The Books that Shape My Life

Stephanie at Change Agency has tagged me and asked that I post the answer to these ten questions about books. I must begin with one caveat. I think picking my best book is almost like having to pick which breath of air enriched my body the most!

Reading is like breathing. I fell in love with reading as a child when I met “Nancy Drew,” Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was enthralled by the Chronicles of Narnia and greek and roman mythology. I loved the non fiction section of the library and read ALL of the children’s non fiction novels. From there, the summer after fifth grade, I decided it was time to get “educated” and so I read Jane Eyre and Homer’s the Iliad and Odyssey. (I kid you not!) In about eighth grade I fell in love with James Michener. And as I fell in love with my husband, I fell in love with his favorite author Tom Clancey with one of the greatest war novels ever written, Red Storm Rising.

Every moment in my life is accented by the books I was reading and as I trail my fingers along my bookshelves (and boxes) I carry with me remnants of days gone by, epiphanies, and life shattering encounters.

The rule I teach my students is that “If you want to change your life, find a book about it.” When I was overweight, I found 8 minutes in the morning and Body for Life. When I was struggling with parenting I found Dare to Discipline. When I was wanting to cook amazing food, I found the AllRecipes cookbooks and website. When my house was a mess I found Marla Ciley and her Flylady books. Each book is as much a part of me as the food I have consumed since I was born. With that being said, I have attempted to answer her questions.

1) One book that changed your life?

Besides the Bible, the I have two books that have changed my life. I have also read them more than once. Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People is my all time favorite. I remember in sixth grade I was sitting in the car talking to my Mom and telling her that I felt like God wanted me to be aleader. I was the kid with glasses and braces and no one would ever elect me to anything! She gave me the book and said it was my grandfather’s favorite book. She said that in its pages were the keys to what I was looking for!

During Middle School I read the book at least 3-4 times and continued to run for every election and lost at least 15 elections (or more) during middle school. I guess as a glutton for abuse, I ran for student government during high school and wrote my entire campaign speech based Dale Carnegie’s book. I considered what others wanted and realized that Dale’s principles were not a Machiavellian way of living but rather an honest, good approach to living. I won in a landslide!

After that point I have won every election I’ve worked towards except one (and ended up president of that one any way as my opponent stepped down after being elected.) I was able to lead major campus groups in college including Executive Round Table (an prestigious Georgia Tech organization of Industry, Faculty, and Students) and Student Alumni Association and helped found the Georgia Tech Ambassadors program. I’ve served as many roles in my community including Chamber President. My husband and I are graduates of the Leadership Georgia program and were selected mostly because of our work helping our community recover from the 2000 Valentine’s Day tornadoes.

When I find myself struggling, I pick up his book and read it over again. Now, I encourage my students to read him. He writes in such a simple manner. He does not look down on anyone but is a fellow learner in the trenches. I study his writing and I want to write like him. If I have any dream remaining in my life it is to write books that change people’s lives like his did mine. He is really the reason I write today.

I also LOVE his How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It helped me after I had children to relax and get on with enjoying my life!

2) One book you have read more than once?
The Bible. It is my Rock and my guide and I define a good day as one that begins with me reading its pages. My only problem is that I literally tear them up. Most of my favorites have the pages falling out and are marked to pieces.

3) One book you would want on a desert island?

The Bible. Sorry, I’m Johnny one note here, but that’s me!

I would also love to have an encyclopedia and anything written by Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom reminds me that no matter how dark the days, that it is always right to do what is right.

In the Hiding place, Corrie talks about how she hid and rescued Jews in Nazi occupied Holland and was interred in several concentration camps. She shows how that even in the darkest days that one can learn to be joyful. I would need that on a lonely island because I would miss my family and students.

4) One book that made you laugh?

I show my roots here, but Jeff Foxworthy of Redneck fame always makes me laugh. He doesn’t (usually) curse and just plain old makes fun of us Southerners so we can laugh at ourselves. My favorite two quotes are:

“You might be a redneck if your family tree doesn’t branch.” and
“You might be a redneck if your front porch falls in and kills more than three dogs.”

My high brow readers (if there are any) may unsubscribe me when they find out I think such things are funny. I think it is important to be able to laugh at yourself! I love the three stooges and Laurel and Hardy.

5) One book that made you cry?

A Man Called Peter, by Catherine Marshall and Phillip Yancey’s ten Anything by Corrie Ten Boom or Catharine Marshall.

6) One book you wish had been written?

7) One book you wish had never been written?

8) One book you are currently reading?

9) One book you have been meaning to read?

10) Now tag five people.

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