Last fall got a little crazy. I was writing a Mentor's Guide to be published along with my book, Brand New. I was promoting Brand New. I had many speaking opportunities and was able to teach classes. My days were crammed with pouring out in teaching and writing. The instant my kids were home I was pouring into them as we navigated homework, sports, and all the details of raising four kids, often while Sean was traveling for work. It was intense but all things I was made for.
Even though I loved all of it, I've been in ministry and parenting long enough to know output with minimal input is not sustainable. When I was able to get my feet under me again, I determined to focus on input before I burnt out or exhausted myself . One of my fun resolutions was to read a variety of books. They had to be interesting but they couldn't all be the same genre. 2018 isn't over, but here are some of the books that have been on my shelf:
Historical fiction is my favorite genre. Mad respect to authors who spend years researching and imagining to put together believable, compelling stories that suck me in. I'm even more impressed when I learn history and geography without even realizing it until the end. I was mesmerized by Doerr's story telling. Incredible. It crawled into my dreams at night and I found myself rethinking pieces throughout the day.
Hemingway's life fascinates me. Starving writer to world traveler to international spy–he couldn't write anything quite as interesting as he lived it. This memoir confirms his self indulgence. Hotchner doesn't skate around Hemingway's sins; he tells of Hemingway in an honest way that made me identify with a man who I have only a few things in common with. This specific story is a personal one of sweet first love and lifelong regrets. Even though I was frustrated at his self involvement, I cried in the last chapters.
I couldn't very well cry for Hemingway and not follow it with reading one of his novels. Farewell to Arms is one of his most notable works but I'm telling you–his life was more interesting to me than this story. His rhythm of writing (particularly dialogue) was a lot to take in and hard for me to identify with. That being said, historical fiction in time of war draws me so it wasn't a loss.
Humes has instant credibility in teaching about speeches and leadership with this title. What are epic speeches without Gettysburg or Churchill? I tried to read this one in small doses so I could implement some of the points before moving on. It was still too much to absorb–I'll be revisiting it.
"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." -W.Churchill
I've studied quite a bit about the effects of trauma on young brains. Most of my studying has focused on the emotional and cognitive effects. Out of that, I've learned a lot about helping young brains heal through attachment, therapies, early interventions. When I saw Dr. Burke Harris' Ted Talk on the medical perspective she developed on the effects of childhood diversity, I couldn't stop sharing it. Watch the Ted Talk. If you're interested in more background and where the research and experience is headed now, get the book.
One of my favorite quotes that Moore included in his book was, "The advice I like to give young artists or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." –Chuck Close. Moore writes about how ego and desires inevitably lead to writer's block and self loathing. Oh man, I needed to hear that. The word "mindful" in the title could have tipped me off that the author was Buddhist, but it didn't. Many of his points still applied to me–I just have a God higher than mindfulness and guidance more sure than my own.
Another historical fiction book; this one opened my eyes to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, made real by dynamic (fictional) characters. My 13 year old saw it on the counter, picked it up, and was sucked in, too. I advised against it–the imagery was disturbing to me and I imagined it would be for her, too. She went ahead and we couldn't stop talking about it. We ended up doing more reading on the pandemic after we finished the book.
The cover looks like every book my parents had in our home library from 1988-1998. I didn't completely agree with a few of the Scripture interpretations, but the principles and heart behind finances was helpful. Financial decisions tend to cause me stress and I've been working (praying) through a lot of my attitudes about money. Not my pleasure reading, but important in challenging and surrendering things that aren't easy for me.
This is kind of fun reading...for my nerdy teacher side. It's the second book I've read by Dr. Bauer. I'm drawn to her work because she is passionate about education but doesn't love our current educational system. She thinks outside of the box and challenges me to be intentional in my kids' education, regardless of what form it takes. I quote her a lot.
It feels like cheating but I listened to this book! Audio books are a joke because my life has constant interruptions, but Sean had a brilliant idea to listen to this on our road trip home from Montana this summer. A couple kids slept and a couple listened with us. "Love God, love people" is not a new idea but Bob Goff does a magnificent job through story telling and practical application, bringing the greatest commandments home. I'd still like to skim a hard copy, being a visual learner I think I might retain more than just the stories that way.
There you have it; random readings of my year. If you have recommendations for what I should add to my "what to read next" list...have at it!
Just throwing myself out there a bit...