What I’m Reading, October 2016


The weather in Indiana has been unseasonably warm for October.  Not that I’m complaining.  Cold weather is not my thing.  Soccer season has wrapped up.  Camping is over for the year.  I’m working fewer hours now at the bookstore, which is good for my sanity and good for my reading life.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

4disciplinesof-execution   Buy now from Amazon

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

I liked the emphasis on trying to move forward in the midst of the whirlwind.  This resonates with me.  There’s so much daily pressure.  Lots of details that must be tended to every day and some that fall through the cracks.  To move forward, you have to resist all that pressure and focus on the things that move you forward.  Those are your priorities.  Even when there’s so much else to do.

The book deals with how to achieve your “wildly important goals” through lag measures and lead measures.  It took me awhile to understand the main concepts, but I they were helpful once I understood.

To be honest, I didn’t make it to the end of the book, but I will revisit it.


undoingofsaintsilvanus Buy now from Amazon

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

I wasn’t expecting a novel by Beth Moore to start out with a dead body.  But, it works.  She calls this project “novel” in every sense of the word, because it is her debut into fiction.

The story centers around Jillian Slater, and the dead body belongs to her father.  From the front dust cover  “She hadn’t seen her or her grandmother, the ice queen— in almost twenty years.  Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.”

I had to push myself to finish because the story started to slog in the middle.  Although Jillian as a main character lacked some emotional development, there was a strong plot and the story was redemptive.  I didn’t expect any less.

rulesofcivilty  Buy now from Amazon

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I loved the setting of this novel, one that was unfamiliar to me—New York in the thirties and forties.  There’s something about New York that captures the imagination. When I visited as a child, two things made an impression on me: the streets were dirty and the unusual dress and hair styles of the Hasidic Jews. Still, the allure of New York transcends reality.

Katy Kontent is a working girl, but she runs in circles with the wealthy of New York.  But, life doesn’t go as planned and people aren’t always who you believe they are.

The novel is well-written and compelling.  The morality leaves much to be desired.  I can’t quite identify the intrigue is in this novel.  It certainly includes unexpected twists.  It’s a tribute to the complexity of human nature, and especially human love and romance.

elizabethismissing  Buy now from Amazon

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Loved the unique premise of this book. It’s told from the viewpoint of an older woman whose wandering, forgetful mind is sliding into dementia.  It flashes back to her childhood. The greater portion of the book focuses on the events of Elizabeth’s early years.  It’s interesting as she’s losing her grip on remembering details, she still remembers the feeling of loss.

To me, that rings true.  The human psyche is a wonderful and marvelous thing.  It never ceases to amaze me.

The pain of dementia is offset by the complexity and sweetness of family relationships.

thehidingplace  Buy now from Amazon

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Ten Booms built a secret room in their house to hide Jews during the Hitler’s occupation of Holland. They were discovered and arrested by the Germans.

I didn’t see it in the past, but the real hero of the story is Casper Ten Boom, Corrie’s father.  He taught his children the truth.  He led his family to believe the Word of God and live it out in practical, every day life.  They did what was in their power to combat evil.

This book has impacted me for decades.  I remember going through hard times and thinking “If Corrie Ten Boom can survive, I can survive.”

tellyourtime  Buy now from Amazon

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

Such a great book!  I learned so much on her blog and through her e-book.  I’m kind of excited about e-books now that I know some of the inside story.

I think there dollar, 50 page e-books are the way to go.  It breaks down a lot of the barriers people have about buying books and reading books— too much money, too much time.

Amy calls it her unique selling proposition to sell a short book on time management.  (Maybe someone should sell a cheap book on money management?  Of course, you can find lots of free stuff on the internet.)

I learned from her blog why she turned down a traditional book publisher.  The book publisher wanted it 7 times longer, to justify the cost of printing and selling the book.

Of course, that defeated her purpose.  Which goes to prove a lot of books are “stuffed with fluff” (to quote Pooh) in order to make them long enough to print as a traditional book.

Tell Your Time is concise and practical.  She implements and tweaks principles from two of my favorite books, Margin by Richard Swenson and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stepehen Covey.

thekeeperofthebees  Buy it now from Amazon

The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter

Gene Stratton Porter is one of my all time favorite authors.  A guest on the Read Aloud Revival called this her favorite Porter book. I liked it well enough, but don’t think it’s better than Girl of the Limberlost or Freckles.

