The Truth About Your Bookshelf

1989. I was 13 and the bookshelf in our family room looked like this:

Dad’s side- Louis L’Amour westerns, Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie business and motivation books and the recent Tom Clancy novel.



Mom’s side- Bible study books by Henry Blackaby, Kay Arthur and Beth Moore. BSF(Bible Study Fellowship) binders. Parenting books by Dobson (see 1989).


My brother and I joked that Mom had a book for everything.

Maybe you’ve guessed. Dad was a self-employed businessman whose specialty was sales. Mom was a full-time stay at home mom.

Because of the subject matter, I have to be honest and tell you that Mom’s books inspired quite a lot of eye rolling from her dear children. “Did you read that in a book?” wasn’t an interested question. It was spat as an exasperated accusation.

1989 me was suspicious of anything that came from the books. I was sure I was the test-subject of the most recent chapter she had read. As a 13 year old, I was convinced that the only legitimate parenting and life ideas magically formed inside one’s own head.

I made a mental note to myself that perhaps I should write this down on my list of “things I will never do when I’m a parent”. I would save my future children from this fate.

I never did write that list.

I know better now. Reading something in a book wasn’t just an eye-roll worthy parenting stereotype. It was a desire to do better– to grow as a person, a believer, a mother.

The bookshelf was a tangible snapshot of my mom’s investment in herself and her family. 

Her bookshelf was one of the first places I lingered after losing my mom a decade ago. A reminder of who she was and what she loved.

2018. I’m 41. The bookshelf in my office tells you more than my long-neglected journal.

Nathan’s side- An entire row of required reading for his job. Several shelves of Terry Pratchett(fantasy), and sci-fi I don’t recognize.

My side- A book on running, a smattering of church health books, and more nonfiction Christian living than I can count. Also, dusty abandoned scrapbooks for my kids. 2 complete scrapbooks for the oldest  1 1/2 for the middle child and 1 not yet finished for the baby.

Some day my kids may accuse me of having a book for everything. That’s okay because I’m comforting myself with dreams of what might possibly be on their bookshelves in 30 years.

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