Here are Olivia’s top three:
1. Mere Christianity – (NOTE: This book has been mentioned by all of the graduates I’ve questioned, revealing the lasting impact it continues to have.)
“It was definitely a favorite, because it so simply illustrated all these truths that I didn’t know I knew. One thing I really loved about it was knowing the context, that Lewis was very young when he first spoke aloud the thoughts that line the pages as part of a radio broadcast in the 1940s. It’s just so encouraging to know that, while my faith is my friend, there is a scientific and undeniably ideological backbone to the existence of our Creator. What Lewis calls “Mere Christianity” is a wonderfully insightful lineage of thought and clarified reason that so beautifully matches up with the facts that pretty much everyone already claims. It is not at all congested with “big-boy” words to cover overly simple, lazy thought processes, nor is it integrated with jabs at others for disagreeing or disbelieving. It is simply statement after statement of raw reason and beautiful expositions on the intrinsics of the universe.
2. The Hobbit –“What I love about Tolkien’s stories is that they are extremely creative and symbolic. What I especially love about The Hobbit is that when you have finished reading the novel and have opportunity to sit back and think about it from the outside, it all boils down to one man breaking down the apathetic walls of comfort and choosing to wander into the compelling wisdoms and wars of adventure. That is what we are called to do as Christians. Our adventure is the Commission and our comforts are ourselves. Bilbo chooses to become something that he was not — a bold, daring warrior prepared with discernment and an appropriate knowledge of the battles to come to take back the riches that had been stolen from his allies. As Tolkien wrote, Bilbo’s home “was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort,” but Bilbo left that comfort in the name of something bigger than himself. Along the way he faced many obstacles, as we do in life, but love, wisdom and the power of family was the firm ground he walked upon through the quagmires of inevitable struggle, and I think that’s an extremely powerful thing.”
3. The Odyssey – “This book is exactly like life. In life we face the ups and downs of reality as we are surrounded by both friend and foe, prudence and futility, triumph and tragedy. The Odyssey has a very light and fun way of so wonderfully debunking the idea that as we go through life, people and circumstances will treat us fairly if we put our best foot forward. Our hero, Odysseus, shows us time and again that when life knocks you down, you count on yourself, your faith, and your family to remind you of your own gravity. Odysseus lost a lot of friends on his journey and made a lot of mistakes, but in the end we are all just like him. We are all on a journey. There are seasons of life where we feel as if we are living in utter luxury, such as Odysseus did on the island of Circe; often, however, it is our comfort that pulls us away from reality. There are also seasons in which we feel as if nothing will ever be okay again, such as Odysseus’ journeys through countless storms where his ships and crew failed him on innumerable occasions. In the end, though, Odysseus accomplished his goals and made it home. I believe that if we keep our eyes fixed upon the Cross and the One who hung from it, we too will one day arrive on the beautiful shores of Home.”