Ever since I can remember I’ve loved books. As a kid I spent much of my free time behind the closed door of my bedroom reading. I’ve always loved to escape between the pages of a book. Over the years I’ve encountered many, many books which I’ve loved and been inspired by. Here are a few inspiring books I’d like to share with you.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I was a young adult the first time I read this but oh, how I wish I had discovered it as a child. In so many ways I identify with the main character, Francie Nolan. A quiet, sensitive, bookish child myself, I would have adored getting to know Francie back then.
Aside from feeling a kinship with Francie, however, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn inspires me with its sensitive portrayal of courage and hope in the face of poverty. I firmly believe that reading literature can make a person more understanding and empathetic. My experience with this book is part of the reason I believe that. Betty Smith masterfully mines the depths of poverty and its effects on the human spirit in such a way that I came away with a greater understanding, despite never having experienced it myself. That is what a truly great book can do.
“The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Another book I wish I had read at a younger age, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those classics that I strongly believe EVERYONE should read. I read it to my kids and we watched the movie together (one of the few movies which does justice to the book). I re-read it every couple of years. Atticus Finch is the very embodiment of kindness, honesty, integrity and honor.
Several of my all-time favorite quotes are from this book, including these:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
“Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.”
The “Have-More” Plan by Ed and Carolyn Robinson
I’ve mentioned before that in addition to my love of Paris I also have a thing for homesteading and self-sufficiency. In theory, anyway. While I’m not likely to ever do this myself I absolutely adore reading about others actually doing it.
About 20 years ago I started reading about homesteading in earnest. At that time I actually DID think we might pursue this ourselves, to some degree anyway. We bought our current home on 40 acres and it seemed like a good idea. To me, that is. David truly had no interest in this little notion of mine.
We did buy some cattle which we kept on my parents’ land along with theirs which allowed us some tax breaks as a “farm”. We were able to depreciate the cost of our tractor because of this farm exemption. Later on we bought a horse for our daughter and I raised chickens for a number of years. David went along with all this simply because he’s a good sport.
I’d like to have chickens again and I’m still hoping to plant at least a small garden this year. I’d like a small orchard, too. We have even been talking about putting some type of animal in the pasture where we used to keep horses. It hadn’t been mowed in years and was covered in small trees. David recently hired someone to mow it so theoretically we could put a few cows or sheep in there.
Our current lifestyle doesn’t really mesh with homesteading. We are very busy with our music foundation and we travel a lot. But who knows what the future holds? Still, I’m inspired by the folks who create a living, or even just supplement a job, from the fruits of their land.
“This classic guide to homesteading is based on solid, practical techniques that remain useful to everyone who wants to learn country skills and increase their self-sufficiency. By turns philosophical and instructional, Ed and Carolyn Robinson share their pioneering approach to efficiently growing vegetables, raising livestock, and building farm structures. Since it was first published in 1943, The “Have-More” Planhas inspired generations of homesteaders to make the most out of whatever land they have available.”
Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
I first read this a couple of decades ago and thus began, in earnest, my pursuit of “a beautiful life”. Alexandra Stoddard writes eloquently of bringing elements of beauty into one’s home and creating a life of joyful rituals. I’ve since read most of her books, most more than once. Each time I am reminded that we truly can create a beautiful life with intention.
“With the publication of Living A Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard originated the idea of creating an atmosphere of beauty and tranquility with simple touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. As a world-famous interior decorator, she has worked her magic on interiors large and small, from mansions and embassies to cottages and studio apartments. Through her writing and lectures, she has encouraged millions to brighten their lives and their homes by turning mundane tasks into small pleasurable rituals that add beauty and joy to everything they do.”
I’d love to hear which books inspire you and why. Leave me a comment. I’m always interested in discussing books. 🙂