Thursday, February 28, 2008

Books that changed my life

Insomnia is a great opportunity to catch up on things you’ve been meaning to do. I love the website: It’s fun to see what all my friends are reading and even better to have a record of what I’ve read for myself. I finally updated my bookshelves with the things I’ve read over the past few years – it was especially fun to rate them. Check out my list if you are curious. I included reviews of some of my favorites.

I used the rating system this way:

1 star – Not worth reading
2 stars – Ok but probably not worth the time
3 stars – I’m glad I read it, probably won’t or at least shouldn’t read it again
4 stars – Loved it, part of my personal classics lists, will read it again
5 stars – One of my very favorites, have read it many times and will keep reading it over and over

Within my 5-star category are a handful of books that have changed my life. I try to read these books every year. They are foundational to my family’s lifestyle and culture. They all support and compliment each other too. Each one calls for pretty intense and dramatic lifestyle changes. I consider it my life’s work to learn to live according to the principles in each of these books. When and if I do, I will be perfect. I’m trying to accomplish this with a small but consistent daily effort. I can measure the success of any given day, week or month by how well I followed the principles of these books. Here are my top 5 life-changing books:

1. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ

This is the central classic of my life. I try to read from it every day. I took Moroni’s challenge when I was 12 and my testimony of Christ has continued to grow throughout my life. Moroni wrote,

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

2. The Bible

I confess I have not completely read this book. I am halfway through the Old Testament. I have referenced it my whole life and am very familiar with the stories and I love it. I believe it is divine. I am amazed at how many references there are to the Bible in classic literature. You can’t fully understand the classics if you haven’t read the Bible. I will have more to say on this book once I’ve finished it.

3. A Thomas Jefferson Education

My life is dramatically different because of this book. It was a major part of mine and my husband’s decision to homeschool our daughter. It is about much more than just education. It’s about leadership and the purpose of life.

4. Eat to Live

I don’t know how anyone can deny the author’s conclusions about the right way to eat after reading this book. This is not a theory or philosophy; its conclusions are based on scientific fact, proven over and over by more than one group of scientists or doctors. I believe it fits right in line with the Word of Wisdom guidelines taught by my Faith. I followed the Eat to Live plan perfectly for 6 weeks and the results were astounding. I lost 12 pounds in just a few weeks, my very severe acid reflux problem went away within a week, my painful shoulder tendonitis disappeared, frequent migraines vanished, I slept spectacularly, and my complexion rivaled Nicole Kidman’s. I know I’m enthusiastic by nature but this is not an exaggeration. Staying on the plan is difficult and I have not done it consistently. As I resumed my old ways, all my ailments resurfaced but they disappear whenever I follow the plan closely. It is empowering to realize how much you can control your health without drugs.

5. Money: It’s not just for Rich People

My family’s finances will never be the same. We’ve never been horrible with our finances but we’ve also never been great. We’ve struggled to achieve our financial goals. This is the first financial advice that has made a material difference in our lives. Here are some of results of our efforts to follow these principles over the last year:

· Eliminated all credit card debt
· Husband received a pay raise that was retroactive for the previous 8 months
· Husband received multiple bonuses
· Finally established a significant emergency savings fund that earns interest every month
· Increased our retirement savings rate
· Finally figured out how to control our daily spending habits
· Learned many new ways to spend less
· Have increased our charitable contributions

In addition to all of these fantastic results, we have clarity about our financial goals and are confident that we will be able to achieve them.

So what are the books that have changed your life?


Sea Star said...

I haven't read the last two. I know I really should look up that Eat to Live. Judi talks about now and again and reminds me to look it up but I just never seem to get around to it.

I think that Money books sound good too. I have read a lot of books on this subject as well. My dad has given us (his kids) a number of them as assigned reading.

What 5 books would list?

I of course would have to also say the Book of Mormon. It certainly is the book I read most often and it along with the Bible is my Central classic upon which everything else is based.

I of course would include Thomas Jefferson Education along with A Charlote Mason Companion and A Well Trained Mind. They have all given me a lot of direction in my choice to and focus of Home schooling and my own education.

I would have to include Jane Austen. I really love her books and they were life changing in that they were my pleasure reads while in college and from them really developed a love or reading for pleasure. The Anne of Green Gables series were my pleasure reads in my youth so maybe they should be here too.

Anyway... good topic... It is always fun to talk about books.

Michael Family said...

Not life-changing, but a good one you might enjoy is "Martha Washington" by Patricia Brady. It's a biography, and it is really interesting. I think you'd appreciate it!

Jennifer said...

I really need to read Charlotte Mason. I've read some of Well Trained Mind and I liked it. I love to see what other people are reading and especially to hear their thoughts on what they've read. I miss our Campbell Book Club.

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

Marisa I've added it to my to-read list!

Andrea said...

I miss our classics book club. I've read more books in the last year than I have in a long time, and thinking about it the one that have changed my life is Thomas Jefferson Education. It just solidified in me the importance of reading good books.

In the worldwide leadership conference President Monson talked about how reading good books will help solidify our families. That really hit me that a prophet is telling us to do that too! Now I just have to do it!!

Jennifer said...

I miss our bookclub too Andrea! I wish we could find enough people to keep it going regularly. I'd totally be up for trying it again if we found 6 or 7 people who are interested...

One of the easiest ways I have found to read good books with my family is at the dinner table after I finish eating. I'm usually done well before Isabel and so while her mouth is full and her body is still I can read at least a chapter of something and she usually stays for several chapters. It's so fun to read something all together and then be able to discuss it throughout the week. It's a nice family bonding experience. We've really enjoyed Charlotte's Web, Little House on the Prairie, Secret Garden, and The Trumpet of the Swan. I'd say Charlotte's Web is probably the most engaging for tiny children. They just love the animals.

Andrea said...

That is a really great suggestion, Jen. After hearing about how you read chapter books to Isabel, I actually started to try it on Sam. We have started Trumpet of the Swan. He loves it, and talks about it to others.