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20 Books That Made an *IMPACT* On My Life

I’ve always loved reading. For fun. For self-improvement. For entertaining the children. Some of my favorite memories as a child was receiving the newest order of Goosebumps books from my Scholastic order and reading them all in one night. Reading to my kids has been extremely important to me. (More on that in another blog post!) I’ve read well more than 2,000 books since my kids were born. I started counting in December of 2017 and today I’m at 1,933 books, both children and adult. Since my daughter was born almost 5 years before that, I would say it’s safe to say my number is closer to 4,000.

Reading on Christmas Eve 2022

Today I wanted to share with you books that really stayed with me. You know, the books that linger in your mind long after you’re done reading it. Books that shifted something in you. I recommend going to your local library to check these out. Second, I’d recommend asking a friend to borrow it from (I have some copies of these if you’d like!). Next, go to a local bookstore and see if you can buy them there. Finally, if you just want the quick, easy, purchase I have links for them for Amazon in the titles and the pictures! I’m breaking it into 4 different categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Children’s Picture Books, Children’s Chapter Books. Let’s go!


  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I read this book in 10th grade and has been one of my favorite fiction books ever since. It’s a murder mystery and kept me wondering until the very end. It was a thrilling page-turner for me. At that point in my life, when school pushes so many unenjoyable texts on us, this stood out like a gem. About 6 years later, when Mark and I were living in our first apartment, I got back into reading for FUN again. Mark had never really enjoyed reading and I suggested that we read this book together. I read it out loud to him and thus began our tradition of reading novels together. He loved it and has since read several Agatha Christie books on his own. I can’t wait to read this to our kids some day.

2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Wow, I just loved the premise of this book! It really made me think and consider life in a way that I never had before. I love thinking about parallel lives that could have been mine but you never know what that parallel life really looks like. Mark and I also read this one together and couldn’t get enough of it!

3. Night Road by Kristin Hannah

This book was another page-turner for me. It asked some good questions on fairness, justice, right and wrong. It really made me think. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much a book sticks with you until years pass and when asked to think about a good novel you really liked and that book continues to stick out. This is one of those books for me. I like how Kristin Hannah’s own website describes the book as vivid, universal, and emotionally complex that raises profound questions. I agree!

4. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Alright, so yes this is technically Young Adult but I’m including it in my Adult category because I personally have not read this to my kids yet. I eagerly look forward to the day when they’re ready for it and can really appreciate it. This series was fascinating to me and of course enjoyed watching the movies after reading it. I loved diving into a completely different world with these books. The survival stories were engaging and exciting. These books were right up there with the Harry Potter books for me!

5. Defending Jacob by William Landay

Similar to Night Road, this book consistently stands out in my mind as a book I really enjoyed reading. It was a thrilling page-turner and was pulled in until the very end. I remember I couldn’t stop talking about this book! I was pumped to see that AppleTV+ made a mini-series on this book starring Chris Evans. I didn’t like how the ending changed in the TV show but enjoyed it just the same.


  1. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I’m sure you’ve heard of this book. If you haven’t (and have heard of it but haven’t read it) drop everything now, run to your local library, or heck just buy it because it’s that good. Out of all the books on this list THIS is the one I would recommend buying more than any other. This is one of those books that just make the word a better place. I’ve read this book 2-3 times and I cry every time.

2. Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel is one of my favorite pastors to listen to and this is one of the first books I read by him. It came at the perfect time in my life, a time when I needed to start embracing who I was and that it was okay that I didn’t fit in. It has been one of the best books I’ve ever read to help me how I view myself and gave me the confidence to live my life a little different than what everyone else was doing.

3. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Another non-fiction book that came at the perfect time that I needed it in my life. I’ve spent so much of my life frantically trying to achieve and be productive and do more and DO IT ALL. I’ve realized that I’ve been missing out on what life’s really all about. I have spent years trying to break the toxic belief that performance equals worth and this book was the divine jump start that I needed!

4. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

If you’ve ever wanted clarity on what the heck you should eat (also check out Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Mark Hyman!), this book is fantastic. I love the science behind it but it wasn’t boring to read. It shattered the glass on so many misconceptions I had and revealed o many truths about food that I was never taught before. The concepts I learned in this book are ones that I consistently come back to and regularly shape my decisions on what I choose to eat.

5. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Another Matt Haig book! This one is an easy, lighter read. It truly feels *comfortable.* This is a great book to curl up with and just be cozy. Throw expectations out the window and just be. Just enjoy. I bought this book because it’s a must re-read.


  1. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

This is my *favorite* book to read every fall. I just love the story, the illustrations, the cozy feeling of the book. Even though Rebecca Estelle hates pumpkins, I LOVE pumpkins and LOVE this heart-warming story. I look forward to re-living this story every September/October with my kids.

