Book Roundup 2015

Book Roundup 2015

There’s not much I enjoy more than a room with books. Today I thought I’d take some time for a round-up of the books I made room for in 2015.

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 A room without books is like a body without a soul.   

Cicero

 Here they are, followed by my making a little game out of which ones I loved, loathed, and left out.

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I didn’t read quite as much this year as I did in 2014 but was actually surprised when my book count for 2015 added up to twenty-seven (not including the New Testament and a ton of blog reading). I wasn’t nearly as intentional this year, but it turned out I was only six books shy of the amount I read last year. As I looked back over my selections, I found it interesting to see the genre choices…. 25 nonfiction and 2 fiction. Yep, that’s me.

The nonfiction breakdown:

  • 9  Autobiography/Memoir
  • 7  Christian Living
  • 4  Bible Study
  • 3  Self-help
  • 1  Health
  • 1  How To

the fiction:

  • 1  Historical fiction
  • 1  Mystery/Whodunit  (so not my genre, but I attended a book club at the beginning of the year, and this was the chosen read)

Three of the books I read this year were re-reads. To me this speaks extremely well of a book since there’s hardly enough time for all the books I’m interested in much less time to read something I’ve read before. Therefore, high praise goes to three:

Only 77 pages, this book reveals a hidden truth in Ephesians that might just change your life.

Discover what might be keeping you from fulfilling your calling in this profound book by one of my favorite authors.

AN ABSOLUTE MUST if you love the message of grace and have never read this book!

                             

Led me to a great little discovery ~

Need some inspiration to dare to live your dreams? If you’re interested in seeing how one person finally got honest about her life, admitted what her dream was, took deliberate steps to make it happen and followed through against all odds, then read this book. As a result of the practice of doing what’s known as morning pages (a practice of daily stream of consciousness writing heralded by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way), this ordinary woman opts for a drastic life change, moves to France and through an interesting turn of events finds an art form that turns into a charming, lucrative, and fulfilling medium.  This gal’s story is daring and fun (although a bit risqué when she finds love in Paris). I hate to spoil the fun of the book, but if you’re not going to read the story of how it all started, do at least check out this video on her website and her Etsy store to see what I consider to be a great little discovery as a result of reading this book.

 

Most Unexpected Surprise ~  

I love libraries more than I can explain, but honestly, finding a great book while wandering the aisles can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, sometimes it happens…and happen it did when I stumbled upon this book by a man I’d never heard of. You’ve never understood some of the parables of Jesus like you will after reading this book. The author, an Episcopal priest, has a revelation of grace that is likely more radical than any of the “grace preachers” you might be familiar with. I will definitely be re-reading this book with a Bible, pen, notebook, and concordance at hand. The perspective presented will contort your mind into a new way of thinking, a grace way of thinking, about stories we’re familiar with and think we understand. Although the author could be accused of taking God’s unearned, undeserved favor to an extreme that seems to border on Universalism (although he does NOT leave off the part we play in having to believe to receive that grace), I can honestly say his radical interpretation of the scriptures analyzed in this book will, at the very least, serve to shake and shatter any mistaken mindset we might have lingering in the shadows as to the scandalous love God has for us. Beyond even this, this amazing book masterfully highlights how these same stories reveal the equal emphasis God puts on our showing this same extreme, revolutionary, profound grace to one another. A fascinating read.

 

Least favorite ~

It’s not that the subject matter of my least favorite book of the year was undesirable (renewing the mind is one of my very favorite topics), however, I could not make sense of how the facts shared in it were presented. I came very close to not finishing it but pressed through thinking it would eventually clear up. Not so. If you’re interested in the brain’s anatomy or the physiology explaining what the brain does in response to our thoughts then it might interest you. For me though, this could have been more practically true to its subtitle by emphasizing the admonitions of Paul in Philippians 4:8 and II Corinthians 10:5. If you want less technical and more practical I would rather recommend this book .

 

Most Disappointing ~

One of the things I focused on this past year was the subject of prayer. Someone I respected gave this book high praise so I put it on the list of books to read while my husband was in Africa during the summer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another book I forced myself to finish . I always think something’s going to change and I’ll miss it if I don’t finish. It might be that some of the content in this book seemed elementary to me. An extensive use of quotes from theologians like Calvin, Luther and Augustine made it more theological than practical. I wish I had spent my time actually praying instead of using it to read this book. I’m sure I would have been further ahead.

