I love to read, and I love to talk about books! If you’re looking for some inspiring reads that will challenge you, entertain you, and perhaps even change your life, consider some of these:
He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek
This is the stunning memoir of a priest who went to Russia to minister to the people during World War II, only to be arrested and falsely convicted of being a spy as soon as he got there. He spent the next five years in solitary confinement in a notorious prison, and then another 15 years in a Siberian death camp. How could this have been God’s will for him? How was he supposed to do God’s work when he was in solitary confinement of all places? The answers he discovered to those questions are fascinating and applicable to every person’s life.
The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
This is one of those books that had me saying, “Wow! I’d never thought of it that way!” on every other page. Chesterton takes a look at humanity and religion from a high level, and ultimately makes the case that Christianity is utterly unique in human history. It is written in the flowery, somewhat verbose style of the early 20th century, and it’s a pretty dense work, so it may not be for everyone. But if you can get used to his manner of writing and focus on his points, you won’t see the world the same way again after you read it.
10 Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano
This slim little book is packed with all sorts of interesting thoughts about what God’s will is for you, and how to grow closer to God in times in silence. I found it to be particularly helpful in the discussion of the age-old “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” question. It definitely assumes that the reader believes in God, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for someone struggling with fundamental doubts, but if you’re a believer who feels angry at God or wonders why he’s so silent, read this. (You can read this compelling endorsement from a mom who experienced unthinkable tragedy.)
Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
Part conversion story, part spy thriller, this memoir by the son of one of the founders of Hamas is destined to become a modern classic. It covers Mosab’s work as a spy for the Israelis, his secret conversion to Christianity and his thoughts on what it will take to achieve peace in the Middle East. Just be prepared to lose some sleep after you get it: you won’t be able to put it down.
To Know Christ Jesus by F.J. Sheed
No other book has brought the Gospels alive for me like this one. Sheed offers all sorts of interesting thoughts on the life of Christ, without veering into unfounded speculation. He mines the Scriptures and comes up with gems that I’d never seen before. It is a bit dense (I almost gave up on it about 40 pages into it), but it really picks up around page 50. If you can stick with it, you’ll be richly rewarded.
The Shadow of His Wings by Gereon Goldmann
If it gives you any idea how good this book is, I read it when our fourth child was a newborn, and I actually looked forward to her many night wakings so that I’d have an opportunity to read more. Along the lines of Son of Hamas or He Leadeth Me, this story of Fr. Goldmann’s desire to be a priest in World War II Germany is both exciting and illuminating. Some of his stories of the work of Providence in his life after he was drafted into the SS during the Nazi regime literally made my jaw drop — and inspired me to trust God more in my own life.
Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales
This is not a light read; in fact, I had to read it twice before I felt like I fully absorbed it. But it’s worth the effort, because it’s truly a spiritual gem. Should I worry about God’s will in the little things? How do I know if God is leading me in one direction or the other? How can I possibly overcome this one sin that’s constantly defeating me? These are the types of questions that 17th-century spiritual director Francis de Sales addresses in this book. Get a pen to make notes on the pages, because this is one you’ll come back to over and over again.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
You will love this book. I promise. It’s the true story of the ill-fated ship Endurance, which got caught in the ice of Antarctica in the early 20th century on an attempted expedition to the South Pole. The stories of how Ernest Shackleton kept his men alive for months through the Antarctic winter and eventually got them to safety is just mind-boggling. This is another jaw-dropping read that will cost you some sleep because you won’t be able to put it down.
More to come! I’ll update this list regularly as my reading continues.