As a fairly voracious reader, I could say there are a lot of books over the years that have touched me or meant a lot to me. Some are old friends that I've revisited time and again, like the Little House on the Prairie books, or the Anne of Green Gables series which I didn't discover until adulthood. Some books don't become friends until you're old enough or in the right time of your life to "get" them---like The Lord of the Rings. And then there are the books, or maybe just one, that comes into your life and changes it. The book becomes a friend, a cherished possession, but isn't one that you read and re-read again and again.
When we had been married a few years and had a couple of small children, I got a little book in my Easter basket that I enjoyed. It was a children's biography of St. Therese, the Little Flower. I wasn't Catholic, and I had no conscious intention of converting, but my husband had returned to the Church recently and thought I might enjoy the book. (I'm sure he hoped for more, but that's enough for now. ;-) )
As I said, I did enjoy it as it was a simple introduction to a saint's life. I found the whole new-to-me concept of sainthood fascinating at the time. In the book, I learned that Therese's older sister, her superior in the convent, had asked her to write down her childhood memories. I told my husband about it and wondered if the autobiography was in print. It was probably the very next day that he came home with a copy of The Story of a Soul!
As Saint Therese is a Doctor in the Church, her autobiography is rather deep, but the beauty and simplicity of her Little Way of Sainthood is easy to grasp. It consists of merely doing every little act with love, making small sacrifices throughout the day. The core of her philosophy, in my poor words, is that we should embrace our littleness by making these gifts to Jesus.
I've read the book, probably, only twice, but it did change my life. I was attracted to the concept of sainthood and the Little Way, and I guess I was also attracted to the Catholic Church as a consequence. When I finally converted and had to choose a patron saint for Confirmation, I was having a lot of trouble thinking of one. I didn't spend much time in actual thought; what I did was pray and ask God to show me whom I should choose. When we finally had to turn in our choices, I bemoaned the fact that God had never showed me the answer. The woman I complained to said that she was surprised I hadn't chosen St. Therese of Lisieux since I talked about her all the time! I still get a kick out of the way that God answered that prayer.
Now, I think I need to put The Story of a Soul on my summer reading list. It will be an appropriate followup to the one I'm currently reading: The Truth About St. Therese: An Unflinching Look at Lisieux, the Little Flower, and the Little Way.
I'm looking forward to seeing what other life-changing books people have read! What book changed your life?