Thanks for the tag, Stephanie! I think I even have enough time to include links this time. 🙂
Six works of non-fiction everyone should read:
I’m cheating. I haven’t read a fiction book in so long that I’m going to mention six non-fiction books instead of three fiction and three non-fiction.
1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
I think my life would have been a lot different if I’d come across a copy of the Catechism when I was younger. Chesterton once observed that people don’t hate the Catholic Church, they hate what they perceive the Catholic Church to be (anyone have that exact quote?) I know that when, based on the prodding of my commentors, I finally read about what, exactly, the Church believes and the reasoning behind it, I knew immediately that I had discovered truth in all its fullness.
2. Endurance by Alfred Lansing
I got this book after asking readers on an old blog of mine what the best book they ever read was. More than one person recommended this one, so I got it. And, indeed, this harrowing true story of the survival of the crew of the Endurance on its Antarctic voyage is one of the very best books I’ve ever read. Not only is it a gripping story, but it speaks so much about human nature, leadership, happiness, etc. You must read this. [Be SURE to get the version by *Lansing* since there are multiple books about this story with the same title.]
3. He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek
I just finished this stunning account of Fr. Ciszek’s unjust imprisonment in Russia, and it was nothing short of life-changing. What was most surprising to me was how applicable the lessons he learned are to modern American life. His insights about discerning and seeking God’s will and trusting God in all things that he discovered during five straight years of solitary confinement and fifteen years in a Siberian death camp are amazingly inspiring, whether you’re experiencing great suffering or just feeling numbed by the daily grind. I particularly loved his thoughts on how to keep your faith alive in the midst of the humdrum, the mundane and the boring. A must-read.
4. Journey to Easter by Pope Benedict XVI
Another recent read, this also has become one of my favorite books. Based on a Lenten retreat he gave for John Paul II in the ’80s, Pope Benedict XVI walks us through a series of meditations based on scripture readings for Lent (BTW, how’s that for pressure: being in charge of a spiritual retreat to help JPII grow in his faith!) I admit that there were two or three chapters that were just kind of over my head, but the rest of the book offered powerful insights on everything from prayer to the Paschal mystery to conversion to the Church. I can’t really lend my copy to anyone because it’s so marked up with underlines and stars and dog-eared pages.
5. Any book by Dave Ramsey
I’ve become a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I’d heard his name and wrote him off as yet another face in the crowd of home budget talking heads, but after hearing friend after friend rave about how they turned their financial lives around with the help of his advice, I decided to read his book Financial Peace Revisited. And though it’s not rocket science, his easy-to-understand, tough-love advice really motivated me to make some great changes in our personal finances.
6. Eating Well for Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil
This book inspired me to take my diet more seriously. Harvard-trained Dr. Weil manages to give specific details about why certain types of foods (e.g. trans fats) are bad for you without making it too overwhelming. His lays out his case for healthy eating, holistic medicine and natural foods in a reasonable, clear way, and his passion for the subject is contagious.
Three authors everyone should read:
1. Any of the great saints (e.g. St. Francis de Sales, St. Augustine, etc.)
2. Pope Benedict XVI
3. Scott Hahn
Three books no one should read:
I’ll offer more than three and just say: any parenting books (except one, which I mention below). After my first child was born I went through a phase where I voraciously read everything from the Sears to the Baby Whisperer to Ezzo to Rosemond, et. al. Almost all parenting books proclaim their “one size fits all” advice to be the only philosophy that parents should use, and some [picture me coughing *doctorsears* into my fist] go so far as to strongly imply that you must not be a very loving parent if you don’t subscribe to their beliefs.
I didn’t realize how much the rigid mentality of all these experts had seeped into my subconscious until I came across the one parenting book I really, really love, Dr. Ray Guarendi’s You’re a Better Parent Than You Think. Guarendi states the obvious fact that there’s not one right way to be a parent, that making an informed decision about what your philosophy is and then being a leader and sticking to it is what counts. It’s such an obvious message, but one that had been lost to me after all my parenting book reading.
Once again, I would like to tag my commentors who don’t have blogs. If you’re up to it, leave your answers in the comments. (Many of my favorite books have been recommended to me by my commentors when we talk about books — I read each comment and add many of the recommendations to my Wish List).
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