Tag Archives: books

3 Things I Learned, Winter 2017

 

Winter has been screwy this year.

Three years ago, the view from my kitchen window looked like Winter.

This year, not so much.

It’s been a great season for learning new things, though.  I love learning!

  1. Routine can be an idol

“Don’t make an idol of routine” has been echoing in my head since I read it in Jesus Calling a couple of days ago.  Boy, has that been a problem lately.

Today we had a breakfast meeting.  That throws all my morning routines into chaos, unless I am able to get up earlier than normal and get them all in.  Today I wasn’t able to.  So, I skipped most of them.

Even though habits help me so much, I  have a problem being consistent.  I fall off the bandwagon over and over and over.  Right now, I’m not exercising.  I’m hit and miss doing my 3 minute mail purge every morning, even though those two things are good for me.

We haven’t had family night for the past three weeks.  This sends me into a tail spin.  I didn’t realize how much I depended on having one relaxing night every week.

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So, have I made an idol of routine?  Even when I’m not good at keeping up with habits that are good for me?  When I’m trying to accept and deal with unforeseen circumstances? Or unavoidable scheduling issues that prevent me from following through on routines?  I don’t know.  It’s hard to let go.  It’s also hard to push myself to be consistent.  So, I don’t really know where I stand on this.  But, I do know it’s a struggle for me and one that causes me stress.

Also, just like money can be an idol, whether you have it or not, routine can be an idol whether you have it or not.  Brand new thought for me.

2. Writing 500 words a day is good for my emotional health

Last Fall, I took on the challenge to write 500 words a day.  This method of writing intersperses all my random thoughts, pre-writing and self-talk along with some deeper, more profound thoughts. You have to sort through the fluff to get to the nuggets.

Focused writing is good for blog posts.  But, getting down all the random thoughts is good for my emotional health.

Another thing I learned was the importance of separating  my writing (drafting) time from my blogging (editing, formatting, pictures and promoting) time.  I need time for both every day.

Even more of a breakdown than that.  Journaling is a different activity than drafting blog posts, though they do tend to overlap and influence each other.

Also, brainstorming is a completely different activity. I need time for that, too, but it’s not necessarily something I need every day.  It could happen once a week.

3. The definition of grit

Grit= passion + perseverance

This definition comes from Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverence .

I checked this book out as an ebook from the library.  I was maybe a third of the way through when the book came due and disappeared from my Kindle.  But, the definition of grit stay with me.

The author proposes that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ.  I see her point.  I need to check it out again and finish the book.

There’s scads of things I’m learning right now, but I’m having a harder than usual time synthesizing and articulating them.

So, I’ll leave it there for now.

Linking up with Emily Freeman and other bloggers sharing what we’ve learned.

What have you learned? 

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

 

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My Favorite Best of 16 Book Lists

Last year, I loved doing a round up of the best of lists because it gave me such great picks for my To Be Read list.  So, I’m doing another round up this year, purely for selfish reasons.

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

Interestingly, Deep Work by Cal Newport hit three of these lists.  I’d have to agree. It is one of the best books of the year.

Read my full review here.

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I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt’s work.  From this list I’ve read Deep Work and The Four Disciplines.  I’d really like to read Mindset and Revenge of the Analog, especially in light of the bookstore.  Sleep Smarter doesn’t seem as intriguing, since sleep usually isn’t a problem for me.

Michael Hyatt’s Top 5 Business Books from 2016

The Best Business Books I Read in 2016

Crystal Paine’s Top Eight Books of 2016 

I loved Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Only read parts of Present over Perfect.   Johnny Tremain and Unbroken have been long time favorites.  Might try Carry On, Mr Bowditch, Good News for Weary WomenThe Happiness Dare and Presence.

 

My Favorite Books of 2016

Unbroken is one of my all-time favorites.  Boys in the Boat was one my top books of the year, as well.  The others look good.  I’ll have to check them out. I did not like The Girl on the Train.  I found the lives of the characters to be too depressing.

Sarah is a middle school English teacher, so I take her recommendations for YA books seriously. I read The One and Only Ivan on her recommendation. I haven’t read any of these, but I will be checking them out.

