On this blog I write a lot about books, because I truly believe books can heal. Most of the books I highlight are about Lyme or chronic illness and fall into the health or self-help categories. These are five books that changed my life before I was diagnosed with Lyme and they continue to be five of the most inspirational books I've ever read. One is a book of poetry, one is a memoir, one is self-help, and two are novels.
5 Books That Changed My Life:
1. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni
I was first introduced to Nikki Giovanni’s poetry in high school and she remains to this day my favorite poet. This collection showed me that a book of poetry can be just as influential as any novel or non-fiction book. I have sixteen poems bookmarked in my copy and whenever I need inspiration or just want to feel filled up I read one. Her poem, "And I Have You," was read at my wedding. Many years ago Ms. Giovanni appeared at a bookstore in Chicago and I didn't go. I still regret it, but I redeemed myself when I saw her speak at the Harold Washington Library on April 30th, 2011.
"though I worship nothing (save myself)
you were my savior—so be it
and it was
perhaps not never more or ever after
but after all—once you were mine"
2. I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb
Reading this 897 page epic was the greatest literary journey I've ever been on. I consider this my favorite book and Wally Lamb my favorite author. This book encompasses all my favorite subjects: family dynamics, mental illness, substance abuse, race relations, redemption, and love. Mr. Lamb is my biggest writing influence and if I can learn to paint a picture even half as clear as he does, I will be on my way.
"that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things."
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I don't even remember what made me pick up this book. I probably judged a book by its cover, because Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the best titles of all time, especially when you know the context. Reading this book is like reading a novel length poem. The language and imagery has yet to be matched in any book I've read before or since. I could read it fifty more times and still get completely lost in it.
"They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God."
4. Lucky by Alice Sebold
Lucky is Alice Sebold's memoir of being raped by a stranger in college and how it transformed her existence. You probably know Alice Sebold from her other bestseller The Lovely Bones. This book broke my heart for the writer, but also for all women. It left me angry and appalled by the complete disregard for victims' rights. People need to be aware of the retraumatization victims, like Ms. Sebold, experience through our legal system. Her nightmare occurred in the early eighties, so I can only hope that things are better today.
"I live in a world where two truths coexist: where both hell and hope lie in the palm of my hand."
5. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
This book came to me at the exact right time in my life. I was going through a mini identity crisis and felt like I was losing myself. It seemed like everyone around me was content in their position in life and I was the only one left wanting. This book taught me that my true purpose in life is not an occupation, a hobby, or a talent, it is to find a state of consciousness where I am able to live in the present at all times. Since reading this book I have made a concerted effort to not compare myself to others and to allow myself to just be in the moment, because it's the only thing that's real.
"When you don't cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life"
What are the books that changed your life?
"A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat'" - Stephen Wright
I'm Kerry and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016. This is a positive space for those of us coping with Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses.