In no particular order...
  1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    My mom told me this was my favorite when I was a toddler/3-5 age. I'm glad to be reading it to my kids now. I always found it to be melancholy, which is appropriate for showcasing sacrifice. Sacrifice isn't always heroic or happy, though it is mostly noble.
  2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    I read this between my junior and senior years of high school, all 1400+ pages (minus 30-some pages of the Battle of Waterloo) of an unabridged English translation. I liked stating it as my favorite, to se extent, for pretentious reasons (I read the whole thing!), if I'm being honest. Not sure, though, if I hold a literary character in higher regard than Jean Valjean.
  3. Bo Knows Bo by Bo Jackson
    I read this before he suffered that gruesome injury in the playoffs. The stories of his athletic prowess and ability were just captivating. And, being from Alabama too, there was a pride I took in sharing the same home state. He's number one on my list of all-time athletes.
  4. The Bible
    I grew up the son of missionaries/preacher and was a youth pastor for four years myself. I'm a big fan of the Bible still, but read and appreciate it in a much different way than the literal/close reading of my past. In the end, I believe it to be a book of and pointing to wisdom and love.
  5. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
    An exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7. Contains one of my favorite lines: We always live in a larger context of activities we do not see.
  6. A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren
    A review of the major strands and tribes of Christianity, offering a takeaway of the most positive aspects that each brings to the table. Growing up in a conservative sect of Christianity that didn't always look kindly at other sects and denominations, this brought an appreciation to my perspective that was sorely missing.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    This work propped up my belief that my home state wasn't exclusively a place for the uneducated, racist, hypocritical, and poor, which was what I was taught that most outsiders believed about Alabama. (There seems to have been a large chip placed upon my shoulder about this, huh?) What a great story.
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
    I almost cheated and put the whole series as one, but refrained and will respect the list title. Definitely the one that took the series to another level and ensured the following books would be pre-ordered and consumed as quickly as possible.
  9. Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
    I don't remember many of the profiles, but I do remember Edmund G. Ross, congressman from Kansas. One vote ruined his ability to ever hold office again and set the rest of his life on edge. But he voted for the good of the country.