Books With Impact

A friend asked me what books have had an impact on me. There are many, many books that I have loved over the years. These books are ones that have changed my life for the better.

The Burning Within
The Burning Within by Ranelle Wallace

RaNelle and Terry Wallace were in a plane crash. Terry walked away with only minor burns, but RaNelle was severely burned. Hours after the crash, she died. Her account of the heavens is beautifully written and inspiring. She speaks of the overpowering love of God and man.

I reflect on the following quote often: "...I was seeing my entire life...Entirety does not describe the fullness of this review. It included knowledge about myself, that all the books in the world couldn't contain. I understood every reason for everything I did in my life. And I also understood the impact I had on others."

She goes on to give accounts of people she helped in life and others who she failed to help. This section of the book has helped me look outside myself and seek out opportunities to be God's hand in this life.

The Burning Within is not only a Near-Death Experience. It is a story of love, overcoming the unimaginable, and of RaNelle finding herself. The NDE is actually a relatively small portion of the book.

Stand for the Family by Sharon Slater

Stand for the FamilyStand for the Family, unfortunately, is not full of joyful things. It's all about the terrible attacks being made on the family, both overt and covert. It's disturbing at times, yet so important. The author talks about what we can (and must) do to save the family institution, as well as why it is important to our country as a whole. 

It's a well-researched, well-written call to action. I read this book very recently, and now I want to shout about it from the rooftops so everyone I know will read it.

The Robe by Lloyd C. DouglasThe Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
Here's what I want to ask this book...Where have you been all my life?I wonder how I never read this classic until now. It's amazing.

Marcellus Gallio, a Roman Tribune, is ordered to crucify Jesus. Although he believes Jesus is innocent of any crime, he follows orders. During the crucifixion, he takes the Robe that Jesus wore.

That dark day nearly kills Marcellus. He is overwhelmed with guilt and curiosity. Marcellus travels to Galillee to learn more about this mysterious man who was crucified, taking the Robe along.

This historical fiction classic tells the story of one man's quest for the meaning of life. Full of faith, love, and adventure, this book has it all.

This is not a quick and easy read, by any means, but if you are in the mood for an inspiring Christian classic, this might be the one for you.

Recommended for adults and teens who enjoy classics.

The Creative Family by Amanda Soule
The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family ConnectionsAt first glance, this may appear to just be a book full of craft projects. However, look a little closer and you'll find inspiration galore, not just about doing craft projects that Amanda Soule suggests, but about how to live a more creative life. 

Amanda Soule tells the who, what, how, and why of being creative. If you like her popular blog, SouleMama, you are sure to love this book even more.

Here's an excerpt: "A large part of nurturing a spirit of creativity comes from being mindful, slowing down, observing, and looking around you at the beauty and inspiration all around. We are blessed as parents to have the best teachers for this--our children. Stop and watch your children often. Really stop and watch, and you'll see them using such creativity in everything they do..."

You should see me book. Half the pages are dog-eared.

Left to Tell : Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan HolocaustThe subtitle of this book says it all...Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. While the unthinkable is happening all around her, Immaculee Ilibagiza finds peace in God's love.

Immaculee grew up in a Rwandan paradise. It wasn't until she was ten, that she even learned the words Hutu and Tutsi. When her teacher began taking ethnic roll call, she didn't know which tribe she belonged to. However, prejudices deepened into hatred, and when Immaculee was 24, a massive genocide took place. It is estimated that a million Tutsis were killed in three months.

Immaculee hid in a bathroom with six other women. The space was so small, that they had to take turns standing. When someone needed to use the toilet, everyone had to shift to accomodate her. The ladies nearly starved to death. Worse still, they could her the killers outside looking for them, chanting horrible death songs.

Immaculee spent nearly all her time praying in that bathroom. The women couldn't talk to one another because they might be heard, so Immaculee talked to God, who spared their lives because of her prayers.

Each time it seemed that Immaculee's life would end or that there was no way to go on, she prayed "show me" how to do this, and God would literally show her what to do.

The Hiding PlaceThe Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

This is a true story about the author's experiences during the holocaust. Corrie ten Boom was a leader in the Underground. With the help of her family, she kept many Jews safe from the Nazis. However, she was eventually caught, and along with her family, thrown into prison and a concentration camp.

This inspirational story is about how Corrie found faith and held onto it for dear life. She witnessed many miracles, but the greatest miracle to me, is that Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were able to maintain such a positive outlook because of their unwavering faith in God. I mean, Betsie prays IN GRATITUDE for the fleas in the bunker, which do, amazingly enough, turn out to have a good purpose.

