV version because that is what my kid’s use. When they are trying to memorize a verse it really trips them up when I say it in a different translation. My favorite translation is NLT and from time to time I venture over to “The Message” just to see if there is any meat left on the bones of a passage that I might not have picked off. I use a Life Application Study Bible with thumb index and large print for my daily reading (have you seen the size of most Bible fonts! Large print is a must for me). It has a lot of notes, expansions, and studies in it that I find helpful. I need all the help I can get 🙂

2. Letters To A Young Poet – This book is right up there as a close second to the Bible, it affected me so. It is amazing how many of the letters I have memorized by reading them over the years. Life wisdom from a man who has walked the roads, to one just starting out. It is beautiful, moving, and completely changed me. I’ve been reading it once a year, cover to cover, for over twenty years now.

3. Jane Eyre – While some of my classmates in high school were bemoaning having to read this book, I was engrossed and realizing that the classics were classics because they were so good! This opened the door for me to an entire world of literature I’ve enjoyed all of my life. As an aside: I’ve yet to read Wuthering Heights, but I’ve got to save some books for later in life, right?

4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – I’ll never, ever, ever forget the last sentence of this book. You have to read the whole book to feel it’s effect.

 5. A Treasury of The Familiar – This was a book meant for reference that came in a set my parents bought along with some encyclopedias. However, it contained great literary passages, sonnets from Shakespeare, poems by Thomas Hood, Walt Whitman, even folk song lyrics. I read that book until the binding came apart. There are little notes written in the margins and some of the poems even have numbers beside the lines from where I counted as I stitched the passages into fabric. Most of the poems in my head were memorized from that book.  In case you can’t tell, a great many of my teenage years were spent in my room reading morose poetry. I highly recommend it 🙂

I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garland’s dead,
And all but he departed…

6. All Ramona Quimby books 🙂 I began reading them as soon as I could make out what words were and those books caught me up in the joy of seeing a reflection of myself and finding understanding in a fictional character.

7. Hard Backed Nancy Drew – If I were ever on a deserted island, I think I’d read every blessed one again. My favorites are the old yellow hardback ones, written in a time where it wasn’t considered an affront to women to wear skirts, be ladylike, and let men open the door for you. Nancy did all of this and was still considered sharp, intelligent, and a master of her craft.

8. One Second After – First of all, this book is very well written. Secondly, you know that comfy little place we like to have in our heads that tells us nothing really bad could ever happen to us? This book is reality calling us back to earth. It is a must for anyone who is capable of facing the precarious truth of our current situation. It is a must avoid for anyone who can’t face that for whatever reason. Move along, nothing to see here 🙂

9. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – My daughter kept going on and on about how wonderful this book was, insisting that I read it. I’m gonna be honest, I placated her with smiles and nods and assurances that I would. Finally, over the summer, I sat down and read it. The next time Katy Rose tells me I need to read a book, I’m going to stop the world and do it right then. It was absolutely wonderful. My heart overflowed.

10. My tenth book is always changing, whatever book has affected me the most lately. In the past, that tenth book has been a toss up between two from author Andy Andrews: The Noticer is an excellent book that I feel everyone should read. If you allow it, it WILL change your life.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People? is another Andy Andrews book that you can read in less than an hour but once you’re done, you need to set aside another hour to sit there and shake your head while digesting the truth of it all. A definite eye opener that perhaps could have saved millions if folks had read it decades ago and could possibly save us in the future if people take it to heart.

Yet another wonderful book is Dream More by Dolly Parton. So much of the wisdom contained in this book has been taught and used by us our entire lives, but it is wonderful to have the affirmation and additional wisdom she shares. I recommend the hardback version and that you read it with a highlighter :).

Be sure and check out my dear friend Jen’s books over at her website, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, by clicking here. Her list really inspired me!

Now I want to know about you! What ten books have changed your life, moved you, or influenced you in some way? We would all love to hear about them in the comments below!

Similar Posts


  1. I can see this is an older post, and I may have even commented on it last time around… 🙂 Keeping it to only 10? Mind if I cheat a time or two? 😉

