Winter Reading Wrap-Up

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When I first started working for the library, I started my own blog. I reviewed children and teen books (because that's all I read) one at a time and rated them anywhere from 1-5 stars. With my perfectionism, that took a lot of time, and (unless it was a super quick picture book) it wasn't very fun to keep reading books until the end just so you could [honestly] give them a bad review. I wanted to be able to share books I've enjoyed here, but knew I'd grow tired of it quickly if I did one at a time. So after a season (literally) of reading several good books, I decided I'd try to add a new feature on our blog - a brief summary of recent books I've read over the past season.

So, were the books any good?

I thought so. At some point between blogs, I decided life's too short to read books you don't like, just to be able to say you finished it. If I'm not hooked within the first few chapters, or if something really puts me off, I stop and move on to the next one.

How do you have time to read so many books?

Okay, so maybe you aren't actually wondering this, but for me, 8 books in 3 months is a lot! Even during the times in my adult life where I've most enjoyed reading, had you told me I'd be reading more than 2 books a month, I'd have looked at you like you had three heads! But to answer the question, I didn't technically read all of them. Shoutout to Hoopla! Why pay for audiobooks (I'm looking at you, Audible) when you can listen to them for free with your library card?! From here on out, when I say "reading", assume I may *technically* mean "listening". Side note: If your local library does not offer a free subscription to Hoopla as a member benefit, request it! (In writing, because everything is more official when they have it on paper.)

Anger: Handling A Powerful Emotion In A Healthy Way - I didn't mean to start out with my favorite, it just wound up that way alphabetically! Gary Chapman, probably most well-known for his book, The Five Love Languages wrote a book on anger - a topic totally relevant to my life right now! I definitely started this book hoping to find some coping skills for dealing with the children, but halfway through, it started totally affirming another situation we've been wrestling with for years. (I did get some ideas for dealing with the children, and can't wait to start trying to put what I've learned into practice!) Whether you've got a short fuse, or are close with someone who does, I highly recommend this book.

Big Love - This is going to sound weird, but I read this one on accident. I was interested in one of the suggested reading lists on Pinterest, which included the book Big Magic. Days later when I was browsing Hoolpa, I came across Big Love. I thought, It has the word "Big" in the title, and the cover is more bursts of colors than pictures. This book was on that list! While it turns out-cue Ben Kenobi voice- this was not the book I was looking for, it didn't disappoint! This story is the memoir of a cult survivor whose parents were murdered when he was a teenager and whose brother died of a heroin overdose. Despite all of these heartbreaking experiences, he chooses love.

Capture His Heart - Having been around since 2002, I feel like this is one of those books that is one of the "classics" on Christian relationships. Capture His Heart aims to simplify a husband's needs (and thus make them easier for wives to understand) by breaking them down into 8 adverbial categories, then provides creative ways on how to meet these needs. Take this one with a grain of salt, NOT all men are created equal (I should know, I'm one of the lucky ones!). But surely you'll find some things applicable to your marriage, and it's a good reminder that we should be more focused on our spouses than ourselves!

The Dark Side of Disney - This book has been around for a few years and I never even picked it up because I assumed from the title that it was going to be everything I never wanted to know about the mouse-god himself. Turns out, it's more of a [darkly] humorous travel guide. Want to know how to get cheap tickets? Both legitimate and illegitimate ideas are provided. They also go over more raunchy topics like the best places to get laid. Honestly, most of the "tips" are things a true Disney lover would never do (at risk of being banned from the parks for life), but it's worth the read if you have thick skin and plan on loving Disney regardless of how many F-bombs are dropped in the storytelling process.

Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide - Guys...I bullet journal (that's "Bujo" to the "in" crowd) now. Thanks to this book. Have you ever been on Pinterest and seen those journals that look like so detailed and artsy that they should be in the MoMA or something?! Those are [probably] Bujos. This book was super reassuring that you don't have to be a modern day Picasso to start a bullet journal and reap the rewards. If you've ever been interested in the journals, start here. And if you ever feel like crossing over to the dark side Pinterest, but don't have an artistic bone in your body, that's why God invented tracing paper!

Love Does - So there are stories of love overcoming extreme adversity (as in Big Love, mentioned earlier), but then there are also stories of love where you think surely at any moment now, the director is going to jump out and yell "CUT!", right? Love Does is one of those stories. Unreal achievements and positive life changes brought about because love isn't caught up in thinking what if something goes wrong, or is this the logical choice, love just does. Written in such a way where I just want our family and the Goff family to be bffs, the stories in this book are truly inspirational. Read this one when you want to feel good and are ready for your heart to overflow.

Present Over Perfect - In a world where people are expected to go, go, go; in a world where the need to keep up with exceed the Joneses has become borderline-obsession; in a world where we have quotes like "you'll have time to rest when you're dead"...This book offers a look at intentional living. Follow one woman's journey as she learns that - not only is it okay to say "no" - it can be good to say "no"! While I personally don't struggle with this, I know many people (especially moms) who feel guilty when they say "no", so they don't. "Saying no means you know your limits."

We Are So Blessed - Have you ever tried to turn the Bible app's verse of the day into a beautiful image to save or share, only to be disappointed by your results? Have you ever wondered why your Google image search for artsy Bible verses yielded pictures that looked like they were made in Paint? We Are So Blessed is a beautiful book worthy of any coffee table. Professional artists have taken lines from hymns, quotes, and verses and turned them into beautiful pictures that I wish were available in digital form so I could save them on my phone, too! Full verses or entire passages accompany the pictures.

#100HappyDays

SUBJECTS:

What is #100 Happy Days?

This project was started by Dmitry Golubnichy in the fall of 2013 as a personal challenge. His story is not uncommon – simply put, he was not satisfied with his life. After spending time with old friends who seemed to have unlocked the “secret” to being content, he returned home inspired. He began by asking himself, can I be happy for 100 days in a row? and challenged himself to find at least one thing he was happy for every day. He decided to take pictures to capture the happy emotions/memories/etc., and upload daily to social media [for accountability] using the hashtag #100happydays. After only a short time of seeing his posts, he had friends, and then friends of friends (and so on), asking if they could join the challenge. Since the creation of his website, over 8,000,000 people have completed the #100happydays project!

Why #100HappyDays?

I didn’t realize until I began researching the history of the project in preparation to write this post just how early I jumped on the bandwagon, but if I go back to March 2014 on my Instagram (@emt09d), I can relive some happy memories from my first round of #100HappyDays. At that time, I wasn’t a big Instagram user, and I didn’t do a lot of photos (many days I would just type about what had happened that made me happy), so I posted mostly on Facebook. However, in this case, I can’t argue with the old saying – a picture is worth a thousand words. Recently, I’ve become pretty overwhelmed with anxiety, but I’ve never forgotten my first experience with #100HappyDays. Going back and looking at pictures has really done my heart good.

An open invitation…

Did you know that 70% of people who sign up for the challenge don’t complete it because they say they “didn’t have enough time”? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to become someone who is too busy to be able to find happiness – especially if it’s just one moment in a day! I do hope, whether you’re the most joyful person on the planet, or in a funk like me, that you’ll consider joining me for this challenge.

If you’re worried you’re not creative enough or that you’re “too boring” and won’t be able to come up with 100 different things, don’t worry – help is on the way! After scouring Instagram and the photos that are tagged #100HappyDays, Dmitry has composed a book of 100 directives to help you make it through (at least!) 100 days.

Oh, and if you do buy the book and you’re local, I’d love to borrow it! This would probably be an excellent segue to write a post about our current no-spending challenge…

Matt Chandler

DISCLAIMER: It feels kind of creepy to be writing a whole post about someone who I've never met personally, but we wanted to provide you with information on some of our favorite pastors so you can look more into their work, if you're looking for some inspiration.

Matt Chandler has been the lead pastor of The Village Church in Texas since 2002, and is easily my favorite practicing pastor to listen to. (How do I end that sentence in a grammatically correct way?!)

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but my favorite thing about Matt Chandler's sermons are the punch-in-the-gut feeling he leaves me with. I feel like he uses every sermon to hold up a mirror to make us (as Christians) look at what we need to change and/or better in ourselves; he doesn't tell you what a happy and successful life you will have if you accept Christ, nor does he focus on what the rest of the world is doing "wrong". To give you an idea of what I mean, here's a quote from his message, "A New People" (9/2/12):

"We're going to look at this idea of being a city on a hill, look at what it means to be God's people set up for the world to behold the glory of God. So we're going to talk about marriage, we're going to talk about divorce, we're going to talk about sex, we're going to talk about lust, we're going to talk about all these things and the Christian view of those things and how far we fall short of those things, and marvel at the grace of God as we seek to see Him do work in our lives to bring about greater obedience in those areas."
His voice is oddly soothing (I say "oddly" because his passion for any given topic leads to him getting so loud that I have to adjust the volume multiple times each podcast) and he does an amazing job connecting modern day issues with the Bible.

To top it all off, God is currently using the pastor to prove that He is ultimately in control, as he is currently surviving a terminal brain tumor diagnosis he received in 2009 which was supposed to leave him with only two to three years to live. As someone who continually gleans from his teachings, I personally hope Pastor Matt has many years left with us.

While iTunes' podcasts only go back about 7 months, you can find podcasts dating as far back as 2006 here on the church website.