Community members share favorite books

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The winter months are the perfect time to delve into a good book. (File photo)

By Caroline Rosacker

Any time of year provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a good book. The winter months, with shorter days and challenging weather conditions, give avid readers an even better excuse to while away the hours in the pages of a good read. The Guttenberg Press reached out to area bookworms and requested they share their all-time favorite book – why – and the impact it had on their life. Submissions are listed in alphabetical order. 

Pastor Michael Ashman

If someone would ask, “What book made the biggest impact upon my ministry?” I would state that I would not be able to answer – without stating the obvious – like the Bible. But if cornered, I would have to reply that one very brief book made a huge impact. 

Frederick Beuchner was always a favorite author, with his short books like The Alphabet of Grace. But when I was on my internship, I received his latest book, Telling Secrets, and I sat in a small corner of the church and read it from cover to cover without as much as a cup of coffee.

Riveting. Engaging. These words cannot begin to explain the impact. Telling Secrets is a part of a trilogy where Beuchner examines his own life in the light of God. Within his stories, we see sin at its pinnacle. But we also find grace in rays of light that come in at the bleakest of moments. For me, this book embodies practical theology at its finest.

We find that Buechner challenges us to examine our own lives—to dig into our deepest secrets—and find not only grace but a deep sense of faith that has been within us, even when we least expect it. 

Sara Davis

A book that I have "read" 4-5 times is exclusively audio with no printed version. The audio book is What to Remember When Waking, The Disciplines of an Everyday Life by David Whyte, released by Sounds True in 2010. 

David Whyte is an Anglo-Irish poet whose musings and narrative on life resound deeply in the heart. In his Irish accent and calm grounded voice, he encourages us to befriend our relationship with the unknown, to apprentice ourselves to our very life, and to see the future as a parent, raising us into maturity. 

He begs the question, "What is the courageous step to take right now?" offering that our heart leads the way. This book has the capacity to reach people in their 20s and their 70s alike. 

I was introduced to David's work just before the Covid-19 pandemic and What To Remember Upon Waking has been an essential bedtime companion during this uncertain time. When listening, I am reminded of what it means to be human, to live a life well-lived, and to let go when the moment requires. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, "One of the ways we do know that we are in the conversation that we were born for is that we are in love with our future again."

Molly Moser

My reading preferences have transitioned from mystery fiction to family and parenting guides – but mostly I read children’s books aloud. How to choose just one? My favorite book ever is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, about a famous novelist with a secretive private life who invites an amateur biographer to write her story. It includes all the best elements: writers, ghosts, a secret twin and a collapsing mansion.

I’ve read so many good parenting books, but my recent favorite is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I liked it because of its Montessori lens and what I would call a KonMari approach to our most important work: clearing away the clutter of stuff, screens and chatter to focus on connection, rhythm and values.

The children’s book I most enjoy right now is Three Cheers for Kid McGear by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ag Ford. It’s a rhyming story about an industrious little construction site hero and the illustrations are beautiful. I’m happy to read it on repeat. Though Kid McGear is small, she is mighty, and she doesn’t get down when the bigger trucks doubt her – she steps up to save them with grace.

 Stephanie Radabaugh

My favorite novel is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. I have read it several times over the years and of course seen the movie. The summary of the book is four children are sent off to live with a professor during wartime. The children likely feel homesick and are unsure of their surroundings. One day, while playing hide and seek, the children discover a magical land called Narnia by entering through an old wardrobe in the professor's home.

This story has always been my favorite, as it has reminded me that no matter what age you are, you can always use a little escape from reality. 

Most of us as children pretended to whisk off to a magical place like Narnia. I always did on my big wheel after making mud pies behind the house. Each time I pull this classic out and re-read it, I remember that we can all take a break from life when we struggle or are stressed.  All we need to do is find a little spark of magic – a book, a beautiful park, or in a quiet space we can all go to – Narnia.

Katey Simon

There have been many books I’ve enjoyed reading and have made a difference in my life.  Recently, I was asked what is one book that has truly transformed my life. The answer is the Bible, hands down. Growing up I heard the scripture readings in Mass. However, when I chose to delve deeper through study and spend time with them, that’s when the scriptures came alive and the journey from my head to my heart started.

Here are just a few things I have come to know on this journey. Psalm 139 says I am intimately created and known by God. I know that I matter and I was created with purpose. I’ve learned how essential prayer is for me. In the silence of prayer, I’ve felt the comfort and love of Jesus, and I have faith that even when I don’t “feel” it, I am not alone. Joshua 1:9 affirms that. When I’ve struggled with feeling anxious, 1 Philippians 4:6-7 reminds me to bring everything to God. What book has transformed your life?

Kyle Sperfslage

For me reading is a form of relaxation while also being the most important part of being a life-long learner. I enjoy reading a variety of books as long as I feel it can help me improve either as a person, teacher, or a coach. Quite often I find out that many books cover all three of these areas. It is impossible to pick a favorite book, but one that has greatly impacted me is Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great by Joshua Medcalf.

The main idea of the book, in my opinion, is that the process of becoming the best you can be (regardless of the craft) is far more important than what you actually accomplish in the end. Too often the end result is actually more out of our control than what we realize or want to believe. While we do have total control of the process of trying to reach that final result, and that is what we should be focusing on. Medcalf teaches his lessons in a fable that is easy to read and understand. In addition to Medcalf, my other favorite authors are Daniel Coyle, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jon Gordon.

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