She does a good job with plot, keeping you guessing while you’re turning pages.  Five stars for wholesomeness.  If anything, this one erred on the side of preachy.  It’s so interesting to see what things have changed in the last 100 years, and which have not.  Baby care certainly has.

The Bee Keeper centers on a wounded soldier who has escaped a government hospital and throws his fate to God.  There’s some things that could be considered coincidence in the story, and some that’s predictable, but overall, satisfying.  Stranger things have happened in real life and God does work in mysterious ways.



What I’m Reading, September 2016


September means soccer for our family.  The weather’s been great for sitting in the bleachers, a nice relief after some sweltering days.   I haven’t brought any books to a soccer game yet, but they sure showed up at basketball games last year.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for September’s Quick Lit.

theageofmiracles   Buy now on Amazon

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I believe that all great fiction rings true.  Even the ones with the most preposterous premises.

The Age of Miracles tells the story of a family dealing with the slowing of the earth’s rotation.  Every day is longer, every night is longer.  All the implications, all the choices, all the consequences.

Even though the premise is preposterous, the story still rings true.  Why?  Because it shows the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of cataclysm.  It shows the importance of deep relationship in the face of crisis.  It shows the inevitability of coming of age, in spite of whether or not the earth turns.

I liked the main characters.  That helped a lot.

I liked the traditional values portrayed in the story.  Which goes to show, you CAN have a great story without a moral slide.

oneandonlyivan   Buy now on Amazon

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This book was recommended by Sarah Wright of the Orthodox Mama as one of her favorite Newbery Award Winner books.

I didn’t realize until after I was finished that the book was based on a true account of a Silverback that was captured as a baby and grew up in captivity without any others of his kind around.  It was a cute story and I finished it, so that says something.

I’m not sure I can put my finger on what kept me turning pages on this one.

I’m not much of an animal lover. In general, I prefer the ones on the printed page to living, breathing ones.  A mouse in a book can be adorable (I loved Mrs. Frisby).  Living? Not so much.

thetellingroom  Buy now from Amazon

The Telling Room:  A Tale of Love, Revenge, Betrayal and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

This book sits in a genre by itself.  Is it memoir?  Is it biography?  It could even be classified as a business parable.  That is part of it’s charm.  The story itself drew the author in like a tar baby and wouldn’t let him go until he became an integral part of the story himself.

I’ve come to the conclusion lately that every great book is a mystery.  Maybe not every book answers “Who dunnit?” but at least,  “What’s going to happen?”  “How does it end?”

This book has it in spades.  “How does it end?”  keeps you turning pages.  And, if the ending was a teeny bit of a let down for you as it was for me, it doesn’t much diminish the journey it took to get there.

And what is the story?  Well, it does center around the world’s greatest piece of cheese.  Maybe not the most expensive cheese ever, but, without a doubt, the most compelling cheese ever.  It’s the story of the creator of the cheese. His family, his friends, his environs.  Yes, the love, revenge and betrayal are all there, too, but I won’t spoil the story by explaining how.

If you’re looking for a story that eloquently captures the bittersweetness of human nature, this book is for you.

andthegoodnewsis  Buy now from Amazon

The Good News Is  by Dana Perino

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the first few chapters of this book, when Dana traces her lineage back several generations, but eventually, the pieces fell together and the story took off.  The book basically answers the question, “How do you become the White House Press Secretary?”  In Dana’s case, it wasn’t something she set her cap for at an early age.  It arrived one step at a time, basically by being bored with all her other jobs, including a short stint as a stay-at-home wife.

bluelikejazz  Buy from Amazon

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz is reminiscent of an Anne Lamott memoir.  They’re both off the charts in honesty, transparency and authenticity.  We identify with those inner insecurities that we can’t even admit to ourselves, much less to others, committing them to black and white and hurling them to the world.

I’ve read Donald Miller’s memoir several times. I have also read Scary Close, which is somewhat of a sequel, but it doesn’t have the same punch as Blue Like Jazz.  Growing up fatherless is an underlying theme of Blue Like Jazz.  By the time Scary Close was written, Miller has resolved many of his emotional issues and experienced a lot of healing.  So, it’s not driven by the same pain.