 

Best and Most Surprising Ending ~

You would think the mystery/whodunit book would hold the prize for most surprising ending, but no mystery I’ve ever read caught me by surprise or was more unexpected than the ending to this memoir. The honest, brave conclusion this author wrote as an end to this diary was written six months after his seven month cloister with Trappist monks in the Upstate New York monastery he entered to deal with his restlessness. The decision to separate himself from his busy life as a professor and priest and devote himself to solitude and prayer was made with the intention to see lasting change as a result of this extended and solitary focus of attention and energy. A noble quest indeed, one I have often thought would benefit me as well. My commitment to read the diary was at times just that…a commitment. I was likewise seeking answers…hoping to be inspired regarding my prayer life from seeing the fruit of it heralded by someone who had made it a priority in such an unorthodox and extreme way. As usual, with the many books I read on spiritual topics, I pressed on, attending to every single word with hopeful anticipation. In this case I am so glad I didn’t quit before finishing. Thank God this man had the courage to end his book as he did. Truly, it provided the answer…the one and only answer to all our searching. The closing statements made the time I took to read this book worth it! Just when I thought I would find another secret to a deeper walk through more dedication to and understanding of prayer, I was overjoyed at the staggering reminder via this fellow seeker of God who finally and mercifully discovered that all is grace!

 

Most favorite ~

I really don’t have the words to tell you how much I love this girl and her writing. I’ve followed her blog for almost two years now and still get giddy when I see she’s published a new post. And now this first book, my very favorite read of the year, a full 272 pages of her masterful word weaving. I was first drawn to her because of a heartfelt post she wrote describing the unfamiliarity and loneliness she felt in having just moved to Atlanta from New York. My son had just moved there and was experiencing the same emotions so my heart engaged with her immediately. The book is a memoir of her ever so challenging season living in New York during which she began writing poignant letters to anonymous people and leaving them all over the city. Purely unplanned, it has since become a movement, eventually leading to her being asked to do a TED talk which as of this writing has been viewed over one and a half million times. This girl is honest and extremely talented. She has a way of crafting the story of life with all its unknowns, its highs and lows, its promise in a way that makes you feel like you’re not crazy or the only one experiencing the wonderings and wanderings of life. She is becoming more and more aware of the reality of God and has begun sharing Him with bold authenticity. I am thrilled to watch what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in this girl’s life. If you like genuine and genuinely good writing, this girl’s for you.

One of many wonderful quotes:  

“It’s not about you. It’s not about what you want. Look for that selfless place inside of you and just start stacking wood for the fire there. Search until you find that place, though it won’t be easy to find. Still, be relentless in finding it. Build from the selfless place inside of you that is not big or loud or selfish or proud. Build from that little spot inside of you that burns quietly and unceasingly for others.”

 

I could go on and on talking about books but I’ll shorten things up by mentioning a few books (ones I absolutely recommend) by way of quotes, quirks or comments.

 

~ You’ll never meet a more whimsical, radical doer! Need someone to talk to? The author ends this book by giving you his phone number!!

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

 

~ Something to seriously consider if you’re having trouble hearing God’s voice.

 The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.

 

Praying God’s will for that child you’re sending off to college? God has ways of pursuing and overtaking even when we’re not pursuing Him.

 

In conclusion, let me say that although I shared my favorite read of the year, if I had to recommend the one book that I would want absolutely everyone to read (with highlighter in hand) it is this one. As I stated, if you love the message of grace and haven’t read this book you will not be disappointed. Trust me…you haven’t heard it communicated like this before.    As of today the Kindle format is only 2.99!

 

I’m looking forward to another year of reading great books. If you’ve read any you recommend please let me know in the comments. I’m compiling my 2016 book bucket list.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

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Starting the Year with Change

Starting the Year with Change

It’s my first read of the year and an unlikely one at that. I killed two birds with one stone by reading this book. I fulfilled my commitment to provide a review in exchange for Revell providing me with a copy of the book and I can check off one of the categories of books required to fulfill the Modern Mrs Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge. The category…a book in a genre you don’t typically read.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about finances before, and seemingly, that’s precisely why Mary Hunt wrote The Financially Confident Woman: What You Need to Know to Take Charge of Your Money…to encourage women to become knowledgeable and thus confident to actively participate in their own financial well-being.

