reader. early ’17

You may be wondering, “HOW on EARTH does she have so much time to read??”

First. I make the time because I just plain-ol LOVE to read. I love everything about reading books. I love to research new books. I love to read “recommended books” lists. I love to “outline” books like a school book report. I love talking about books. (so much LOVE talking about books!!).

Hands down, since grade school, this has been my most consistent hobby that I love. I had a few years during grad school, and a few years during pregnancy/infant stage, that reading was just never feasible due to exhaustion. Now that I’m out of those stages, I use downtime to read by my own choice. Maybe it’s during down time at work or over my lunch breaks, during nap time, before bed, on vacation…..I choose to read. I always have a new highly-anticipated book with me just in case I want to read. I hold books constantly at the library. I browse reading lists, fiction and nonfiction. I have favorite bloggers that put out reading lists yearly that I use also!

Second. I no longer “guilt read”. Let me explain. For a LONG time. I felt terrible if I didn’t finish a book. Or at least try to get through it. As if I owed the author something. But then I heard some amazing reading advice and it’s changed me :

  • Give the book 2 chapters, or 50 pages. If it’s not right, put it down. No hard feelings
  • If you’re half way through a book, and you loved the first part and realize you’re done or bored, it’s OK. Put it away. If you got even ONE thing out of the book — some inspiration, some thought, some moment of joy, some conversation starter — then the book/author fulfilled it’s general purpose. It’s OK if you don’t finish it.
  • If you devour the entire book, quickly or slowly, then fabulous!! Hand it over to someone else when you’re done!

I’ve read a lot of great books in the last few months. And these were hands down my favorite and most recommended. (and yes. All of these I completely finished reading!)

Chasing Slow : courage to journey off the beaten path by Erin Loechner. Her life story placed together in beautiful short chapters, her awakening to minimalism, moving from busy jobs to chasing slow. Everything from capsule wardrobes, to purging, to faith and parenting, to the realization that chasing slow, without grace, is just another metric for perfection. I constantly thought “this sounds JUST like my own journey!” which was super fun. I loved that it was almost a coffee-book style ; beautiful fonts, photos, little tidbits on the side pages. Just a beautiful book to hold while I read it.

Falling Free: rescued from the life I’ve always wanted by Shannon Martin. This is one of my favorite genres. Memoirs. Specifically a memoir that is the story of someone who uprooted their comfortable life for one they never thought they’d say yes to. They followed God’s call to something radically different: a small house on the other side of the urban tracks, a shoestring income, a challenged public school, and the harshness of a county jail. THIS one is good!

Nothing to Prove: why we can stop trying so hard by Jennie Allen. Like her other books, this is a bit memoir-ish, but it’s mostly spiritual musings and thought-provoking questions. Perhaps the preface wasn’t as applicable to me in the spiritual/mental state I’m in, and overall it wasn’t my favorite of her books. However, it was still incredibly well written regarding the struggle to prove yourself worthy.

Preemptive Love : pursuing peace one heart at a time by Jeremy Courtney. If there is one book I’d recommend to anyone on this list, THIS ONE is it. It’s the background story of a man and his young family, moving to Iraq, and how they started Preemptive Love Coalition (a favorite partner of ours). Part memoir, part historical Iraq (do you fully understand the impact the Iraq/Iran war? The chemical bombings long-term effects?). This is not a book that will make you sick or guilt you into anything. But it somehow weaves together such a compelling REAL life story (in our very very recent past, this is our lifetime) that creates emotions in yourself you may not even know about. It’s beautiful. And even better, I feel like I understand Iraq culture and history a bit better after reading this book.


Triggers : exchanging parent’s angry reactions for gentle biblical responses by Amber Lia. Matt and I never would call ourselves angry people. Until we had kids hit age 3. WOAH. I never new that the constant tiny nagging voices, constant disorderly, constant exhaustion would manifest itself in a way that would create anger (the ugly kind no parent wants to admit to or talk about). This book. THIS book addresses it. It takes individual triggers and breaks them down. It empathizes yes, but it convicts. And better yet, it suggests tools and phrases that focus the issue from a parenting issue to a you-and-God issue. Super powerful. I would recommend this to any parent with preschool aged kids and up.

Parenting : 14 gospel principles that can radically change your family by David Tripp. Allow me to just list some of the chapter titles for you. Obviously this is one of the BEST parenting books we’ve read. Ever. Ever. Because it’s less about parenting, and more about God. WOAH.

  1. Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.
  2. Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.
  3. Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting.
  4. If you are not resting as a parent in your identity in Christ, you will look for identity in your children.
  5. You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event
  6. As a parent you’re not dealing just with bad behavior, but a condition that causes bad behavior. 
  7. (and there are 14 total of these he talks through. It’s incredible. Best book yet. Most applicable for parents with kid ages 2 and up).