2. The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

This book makes the list because my children loved this book (I did too, but they got pure JOY from this book!). When I think back on the books they wanted to read over and over again, this one was at the top of the list. The illustrations are great and I really enjoy the rhythm in which Chris Van Dusen writes. I think the page where all the circus animals are hiding is probably the NUMBER ONE page in *ALL* of children’s literature that we’ve spent the most time looking at. This book is delightful, funny, and fun for all ages!

3. If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen

Another great Chris Van Dusen book! In this book, the main character dreams of what he would do if he could build his own house. Basically, there are no rules in creating this dream house. The kids can make it exactly the way they want it. I love creativity and imagination that this book ignites. Personally, I loved dreaming of crazy houses that I could build when I was a kid. You could easily turn this into an activity where you can all draw up “blueprints” of your dream house after you read this book together. You can also enjoy If I Built a Car and If I Built a School by Van Dusen as well!

4. The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

I know everyone knows these books but I have to include them because my kids *truly* LOVED these books. I remember they would race to the library to see if they could find any Berenstain Bears books that they hadn’t read yet. I would re-read these books again and again and again. They have good “moral of the story” lessons in each book and sparked a lot of good conversation between the kids and me. All of them are good but some stand outs for our family include “Too Much TV,” “Too Much Junk Food,” “The Truth,” “Get the Gimmies,” and “Get In a Fight.”

5. You Are Special by Max Lucado

This amazing book hits so deep. It has an absolutely incredible message that all children need to hear. Scratch that, everyone needs to hear. The message is still relevant to me as an adult. This book does line up with my faith as a Christian and can’t help but leave a person feeling a little more loved and special than they did before they read it. This is another book I would recommend owning instead of borrowing from the library. Mark and I just gifted this book to our kids this past Christmas.


  1. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

If you’ve ever met me you know that I LOVE Harry Potter! I started reaching the Harry Potter series when I was in 7th grade and finished when I was a junior in college. I have since read the entire series to my whole family. When we planned our Disney vacation last year we also HAD to include a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I laugh, I cry, I completely fall in love with these books each time I read them. I’m in a perpetual state of wanting to re-read these stories. If you’ve never tried them out because the whole fantasy element puts you off, I implore you to try them. You will enter a magical world and an amazing story between right and wrong. Friendship. Love. Loss. Justice. This is story-telling at its absolute finest. We’ve also been buying the illustrated versions of these books as they’ve been coming out and loving to reread them that way!

2. The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser
I just recently discovered the Vanderbeeker series. The kids and I started reading the first book, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street last summer and we immediately fell in love. These books are about a family that lives in Harlem and the fun, heart-warming adventures they go on. The Vanderbeeker family wants to do GOOD in this world and each of the stories in this series you see more and more of them. They love each other and care about their community. This series has quickly rose in the ranks of my all-time favorite children’s book. All of their books are a fantastic family read-aloud that leaves you feeling a little warmer and delightful inside. My personal favorite is The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found but all of them are a must read!

3. Wonder by RJ Palacio

For me, I want to teach my children about empathy, compassion, and love. And how to give those things away to other people they come across in life. This book is a powerhouse in weaving those virtues through their pages. I absolutely cried while reading this book and my kids were both HOOKED. They never wanted to stop reading this one! I think this book can soften our hearts, broaden our perspective, and teach us incredible lessons. My son even checked this book out the library a second time and re-read it by himself he loved it so much. The movie was fantastic as well! We also love to pair a good book read with watching the movie afterwards!

4. Frindle by Andrew Clements

The previous three books I listed are all jam-packed with emotion, morals, virtues and offer a huge punch of meaning. Frindle is a little more light-hearted. This book is about a boy who makes up a new word and goes head to head with his teacher in trying to make it stick. My daughter read this in school and I read this aloud with Xander and both kids were delighted with this book. Xander and I have been trying to come up with our own words ever since we finished.

5. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

This is another fun, light-hearted book. This was one of the first chapter books I ever read to the kids. Kenzie was 4 and Xander was 3 when we first read this together. They thought this was so fun! It’s playful and silly. (In case you don’t know what this book is already about it’s about a boy acquires a gift where everything he touches turns into chocolate! It’s a twist on the story about King Midas and the golden touch, where everything he touched turned to gold. A fun one, for sure!

That’s a wrap! Have you already read any of these? Or which one are you most interested in trying out? Please let me know in the comments!

love, a bookworm,


Books, Intentional Living, Parenting, Personal




20 Books That Made an *IMPACT* On My Life

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