During the past year, I read many books, and I learned a great deal from each in different ways. There weren’t really any bad books for me this past year. I just really enjoy reading books.

Books Which Take Flight, Leading You to ActWhile there are books which impart knowledge, others unfold a story which let you escape into it. There are wide varieties, and some incite something inside you to take flight in terms of pursuing further action or digging deeper into a topic. There were four such books for me this past year.  They were:

1. The Art of Non-Conformity:  Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau:  Besides providing many unique and valuable insights, there were two specific actions I took after reading his book. The first one was to read Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird. The second action was to subscribe to The Economist. With the first action, insights on the practice of writing came to life, along with some inspiration. The second action is just unfolding since my first issue of The Economist just arrived this past weekend. Although I am just getting started, I can tell it will be worth it, from the unique articles to the more expansive view on various issues.

2. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt:  Reading this book came directly from the Acton blog this past summer, and it was well spent. The concept of being in a state of flow resonated with me. I have started to investigate this idea further and have a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on my reading list. Finding that magical balance of challenge and your abilities does deliver in ways that are much more satisfying and valuable in life. Grasping this approach and determining how to leverage it further in my life will lead to good things, I believe.

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott:   As mentioned in the first book, I discovered Anne Lamott through Chris Guillebeau. Her unique perspectives on writing, spirituality, and life were wonderful, and it led me to read a second book by her – Traveling Mercies:  Some Thoughts on Faith. Another exceptional book packed with gems on life and religion.

4.  Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller:  Although this book sat on my pile for over year, it sprung to life this year. I appreciate the author’s honesty in exploring faith and life. Reading Blue Like Jazz led me to read another of his books – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Looking at your life as a story is a great way to think about it as well as how your choices made directs your life’s story. All of this instigated two other actions:  continued development of the youth program I have been working on and supporting the Kickstarter campaign to Save Blue Like Jazz – The Movie. Actions will continue to unfold for me because of these books.

In the early prairie days, they used to string rope between the farm house and the barn, so that in blowing winter storms, the pioneers would be able to find their way to and from the two places. When I look at these books, in many ways, there are similarities in what they offer in terms of insights on life’s paths. They may be the rope strung between the stages of my life, helping me think about the next step and how to get from here to there. Not bad reading for this past year… it sets the stage for a great year ahead!

What books have you read which led you to investigate something further?