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2 Books I Read This Week + What I’m Planning to Read Next Week

Books I'm Reading This Week

I read a few more books to end out my 2014 total at 86 books read. If you missed it, be sure to read my post on the 10 Best Books I Read in 2014.

I didn’t set a total reading goal for this year (believe it or not!), but rather set a goal to read one fiction book per month, one read aloud book to my kids each month, and one book on marriage each month.

This feels entirely doable and also leaves a lot of extra wiggle room for me to read a number of other books, too, as I have time and am inspired. I’ve tried book lists and book plans for the year in the past, but I find I glean so much more from books when I choose them based upon whatever mood I’m in or whatever subject I’m currently researching or area I want to work on in my life.

Starting Fresh With My Book List

Since we’re starting fresh this week, I’m also going to start fresh with my book list. My plan going forward in 2015 is to post a recap every Wednesday of what I’ve read the following week and what I’m planning to read the coming week.

That way, you can get a peek into what I’m reading (and hopefully get some book ideas to add to your library list!) and I can keep a running total of the books I’ve read this year and my thoughts on them.

Books Read This Week

We’re two days into January and I’ve finished two books so far. That’s a pretty good pace, eh? 🙂 I don’t think I’ll be able to keep reading at the pace of one book per day, but who knows?

Here’s what I read:

The Miracle Morning — So this book came highly recommended, but personally, I felt it was full of a bit of hype. It did inspire me to make the most of my mornings and do a better job of getting back to my discipline of early morning rising, but I felt like the author did a whole lot of self-promotion in the book (constantly plugging his site, his other book, his coaching, his speaking, etc.) that it felt too sales-pitchy and hyped to me. But I’m also quite the cynic. 😉

52 Ways to Wow Your Husband — One of the things that I committed to do this year was to read at least one book on marriage every month, so I figured I’d go ahead and get started on that goal. 🙂 This book had a lot of great ideas in it, a lot of stuff that just felt like fluff and filler material, and a number of ideas that wouldn’t work at all for our marriage. However, I read part of it when we were on a road trip and it was fun to ask Jesse some of the questions and it sparked some good conversation between us.

Books I Plan to Read Next Week

James and the Giant Peach — This is our current read aloud. We just started it and, so far, the kids are loving it.

Steal Like An Artist — A friend highly recommended this one and it’s been on my list to get a copy for forever as a result. I finally got one and am hoping to read it this week!

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) — I’m SO close to being done with this one. Good stuff!

The Anxiety Cure — As someone who struggles with anxiety during different seasons of life, I’m on a mission to learn more about it and what I can do to help prevent or minimize it. I read Sleep: It Does a Family Good by Archibald Hart two years ago and learned so much from it that I picked up this title to check it out, too.

What Alice Forgot — This one keeps getting recommended to me, so I finally decided I’d see if it lived up to the recommendations. 🙂

Glimpses of Grace — So many people have told me I must read this book. I’m about a 1/3 of the way through it and am finding it thought-provoking it.

The One Thing — I keep seeing this one mentioned over and over again, so I thought it’d be a great read to start the year out with.

Dashing Dish: 100 Simple & Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating — This book showed up in my mailbox from the author last week and it looked like a cookbook I’d definitely be interested in checking out.

Long Walk to Freedom & Kaffir Boy — I’m reading these because, well, I can’t tell you just yet. But I will say that I have a secret I’ve been keeping for quite some time and I get to tell you all about it on Monday. Feel free to leave your guesses in the comments. 😉


Our New Morning Time Basket

I read Teaching From Rest this week and was so inspired to start doing Morning Time with my kids each morning (basically, a time to gather and read together and study some of those things you always want to study in homeschooling but don’t always get around to).

My plan is for us to pray, sing a hymn, work on Scripture memory, read a devotional, have the kids practice handwriting skills while I read a short piece from The Children’s Homer or a history book, and then have the kids practice sketching pictures from nature while I read our current read aloud book.

That’s my plan — we’ll see how it goes! I allotted an hour and 15 minutes for this and I think that should be more than ample time. I’m excited and the kids are, too!

What did you read this week? Did you set reading goals for 2015? Why or why not?

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  • Karen says:

    Are you going to South Africa? With one of my favorite bloggers? Oh, I hope I’m right!

  • We don’t get to it every day, but the kids and I really enjoy working on hymns in the morning. We sing a hymn, read a Bible devotional, practice singing the books for the Bible for my youngest, and do a couple sword drills. (My younger two like to call out verses for the older two, and we often get more uncommon Bible verses. 😉 ) We work on the same hymn until we can all quote all the verses, and then we move on. I figure that hymns are some of the greatest poetry to memorize. I hope you enjoy your hymn time! Nothing is sweeter to me than my children singing a hymn as they play in the backyard or do chores.

  • You and LJ going to SA?!!!!!

  • I rarely read fiction so I started one from one of my favorite authors this week. He rarely publishes and I’ve read all the others so I’m excited to finish this one over the weekend before I start Linchpin 🙂 love your reading updates and book suggestions, keep em coming!

  • Jen says:

    I read “What Alice Forgot” about a year ago. It’s a good, fun read.

  • Carla says:

    Going to Africa??

  • Organize 365 says:

    The One Thing By Gary Keller is an amazing book! It was my favorite book I read last year. And totally changed my paradigm.


  • Diane says:

    We just started James and the Giant Peach last night! I got a lot of good read aloud ideas from amongst lovely things and also your list of favorite children’s books. Happy New Year!

  • Julie says:

    Trying to guess your secret…are you going to collaborate with Dave Ramsey in some way? You are both in Nashville 🙂

  • Nancy says:

    James and the Giant Peach is on my list, too. I’m in the minority, I think, in that I didn’t much enjoy What Alice Forgot.

  • Shannon Davis says:

    I’m guessing you are adopting from Africa…

  • Mona says:

    I read What Alice Forgot and really enjoyed it – it was a fun, easy read. Just recently I read Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. I loved it and am actually re-reading it! I’m currently reading A Land Remembered to my kids.

  • Heather says:

    Your sponsoring a well in Africa with the proceeds from …? ??

  • Lenore says:

    I haven’t set any reading goals because I’ve set organizing and eating goals. This week I read Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Wonderful book!

  • I am reading The Nazi Officer’s Wife. It’s really good so far!

  • tess says:

    Just started and finished Parenting by the Book- Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child. Although it’s a bit redundant at times, I highly recommend the premise of the book; that being- yes is yes, no is no. No threats, second chances, or deals when it comes to discipline. I found myself in many of the passages of what not to
    do. .. Grandmas common sense is often best.
    The author is a psychologist, but denounces most forms of modern
    therapy as being “humanist” based.
    This is obviously from a Christian perspective.
    Thank you, Tess
    -Candlewickmama Mama

  • Bronwyn says:

    So excited to find out what your surprise is since SA is my home country and I now also live in Tennessee. I’m guessing either adopting or a mission trip 🙂

  • Renee says:

    holy moly! that’s a lot of books. when do you find the time?????

  • Nichole says:

    Something to do with autobiography of your life.

  • Heidi Short says:

    Do you buy all these books? And are they paper and ink? Just curious 🙂

  • Nichole says:

    By the way I love Sarah @!

    I love her podcasts! I think I first learned about her through the post you posted on the reading challenge of 5 minutes a day.

    I’m a mamma of a 1-yr and have learned so much through her.

    Thank you!

  • Beth Anne says:

    Crystal, I completely agree with you on The Miracle Morning. So overly-hyped. I found it pretty annoying actually. Yes, there are some good points there but they’re mixed in with so much hype and extremes that it just bugged me. I also kept thinking to myself, “Maybe you can head off to work on little sleep and do great, but I doubt you’d make a great stay-at-home dad with so little sleep.” Sleep is so necessary for me in order to be patient and kind.

    Also, I did enjoy The ONE Thing. It really helped me to focus in on that one big goal for the year and not get so easily distracted. The tone was a bit serious and had some male-dominated and business-world examples that didn’t quite jive with my life circumstance, but still, very solid advice there and some interesting research studies thrown in to prove his points.

    Happy Reading!

