7 Books I Read in May (and My Top 3 Favorites!)

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I feel like I’ve not been reading at all as much as I’d love to be reading, but I’m grateful that I’m slowly making headway through books… I just have so many more that I want to read!! :) Can anyone relate?!

Here’s to hoping my renewed commitment to order and discipline now that we’re all moved and mostly settled in will give me time to fit in more reading!

7 Books I Read in May

My Top Three Favorites:

Secrets of Dynamic Communication — If you are an author or a speaker (or you hope to become one!), I can’t recommend this well-written book highly enough. Ken Davis is a dynamic speaker with years of experience and he’s a goldmine of wisdom. By following the things I’ve learned from him, I’ve become a much more effective and engaging communicator.

Chasing Francis — I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but the title and description intrigued me and it was endorsed by Mark Batterson (an author I love!), so I read it. And I’m so very grateful I did because it messed with me in a very good way. It challenged me to step back and really examine my beliefs and how I’m living out those beliefs.

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day — Since I’ve loved the other Mark Batterson books I’ve read, I picked up this title based upon his name alone. And it turned out to be the best book I’ve read in a long time. In fact, if you’ve spent any time with me in the past three months, you’ve probably heard me talk about it. If you are struggling with direction, wondering what your purpose in life is, and questioning what you were created for, do yourself a favor and read this book. You just might not be the same ever again!

What books did you read in May? Which were your favorites? Any recommendations for me?

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7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Great read!)

I kept hearing great things about this book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. The title alone was enough to have me intrigued, but the rave reviews convinced me to buy a copy.

And I’m so glad I did. Jen Hatmaker is an engaging, funny, and convicting author. I’ve never read anything by her before, but, after reading this book, I want to read Interrupted and Barefoot Church, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy of them!

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess chronicles her seven month seven-things experiment. Each month, she chose a different area to focus on and then pared down the excess in that area.

For instance, the first month, her focus was food. So she limited herself to just eating seven different things during that 30-day period.

Yes, only seven foods.

The second month she only wore seven items of clothing for the 30-day period.

And so on.

Try to step back and just think for a minute what it would be like to only eat seven things or only wear seven clothing items for 30 days. For more of us, that seems almost impossible to even imagine. And yet, think how many millions of people around the world would consider it a luxury to have a choice of seven different foods each meal or seven different clothing items.

Jen didn’t set out on this experiment just to have great book subject matter; she did this seven month experiment because she wanted to challenge her own long-ingrained entitlement mentality. In this book, she writes candidly about her experiences–victories, failures, and hilarious stories along the way!–in order to challenge others to take a step back and really examine our own hearts when it comes to needs versus wants and what truly matters in life.

The book is thought-provoking, for sure, but it’s not guilt-invoking. And it’s well worth the read.

Other recent good reads: From Dust and Ashes, Symphony in the Dark, Between a Rock and a Grace Place, and Arms of Deliverance.

See all books I’ve read so far in 2012 here.

Have you read any good books recently?

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Good Reads: Blue Like Play Dough, Try Giving Yourself Away, Against All Odds

Blue Like Play Dough — I loved Tricia’s candor in this book on motherhood. She doesn’t pretend to have it altogether or to have it all figured out, but just shares encouragement from her own journey from her years as a young single mom to now being a mom of three teens. You’ll be blessed, inspired, challenged, and encouraged through her stories and insights.
Try Giving Yourself Away
— My mom picked up this book at a thrift store a number of months ago and loaned it to me awhile back. I finally had a chance to read it yesterday as I was flying back from VA and was so motivated to look for and take advantage of opportunities to bless others in simple, practical ways. Just taking a few minutes to drop an email or pick up the phone or say an encouraging word to someone can often mean a great deal–and you’ll likely find that you’re blessed in seeking to be a blessing!

Against All Odds — While I thought the play-by-plays of martial arts competitions got a little monotonous, overall, this book was an interesting and encouraging read. Chuck has experienced many, many setbacks in life and, instead of being discouraged and disheartened, he’s turned them into comebacks.

Have you read any good books recently?