Here is a brief excerpt:

"Corrie Ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner. "Oh, the poor woman," Corrie cried. "Yes. May God forgive her," Betsie replied. And, once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed."

The Hiding Place is a life-changing classic. It is a quick read. Although it is about the holocaust, it is not deeply depressing but enlightening and uplifting. I hope you enjoy it! It is one of the best books I have ever read.

A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First CenturyA Thomas Jefferson Education and Leadership Education by the DeMilles

I didn't realize that this book had already changed my life before I even read it. One of my BYU professors read an excerpt from A Thomas Jefferson Educationthat has truly stuck with me through the years. I am relieved to see the actual story in print. It has influenced my parenting as well as my views on creativity in education. Here is the story...
"The teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy enthusiastically grabbed the crayons and began to imagine all the things he could draw: mountains, lakes, airplanes, his familiy, his dog, the ocean, the stars at night...
Hundreds of ideas raced through his creative little mind.
His teacher, seeing that he had started drawing, stopped him and said that today the class would be drawing flowers. The boy's mind again ran wild: daisies, daffodils, roses, carnations, violets, lilacs, pansies, mixed bouquets, green gardens full of rainbows of colors...
The teacher again interrupted, informing the class that today they would be drawing a certain kind of flower.
Taking colored chalk, the teacher went to the board and drew a green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals. The little boy, eager to please, dutifully copied her drawing.
After several attempts, his drawing looked exactly like hers. The teacher congratulated him for doing such good work.
As the school year passed, the little boy became a very good student; he learned to listen, obey instructions and get the right answers on tests. His parents were very proud of him, and his teacher was impressed with his excellent progress.
When the next school year arrived, the boy had done so well in his classes that he was enrolled in an accelerated program. During the first week of class, the teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy, still in love with art, enthusiastically picked up his crayons and waited for instructions.
After several minutes the teacher noticed that the little boy wasn't drawing. "Why haven't you started?" she asked. "Don't you like to draw?"
"I love to draw," responded the little boy, "but I was waiting for you to tell us what the assignment is."
"Just draw whatever you want," the teacher smiled and left the little boy to his creativity.
The little boy sat for a long time, watching the minutes tick off the clock and wondering what he should draw. Nothing came to mind.
Finally, in a burst of creative inspiration, he picked up his crayons and began to draw:
A green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals."
This story breaks my heart. It broke my heart enough that it changed my life.
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century by Oliver Van DeMille is a book about traditional, classics-based education. It is not just a homeschool book, but a book about what has worked historically in terms of education. It is a look into how our Founding Fathers were taught and inspired and an appeal for current educational systems to return to the classics.
The book is well-written, accessible, and thought-provoking.
I recommend it to anyone who is interested in life-long learning for themselves and the young people they interact with.

Please share any books that have changed your life for the better and how. Thanks!


  1. Jacob's Courage was compared favorably to Corrie ten Boom's, "The Hiding Place." Jacob's Courage (2007, Mazo Publishers, ISBN 978-9657344248) is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This compelling historical novel presents scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. It explores the dazzling beauty of young love, powerful faith and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are murdered. Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.

  2. All of these books look amazing! I can't believe I haven't checked them out yet, especially "Stand For the Family." I am constantly looking for books that promote happy families and happy life and recently found one that I found to be helpful... "Principled Centered Living" by Rev. Dr. Sheldon E. Williams. The book really reiterated the importance of staying true to your values and shows you how to make choices that help you avoid living with regret or lying awake at night wondering "how could I have done things differently.

  3. Haven't red The Robe since high school but I would love to reread.

    I visited the Ten Boom house in the Netherlands. Great experience! Amazing story.

    Charles, thanks for recommending Jacob's Courage.

  4. I just love how you are a bookaholic like me! I'm a new home school mom. Just started our blog and found yours...thanks for the inspiration and book reviews. Will follow, thanks!
    Becky C
    A Country Classroom

  5. Thanks for sharing these! The Creative Place looks like a really good read. I've read the Hiding Place and it was excellent. You might also enjoy a new one out by David Millette called, Ben's Big Bang Botheration, which a fiction story for middle schoolers that explains how God is the creator of the universe. My daughter read it and really loved the story. I highly recommend this one.

  6. If you like The Robe, you may also enjoy The Big Fisherman (about Peter), which is also by Douglas, and The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain.

    Looking forward to reading Stand for the Family.

  7. Found your blog on mommyblogs and LOVE it. I'm a reader as well (although it's more even with chocolate in my book :)). Love all the book suggestions.

  8. I just found your blog, as well! I've loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak for some time now. I own two copies, just in case someone borrows it and I don't get it back.. :)