I believe writing in itself is therapeutic.  As is sharing your story.  I heard Miller recently talk about the desire people have to be heard and seen and known.  He’s been there, done that and now has no more need to be seen and heard and known.  He’s heading a successful company now called StoryBrand that helps businesses tell their story .


miraclesfromheaven  Buy now from Amazon

Miracles From Heaven by Christy Wilson Beam

The true story of Annabel Beam is captivating.  We saw the movie first and it was so compelling I had to read the book to see what was true.  I was initially disappointed that some aspects of the story were changed in the movie.  The real story was even more amazing, but understandably did not transfer well to film.

That being said, one little phrase stuck with me and rattled around in my head,  “mama bear”.  Aside from the miraculous intervention of God, this is the element that stuck with me.  Because I see that element in some moms I know— every day heroes who rouse that mama bear when the welfare of their cub is at stake.  Mama bear is a good thing.  The courage it takes to stand up to whatever is threatening our children is just as miraculous as the the direct intervention of God himself.  God placed the maternal instinct in moms that plays out every single minute all across the planet.

Miracles From Heaven tells the story of Annabel Beam— her incurable, life-threatening disease and the 30 foot head first fall that didn’t kill or injure her.  The Beams are a family of faith.  But faith isn’t the hero of the story.  God is.  Science cannot explain what happened to Annabel.  Whatever you believe, there is no natural explanation for what unfolded.


undoingofsaintsilvanus  Buy now from Amazon

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

I’ve just started this book, so I’ll revisit it again next month, but so far, I’m impressed.  This is Beth Moore’s first novel.  She is best known for writing Bible study workbooks.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you a small percentage of your purchase goes to support  this site.)

What are you reading?




What I’m Reading, August 2016


Busy month around here. My college kids are off for another semester.  Soccer season is in full swing for my youngest. First day of school and all that jazz.  I was able to get two bushels of peaches in the freezer, but not many pages turned lately.


Seabiscuit Buy now from Amazon


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is one my all time favorite books.  Seabiscuit wasn’t nearly as inspiring, but still a good read.

I feel sorry for the the life of a jockey.  This was my first time to get an inside look to what that’s like.  Loved the historical backdrop so vividly painted.

TheAlchemist Buy now from Amazon

The Alchemist

I found this parable to be intriguing.  More of a life philosophy than novel, there was a lot of great food for thought.  Why do we keep pursuing our dreams?  How do we keep going after loss?  What is true treasure in life?  What is worth the sacrifice?

The story is about a young man trying to make his way in life and wrestling with all of life’s big questions: love, loss, meaningful work and what really matters. Five stars.


The Nest

Well, I abandoned The Nest half way through.  I should’ve known when I saw the word “dysfunctional”.  I was intrigued by the premise of the book: a huge inheritance with strings attached and adult children clamoring for a payout. I liked the complexity of the plot with lots of characters and lots of backstory.  Even though it was more graphic than I prefer, I stuck with it until the immorality, especially the homosexual couples, finally got to me.

It’s hit home to me recently how rare traditional values are in our society.  I didn’t go to public school for most of my growing up years.  My kids have been fortunate enough to have not gone at all.  So, I’ve been out of touch with main stream American culture.  Traditional values are scarcer than I realized.

I’m wondering if I’m going to have to give up present day novels altogether and stick to reading the classics that still portray traditional morality.  I’ve heard that Beth Moore is releasing her first novel this fall.  I’ll have to check it out.  Some great writers don’t cross genres very well, but I know her stuff will be wholesome.



Buy now from Amazon

Inspire Bible

This is the most gorgeous Bible I have ever seen.  I love the trim design.  Honestly, pictures don’t  capture the beauty of this Bible.

I have not jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon, but this Bible might change my mind.

What have you been reading lately?

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of you purchase will go to support this site.)

What I’ve Learned, July 2016: Night and Day, Change is Hard


Morning Tasks and Evening Tasks Make a Difference of Night and Day

In the ongoing drama to manage my life, it’s recently become clear to me the difference been morning tasks and evening tasks.

Really, managing my life isn’t a matter of managing my time.  It’s a matter of managing my energy.  It’s even more complicated than that, though.  It also has to do with managing my will power and my finite decision making ability.