What I loved about this book is that it’s not a treatise on how to get more money, but more importantly how to manage the money you have. Before tackling the cure, Mary insightfully questions the cause, the financial beliefs responsible for irresponsible behavior. Exposing six insidious beliefs we might hold unaware that wreak havoc in our financial lives, Mary then thoroughly and methodically shares nine habits that, if implemented, will radically change anyone’s financial future no matter what shape their finances are in. Topics include giving, saving, investing, debt, frugality, emergency funds, financial assessment, getting what you pay for, and planning for retirement.

Complete with explanations of terms, nuggets of wisdom, terrific tips (her “Seventy-Seven Ways to Spend Less Money” and “Ways to Raise Cash for Your Stash” really get the juices flowing), The Financially Confident Woman covers the basics and so much more. The concluding Six-Week Plan of Action is meticulous, methodical, and entirely inspiring, stirring the reader to act, not just analyze, which to me is the sign of a worthy and worthwhile self-help book for…

“If you change nothing, nothing will change.”

For every woman who reads it, The Financially Confident Woman could very likely change everything.  

 

 


Click on the book to read an excerpt.

 

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Best Books of 2014

Best Books of 2014

PRc6NRaYI did a lot of reading this year. It was one of my intentions for 2014 since the previous year was seriously lacking in that department. With the year coming to a close today I thought it would be fun to share my favorite reads of the year. The 2014 smorgasbord included some fiction, non-fiction, young adult, classic, biography, and of course a book about books which is double pleasure to me. You can see all the books I read this year on this Pinterest board, but in case you’re wondering…here’s my top 5!

 

 


#5  Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

This was my first introduction to Shauna Niequist and a lovely one at that. I’d heard such good things about Bread and Wine (and by the way…$1.99 Kindle version on Amazon right now), but since food and entertaining are not my forte I searched for another of her books. It amazes me how talented people are in expressing the simplest of things in the most profound ways. Shauna speaks of simple things….everyday life, even the mundane…but in a way that encourages you to stop and notice the extraordinary in the ordinary…and don’t we all need a lot more of that?

Favorite Quote: “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open, and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater.”

 



#4  Daily Love: Growing into Grace by Mastin Kipp

I have to say that there was quite a bit of “theology” I had to work around to get to the truth contained in this book, but I learned quite a while ago to eat the meat and pick out the bones concerning sermons, commentaries, books, opinions and the like. Mastin Kipp is the founder of the wildly popular website TheDailyLove.com which catapulted to popularity after Kim Kardashian tweeted about it, which is kind of like Oprah picking your book for her book club…instant exposure! Daily Love is simply Mastin’s story and a colorful one it is. From fame to failure as a result of succumbing to the pitfalls of drugs, ego, and the glitz and glam of the fast lane, Mastin hit rock bottom but them made some rock solid decisions that changed everything. What Mastin shares concerning our comfort zones, the nature of fear, and the need to act as opposed to analyze are powerful inspiration for change.

Favorite Quote: “Personal growth without action is …spiritual entertainment.…  Most of my spiritual work was just spiritual entertainment; I wasn’t backing it up with action. As much as we want to change we are also terrified of uncertainty. We’d almost rather stick to our old patterns than risk doing something different. That’s why it’s so easy to get lost in self-help books. We feel like we are making progress, but in truth we may actually be spinning our wheels and not taking any action.”

 



#3  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I read this book. It not only helped me understand myself but made me recognize and appreciate some things I’d judged as faults in quite a few others in my life. Similar to the insight I received in realizing the unique giftings in God’s people, this thoroughly researched, comprehensive look at the traits of introverts and extroverts and the incredible benefits that each bring to any number of situations was enlightening to say the very least. I highly recommend this book (…and right now the Kindle version is only $2.99 on Amazon)!

Favorite Quote: “Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.” 