    P.S. As you’re developing your courses and products for this year, one of my new favorite books is Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday. I think you’ll enjoy it and get tons of ideas!

    • Oh and I can’t believe I forgot to say the thing about SLEEP. That rubbed me really wrong, too. I do believe that it is possible to get lazy and sleep too much, but I’d say the vast majority of people are struggling to have energy and purpose because they are not getting *enough* sleep. There are so many negative results of not getting enough sleep and just telling yourself “I’m getting exactly the amount of sleep I need” and then short-changing yourself and only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep can be potentially dangerous long-term.

      Thank you so much for the book recommendation! I just added it to my list! It looks incredibly helpful and I’d not heard of it before.

    • Cris says:

      I’m sure some people can go to work on little sleep and do great (I’m not going to mention anything specifically so I wouldn’t offend anyone who do those things and disagree) but let me tell you, little sleep in my job can be life threatening or fatal if you get distracted and mess up. I’m not an airplane pilot or truck driver by the way!! I’m not offended by your comment, just made me think about my own job…

      • Beth Anne says:

        Hey Cris, that’s a good point. I was thinking more in terms of mood and being able to be the best Mom I can be versus when I used to go to work, I was able to plaster a smile on and be kind and patient regardless of sleep deprivation. But yes, you are so right. Sleep is important for all of us. It matters for safety in so many jobs. I used to be an RN, so sleep deprivation could have meant that I made a very serious mistake and put my patients in danger. Also, my hubby is a pilot so yes, sleep is once again super important for his job too. When he has a night flight and will be out flying until midnight or later, they don’t let him come into work until at least noon, so they’re definitely very careful to protect his sleep.

        Thanks for chiming in 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    “A Thousand Spendid Suns”…just so lovely, the kind of book that forever stays with you! And “Unbroken” not fiction but very inspiring, also unforgettable.

  • Rachael says:

    You might like Reading in the Wild by Donnalynn Miller….related to your new approach to reading.

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks for sharing what your reading Crystal! For the first time ever I wrote out a reading list in an attempt to be more intentional about growing personally. I still want to leave space open for other books along the way, because like you- I prefer to read the ones I’m interested in reading instead of reading out of duty. It will likely end up being more of a guideline list of books to keep me going, because I don’t want to take the fun out of it! I guess I’ll see how it ends up working out for me. That’s interesting how you’re opting out this year :). Thanks again for sharing, I love knowing the inside scoop and it helps give me more ideas for reading.

    • It may work out really great for you! I know that a few years of creating book lists really helped me establish the habit of actually finishing a lot of books (I used to do a great job of starting lots of books and did a poor job of finishing them).

  • Jen says:

    loved Steal Like An Artist!

  • me says:

    Started reading sheet music (while still reading Creating an Intimate Marriage) per your recommendation since things are not (once again) going well in my life. I won’t even be able to apply what I’m reading yet mostly because we’re not in a good place right now but wishing I’ll get the chance too.

  • Cris says:

    Travelling to Africa with Compassion to see a new project you have been funding (with book #2 profits) or meet with sponsored child that Silas asked you to do. Maybe even taking the kids along this time!

  • Stephanie says:

    Please let us know what you think of The Anxiety Cure. I too struggle with anxiety off and on, especially postpartum. Since I’m due March 1, I’m looking for anything that might help!

  • mariah says:

    Can I ask which nature book your kids are sketching from? I think that is a fantastic idea, esp. during winter when it’s too cold to sketch nature outside!

  • Sarah W says:

    Thanks for the reading updates! I am a middle school reading teacher and can’t imagine life without reading. I’m enjoying adding some of the books you recommend to my “Books I want to read” list through my town library’s homepage. I also second the “Reading in the Wild” recommendation, though I would start with Donalynn Miller’s first book, “The Book Whisperer.”

  • Julie says:

    Wow 86 books in a year… in the last 6 months I have only read 2 but I have had a baby and that happened last time too I couldn’t read in bed or I would fall asleep. I love James and the Giant Peach, a real favourite at school with my students. Happy New Year.
    PS My goal is read more than 2 this year

  • tonya says:

    I’m so confused! You just wrote a post about how you are setting more realistic reading goals. Why the current list of like 9 books to read next week?