Case in point:  processing mail at home.  At the end of the work day, my energy, my will power and my decision making ability were all depleted.  I couldn’t face sorting through the mail every evening so it would stack up, day after day.

Not until I switched that to a morning task–one that took 3 minutes or less daily, was I able to get on top of the paper clutter piled up in my kitchen that resulted from incoming mail. It made a night and day difference.  Ha.

Pairing that three minutes with a task I did every morning–cooking breakfast–meant I had a mental trigger every morning that reminded me it was time to process mail.  I found turning the heat down under my eggs down and setting the stove timer for three minutes worked well.  In three minutes or less I could pitch the junk, file the kids’ mail and prepare bills for payment.

Granted, I’m in a stage in my life when I’m not fixing breakfast for the family any more.  It’s every man for himself at our house at breakfast time.  I also fix eggs for my breakfast almost every morning.  This plan would still work with oatmeal in the microwave.


I could beat myself up for not figuring this out till I was 49, but I’ll give myself a break.  During the time we lived in Mexico, we didn’t have regular mail delivery.  There was lots of other stuff to adjust to, but daily mail processing wasn’t included.

That’s more than you wanted to know about my routines, but I’ve found other people’s experience helps me.  Maybe you’ll find this helpful.  I love figuring myself and my life out and making things work better.

On the flip side, exercising consistently in the evening is working for me.  I’m shocked.  I figured the depleted will power would work against me.  I don’t know if it’s the summer schedule or what, but it’s actually working.  Go figure.


Change is an Uphill Climb

Every time I try to implement change in my life, I learn something whether I succeed or fail.  Here’s a few insights I’ve gained recently:

  • Disappointments are closely tied to expectations.
  • It’s hard to set realistic goals.
  • Sixty six times in a row to establish a habit.  Not 21.
  • Trying to implement too much at once causes loss of focus.
  • Gaining insight into yourself is always a win
  • Don’t forget to reward yourself.  (I do, a lot)penguins
  • Celebrate the small wins.
  • When you’re making progress in one area, don’t beat yourself up for areas you can’t concentrate on.
  • Setting yourself up to win is critical.  Understand what your obstacles are.  Work to get the people around you on board.
  • Be patient.  There’s lots of time to implement slow change.
  • Don’t lose heart.  This is one of my hubby’s theme songs.  He doesn’t get discouraged very often and he repeatedly reminds others not to lose heart.

I’m about to launch into the umpteenth “life improvement plan” .

Gonna take my own advice to heart.

What I’m Reading July 2016


High temps and high humidity in northern Indiana this month.  Summer is sailing by too quickly. Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for July reads.

Linchpin   Buy it now from Amazon

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin could be classified as a business book, but the big idea is: what are you doing to make yourself indispensable to your organization?

I find when I read Seth Godin, he’s saying what no one else is saying.  I guess that’s what makes him a thought leader.  Although he doesn’t reference his personal life much in this book, I have found from other sources an enviable simplicity and rhythm to his life.  Which might explain his propensity to profound and novel insights.

In my life, it’s hard to find quiet.  It’s hard to find time to think.  It’s hard to find time and quiet together to think, process and write.  I look forward to a day when my schedule will allow more of it.

Howtowritecopy   Buy it now from Amazon

How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

This slim book is a quick read.  I’m ready to start over and take better notes (or just highlight it till it bleeds yellow) and put the principles into practice.

I can think of a couple different ways to use it for the bookstore.  Next, I’ll do some brainstorming for making it work for the blog.

Thanks to Michael Hyatt for recommending it.  So glad I picked it up.



Before the Fall by Noah Fawley

I liked the premise of this story:  why did the plane go down?  Although, for me, it dragged in the middle, that question kept me going till the end.

The characters weren’t particularly endearing.  The language and crude references were definitely a minus, tempting me to throw it off altogether.

But, I preserved, and the question was answered.

There were a few redeeming elements, but overall, I can’t recommend this book.

EveryoneBraveisForgiven   Buy it now from Amazon

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Just when you think you’ve read every possible WWII story, another one emerges.  Beautifully written.  Inspired by the author’s grandparents, but in no way based on their story.