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Good Reads: Loving the Little Years

I really enjoyed Loving the Little Years. It’s not a book with lots of practical, hands-on advice, but it’s a book the deals with the heart issues we moms face.

I didn’t agree with the author on all points (I’m not really sure that I ever do, though!) and think we have to be careful when reading parenting books because what works for one family or one child isn’t necessarily what will or should work for another family or child. That said, I was convicted, and inspired by Loving the Little Years.

It made me really step back and re-examine my own heart and how I am responding to and discipling my children on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s easier (in the moment) to just slap band-aids and quick fixes onto behavior and attitude issues, instead of really taking the time to deal with the heart issues and struggles our children are facing.

Loving the Little Years challenges moms to really delve down to the heart of the matter. As the author says, “The state of your heart is the state of your home.”

Have you read any good books recently?

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Good Reads: Plan It Don’t Panic, How to Write a Book Proposal, How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

Plan It, Don’t Panic — This ebook on menu-planing is a fantastic resource for anyone who really wants to menu-plan but is struggling with how to do it. Written by my friend, Stephanie, it provides the tools, step-by-step help, and practical inspiration you need to successfully plan and follow menus.

Even though I’ve been menu planning for years, this ebook breathed new life into my resolve to menu plan and gave me lots of helpful suggestions and fresh advice. I found some new tips and websites to try out that I’d not heard of before and also found it very helpful to step back and examine if my current method of menu-planning is working well for our family or not.

This ebook covers menu-planning on a budget, eating from the pantry, how to create rotating menu plans, how to incorporate freezer cooking into your menu-planning to make life simpler, and how to serve your family healthful meals without spending hours in the kitchen every day.

The wide range of topics it covers includes:

  • Find the method of meal planning that will suit you and your family best
  • Tweak and perfect your meal planning style with unique tips and strategies
  • Make it easier to work around special/restrictive dietary needs
  • Become a grocery-shopping ninja and never go to the store without a genius plan in place for maximizing your money
  • Learn how leftovers can become your best friends in the kitchen
  • As well as how to store your recipes, easily find your favorites, plan for hectic times, and even what to do when you mess up…

You want to know one of my favorite parts of the ebook? She included full four weeks of meal plans at the back of the ebook. Reading through fully-laid-out menu plans that others have put together always gives me new ideas and suggestions to try at our house. I also loved all of the helpful printable forms and worksheets at the back of the ebook.

If you’re considering purchasing a copy of Plan It Don’t Panic, Stephanie is offering a 20% discount on PDF copies purchased through her site. Just use coupon code MSM20 and you’ll get 20% off, making it just $3.99. This offer is good through January 27, 2012.

Other Good Reads:

How to Write a Book Proposal — I’m getting ready to write a proposal for my next book and found this book invaluable. It’s packed with helpful information on how to approach writing a book proposal as well as practical help for writing a proposal, securing a book deal, and how to approach the whole book-writing process with a standard of excellence. I learned a lot from it and would recommend it to anyone who is considering writing a book.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People? — This book was a quick and thought-provoking read. I wasn’t sure that I liked the format that almost half of the book was a Q&A with the author, but it really made me think–which is always a good thing!

Have you read any good books recently?

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Good Reads: A Deeper Kind of Calm & Secret of the Prince’s Tomb

I’d read and loved Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart, last year. So I decided to add two of her other books to this year’s reading list.

This week I finished reading A Deeper Kind of Calm. It’s a short book packed with much to consider and apply in my own life. While it’s a short book (there are only 5 chapters!), I wouldn’t recommend trying to digest it all in one session. In fact, I read one chapter per day and I felt like that was almost too much to chew on.

Linda has a great way of drawing readers in, sharing personal stories of her own struggles and difficulties and sharing testimonies from others who have walked difficult paths, too. While I liked Calm My Anxious Heart more than this book, it was a good read.

We were so excited that Focus on the Family released another book in The Imagination Station series. And, as usual, it didn’t disappoint.

Secret of the Prince’s Tomb is about the Hebrews in Egypt. Jesse read this aloud in the evenings and we all enjoyed it–even if it did end before we were ready for it to be over with.

Have you read any good books recently?

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