Label = Bookworm

31 Days in My [Insert Label Here] Skin:

[ B o o k w o r m ]


There have been many books I’ve read over the past handful of years that have really helped to grow my empathy muscles.

I feel like I never have enough time to read everything I wish I could read, and I feel like I haven’t read hardly anything this past year, but here is a list of some of the books that have impacted me the most over the past several years:

  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson (The true account of a team of Navy SEAL operators faced with an impossible situation while on a mission near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2005.  This book taught me empathy and compassion for the incredible human beings in the warrior community of our nation’s military.  I also learned a ton about what true teamwork and commitment and perseverance really looks like.)
  • Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman (The true account of a mother who lost one of her daughters due to an automobile accident wherein the driver of the vehicle was her older son.  This book taught me empathy for grieving parents, for adoptive parents, and for those struggling with mental health challenges.)
  • The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippets (The heart-wrenching memoir written by a woman who was in the final stages of brain cancer that eventually took her life.  This book taught me compassion and empathy for those with terminal illnesses and/or chronic pain.  It also taught me how to approach mortality with grace and wisdom.)
  • Fearless by Eric Blehm (The true story about a Navy SEAL who went through hard core drug addiction, experienced medical hardships, physical disabilities, and relational challenges— yet still rose to the upper echelon of the Navy SEAL world.  This book taught me empathy for our nation’s soldiers, for drug addicts and the family’s who love them, and empathy for my husband who is part of a different warrior community.)
  • Men and Women in the Church by Dr. Sarah Sumner (A theological, academic book written to help clarify what the Bible actually says about the differences between men and women, and what God and what church history and culture have all had to say about marriage and about gender relations for the past several centuries.  I learned a lot about how to approach my own marriage in a healthier, more biblically sound way as a result of reading this book.  And after my husband read it too, we got even more healthy and free.)
  • Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery (These books are fictional stories set in the early 1900s.  They taught me about what the world was like then. After reading these books, I reinstituted certain “old fashioned” practices (like kneeling beside the bed for nightly prayer time with the kids).  These books gave me an appreciation for persevering in hard interpersonal relationships and inspired me to dive deeper into real, face-to-face friendships rather than the typical surfacey, social media-driven “relationships” that tend to dominate our interactions nowadays.)
  • Day of War (in the Lion of War series) by Cliff Graham  (These are biblical fiction novels based on King David’s “Mighty Men” described in 2 Samuel 23.  They taught me about what ancient Israeli warfare and culture was like and instilled in me a greater appreciation for warriors and for men in general.  They also inspired me to use my imagination more when reading the Bible.)
  • Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin Gilmartin (This is a must-have resource for anyone in my husband’s line of work.  It taught me all about what goes on physically, psychologically, and socially in most people in this profession and it gave me ideas regarding how I can better serve and support my husband and others who do what he does.)
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (This book has been a huge key to helping me grow in courage as I transparently and vulnerably share my life story with others in hopes that my stories will help others know they are not alone in life.  All of this author’s body of work has been extremely instrumental in teaching me both the science and the heart behind why I feel compelled to write and communicate the way I do.)
  • The Life Model by James G. Friesen, E. James Wilder, et. al. (This is an informational, educational book that describes human emotional and psychological development and how to grow in health at every stage of the journey, no matter how “off” a person may feel they’ve gone.  This book helped me tremendously when I was going through a season of counseling and healing about six years ago.)
  • One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (This book helped me realize how very instrumental gratitude is in cultivating a joy-filled life.  It also helped me grow in empathy and compassion towards those who have suffered abuse and neglect and/or struggled with self-destructive behaviors (i.e. cutting).  The poetic style of writing in this book also inspired me as a writer to really think deeply and not be afraid of following the rabbit trails of my thought life to discover what God might be wanting to teach me.)
  • Beautiful Boy by David Sheff  (This is the true account written by the father of a meth addict.  I grew in such compassion towards addicts and their families as a result of reading this book several years ago.)
  • The Shack by William P. Young (This fictional novel challenged my view of forgiveness and opened up my imagination to what the Trinity might really be like.  It drew my attention to my own preconceived notions regarding spirituality and who God is/isn’t and it inspired me to pursue God more intentionally.)
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (This is the memoir of a man who grew up in a poor, white family in the Appalachians.  I learned so much about a part of my country and an entire culture I never knew about and I grew in empathy for these struggling individuals.)
  • Profoundly Disconnected by Mike Rowe (This is a series of essays written discussing the need for skilled labor in America, what some of those jobs are really like, and how our current university level education system doesn’t always give us the knowledge or skills we need to make a living and serve our communities in useful ways.  This book was both entertaining and insightful.)
  • Terrify No More by Gary Haugen and Gregg Hunter (This is an an amazing true story about the sex trafficking world and all that one particular undercover operator went through in order to investigate and then rescue a brothel full of young children.  It absolutely changed my life by opening my eyes to a world I had previously known nothing about.  The empathy I gained for both the victims and the rescuers was mind-blowing.)
  • The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (I am so grateful that World Vision, a humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization, sent this book to me several years ago.  Written by one of the leaders in their organization, this book helped me grow in empathy towards the marginalized and financially oppressed in our global world.  It challenged me to look beyond my own life experience and have compassion on those who have grown up in completely different socioeconomic experiences than myself.)
  • Quiet by Susan Cain (I originally bought this book hoping to understand my husband more.  I had no idea that I would find myself explained so accurately in the pages as well!  This book put words to parts of my personality I had never understood and it gave me permission to be myself.  I also grew in empathy towards other introverts in our world.)
  • Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur (I first read this fictional novel twenty-one years ago and it totally transformed how I prayed and how I viewed those who are searching for meaning in their lives.  I grew exponentially in empathy towards the hurting and broken and those who are questioning their faith.  It challenged my own perception of “right” and “wrong” and it inspired me to truly look to the Bible for what it says rather than what I assume or “have heard” it might say.)


Okay, I think that is enough for now!  I hope this gave you an idea or two about what you might want to read next!  Enjoy!



*To get to the main menu, where you can view and click on everything I end up posting for this 31 Day Challenge, click here.

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What about you?

What great, or inspiring, or empathy-building books have you read lately?  What did they teach you and why did they affect you the way they did?

Please share your journey in the comment section below.


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