It’s always fun to be surprised by a plot twist, and this book did it to me.  I thought I knew where it was going, but no.  A better story than I anticipated.

Although this doesn’t classify as a wholesome book, at least it didn’t belabor the immorality.


Before we Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I found this story to be engaging, once I got into the middle of it.  The brief peek at Indian culture, both in the US and India, was instructive.

Which made the immoral content more disappointing three quarters of the way in.

I abandoned another book this month after only a few pages when it became clear that the story existed to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.  Worse yet, it was a book written for kids.  I hate to see our culture in moral freefall and hate to think of innocent minds swallowing those premises.

I know it’s not politically correct to say those things, which is why I’m so thankful for the freedom of the press in this country, to be able to say what isn’t popular and what doesn’t fit into reigning agendas.

ReadyPlayerOne   Buy now from Amazon

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline tells a great story.  Part dystopian, part gamer geek, part Charlie Bucket looking for the golden ticket, part coming of age, part 80s trivia.  Cline has a lot to offer.

The book is set in 2044.  It’s always interesting to see how people envision the future. Cline has a great imagination.  Pair that with engaging characters and some unpredictable plot twists, and you have a winner.

Although there were a couple elements that I wasn’t happy with, over all this was a great read.

UndomesticGoddess   Buy it now from Amazon

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Entertaining, breezy read.

I enjoyed all but about 4 pages of it.  The story centered around a high powered British lawyer and some unexpected twists of fate in her life.  Interesting look at British class structure.  Fun story.


Ifyoucankeepit   Buy now from Amazon

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas

INCREDIBLE book!  So needed!  So important. A must read for every citizen.

If you are the tiniest bit patriotic, this book is for you. If you are discouraged about what’s happening in this country, this book is for you. If you need some encouragement about the future based on the past, this book is for you.

One of the most fascinating aspects to me was the impact George Whitefield had on the colonies and how those prevailing premises shaped our founding principles and documents and national identity. Why does “all men are created equal” echo in our heads today, but continues to be an unknown concept in countries across the globe?

I’ve been so sad watching the country that I love disintegrate. It’s so hard to see our freedoms eroded.  It’s tempting to despair.  But this book has given me hope for the future — ironically, by looking at the past.  Following the hand of God in the history of our nation gives me hope as the  domestic scene grows darker.

Even though I believe that all great civilizations come to an end and ours is already on the downhill slide, I also believe that God is in control.

I believe so strongly in the right and privilege of every citizen to vote.  But I was at a loss about whether my vote will matter in November.  No longer.  I will vote.  Even in the face of a disastrous outcome.

My God is on His throne.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)


I’m looking for wholesome, brilliantly written novels to read.

Which ones do you love?



What Difference Does It Make Now?


Yesterday I was angry.

Today I’m sad.

I’m sad for all the deceived masses that are ignorant of the freedoms they are losing.  I’m sad for the the Judeo-Christian values that are disappearing.  I’m sad that honor and integrity are no longer hallmarks of the leaders of this country.  I’m sad that voters no longer think that character counts.

I’m sad for my kids and (hopefully future) grandkids and the future of tyranny and oppression that they will know in their lifetime.

I’m sad for the people who made sacrifices for the freedoms that we enjoy and those that have squandered those freedoms by entitlement, privilege and neglect.

There were a minority in Hitler’s Germany who came to see him for who he was.  There were some brave citizens who tried unsuccessfully to oppose him.   Meanwhile, the masses were deceived.  Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

The founders of our country saw the pitfalls and injustices from the rule of governments throughout history.  They endeavored to establish a rule that would avoid these oppressive, dictatorial regimes.  Safeguards and checkpoints were established to diffuse power.  Freedom of the press was established to provide accountability for those in office.  The right to bear arms allowed the average citizen to protect not only what was his, but also to protect himself from an oppressive government.

I’m sad for young people who do not understand communism, socialism, capitalism and what difference it makes for them in every day life.  I’m sad for people who are immune to the suffering inflicted around the world by evil and oppressive governments.

I love my country.  This is why I’m sad.


What I’ve Learned: My Family Tree is Grafted and Going Slow

Linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I’ve learned this month.

Love the slower pace of a summer schedule.  Less rushing.  More time to catch up with people.  Best of all, more time for uninterrupted reading and more time for ruminating. I could get used to this.


