We are wrapping up our three week reading series this week and I’m excited to talk about three of the questions I get the most often: “how do you find time to read, how do you decide what to read, and where do you find your books?” In the beginning of 2017 I set a goal to try and read thirty books. Like anything else, I approached this new idea by diving into some research. I ended up finding the resources that led to me reading eighty books this year while working as an elementary teacher and a full-time grad student. Let me tell you all about them.
1. How do you find time to read?
Like anything else, you have to decide what matters to you. If reading does not matter to you, no guilt. Don’t ever do things because you feel like you have to, but prioritize hard things because you know they make you feel alive and they feed your soul. Reading, and by extension learning new things, makes me feel most like myself, so I knew I would make finding the time to read a priority. The first step is to claim back your minutes. If you have ten minutes waiting in the grocery store line, whip out your kindle app on your cell phone and read a few pages of your book instead of catching up on your instastories. The next step is to name your time. I named my workout time as my reading time, so while I’m running or on the elliptical or cycling or whatever, I’m also reading. Since I know I’ll be working out thirty minutes a day, I also know that I’ll get in thirty minutes of reading a day. The last step is to only read what you want to read. It will take you all year to get through a book if you hate it. But if you can’t put it down, you might fly through a book in a day or too. That leads us to how we can find books that we absolutely cannot put down.
How do you decide what to read?
I get my book recommendations from about three places. I’ve settled on these three places because I trust their tastes to match mine. I love to read literary or historical fiction, really great and accessible non-fiction, and mostly new releases. These three sources recommend mostly that kind of material with the occasional random choice that will challenge me. Most of my reading from this year came from either Anne Bogel, of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next Podcast, Annie B. Jones (@anniebjones05) of The Bookshelf Bookstore, and The Book of the Month Club. I listen to Anne’s podcast religiously, never miss one of Annie’s instastories, and have a subscription to BOTM that brings me some of my best reading.
It takes a little time to find to find the voices that speak best to your tastes, but having smart and dedicated people do the recommending work for you helps make sure you spend your reading time on only the best books.
3. Where do you find your books?
So if I were to buy all eighty of the books I read this year, Ben would not be happen about my Amazon spending. Instead, I’ve found creative ways to get my hands on books for free. First of all, I am very well acquainted with the Columbus Public Library system. I have an educator card, which allows me to check out an absolute ton of books and gives me a free book if I were to lose one. Columbus Metropolitan Libraries very recently got rid of late fees so it takes away the stress of trying to keep track of multiple due dates. I use the Overdrive app, again through my local library, to rent ebooks and audiobooks for free, and the Kindle Lenders Library to get a free book through my Prime account every month. It takes a minute to get adjusted to the multiple systems, but using all your resources allows you to read whatever you love and read it for free.
I hope you have loved this series as much as I have! It has been so fun to talk about books and reading and I’m in the brainstorming process now for another three part series over the month of March. Feel free to reach out if there is anything you want to learn about!
2017 was the year of reading for me. I learned so much from the diverse material that I took in during this year, and along the way I fell in some big time love with a few new authors. Some authors produce one big book and the rest are nothing to write home about. But these four are the real deal. I read through their nearly entire catalog this year and soaked up every minute. If you are looking to deep dive into some good work, this would be a great place to start.
1. Shauna Niequist
I love this woman. I’ve never met her, but I love her. I kind feel like we have the same soul brand. I love the way she adores words, the way she processes the world, and the way her reflections on it connect so deeply with me. I read Bread and Wine after it was recommended to me about a thousand times and it is now a solid member of my top five books of all time. The way she connects the tangible, like food and music and literature, to the intangible, like faith and hope and perseverance gets me every time. So now I’m officially hooked. I flew through Present Over Perfect, a book about rest that feels like a word just for me and I’m working my way through Savor, her 365 devotional this year. I’ve linked her website and podcast below and I can’t wait for you to get started.