 


#2  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This one was another hard one to get through for a few reasons, but the message of this book is so incredible that it’s worth the challenge I faced to finish it. Ann’s writing is like no other. It is wordy which made it difficult for my taste, but it is oh, so eloquent. To be perfectly honest, I believe the lesson Ann teaches in the book is embodied in and involuntarily required by her style of writing…the lesson being: slow down, take time to enjoy the delicate, intricate nuances of the myriad of things that are all around us…offered to us as gifts from our loving God. Joy isn’t the source of gratefulness, gratefulness is the source of joy. So very much to ponder in this amazing book.

Favorite Quote: “Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment. And when I’m always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows. Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows…”

 


#1  Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

My number one favorite read of the year is Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak. Books that speak of finding your destiny, calling, passion, and purpose are endless. I’ve read many of them as I, like so many, look to ensure that I’m living a life of meaning. This little book (only 128 pages) is a breath of fresh air in that search. Encouraging us to look at our life instead of some elusive purpose that might be eluding us and just out of reach, Parker brings a whole new way of thinking to the idea of vocation, bringing the peace and calm that comes from finding answers to the inner struggle that often accompanies a quest for meaning in our lives. You might just discover you’re not as far from the answers as you might have thought.

Favorite Quote: “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” 

 

Now that you’ve seen what I’ve read and enjoyed might you offer a suggestion or two for my reading in the upcoming year? I’d just love that!!

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Oh, and by the way…the January photo-a-day list is updated and can be found here.

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Linking up with Book Musing Mondays

Breathing Room: Review

Breathing Room: Review

breathingroomLately I’ve been searching for books that speak of space, quiet, and peace…permission to relax and just be. Having recently joined the Revell Reads Blog Tour Program, I was thrilled when they provided a copy of Leeana Tankersley’s new book, Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live for review. This delightful, insightful read stands out as one of the best in my recent reading repertoire.

In the midst of the challenges of motherhood, miscarriage, and moving her family to follow her Navy Seal husband to the country of Bahrain, Leeana found herself in a very dark place. Sharing her story in a transparent, relatable way she creates for the reader a sense of being understood and uplifted, as if sharing one’s struggles with a caring and very wise friend.

No matter the unique nature of your individual circumstance everyone can benefit from the wisdom Leeana offers as she exposes the insidious nature of the myriad things that bind us…toxic voices, a desire for control, self-bullying, fear, grief, lack of accomplishment and direction, or just the fact that life, at times, is undeniably hard. Coming through loud and clear is the message almost every woman needs to hear…show yourself compassion.

More than a message on how to seek peace without, Leeana stresses the truth that “If your insides aren’t peaceful it matters not what’s outside.” Not just preachy but practical, Leeana offers substantial, sound advice that provides welcome relief from the diverse challenges of simply being human…of being alive. Her relaxed, relatable writing sytle make this book breathing room in itself, creating a sense of calm and comfort simply in the reading. You will come away refreshed…and relieved.

To read an excerpt from Breathing Room

⤹ click here⤵

 To learn more about Leeana visit www.leeanatankersley.com

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Book Review: Extraordinary

Extraordinary.Bevere

 As you can see I have quite a collection of Bevere books.  What can I say…there’s no one quite like John Bevere.  Having known him personally, if I had to describe this man in one word it would be passionate.  He and his wife Lisa are the real deal.  I’ve read most of John’s books and am confident to highly recommend them.  His commitment to and careful interpretation of God’s Word make John a trustworthy teacher.  Expounding the scriptures with nothing less than gifted revelation, line upon line, powerful truth unfolds; the method of a teacher…in the mouth of a preacher.

Recently I re-read his book Extraordinary, which might also serve as a fitting, one-word review.  In this thought-provoking book John challenges us to take an honest look at our lives in comparison to the extraordinary lives of Jesus and those in the early church. He asks us to examine what might be keeping us from being extraordinary…from reaching our highest potential.  Living an extraordinary life is God’s plan for each of His followers, yet most of us forego the extra and settle for the ordinary.

Typical of all his books, John isn’t satisfied to theorize, he’s concerned that we do something to elicit change.  He provides abundant, valuable explanation along with practical, real-life solutions that, if implemented, will foster real transformation in our lives.Continue reading