The discoveries I make while writing are its own reward.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve realized I have to write to make sense out of my life.  I had one of those moments this week when a phrase echoed in my brain.  It made me ponder the unique friendships we forged during the sixteen years we spent with a non-profit assigned to Mexico.  I puzzled through it for days and it finally became the post When Your Family Tree is Grafted.

It’s gratifying and satisfying to analyze and come to some conclusions: to articulate the fuzzy, to make sense of my convoluted life.


How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit.

There’s SO much I want to accomplish.  There’s SO many areas in my life I want to improve.  It’s hard to slow down and only focus on  one area at a time.

During the Spring months, I was frustrated that my exercise routine was hit and miss.  I was focusing on my morning routine.  Now that exercise is becoming a daily habit, I’m frustrated with lack of consistency in blogging.  Patience. Patience.  It’s hard to go slow.

Taking small bites is critical to my success.  I do a 15 minute walking video every day.  That’s small.  Believe it or not, the very difficult, but critical element was deciding when in the day to do it.  It finally came down to after supper.  This is challenging when we have evening plans– it either happens late at night or in the afternoon before meal prep.

My mornings were too unpredictable to add another daily habit.

And so, it’s working.  Due in part to our summer schedule. Due in part to focus and willingness to let other things slide. Thank God for small wins.


What have you learned this month?



When Your Family Tree is Grafted


For sixteen years, my husband and I and our kids were ex-pats assigned to Mexico.  One of the interesting things about living as foreigners in another country is your relationship with other ex-pats.  It hit home this week when were catching up with a former co-worker from those days and I heard my kids call him “Uncle”.  It was common in our ex-pat community for the kids to call the other adults Aunt and Uncle.

But it gave me pause, thinking about those unusual relationships. My kids have great relationships with their blood relatives.  Their grandparents, aunts and uncles are encouraging and supportive in tangible ways.  So, I’m a little stymied to put my finger on what makes these relationships unique.

Maybe the critical element is being geographically far away from your extended family.  So these Aunts and Uncles step into the vacuum.  It fills that need for the family connections that go unmet for months or years at a time.  But, there also exists an element of choice.  You can choose who to get together with for Christmas dinner or the Super Bowl. You can choose who comes to the kids’ birthday parties and who you ask to help you move.  Back in your hometown, you know who your relatives are.  You know how the pecking order plays out.  There’s a clear distinction between friends and family.  There’s no blurring of the lines.

Away from home, the line between friends and family gets blurred.

I’m grateful for the people that stepped into the extended family gap that was created by the logistics of geography.  Our lives are richer because of it.



What I’m Reading June 2016


June makes me think of strawberries.  Mostly because Pete likes them and I often make a strawberry pie for his June birthday.

Even though the summer schedule means I’m working a little less, it also means my college kids are home and more people in general in and out for meals.  Less time for reading.  More time for making family memories.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit

ToKillaMockingbird Buy now from Amazon

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I made it 49 years without reading To Kill a Mockingbird, but the time had come.

I’m glad I finally made time for this classic.  It’s a good study on prejudice and the power of great sacrifice to live your principles.  Human nature is fickle and sometimes we can use that to our advantage.

Not sure if I’ll tackle the sequel or not, since reviews were mixed and many negative.

WhenBreathBecomesAir Buy now from Amazon

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This memior was written by a man diagnosed with cancer.  That’s the kind of news that changes your perspective in life.

Kalanith writes in a clear, concise style.  What makes the book extraordinary is the author wrestles with the meaning of life even before he’s diagnosed with cancer.  It gives the reader pause in the very best ways.

Here’s my takeaway:  we make plans for our lives based on how long we think we have left to live.  We make different decisions when we think we’re going to live 40 years more or 10 or 1.

Also:  at the end of life, our close relationships are what matter most.  But, running a close second is a life dedicated to meaningful work and making an impact on our world in some way.  I’ve believed for a long time that having meaningful work was a critical element for the human psyche, but I’ve never seen it so clearly before, especially in light of the importance of close relationships at the end of life.

I also enjoyed Kalanitrh’s stories of his experiences in medical school.  Interesting to see the behind the scenes snapshots of a surgeon in training.