    1. The Holy Bible. Always.
    2. (here’s where I’m cheating a bit) ANYTHING by R.J Larson! In short, biblical-fantasy. Imagine Old Testament mash-up in a world with amazing gigantic horse that have a sense of humor, and terrifying scalns (predators). Seeing glimpses of favorite OT stories. And, for me at least, a fresh new perspective and vision of the love of God, and His direct involvement with His creation. Really, I think every one should read these 😀
    3. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice. strengthened my love for classics, new perspectives…older, sometimes more precise language…books worth “chewing” on, and re-reading.
    4. (cheating again). LM Montogomery of Anne of Green Gables fame. Her knack of description really captured me from the time I was a girl. I still love picking up and re-reading the books. (way better than the movies, imho) 😉
    5.Heidi, Little Women, Secret Garden, A Child’s Garden of Verses, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood…all the little girl classics…introduced me to worlds of my own. I was a voracious reader.
    6.Encyclopedia Britannica. yes. When I ran out of other stuff to read, I would pull down one of the set my parents bought used, find a page that looked interesting, and start reading. for fun! and learning.
    7.Mr God, this is Anna. first read it as a young teen, and I’ve picked it up several times. Seeing through other eyes, it’s light-hearted and serious all at once.
    8.Inside Out and Back Again. my daughter read and recommended it. So glad I did. poetic first person perspective of a Korean refugee.
    9. A Generous Orthodoxy by Bryan McClaren. Generous, Open, Warm, welcoming…and firm in faith, in what matters. 🙂
    10. Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Ortzcy. way better than the 80’s film, a classic series of 6 books. dashing heroes and all. largely love it for the well told story and escape, but also, it was one of the first “classics” I looked for when I got my kindle, as were. . . most books by Gene Stratton Porter. another classic author. I discovered “Freckles” as a teen, on my mom’s bookshelf, and most of the rest once I had my kindle. Oh, Laddie was one of the first brand-new books I bought for myself. It was in a reprint edition at a local Christian Bookstore where I grew up. There is one, set in CA that is enlightening, yet disturbing. (forget the title just now, sorry).

    sorry, I know that’s more than 10, precisely… 😉

  2. I loved reading your list! Have you heard of Read Aloud Revival? I think you and your Katy girl would LOVE it. I have just recently discovered this treasure, and most of my current favorites come from recommendations on this site. So my favorite right now are Thornton Burgess books, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (did you know there are 17 in the series), and May B. (a wonderful novel written in prose). Most of these are free Kindle editions. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on my all-time favorite list, too! Have you seen the acceptance speech of its author, Kate DiCamillo, for the Newbery Award? Quite moving! Yay for children’s literature – good for all members of the family!!

  3. The Bible
    The Help
    The Notebook
    The Paris Wife
    Wonder by RJ Palacio. A beautiful, beautiful book-a must read
    A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
    Redeeming Love
    Beach Music by Pat Conroy
    The Last Lecture

  4. Only ten? Here’s the ones I’ve read numerous times:

    1. The Lord of the Rings (helped me through my horrendous high school years)
    2. The Chronicles of Narnia
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird
    4. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series
    5. The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine – two brilliant books by Ray Bradbury
    7. Pride & Prejudice
    8. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books
    9. Tom Sawyer (I read this one summer well before cable TV and Internet)
    10. Jacob Have I Loved

  5. 1. The Bible
    2. Of Mice and men
    3. The MIracle Worker
    4. Nancy Drew
    5. Boxcar Children series
    6. Little House series
    7. Purpose Driven Life
    8. My Sisters Keeper
    9. Psalm 91
    10. Come Home to Supper 🙂

  6. It is so difficult to come up with a list of books that have influenced me and changed my way of thinking… There are so many that have inspired me. After looking through your list I would like to recommend a book by author Andre Atabaki titled “The Bible of Mithra: A Book of Clarity” (www.PersianAstrology.com). As a lifelong Christian I sometimes have a hard time understanding other belief systems, but I try to stay open minded. This book was great in the fact that their is no religious “recruitment” going on. The author is an equal opportunity practitioner in trying to get you to be the best, most connected spiritual person that you can be. There are some really deep and fascinating incites in here that were hard for me to wrap my head around at first but by the time I closed the book I felt like I had actually grown in a way. It is not just a book but an experience. Definitely something I am always looking for when I am reading, something that changes my way of thinking. Hope you will check it out

  7. Many of mine are children’s books that have touched my heart, and that I now love sharing with my children.
    “The Secret Garden”
    “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
    Many Dr Seuss books as they are filled with a surprising amount of wisdom
    “The Little Matchstick Girl” to this day I still cry every time in read it.
    I can’t remember the name right now but there’s a wonderful and funny story about two dinosaurs falling in love that we actually used in our wedding readings
    Not a book but a poem,
    “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost
    “Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens
    Most stories by Dean Koontz, but especially “One Door Away From Heaven”. Although most consider his writing to be horror it’s actually about the fight between good and evil. (And I love that he portrays dogs as being the beings closest to God)
    “The Five Love Languages”
    Obviously the Bible.
    “The Country Book of Wisdom and Know How”
    My set of Betty Crocker cookery books from 1894.
    Oops! That’s more than ten, but it’s so hard to narrow it down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *