Spring 2016 Book Stack.

May 11, 2016


My reading list over the past couple of years has been sloooowwww going. But recently, I signed up for my library card at the new-to-us local library and discovered that they had a huge selection of e-books. (Welcome to the 21st century, Emily, I know, I know.)

So during bed-rest and now during nighttime feedings I’m attempting to make up for some lost time. Here are the titles that have been stacking up on my table (and screen) lately.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This was such a strange book. It draws you in like any ordinary cute, light summer novel does and then throws some huge curve-balls. Maybe I’m just not used to the genre, but this book definitely left me sleepless – not quite the effect I was hoping for! But I was able to finish it in just a few days, so if you want some quick, easy airplane reading, this is it. If you can’t handle mildly scary or bizarre though – pass it up.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. This was both more interesting and a little weirder than I expected. I appreciated her de-cluttering tips, although I think my mom and sister and I have all been secret KonMari practitioners before Kondo invented the system. Her advice definitely inspired me to go back through my closet, my most consistent source of clutter-stress. I also loved her advice regarding keeping items out of obligation or guilt.

I got the feeling that Ms. Kondo has some lingering inner-child issues – she seemed to spend a lot of time painting a picture of herself as this reclusive anomaly of a child who basically raised herself. Also, I would love to know what kind of advice she gives to parents when she consults with them. Do the piles of plastic sippy cups in my cupboard bring me joy? Not exactly. But neither does the idea of my toddler drinking out of adult glasses……

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. This book was life-changing for me. I’ve been a theoretical fan of Waldorf parenting and educational approaches, but this author explained why. I couldn’t stop scribbling quotes. It was both convicting and inspiring to read. It’s definitely super helpful for parents, but even someone without children trying to simply and more intentionally could glean quite a lot from the author’s words.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. This is mostly just hysterically funny. It makes for some great middle-of-the-night light-hearted reading, although it feels less like a real book and more like a show – or a blog – or something? This is probably partly because o Amy stand-up comedy career and partly because so much of the book is designed to look like post-it notes or letters or notes from a set. In addition to piles of hilarity, Poehler has some truly wonderful insights on parenting and life.

Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. Mark and I have been reading through this together. It’s quite good and includes a lot of really convicting discussion. It’s one of those books digested most easily at a slow pace which works perfectly since we only read a bit each night. I think it would be a lot to take in quickly. If you’re looking for some career direction or rationale for decisions, start here. Keller provides some wonderful starting points.

I would love some suggestions! What titles are on your summer reading list?

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Books | Career

March Book Report.

March 28, 2015



It’s been a while since I posted a book update. Making time to read again feels good. Tracking the books I’m reading encourages me to keep doing it because I’m reminded that I am completing books (which, for someone as OCD as me, is so necessary for successful goal-achieving!)

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Reading this one through Oyster. I was late to the e-reading train but I have been pleased with Oyster’s selection and love this collection of memoir-essays. P.S. Here’s a $15 credit towards Oyster if you want to try it. (When you sign up for the $15 credit, I get some credit too! Free books all around = win / win.)

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist. This one had me at the preface (which happens to be written by Eric Metaxas, the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.). I’m so excited to keep reading this one.

A Bend In The Road: Experiencing God When Your World Caves In. My mom’s group is going through this book together – it’s been challenging. You know those Bible study books that are super boring to actually read? This is not one of those. It’s one of those books is so good when I curl up alone but that also works well for a group-discussion.

The Whole-Brain Child. Still reading through this one. It’ll be particularly helpful, I think, when Miles is just a little older – most of the ideas are geared towards toddlers or young children. It contains some fascinating concepts though about mindfulness and emotion.

The Creative Family. Still reading this one too – I love it! It makes me excited to pick up activities that I haven’t tried ever or in years. It has some really wonderful step-by-step ideas for encouraging young and very young children towards creativity – lots of Waldorf-style activities, which is so inspiring. There’s also a nice collection of quotes and helpful resources.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. Finished this! It was fantastic. It had some wonderful concepts for leadership and workplace relationships but it also was so applicable to marriage and other personal relationships. I enjoyed it and was truly challenged.

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Books | Career

February Book Report

February 3, 2015


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Folks, does anyone remember that long dry spell right around the birth of a certain child when this English major (squared) did NO READING? It was rough and it was real.

But either because our lives are now more sane than they were in the first wild infant days or simply because I became desperate enough to become more strategic, I’m actually reading again. For Fun. Here’s a quick run-down of the books I’ve read or started since the beginning of the year.

David and Goliath. I ate this up. Malcolm Gladwell has never disappointed me and this one was no exception. The main concept is that disadvantages can force us to lean into other strengths, ultimately making the initial disadvantage an advantage. Fascinating stories and data presented with Gladwell’s typical terse voice – definitely the best book on my shelf so far for 2015.

The Inimitable Jeeves. A re-read. P.G. Wodehouse was my detox in college (and since). If I need a quick laugh, a little light reading, something more literate than the non-fiction on my shelf, this is where I turn. It never disappoints.

The Whole-Brain Child. This is mostly a psychology discussion of why toddlers and children think and act the way they do and what parents can do about it. It’s interesting and (probably will be) helpful, especially regarding tips for communicating with little people, but it’s a little slow – I think the authors could make their point more quickly.

The Parenting Collection. If you were raised in the late 80’s or early 90’s, your parents are – more than likely – familiar with the work of the child psychologist Dr. James Dobson. My mom gave Mark this set for Christmas. I’m excited to start it and garner some tips.

The Creative Family. (Am I becoming that over-analytical mom? Oh yes.) Mark got this for me for Christmas. One of my hero bloggers referred to this book and it looks like a lovely, quick, fun read. I’m also excited to support a fellow blogger!

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. One of the perks of being married to an MBA student is the constant inflow of interesting business books into our home. Mark enjoyed and recommended this one highly and so it’s next on the shelf for me.

There’s still a tragic lack of fiction on this list, but – baby steps! I’m trying this program to see if I’m able to get my hands on more fiction that I’m not ready to purchase (small apartment problems). What are you reading?

*Disclaimer: There are sponsored links in this post, but I only promote books or products that I actually use, love, or recommend.

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Bookish Tuesday: #3-10 of 30 Day Book Challenge

June 12, 2012
Like Jessica, I feel that the 30 Day Book Challenge is a fun idea but realistically a little painstaking. Here is part of my list en masse

3. Book that makes you laugh out loud: 

A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse

4. Book that makes you cry: 

This is that awkward moment when I have to admit that I'm not a cry-er. Not with books and movies, anyway. Sometimes I cry when I cut onions. I can name two movies, maybe three, that brought me to tears in the last five years. (No, Toy Story 3 did not.) But I definitely remember crying over a chapter of James Herriott's All Creatures Great and Small over a decade ago.

5. Book you wish you could live in: 

Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace. Deep Valley always seemed like an ideal world for any teenage girl.

6. Favorite young adult book: 

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry both profoundly impacted me. Between the ages of 7 and 12, I think I read Number the Stars six times.

7. Book that you can quote/recite:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

8. Book that scares you:

The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey by Frank Peretti. Yes, it's a book for a junior-high audience. Obviously, I scare easily. I probably should not go see Paranormal Activity

9. Book that makes you sick:

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book left me numb. It was thoroughly depressing. It was a beautiful and well-written book, but not really one I want to endure again.

10. Book that changed your life;

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I've never gotten over this book. It changed the way I view events and circumstances, decisions I've made, and, I hope, my entire outlook on life.

In case you missed them, here are #1 and #2 on my list.

What are your answers?

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Books | Career

Bits and Pieces

August 17, 2011
I’ve been a bit absent lately. A nine-day trip home, a newly acquired piano, the beginning of another semester of grad school, and a variety of other factors have pushed blogging to the back-burner. But I am back. 
Although the announcement of the contest’s winner is later than I had previously planned, there was indeed a contest and there was indeed a winner. Monica Jacobson, a frequent commenter on this blog and a dear friend, is the winner of Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. She will be receiving a copy in the mail shortly. 
And for the rest of my readers, on this Wednesday evening, I hope you glean as much enjoyment, food for thought, and wisdom as I have from the following passage from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.
And they lived happily ever after,” my father said. . . . The truth was, my father was fibbing. I spent my whole life thinking it ended that way, up until I did this abridgement. 
Then I glanced at the last page. . . . My father was, I guess I realized too late, a romantic, so he ended it another way. . . .
Yes, they got away. And got their strength back and had lots of adventures and more than their share of laughs

But that doesn’t mean I think they had a happy ending, either. 
Because, in my opinion, anyway, they squabbled a lot, and Buttercup lost her looks eventually, and one day Fezzik lost a fight and some hot-shot kid whipped Inigo with a sword and Westley was never able to really sleep sound because of Humperdinck maybe being on the trail. 

I’m not trying to make this a downer, understand. I mean, I really do think that love is the best thing in the world, next to cough drops. 
But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

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Bookish Tuesday: Day 2 of 30 Day Book Challenge

July 19, 2011

Day 2 of the 30 Day Book Challenge demands that I list my least-favorite book. This is difficult because a) if I suspect that I will abhor a book I simply don't pick it up in the first place and b) if I dislike it intensely halfway through, I normally just leave it unfinished.

The book that stands out vividly to me in answer to this question, though, is Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.

Jude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
I was required to read it one summer during college as a part of an independent study. I remember being horrified by it. The characters were repulsive and the plot, terrifying. Some of the scenes in the book were far more disturbing to me than any thriller I've seen. Most of the book hovers somewhere between grotesque and absurd.
The book traces the path of the protagonist, Jude, as he slugs through life searching desperately for direction and meaning. It is full of apocalyptic Biblical references that only serve to highlight the emptiness of Jude's life.
Ultimately, after a seemingly endless list of failed relationships, shattered ideals, and tragedies, the book abruptly ends on a hopeless note. Significantly, I don't even remember whether Jude died or not at the end of the book. I won't be going back though to find out anytime soon, though.
However, even the darkest book holds some truth. Jude the Obscure vividly demonstrated how dark and horrifying a life without meaning, purpose or direction can be.

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Books | Career

Bookish Tuesday

July 12, 2011

I'm inspired by Facebook's 30 Day Book Challenge, from which I plan to draw the Bookish Tuesday prompts for a while. Day #1's question is: What is your favorite book?

In all honesty, I don't have a favorite book. I love many books for different reasons at different times. But the one book that stands out vividly in my mind is George Eliot's Middlemarch. Beautifully written and masterfully crafted, this books stands as the epitome of the British novel.

Middlemarch (Oxford World's Classics) 

Midlemarch does far more than just stand as a literary achievement. Of great literature, C.S. Lewis writes, "My own eyes are not enough for me…. In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself."

Eliot brings her characters alive for her readers. Readers of Middlemarch experience the selfish cruelty of Rosamond, the despair of Dr. Lydgate, the confident conviction of Mary, the youthful folly of Fred, and the well-intentioned naivety of Dorothea.

In Middlemarch, I see the lives, dreams, hopes, and failures of myself, my friends, and my family played out through the lives of Eliot's characters. I relate to, mourn for, and rejoice with the characters as the lives of the Middlemarch neighborhood play out across the 800 + pages.

A professor once told me that Middlemarch was a must for every English major. But I disagree. Middlemarch is a must-read for every serious reader.

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Bookish Tuesday

June 21, 2011

What are five impactful non-fiction books you have read?

Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation 
Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation

 A great read for any young adult, Father Fiction thoughtfully discusses finances, relationships, and careers.

