Beyond the Pages

Beyond the pages.png

This month our #CompelledTribe topic is to share about books that have had an impact on us personally and professionally. This is an exciting topic for me because I am a voracious and intense reader. As a young child my parents would ask what I wanted for a Christmas present and it would either be another book about the civil war or a strategy board game. As I’ve gotten older it’s still about the same.

My wife asks, “Honey what do you want for your birthday?” My immediate response, “A book!”…thank goodness for Amazon wishlist…it’s always a big hint for what books I’m looking at! She has stopped asking me and now generally just buys me dress socks bundled around a new book, oh the joys of being an adult!

Books in all honesty have helped shape me, they’ve allowed me to glean lessons from characters in the past I could never dream to meet. They have served as a strong mentor and traveling companion during my early life’s journeys.

As I look to my past cairns in life there usually resides a book or two that were instrumental in shaping the adventure that came after. All adventures start with a good read!


Ages 6-8 – The World is Big

Books of Influence: Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne

When I was young I devoured the Magic Treehouse books. They were a window into worlds I only dreamed of! Through reading those books it gave me an appreciation of how vast the world really was and that there was much more beyond the small enclave of my own life.

It gladdens my heart to learn from my young bus riders that they too are reading the Magic Treehouse books and still gleaning similar lessons. Some books are just timeless like that…

Age 10 – Lover/Learner of History and Books

Book of Influence: Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command by Douglas Southall Freeman

Growing up less than twenty miles away from Gettysburg, PA it was almost inevitable to find myself attracted to the topic of the Civil War. When I was ten years old we lived in Virginia and I was admittedly obsessed with everything and anything Civil War. At that time I was sure I’d someday become a Civil War History professor. I was upset though that all I had read up to that time were childish books on the topic. My first “real adult” book was Lee’s Lieutenants. It was a struggle. I can remember sitting up late with a flashlight and a dictionary under my bed covers. Fighting back tears of frustration I spent most of my time looking up the words used in the definitions to describe the words I was trying to understand. Slowly, I acquired the vocabulary needed to read without a dictionary constantly at my side. Soon, I finished that book and was searching for the next.

When I sold my Civil War books at the start of college the collection had grown to over two hundred books requiring multiple carloads to deliver all of them to the local bookstore.  It all started with that one book and my overpowering desire to learn about the Civil War despite the challenge. Still to this day I am a passionate reader of history and love learning new insights through biographies of individuals from the past.

Age 14 – Never Assume

Book of Influence: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I had picked up The Hobbit numerous times and never was able to get past page 18 or 20. It was boring and almost complete drudgery to just get to that point in the book. Finally, I told myself I was not going to stop reading and no matter what I would finish the book. Within two days I was finished with the book. Not out of sheer will power to just finish it…no it was out of sheer lack of self-control in being caught up into the book after page 24.

It was my original assumption that the book was not worth reading…but it was more so my desire to be satisfied with story-book action and being disappointed that held me back. I was glad to have learned the lesson early never judge a book by its cover or by the first twenty pages! There have been countless books later in my life that I would have possibly given up on that added great value. We each need to have that “Hobbit” book which rocks our perspectives and surprises us.

Age 17 – Jesus Loves Even Me

Book of Influence: The Bible 

Before college I committed to reading the Bible in a year. Prior to that I had not read much beyond the Psalms. This is when I gave my heart and life to Christ. No other decision has been more important in my life.

Age 21 – Preparation for Facilitating Learning

Book of Influence: Quantum Teaching by Bobbi DeporterMark Reardon, and Sarah Singer-Nourie 

As a teacher even today I keep going back to the lessons I learned from this book! “Everything Speaks!” “Everything is On Purpose!” These words ring truer than ever for me, but as a young aspiring teacher they fed the fuel of the fire. The book explored a concept I still find myself returning to over and over again. Community in the classroom. This book prepared me to enter the classroom with the mindset of student-centered learning. I have to thank my college mentor for that recommendation when I was searching for a book to hone my facilitation skills!

Age 25 – Our Choices

Books of Influence: Leadership and Self-Deception, The Outward Mindset, and The Choice: In Teaching and Education all three books are by the Arbinger Institute

A few years ago I was introduced to the Arbinger Institute books. I have almost read all of them! They all address a key question that I was failing to recognize at this time in my life, “What is our choice?” Choices are everywhere…what I was failing to fully realize is that my choices were shaping my mindsets, my actions, my results, and my life. These books have helped me cultivate a healthy perspective and outlook professionally and personally. As an educator no book has impacted me more than The Choice: In Teaching and Education, it was an earthquake to my soul and transformed my outlook on learning and the whole process of education. Unfortunately, I think it is out of print so I have hoarded what few copies I could get a hold of…

The four principles of the book are pillars of my teaching philosophy:

  1. I am not the teacher
  2. I will keep learning
  3. I see greatness
  4. I build community

Age 26 – Our Voice 

Book of Influence: Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

In the book, Ryan, challenges us readers/writers that if we care about crafting work of influence and impact that will transcend our lifetime, it starts here and now.

I’ve written about this before that I had tried to blog before and failed. After reading the book, Perennial Seller, I committed to myself I was going to blog and keep at it! And I’m still blogging at the ripe age of 27! 🙂


Books have played a crucial part in the trajectory of my life and many others could describe the role of books similarly in their own lives. What we must continue to challenge ourselves with is that the books we read must not have influence solely on our minds, but must reflect themselves in our actions and daily lives.

Living beyond the pages of the books we read is a choice that can result in powerful personal transformation. It could mean living with greater purpose, treating others more compassionately, or refueling a fire of passion that has burned too low. Books worthy of our reading are books deserving of our actions.

Here is our challenge for #NationalBookMonth:

Read a book this month that shifts our perspective and causes action. 

Read on to live beyond! Blessings to our adventures in reading and living this month!

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