GuernseyLiterary Buy now from Amazon

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

So many reviewers raved about this book, I finally decided I had to check it out.  Plus, it had such an unusual title, my curiosity was piqued.

I’d have to say it was worth all the hype.

I guess I didn’t read enough reviews to realize that it’s set in Europe in the years immediately following World War II.

The beginning moves a little slowly as almost the entire story is told in letters back and forth between the many characters.  Juliet is a writer who hears about the Literary Society’s unorthodox  beginning.  She is intrigued and unearths the entire story, getting to know the members initially through letters.

I loved the human drama for the very reason war stories are so popular:  adverse circumstances causes the heroes to rise to the top.

Heart-warming, satisfying read.


The Lovely Bones

I’m very late to the party on this one, since the book was published in 2002 and the movie version released in 2009.  But, I wanted to find out for myself what the buzz was about.

The Lovely Bones is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl who has been murdered. She describes what heaven is like for her and keeps tabs on friends and family on earth.

The premise of the book is intriguing.  The novel is well-written.  Some depictions are too graphic for my taste.  But, my biggest problem with the book was the way it portrayed immorality.

The problem isn’t that immorality is included in the story. Even the Bible isn’t G-rated.  Lots of stories there that don’t make it into the children’s Bible Story books for good reason.  But, the lines of morality are fairly clear.  When they are crossed, judgment follows. The immorality is neither normalized or glorified.

I’ve come to believe that the way the immorality is depicted is the critical issue.  Is it normalized?  Is it glorified? I believe the moral slide we see in our culture can be traced in our literature and movies, though it’s probably a chicken or egg issue.

Interestingly enough, there’s criminal behavior portrayed in The Lovely Bones that is repulsive. Everyone is repulsed.  There’s immorality that is accepted due to extreme circumstances.  And there is immorality that is glorified. This is where I have a problem.

I believe strongly that immorality shouldn’t be normalized and shouldn’t be glorified.

I stumbled upon a post on how to find clean books to read that is full of resources for books rated for content.

Now, more than ever, I’m on a quest for wholesome, brilliantly written novels.  I know they’re out there.  Just gotta find em.

TheShack Buy now from Amazon

The Shack

I read The Shack years ago, before I was blogging book reviews, so I thought I’d add it here, on a slow month.

I keep a copy of The Shack on the shelf at the bookstore, and it always sells, so I know there’s still new readers out there.

Here’s my one-sentence summary about The Shack:  It’s not a good place to get your theology about God, but it is a good read for challenging and stretching your image of God.

When The Shack was released, it touched a nerve and became a bestseller for this very reason: it wrestled with one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people of faith, namely, how can a loving, all-powerful God allow horrific things to happen to the innocent?

The Shack is told from the point of view of a father whose little girl is missing.  As the truth becomes known, the father loses his way in life until he encounters some unusual personifications of God that help him reassess his faith.

What are you reading this month?

(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)







Slow and Steady Wins



It’s hard to go slow.

I want a perfectly clean, smartly decorated house. Now.  The perfectly toned body. Now. The burgeoning blog. Financial goals met.  The holy life attained.  All relationships in harmony. Now. Now. Now.

Going slow highlights the discontentment of where I am versus where I want to be.

But here’s the thing:  a scattered focus means that I don’t achieve success in any area.

So, I am forcing myself to focus on only a couple of things this summer: exercise every evening plus healthy meal planning and prep (including desserts!).

In the spring, my exercise routine was hit and miss because I was focusing on being consistent with my wake-up routine.  Now that is established, it’s time to move on to something else.

So, now my blogging is hit and miss.  I’ll try to focus on that in the fall.

I’m shooting for 66 days in a row to establish new habits, based on the latest understanding of habit formation.  (Thanks to Michael Hyatt for bringing this to my attention.)

It can be discouraging to move slowly.  So I’m pep talking myself into staying the course and celebrating small wins.

Victoria at Snail Pace Transformations is Queen of slow and steady.  I’m inspired by her.  Check out her blog and see where slow and steady gets you!

Power of Habit was one of my favorite reads of last year.  Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin also tackles establishing habits.  Both books are helpful and practical if you’re working on your habits.

Stay the course, friends!  Slow and steady wins.