My Favorite Young Adult Books of 2016

 

Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy

I liked Everyone Brave is Forgiven, didn’t love Before We Visit the Goddess, am about to start One in  Million Boy.   The Course of Love sounds intriguing and I’d like to give it a whirl.

Deep Work is a great book.  I haven’t read Untangled–not sure if I will since my only daughter is 22.  You’ll Grow Out of It sounds interesting.

800ceoread’s book awards shortlist for 2016

The only book I’ve read on this list is Deep Work.  It’s interesting to me that this book hit three best of 16 lists.  Quite the endorsement. Their number one book of the year is about gender equality. I probably won’t read that one.

Victoria of SnailPaceTransformations

I haven’t read any of the fiction on Victoria’s list, so I definitely need to make note of those.  On her non-fiction list, I’ve only read Hands Free Mama (which was a good read).

This is making me think I need to get a little more organized about my reading list.  Many books that I’ve been interested in don’t get read because the library doesn’t have them.

Once again, loads of great books and the reason I love the “best of” lists so much.

Elena at Beautiful Hope has a massive list (36 titles!)  Scads of great ones.  I think maybe Elena has the most similar reading tastes to me of anyone I’ve bumped into in the blogosphere.

Many books on her list I’ve already read and enjoyed. Some I will add to my list.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi is one of her top picks.  Qureshi gave the commencement address at my daughter’s graduation in December.  I wanted to read it before then, but it didn’t happen.  I will get to it, eventually.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

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What I’m Reading, October 2016

fallleaves

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

 

 

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10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy Bestsellers

10reasonsbestsellers

  1. You can check them out from the a library instead.
  2. Your taste in books is individual.  Just because the masses like it, doesn’t mean you will.  The masses can be deceived.readcool
  3. Bestsellers aren’t necessarily the best books.  They might be well marketed.  They might have been released during  a “dead spot” with no significant competition.
  4. New authors need your support more than established authors.
  5. Get book recommendations from someone you trust, rather than a bestsellers list. (Modern Mrs. Darcy, Read Aloud Revival)                                                AnneBogel
  6. Read what your friends are reading.  They’re your friends for a reason– you have common interests and values.
  7. Check out Amazon and Goodreads reviews to find favorites in your favorite genre and books similar to your favorites.
  8. Take a good look at the people endorsing the book.  If you trust them, you can buy with more confidence.girlreading
  9. Best selling hardback books will eventually come out in paperback and sometimes, more economically, in mass market paperback.  If you are patient and vigilant, you might be able to catch the e-book on sale.
  10. Some bestsellers you will love.  Some are well written and sell lots of copies for good reasons.  Just be choosy.
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What I’m Reading April 2016

WIRApril2016

We’ve had snow here several times this month and it just feels wrong to be cold in April.

Some great reads and re-reads this month (plus a few that were abandoned and didn’t make the list).

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

 

livingforward Buy now from Amazon

Living Forward by Michael Hyatt

I think if I would have read Living Forward 25 years ago before I discovered Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it would have revolutionized my life.  Reading it now feels like a good reminder.

This book is for you if:  you’re struggling with clarity, purpose, your life is out of balance or you’re flailing in some area of life.

This book is not for you if:  you have a good handle on life’s direction, setting goals and you’re making progress in areas you want to improve and grow.

That being said, I’m still a huge Michael Hyatt fan.  I listen to his podcast regularly and I highly recommend his book, Platform.

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The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

The Nature of the Beast is the 10th book in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series and I read it first.  Let me first say, I love an honorable hero.

As intriguing as James Bond movies are with all the fun spy gadgets and suspenseful plot lines,  I don’t like James Bond because he’s a playboy.

On the other hand, Jack Ryan is just as brave, clever and cunning, but he’s a great family man.  He has a solid, loving marriage and reads Dr. Suess to his kids.  Can’t rate much higher than that for me.

