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5 Books That Defined My Heart



What books have defined you so far?


This question is a good one - impossible to answer - but still fun to consider. This topic was inspired after reading "soul-changing reads with staying power" from book blogger and influencer, Modern Mrs. Darcy. A timely question as summer is the perfect time to dive into your next great read.


With my answer, I've decided I'm officially an old soul. With my top five book choices from the mid-1800s to early 1900s, I probably belong in your grandma's book club. And not to be obvious, but certainly the Bible would be number one on my list. Beyond the Word, here are five classics that have defined me as a person.


5 Great Reads That Have Defined Me


Loved this book as a kid, loved it more as an adult. This was the first book I read to my son when I started homeschooling in 2010. Because it was a favorite of mine as a kid, I wanted it to be part of his reading experience. The beautiful illustrations and classic language from 1908 remind me that good stuff endures the test of time. My son grew to love the book for the sweet story of friendship and adversity. This book marked a transformative time in my heart as a kid and again with the legacy of my son's heart.


I was so mad at my dad for insisting I read this book at age 12. I didn't understand why anyone in their right mind would build a balsa log raft and sail more than 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean only to see if they could. Why would anyone do that when there were perfectly good boats at the time? Truly my dad wanted me to see what it looked like to do hard things (even reading a book that makes no sense). But I now see it as a deep lesson in tenacity for sticking with something hard, even when the world thinks it's a dumb idea.


Reading this book as a young bride, the wisdom was such a comfort to me. I loved Anne's story of raising so many children and her summer breaks when she would take time away to write and think. She captures each season of being a mom and a wife symbolized as a specific shell from the ocean. Her words describing each phase of womanhood were eye-opening to me. It was a comfort to know other women like Anne struggled with balancing all the demands of womanhood and finding ways to embrace each new season.


This is a comfort food of the heart book. My dad kept bees during my childhood and this book reminds me of him. Also, the main character's last name, McFarlane was my mother's maiden name - so truly it makes me think of both my parents. Written in 1925, the book has old-timey language and expressions. But I love the descriptions of the California coastline, as well as all the healthy things James McFarlane does to heal himself. All of his practices like spending time in the fresh air and sunshine, swimming in the ocean, fresh fruits, and having a meaningful purpose are all things we now know to promote wellness. For 1925, this must have been ahead of the times. The enduring messages of hope and optimism shine in this book and I love reading it almost every summer. And to remember, true health is about the little things.


I put both of these books together because I love them for the same reason: the stories of strong, resilient women. When I first read these books, I felt like I was finally a grown-up because I could read difficult stuff. The more times I read them, the more I saw different things in the next seasons of life. I loved Jane Eyre for all she overcame, even in the harshest of conditions. I loved Pride and Prejudice because of the constant reminder that love does indeed conquer all.


What about you? What books defined you?

Everything we read shapes us in little and big ways. Summer is a great time to nurture your heart and mind -- not only in the Good Book but also good books. You can find all the books above in my booklist here or visit your local library and discover your own soul-shaping favorite.

 

4 Comments


messengerministries
Jun 27

I have read many books that have entertained me, educated me and inspired me, but the ONLY book that defines me is The Bible...the only truth this world has and I seek to Know more about the one who truly loves us unconditionally and seek to love as He does as I move through this earth...celebrate the truth...Living Proof of a Loving God

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Cara McLauchlan
Cara McLauchlan
Jun 27
Replying to

Yes and Amen! Grateful for you and your kind words. Thank you for reading and continuing to share your encouragement!

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mchudson77
mchudson77
Jun 27

What a great post. Thanks for sharing what each of these books have meant to you. Off hand, I can't think of any books, other than the Bible that I would say have defined me. All that Jazz by Donald Miller, Barbara Taylor Brown books, Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli, all have impacted me in deeper ways. I'm sure there are more but these quickly come to mind. I'm so glad you've shared ones that hold such an important place in your life.

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Cara McLauchlan
Cara McLauchlan
Jun 27
Replying to

Yes I loved both Donald Miller and Barbara Taylor Brown -- very thought provoking! It's a fun exercise to think about books that were life-giving through the years.

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