I cannot write about the life-changing power of story without telling you about stories that have changed my life.
I consider myself a bibliophile and though I know many people who read more widely, deeply and voraciously than myself, I claim a profound love for books. The photo at left is just one tiny corner of what you’ll find if you come to my house looking for books. They’re everywhere — stacked on the fireplace hearth, toppling off my nightstand, crowded into other bookshelves like this one in just about every room in the house.
Here’s a list of 10 books — biography, memoir and fiction — that contain powerful life stories which helped shape me and fueled my love of story. I’ve listed them in a loosely-held order beginning with the first autobiography I remember reading. They’re not all faith-based, but each one is rich in life lessons. Because I know you can find them all on Amazon and elsewhere, I’ve linked them to Goodreads (where possible) so you can see what others have to say about these titles. Enjoy!
And, if you’re willing, share your favorite “life-story” book.
- The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), for which Charles Lindbergh received the Pulitzer Prize for biography, includes descriptions of Lindbergh’s early life and accomplishments, culminating with his 1927 transatlantic flight in the aircraft by the same name. Probably the only reason this book is such an early memory for me is my dad’s keen interest in Lindbergh. As an adult, I was drawn to the writings of his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She tells what might be considered “the other side of the story” in her published letters and diaries and in her beautiful book Gift from the Sea.
- Christy (1967) by Catherine Marshall is based on the life of her mother, Leonora Whitaker, a missionary in the Appalachian Mountains. Marshall acknowledged that the book is 75 percent historical. Telling a “slice of life” story through fiction is a beautiful and creative way to engage a reader. Many great works of fiction contain major biographical elements.
- A Chance to Die (1987) is “a vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as ‘Amma,’ or ‘mother,’ as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy’s life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ.” (From Goodreads) This vulnerable telling of a deep spiritual struggle opened my eyes to what it means to serve God.
- The Hiding Place (1971) by Corrie ten Boom was and hopefully still is required reading in every high school English class, along with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. However, I couldn’t fully appreciate either of these true stories until I read them alongside my own teenagers. Both books shed light on the atrocities of Nazi Germany during World War II.
- Joni: An Unforgettable Story (1976) by Joni Eareckson Tada caught my attention the minute it hit the shelves. I was a young adult, newly married, and Joni’s story about her diving accident and resulting paralysis was poignantly real to me. I remember watching the movie based on the book (with Joni playing herself) several times. Joni continues to impact the world today through her ministry.
- Rocket Boys (1998) by Homer Hickam is a memoir that reads like fiction. Actually, it’s the first in a trilogy about growing up in a coal-mining town in the hills of West Virginia. The popular movie October Sky is based on Hickam’s beautifully-written book. The Coalwood Way and Sky of Stone are waiting for me on my bookshelf.
- The Glass Castle (2005) by Jeannette Walls is another novel-like memoir. I loved it. From the Goodreads’ description: “A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.” Appalling and entertaining all at the same time.
- Kisses from Katie (2011) by Katie Davis is exactly what it promises — a young woman’s account of how she moved to Uganda, adopted 14 children and established Amazima Ministries, all before she turned 20. The book is full of innocence, honesty and hope. Katie remains in Uganda, has married and has written a second book, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful. I look forward to reading it.
There you have it, an armload of books that I would recommend to anyone looking for true “slice of life” stories that are inspiring, moving and informative. I hope that by picking up any one of them you will be encouraged to write down even a snippet of your own life story.
You can download a FREE copy of my booklet Do Tell! Why Your Life Stories Matter and How To Capture Them by clicking HERE.
Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. And, you can read blogs from other writers taking the #Write31Days challenge by visiting the website here.
Tomorrow: A Guest Post About How God Rewrites Our Story