That being said, I love Inspector Gamache’s honorable character. I love the values he stands for.  I truly believe we shape cultural norms with fiction.  For all the talk of being politically correct these days, I believe Judeo-Christian values can co-exist with great art and I applaud anyone who can do both.

I also love the way Louise Penny has human nature nailed.  The intricacies, the complexities and the subtlties.  It’s all there.

StillLife Buy now from Amazon

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life by Louise Penny is the first Inspector Gamache novel and I read it after the tenth.

Still Life had everything that I loved about The Nature of the Beast except for one thing.

There was a small story thread in the book that bothered me.  Since I’m still wrestling with how to address it, I’ll leave it alone for now. There’s still a lot to love.  I’ll be looking for more in the series.

HandsFreeLIfe Buy now from Amazon

Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distractions, Living Better and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford

I appreciate the author’s insights, love her writing and I’m taking her philosophy of life to heart.  One problem that makes it hard for me to relate to her is her age and stage of life.

I turn 49 next month.  I’ve been married 28 years. My oldest is 24 and my youngest is 16.  So, what she’s dealing with in her life is a totally different scenario from mine.

I read a lot from authors in their twenties and thirties.  Honestly, they have a lot to offer.  But, occasionally, it’s nice to hear from someone who’s done some miles.  Not that every mature person is wise.  Some people have been around the block but didn’t learn anything on the trip. But, I do appreciate reflections from thoughtful, observant people with years of life experience.

Partly stimulated by these thoughts and since I’m turning 49 next month I’m working on a series posts:  advice to my 19-year-old self, advice to my 29-year-old self and advice to my 39-year-old self. Stay tuned.

PenderwicksGardam Buy now from Amazon

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

There’s no good reason that I am reading children’s literature at this point in my life.   My youngest is sixteen and we don’t have any grandchildren (yet). In spite of that, I can’t get enough of the Penderwicks.  The second book in the series is satisfyingly predictable.

PenderwicksPoint Buy now from Amazon

The Penderwicks at Point Moquette by Jeanne Birdsall

Usually “predictable” is not what you want in fiction, but predictable doesn’t ruin a Penderwick story. Still timeless.  Still engaging, quirky characters that are relatable.

Re-Reading:

BoysintheBoat Buy now from Amazon

Boys in the Boat

I’m reading this aloud to my 16-year-old son, and appreciating it even more the second time.  As inspiring as Joe Rantz is as a hero, the interwoven history of our country and Europe  at the time these events unfold gives the backdrop that accentuates the drama.

Penderwicks Buy now from Amazon

The Penderwicks

I’m reading the first book in the series to the teens in my carpool.  We’re all loving it.  I’m so glad I bought the kindle version when it was on sale for a couple of dollars a few weeks ago.

I haven’t joined the adult coloring book craze yet. But have you seen the new journaling Bibles?  Some of them are gorgeous.

What are you reading this month?

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

rowingteamcapsize

Have you ever wondered why some teams can accomplish incredible feats and others can’t accomplish anything?  What if there were a way to diagnose the problems and solve them?  Now there is.

Five Dysfunctions is a leadership fable.  It is a page-turning quick read fiction, for the very reason a good movie is:  it’s full of conflict.

“The characters in this book ring true, are completely recognizable, and fully-realized. The book itself is well-written, and, I believe, ranks with the best of the genre.” –Jack Covert, co-author with Todd Sattersten of 100 Best Business Books of All Time

Five Dysfunctions identifies the major obstacles that keep a group from functioning as a team.  There are repeatable patterns that keep a team from reaching it’s goals.  By identifying these patterns and working to change them, the team can move forward and accomplish it’s goals.

What are the Five Dysfunctions?

Absence of Trust.

Fear of conflict.

Lack of commitment.

Avoidance of accountability.

Inattention to Results.

Lencioni is spot on in his analysis and his resolution.  This book is life-changing.

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Daring Greatly

DaringJump

(Language Warning)

Brené Brown is the poster child for courage.

She gathers data.  She tells stories.  She uncovers the uncomfortable secrets of whole-hearted living.  And she believes in her own research.  Even when it’s not what she wants to find.

