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Surprised by Joy

“The beauty of a good book is that it can bring something new to life in us, it can feed us with knowledge and ideas, and can encourage us to keep seeking and growing. This is why I cannot complete my list without including the true LIVING BOOK. The book that is above all other books, the very WORD of God. God’s own story told, our instruction manual, the love letter to us from our Creator; The living, true and transforming story of God, who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is yet to do.”

Renee Emerson

Being a leader of a women’s book club, I often get asked what my all-time favourite book is. Anyone who loves books knows it’s not quite as simple as that. Asking a book lover to choose one book to be her favourite, is like asking a mother to pick her favourite child! (Okay… not quite… but seriously, just one!? One bookshelf would be more appropriate!)

In all seriousness though, in the past few years, I have rediscovered my love for books. There is nothing that smells as good as an old book, and good books truly do have the power to transform a person’s life. When I think of the word book – I simultaneously think of the word JOY. For the few years I have been running my book club, the surprising amount of joy I have experienced is beyond words. A book can be found for every season, every heartache, every blessing, every adventure. No matter what my mood is, a good book is just within reach. I can adventure around the world, discover hidden secrets about myself, step into someone else’s shoes, or revisit times past – just by sitting in my cosy pink armchair, with a hot cuppa and a good book.

So… you may still be wondering what are some of my favourite BOOKS then? Well, there are a lot of them, but here are a few that will forever be close to my heart.

1. Becoming Mrs Lewis, Patti Callahan

I originally opened this book curiously seeking insight into the life of C. S. Lewis, and fast found myself becoming intrigued by the heroine of the story – Joy Davidson. When I think of Joy, I think of a woman whose trials and sufferings resulted in great faith. In this inspiring fictional story about Joy’s life, we journey alongside her as she learns the life of a Christian does not mean that we are exempt from pain and loss, yet that very pain can draw us nearer to the Lord. Full of Joy’s own heart – her very own sonnets and poems – we’re privy to the transforming power of Jesus; and a see a woman intent on becoming the woman she was created to be, the breach between the gap of who she was and her true self in Christ is slowly closing. This, combined with the overall magic and remarkable beauty of the book, sparked a longing to visit Oxford, to introduce rich and interesting words into my vocabulary, AND just for a giggle to speak with an English accent.

2. Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne

I first came across this story when my husband and I saw the 2004 movie version; full of adventure, romance, and laughs, we have watched it many times since. During an afternoon of second-hand shopping I came across the book, a beautifully illustrated old cover, delightfully smelling pages, and knowing we’d loved the movie, I couldn’t resist and spent the $4 to own the copy. The book itself is a fantastic read, it’s educational, fun, and descriptive… but this isn’t the reason is one of my favourites. This book sat on my shelf for almost a year before it was opened, but when I did finally open it, it was with my husband who lovingly read it aloud to me. This book is uniquely precious to me because it was the first book we had read as a couple and will always be remembered alongside cuddles on the couch, hot chocolates, and laughs together.

3. Beholding and Becoming; The Art of Everyday Worship, Ruth Chou Simons

For anyone familiar with Ruth and her amazing artwork, this book will not fail to delight you. Not only is the artwork breathtakingly beautiful, and a brilliant way to slow down and meditate on God’s word, the message is comparable. We’re all so “crazy busy”, yet we can become swamped in the mundane. Often, we’re so focused on dramatically experiencing God, that we forget He is the God of the little things as well as the big things. This book taught me how to welcome God into every moment of my life. It taught me how to meet God in worship in the mundane, and how to live a life of worship, to sustain a grateful heart posture, and trust God with the little things, just as I had with the big ones.

4. The Bait of Satan, John Bevere

To say this book was life-transforming for me could be an understatement. A few years ago, I saw John Bevere preaching his “Kryptonite” message at a local church conference. At the time I believed I was pretty much nailing this Christianity thing – I was a “good person” and believing that I has no “big sin” in my life (oh how I had so much to learn!). It wasn’t until he had shared his message and I had painfully dragged my sorry, snot crying self, down to the altar call area, that I realised how wrong I had been. I needed to repent of deep and destructive unforgiveness in my heart. I realised just how bitter and resentful my heart had become towards people, towards life, and maybe even towards God. I picked up this book on the way out, and I invited the Holy Spirit to journey with me as I tackled this mammoth issue in my life. I’ll be forever thankful to Jesus, who ensured I heard this message at just the right time, who loved and guided me through the transformation and who continues to pull me up in this area of my life.


The beauty of a good book is that it can bring something new to life in us, it can feed us with knowledge and ideas, and can encourage us to keep seeking and growing. This is why I cannot complete my list without including the true LIVING BOOK. The book that is above all other books, the very WORD of God. God’s own story told, our instruction manual, the love letter to us from our Creator; The living, true and transforming story of God, who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is yet to do

5. The Bible

I’m sorry to admit that early in my walk as a Christian I did not read my Bible very often. I opened Genesis, got about 10 chapters in and stopped. Every time. In 2018, I decided I would read the Bible in a year, I downloaded a Bible App and then, empowered by the Holy Spirit through prayer for a desire to keep going, I did read the entire Bible that year. It wasn’t long into the year before I was battling through Leviticus, and on those moments when it was a struggle, I fervently prayed for the desire to keep going, to have a passion for God’s word and to want to continue reading. Now, this is a prayer the Lord loves to answer with a YES and AMEN! My Bible became my lifeline, my gratefulness towards God exploded, my interest in getting to know my Heavenly Father increased exponentially and I was truly surprised by the JOY I now experience while reading this treasured book. Besides my relationship with Christ, there is nothing I desire to treasure more than my Bible.

So, there you have it! Some of my most cherished and loved books. I’d love to hear which books have profoundly impacted you and why. Share your stories with me by emailing [email protected]

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