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives

I read Margin during college. It permanently altered the way I viewed and prioritized time and rest.

A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning (Isi Guides to the Major Disciplines)

A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning (Isi Guides to the Major Disciplines)

A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning is a quick, inspirational read about the Great Books for those dedicated to a life-long pursuit of learning.



A series of essays by a journalist who was there, Fire transports readers out of their comfort-zone to scenes of chaos all over the globe.

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy is an autobiography and the story of Lewis' journey to God.
Your turn! Include your list in the comments or on your blog, linking back here. 

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Books | Career

Bookish Tuesdays

May 24, 2011

Since I'm hopelessly addicted to both books and lists, the idea of book lists have always excited me. Inspired by this Wall Street Journal article, I henceforth designate Tuesdays as my excuse to concoct book lists.

Join the fun! Either include your list in the comments or write your own post about your list and include a link back here! Feel free to be brief and concise or to elaborately explain your list.

What five books would you recommend to someone else of similar age/life-stage?

1. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.

To say that this book changed my life is an understatement. Miller's words provide perspective for goal-setting, context for failures, and direction to what sometimes feels like the aimless churning of the daily grind.

2. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

Forget cheesy relationship books and blogs. This book provides a thoughtful foundation from which to examine every relationship in a Christian's life.

3. Father Fiction by Donald Miller

A good follow-up to the aforementioned Donald Miller, I would give a copy of this to every guy I know if I could; much of his advice is equally practical for women. He addresses issues like finances, dating, and careers along with more over-arching issues of character and growth.

4. Flames of Rome by Paul Maier

This historically-grounded account of one centurion's life in Rome around 50 A.D. is a captivating and dramatic tale of one man's redemption during a violent and bloody time. This novel put the problems of our world and times into perspective for me.

5. Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

Financial Peace is a wonderful tool to help one begin to establish the foundations of financial responsibility. It is an easy read and fairly short. It provides a wealth of practical and helpful information on money management for the everyday person.

Your turn!

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Books | Career

Review: Father Fiction by Donald Miller

January 17, 2011

My brother, knowing that books are a sure path to my heart, gave me Donald Miller's recent work, Father Fiction (Howard Books, 2010), for Christmas. I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years early in 2010 and felt like that book played an instrumental role in my year. It seemed fitting, then, to begin 2011 with Father Fiction. I wasn't disappointed.

Father Fiction seems to specifically target young men who, like Donald Miller, lacked a strong father figure in their youth. With this qualification in mind, I found much of Miller's wisdom in this book both profound and refreshing, regardless of the status of one's parental relationships. With wit and a clear, readable style, Miller practically and candidly advises young Christians on everyday issues like dating, money, peer groups, and work ethic.

Miller's breakdown of the metaphor of God as a father-figure and Miller's discussions of forgiveness, wisdom, and patience were especially poignant. My only quibble with this book is that, occasionally, Miller's discussions of his issues with his father seem to stray a bit heavily into the "inner-child" territory.

Overall, though, Miller's approach to issues that young men and women face every day are both surprisingly simple and refreshingly realistic. His examples are poignant and his words are inspiring. Ultimately, Father Fiction helps readers navigate the often tricky path of young adulthood with maturity and grace.

Favorite quotes from Father Fiction:

"Relationships, while rewarding, actually make life harder. They will bless your life, but they will bless your life through sacrifice. you are going to get more muscle out of it, and that's the attitude you have to have going into it in the first place."

"Love acts out of faith,which rarely involves feelings. Love is action; it's deciding something is true and living out that belief."

"We work to participate in the God life, to imitate God. That's also why we take a Sabbath. Work is one of the ways we engage in life, one of the ways we participate. . . . Work, the idea of work, is God's invention, and it is part of our spirituality to do it."

"When you forgive, you bear the burden somebody has given you without holding them accountable."

Miller, Donald. Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation. Howard Books, 2010.

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