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Books Beautifully Influence Importantly, Promoting Precious Possibilities!

 Kristen Lippert
 Senior Staff Writer

If books were a love language, it might be one of mine. I love to read. There's something at once comforting and exhilarating about escaping to someone else's life and mind for a while, whether real or imaginary. Sometimes I've let books influence me more than my family or friends, finding in written works wisdom that escapes me otherwise but isn't damaging to my pride. I benefit from authors' honest stories, their humor and failures, and they can't judge me, because they don't know I exist. It's kind of a sad, one-way relationship if you think about it that way.


But books connect us too. Three years ago, I received a book entitled "A Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business" for having entered a business plan competition. In the prologue, author Steve Mariotti shares what motivated him to begin teaching young people about business. His story is similar to mine, having been robbed on the street by teenagers who did not see better options in life, shortly after he moved to the city. I was inspired by how he reacted to this trauma by later engaging with the same population that assaulted him, becoming a teacher in NYC public schools. He's now a well-known leader in education. Soon after starting his book, I sent Mr. Mariotti an email, and he replied immediately, "Let me know if you're ever in New York!"


I have yet to meet Steve Mariotti (I don't know if he would even remember me now-- I didn't have the funds to travel at the time), but I have shared other books with family and friends who are closer in distance or in relationship. From down the hall in our college dorm to across state lines, we encourage each other to think new thoughts or to be reminded of old ones. There is something special about receiving a book as a gift (or loan), as if you are being entrusted with important and precious information. And you feel accountable to the giver (or lender) to absorb it in a timely manner. Teachers, my grandmother and my mom (sometimes through the tooth fairy) all shared countless books with me when I was growing up, and maybe that is why I have such an appetite for reading today.


When I was a teenager, I loved wandering in bookstores, perusing titles and discovering their contents. (Will such an environment even exist in 20 years, with the advent of e-readers and Amazon's SuperSaver shipping? I hope so.) I saw one title that went something like: "How to Choose What Books to Read," and it was supposed to help readers navigate our options and to spend our time wisely (to perhaps not feel guilty for failing to read all of the books in existence?). I remember thinking it would be a waste of my time to read such a book, because how would that author know what I wanted to read more than I did? I would rather read a "real" book, than a book about books. My reading didn't need structure, or so I thought.


Ever realize that you've started several books, but you have yet to finish any of them? Josh reminded me recently that though we've acquired many books over the past couple years, I rarely set aside time to read them straight through. Instead, I pick up a chapter here, another there, then flip to the back and see what might be more relevant. That works well for some books, but not for others. A pile is growing on my desk and across the room. Alas, having a shorter lunch break in a crowded work space does not lend itself well to quiet thought. And without my university employee bus pass, I no longer indulge in reading during my commutes. Instead, this pedestrian enjoys the benefits of exercise, occasional courteous drivers who fail to hit me while crossing intersections, and littered city sidewalks.


Sarcasm aside, this is my attempt to organize myself and to engage anyone who is interested in discussing books we have read or are reading. I could probably tell you how I came across each of the books listed below, and why I respect the people that recommended or gave them to me (many of you). May our shared curiosities motivate us to continue exploring the possibilities in life!


What motivates you to read? How do you choose your reading material, and are you an organized or a spontaneous reader? If you aren't inspired by much on my list, what would you add to it? What is on yours?


Books I've started reading (2009-2012):


Spiritual/Personal Growth 

  • Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict (Barthel & Dabler)

  • Healing for Damaged Emotions: Recovering from the Memories That Cause Our Pain (David Seamands)

  • Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (John Piper)

  • When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (John Piper)

  • Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder (Hallowell & Ratey)

  • Depression: A Stubborn Darkness (Edward Welch)

  • Becoming a Woman of Influence (Carol Kent)

  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen) *ironic, since I started reading it in 2009!

Philosophy & Theology

  • Bioethics and the Christian Life (David Vandrunen)

  • Paul, Women and Wives (Craig Keener)

  • On Guard (W.L. Craig)

  • The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (Dallas Willard)

  • The Bible (currently Job & James)

History & Politics

  • 5 Cities That Ruled the World (Douglas Wilson)

  • Ecological! (Joanna Yarrow)

  • Turning Oil Into Salt (Luft & Korin)


  • The Choice (Nicholas Sparks)

Faith & Experience

  • Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Paul Brand & Philip Yancey)

  • The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven (Kevin & Alex Malarkey)

  • Revolution in World Missions: One Man's Journey to Change a Generation (K.P. Yohannan)

Christ's Church

  • Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (John Piper)

  • Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity into Your Local Church (DeYmaz & Li)

  • Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Soong-Chan Rah)

  • Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Bob Kauflin)

Yay! Books I Finished (2009-2012):

Spiritual/Personal Growth

  • Time to Rejoice: Devotions Celebrating God's Love (Women of Faith collection)

  • Preparing For Marriage (Dennis Rainey)

  • The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say "I Do" (Susan Piver)

  • The Honeymoon of Your Dreams: A Practical Guide to Planning a Romantic Honeymoon (Larimore & Crockett)

  • Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds (Pollock & Van Reken)

Philosophy & Theology

  • Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate (Soerens & Hwang)

Nonfiction & Inspirational Biography 

  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (Azar Nafisi)

  • The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother (James McBride)

  • Ordinary People Extraordinary Planet (Shellie Hipsky)

  • Pittsburgh Will Steel Your Heart (Joanne Sujansky)

  • Brides Speak (Sal Richetti)

  • Heaven Is for Real (Burpo & Vincent)

  • Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously (Kent Annan)

  • Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process (Irene Pepperberg)


  • A Mad Desire to Dance (Elie Wiesel)

  • Sundays at Tiffany's (James Patterson)

Express Your View

Kristen Agnew Lippert's Articles:

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Video: “Former Atheist Lee Strobel Captivates Audiences at Northway Christian Community this weekend! (Sept 13, 10, 10:46 a.m.)

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Agnew on Video:

“Actively AIV Students Serve Offering OIF's Mercy Ministry Momentum!  (April 19, 10, 9:57 a.m.) By Ramesh C. Reddy

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