2. L.M. Montgomery
I first read the Anne of Green Gables series when my family went on our one month marathon trip out west when I was about 14. I remember sitting on the side of a swimming pool in Pheonix, dipping my toes in the water and reading long paragraphs from the books aloud to myself because I just thought the words were so lovely. This year I read Blue Castle, one of Montgomery's few books for adults, and it that proves she has sticking power outside of the Anne series. I’m also linking you up to the miniseries on Netflix that came out this year about the first book in the Anne series, Anne of Green Gables. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.
3. Brene Brown
If you are in my daily life, you have definitely been on the receiving end of my retelling of some bit of wisdom from her books. Her research has changed my life and that is not an exaggeration in the slightest. I’ve flown through her books this year learning about trust, vulnerability, belonging, shame, and so much more. I still have Gifts of Imperfection left to read and I am holding on to it because I can’t bear to have it all over. I think her brand new book, Braving the Wilderness (mentioned last week), is a great place to start.
4. Louise Penny
Penny’s mysteries came into my life during this past year and I’ve blazed through five already. I described her first mystery as having an incredible sense of place and characters that you can’t help but love and relate with. The mysteries are consistently well conceived but it's the details, the descriptions of a meal or the subtleties of a discussion that get me. The best thing about this series is that the books are set at different seasons or holidays in a year, so you can pace your reading to match the setting. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing for sure. Also, I can promise you that nothing will make you want to visit Canada faster.
I know that reading these the work of these wonderful women will enrich your life, and I can't wait to hear what you think. In the meantime, feel free to leave your recommendations below. See you next week for part three!
I have been so excited to share my reading from this year with all of you! 2017 has been a huge year of reading for me. I just finished up my 80th book and I can’t believe how much incredible content I got to consume this year.
People ask me all the time how I have the time to read and here it is: the Kindle app. My parents got me a Kindle for Christmas last year and the convenience of having several books in one place has transformed my reading habits. I am a reader who likes to have several books running at once (generally a fiction, a non-fiction, a Christian book, a textbook or two, and an audiobook) and the Kindle/Kindle app allows me to have them all with me at all times.
This post is the first of a three part series here on the blog devoted to what, how, and why I read. I can’t wait to share with you all the details of one of my absolute favorite things to do. So! Enough chit-chat - here are my top five FAVORITE books of 2017.
1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Although these are not in any particular order, I have to say that this memoir is not only one of my favorites of the year, but one of my favorites of all time. The writing is just stunning, the nuance of the family dynamic feels authentic and familiar, and the because the film came out this year and it is a relatively short read, this would make an incredible book club pick. All the books are linked below so you can snag them on Amazon, although I feel I do need to suggest that if possible, you pick these up at your local independent bookstore and use the opportunity to support small business in you community.
2. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book is important. Although it is several years old, this book addresses social issues that are even more in the national spotlight then they were at publication. Written by Bryan Stevenson, the book presents a case for advocating for racial equality (particularly in the criminal justice system) and for the elimination of the death penalty in America. This book, while presenting serious information about some of our society’s most heated conversations keeps real people in the center, presenting with compassion and kindness the stories of Americans for whom the justice system has failed.
3. Still Life by Louise Penney
In our third post of this series we’ll be discussing what I’ve learned and what tools and resources I’ve used in my reading this year. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about my reading taste is how important it is to me that my books have a strong sense of place. Both time setting and physical location have a hand in this and nothing really gets me invested in a story like feeling that I could actually be there. This is the first in the Inspector Gamache mystery series and is set in a quint and utterly adorable village in Canada called Three Pines. Being a bit of a foodie and pretty hungry to see the world, I LOVED that not only do these mysteries keep me on the edge of my seat, I have never felt cozier or more transported while reading. I’ve read the first five of this series now and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
4. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
I might have a crush on Brene Brown. I fell down a bit of a social sciences and human psychology rabbit hole this year and while many of the books I’ve read were interesting to me, they read A LOT like a textbook, making them inaccessible to the average reader. This book though, along with each of her others, teaches us about big ticket emotional hurdles like vulnerability, shame, and belonging in a way that somehow makes brain science compulsively readable. I flew through this one on my Kindle in three days.
5. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
I am crazy for historical fiction. I bounce genres a lot in my reading life, but if I get a good historical fiction recommendation, I am stopping everything to read it. This book is just beautiful. It isn’t too long but has a sweeping over fifty year arch. It’s multiple narrators each have my heart in their own way and the sequel to this one was almost as good. This is a perfect read for a winter's night snuggled on the couch.
I can’t wait to hear what you think! Come back next week to learn what new authors I’ve discovered this year and which of their books I would recommend as an introduction to each. Please comment below and recommend to me your favorite reads of the year!
So it’s the New Year, and if you’re anything like me, enduring an Ohio winter is simply not worth it after Christmas. I think this is because the motivation of a white Christmas is behind us and I’m just ready to get to spring break. I’ve noticed that I tend to think of this time of year as my very least favorite with its black ice and dry hair and the flu. SO, I am newly obsessed with the the Danish concept of Hygge.
A loose definition of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) is, “The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. Also to create well-being, connection, and warmth with a feeling of belonging to the moment and each other. It is the celebration of the everyday.”
If that doesn’t sound like a cure for the winter blues, I do not know what does. Hygge is a concept and a way of life so it can be applied in countless ways, but it is naturally endeared with a sense of celebration that is normally absent during these long months. Where the Christmas season is full of hustle and bustle, full of bright colors and lights and big parties, hygge calls for soft, quiet, clean, and cozy.
I’ve been in the deep end of researching this idea, mainly through Pinterest and the books below (which I wholeheartedly recommend), and I’ve reduced the concept to a few key ideas that work in my American life. Here are my recommendations for a very Hygge New Year.
1. Cozy Fabrics
Basically, knits, flannels, and linen. Hygge leans in heavily to the idea of tactile comfort, like when you are deep in your flannel sheets at the end of a long day or wrapped in your warmest sweater at a bonfire, or snuggled in a huge knit blanket while watching a movie. Comfort can be straightforward, so oversized, soft, and crazy warm is our goal here.
2. Clean Decor
This speaks right to my heart. If you’ve ever been in my house, you know that I LOVE white. My couches, pillows, duvet, dishes, you name it, it’s white. I think the reason is that it reminds me of open clean spaces. There is nothing better than being able to pick up a dish or a blanket at the store in any shade of white and knowing it will go with my decor because I’ve chosen to keep it clean and simple. Homegoods, by the way, is your friend.
3. Warm Drinks in Good Mugs
Taking the time to make stovetop hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows or a steaming hot toddy or spiced warm apple cider is so good for the soul. It gives you something to do with your hands while your brain takes a break and is as easy and quick as can be. When served in a good quality enamel or ceramic mug in front of an honest to God crackling fire (or just the one on Netflix) it just can’t be beat. Here are some scrumptious recipes that Ben and I have loved.
4. Gathering Around the Table
You might remember from my goal setting post last week that one of my big goals for 2018 is to practice hospitality every chance I get and to take time to be creative. This one falls in line with both of those goals. Gathering people in your home is a holy pursuit, I mean it. When your people come together over a table it gives us the feeling of family and connection that research shows us that improves our health and general well-being, extending our life span and increasing our joy. Winter is the perfect time for a soup party. I’m linking up my favorite cookbook for soups, my go-to recipe for homemade bread, and our all time favorite white chicken chili recipe that is perfect for parties.
5. Light & Books
The final central tenet in practicing hygge is curating beautiful light. Overhead lighting and especially LED lighting washes us out and makes our homes look clinical and even dirty. Warm lamp light, twinkle lighting, and candle light adds to the cozy, safe, and warm feeling of our homes in winter. The ways I’m using good lighting are when reading a thick and well worn novel under a lamp, creating a hygge inspired nook with floor pillows and twinkly lights and a basket of throw blankets, and eating dinner by candle light.
Hygge embraces the idea that the things we touch, see, smell, hear, and taste are vitally important to our peace of mind and wholeness of being over the winter months. If you have specific recipes, books, or music that are getting you through these cold months, comment below!
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, second year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."