Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges

I read Transitions during a stage of life when things were shifting for me in the areas of work and romance. It helped me navigate those shifts and it equipped me with tools to handle even bigger transitions I anticipated for the future. In a nutshell, Transitions helped me freak out way less than I would have without it.

One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from Transitions:

Rule #2: Every transition begins with an ending (we have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new). This is difficult, even if we’ve been looking forward to the change, because we find our identity in the old way/role/situation, and now that identity is shifting.

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Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

A number of years ago a friend loaned me her copy of Henri Nouwen’s the Return of the Prodigal Son. It, along with a few other great books I read around the same time, opened my eyes to the depth of relationship that is possible with God. It also addressed how my deepest insecurities often distract me from that deep relationship I simultaneously long for yet am afraid of. In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Nouwen shares insights from years of study and thoughtful reflection (his own, his friends’, and fellow scholars’) on the familiar parable through the lens of Rembrandt’s famous painting.

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The Gift of Sex, by Clifford and Joyce Penner

This book was given to me by a friend at my bachelorette party. She called it a “classic” although it had only been published in 2003 and I’d never heard of it before. But the more I read, the more I could see how The Gift of Sex could easily become one of those “classic” books that get gifted at bachelorette parties, much like What to Expect When You’re Expecting being a staple at baby showers.

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Streams of Living Water, by Richard Foster

One of the most eye-opening books I’ve read about my faith is Richard Foster’s “Streams of Living Water.” In Streams Foster describes six different ways that Christianity has been lived out over the centuries, each of which he asserts is as biblical and valid as the others. This came as a surprise to me, as I’d grown up in one of the six that seemed to assert that it was the only right expression of Christianity.

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The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’ve been fighting off (and, if I say so myself, coping fairly well against) deep-rooted unhappiness since I was 6 years old. It manifests itself most-strongly around the winter holiday season when I struggle with a bit of depression. So last Christmas I got myself a book about happiness to combat the annual slump: “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.

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The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, by Sophia Dembling

If you like snarky writing, short chapters, and information about the daily life of a typical introvert, this may be the book for you. I have a handful of books about introversion on my shelf, and this is the one I have the most fun reading. This sounds cliche, but I literally laughed, cried, and/or nodded along in agreement on every page.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

I’ve read my fair share of books on introversion, and I have a few favorites. One I like for its humor, one I like for speaking into my Christian niche, and this one, well, I like it for making me smarter. If I were to teach a class on introversion, I’d use Quiet as my primary textbook.

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The Good and Beautiful God

A handful of years ago I stumbled across a book that changed my perspective on my faith, which in turn has changed the trajectory of my life. I like books like that. This particular one was James Bryan Smith’s “The Good and Beautiful God.”

The premise of “The Good and Beautiful God” is that Jesus had the most intimate and true understanding of who his Father was, and that if we learned how to see God as Jesus did, we wouldn’t be able to keep ourselves from falling in love with that God. That was a very appealing promise, and the more I read, the more I felt that Smith was delivering on that promise. His book shook me out of my misconceptions I’d been believing and living out for most of my life, misconceptions that left me feeling disconnected and estranged from God despite my strict obedience to him.

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