Vulnerability, she discovered, was a critical element to whole-hearted living.  So she became vulnerable.

Her first TED talk went viral, when she talked about her breakdown/ spiritual awakening.    She was so transparent that she had a “vulnerability hangover” for 3 days afterwards.

In contrast to those who tote their own personal experience or anecdotal evidence, Brown’s writing carries the weight of her research behind it.  Much like “Good to Great”, the numbers are impossible to ignore.

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Brené emphasizes the critical element of human connection, the torture of psychological isolation, and the shame that prevents us from connecting.

Dealing with negative emotions is part of the puzzle.  Actually feeling them, instead of letting them fester and numbing them with addictions.

It all rings true.  Even the uncomfortable parts.  Especially the uncomfortable parts.

The transformation in Brené’s  life as a result of believing the research is as fascinating as the research itself.

Highly recommended.

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Rushing Through History is a Sweet Ride

 

LibertySweetRide

I believe America has lost her way.

She has forgotten the her founding principles and ideals.   The sacrifices made and the travail that birthed this country go unappreciated.  History is either ignored or twisted.

Rush Limbaugh’s look at the past changes that.  What better age group to target to revive our great heritage than junior high?  Hitler himself targeted that age to win over a generation.

rushpilgrims

 

 

 

 

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Rush successfully includes all the elements that fascinate and attract middle schoolers.  In the process, he emphasizes the critical principles and ideals that birthed our nation.  He highlights the fact that the experiment of communism failed in the very infancy of our country.

He emphasizes the religious beliefs that drove the pilgrims to come in the first place.

 

RushPatriots

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He articulates the freedom of religion that existed from the outset and the agreements made between believers and non-believers.  It was the very beliefs of the religious that permitted the freedom for all to choose their religious beliefs, without having beliefs imposed on them by governing authorities.

These are the missing core beliefs in our culture today.

Limbaugh’s books provide the urgently needed reminder to young people of the sacrifices made for the freedoms we enjoy today.

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betterabshabit

Not many books fit in the category of life-changing.

This one does.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg changed my life.

 

PowerofHabit Buy now from Amazon

This past year, I’ve been trying to implement a number of systems into my life to get it running more smoothly.
The Money Makeover. Flylady. Trim Healthy Mama. Getting Things Done.

But, there just weren’t enough hours in the day to implement everything, and it was hit and miss at so many of the systems.

After reading the Power of Habit, I thought through my daily routines and realized staying in bed too long in the mornings was sabotaging everything. I have trouble moving in the mornings. Physically moving. It literally takes an hour or two after waking up before my blood starts flowing.

I didn’t realize that one of my basic principles of life was self-defeating.

“Do the worst first,” I tell the kids. Get that over with and you can enjoy the rest.

However–Do the worst first– made me not want to get out of bed.

After reading The Power of Habit, I realized that the reward has to come after the action.

So, here is my reward. One hour of fun reading after I get up at 5:45. Fun reading includes Facebook or whatever books I’ve got going that I’m really enjoying. (Ironically, I have had a lot of trouble finding good books to read. I finally got my lists going at Goodreads, and that has helped me a lot. I also follow a few bloggers that give good recommendations. Modern Mrs. Darcy is my current favorite. I used to read Jack Covert Selects often. Kari Patterson is a new one, and I still check in with Ann Voskamp.)
Sometime in the last year (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Power of Habit), I read that 21 repetitions to form a habit is a myth. Most people need 28. So, I’ve put it on my calendar. 28 days of getting up at 5:45 rewarded by one hour of fun reading.

It’s working! I’ve done it 17 days in a row. I don’t always get my reward, because, believe it or not, sometimes there are demands on my time before 6:45. But I have gotten up. Out of bed. Every. Single. Day.

Pairing habits is also a good plan. Flylady recommends this. So, most days I’ve also taken my (chewable) vitamins and drink a liter or two of water before 7.

I am very hopeful that I will be able to make further adjustments to my morning routine and get all my other systems under control. It’s hard not to be impatient and try to do it all at once. But, slow and steady wins the race.  Baby stepping . . .

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