    • Great question! I realized I should have clarified in the post: this is my book *stack* of current reads — not my reading *goals* for this week. I plan to finish at least a few of these and start most of the others, but I don’t feel any sort of pressure to finish ALL of them this week.

      My reading *goals* for this month are to read one read aloud book to the kids, one fiction book, and one book on marriage (which I’ve already read). That’s it. And it feels so doable and realistic!

      I’ve found that if I have a few different kinds of books going at once, I read a lot more (because I’m in different moods at different times, so I’ll pick up different kinds of books based upon the mood! I might be weird! :)), so I decided to go ahead and keep choosing a stack of books to be going through like I have in the past to encourage me to read good books, but I don’t feel any sense that I have to read all of these in any certain time frame. If I get through all of them this week by some miracle, wonderful. If it takes me a number of weeks to get through all of them, that’s totally okay, too.

      I hope that clarifies — and thanks for asking so I could clarify. I’ll try to remember to start mentioning this in my future book posts so that others aren’t confused, too.

  • Diane says:

    I’m currently reading Becoming Nursey by Kati Kleber. If you’re a nurse, or a nursing student, I would highly recommend this book.

  • I stopped counting at 40 books when my son was born, but I know I didn’t include many, even though my reading pace slowed down. I like your idea of a certain kind of books every month. I loved “For Such a Time as This” by Kate Breslin, this past year. Christian Historical Fiction that applied the story of Esther to WWII. Very well done.

  • shannon says:

    Do you have a listing of all your book reviews? There are seasons when I have more time to read and I always wonder what to check out. All my scraps of papers with book suggestions never make it to one safe place. Would be fun to see a compiled list of books you have enjoyed with their reviews (and books you have not enjoyed….)

  • chelsea says:

    What Alive Forgot is a wonderful read! Witty, smart, and a definite page turner. One of my favs for sure!

  • denise says:

    I just got connected to guest contribute for The Christian Manifesto! So I’ll be reviewing a min. Of 1 book per month but my goal is to do 4! But I mostly read fiction. Really looking forward to new authors and titles! And I always love to see your lists!

    Looming forward to Monday’s exciting announcement too!

  • Tee says:

    This month my focus is on reading more. According to GoodReads, I read 123 books in 2014 (maybe more, because I added a few on the 31st). I hope to hit at least 125 for 2015.

    My New Years Resolution is less resolution and more about making time for things I find important to what makes me, me. I started November with NaNoWriMo and writing, and plan on focusing on something different each month.

    I have 46 library books out right now, plus a number of Advance Reader Copies, and plenty of unread books on my bookshelf and packed away. This is the month to get a head start on my reading list!

  • Beka says:

    I think I recommended Todd Wilson’s books to you a while back, but seriously… LOVE his books! An awesome marriage book of his… “How To Be a Great Wife… Even Though You Homeschool.” A neat analogy about homeschooling and so many other things being leaves, but marriage is the stem. So we need to stop being more concerned with the leaves than we are the stem! Good stuff!

  • Christine says:

    How do you have the personal time to read 2 WHOLE BOOKS WITHIN 1 WEEK?

    • Well, both of them were shorter books — ones that I read in less than 2 hours per book — so it wasn’t that hard to do. I usually read for at least 10-15 minutes at the beginning of every day (when I get up early before my kids get up — it’s part of my morning routine) and then I try to read for 20-45 minutes at night before I go to bed (I don’t watch TV and I don’t do much on the computer outside of business work, so at night, I read instead of watching TV or being on Facebook). I then fit in other reading throughout the week as I can — while waiting, on weekends, etc.

      If I do this consistently, I can pretty easily get through 2-3 books per week.

      I hope that helps!

  • I’m planning on reading 58 books in 2015. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of Goodreads; it helps me keep on track. I’m not sure if this is allowable to post in the comments section, but here is a link to the books I’m planning on reading:

  • Lizzie says:

    I’m guessing you are either adopting a child, funding another Compassion center, or taking a mission trip :).

    Lol at all your “good guesses” because you haven’t given anything away ;0.

    **I mostly commented here because I’ve sent you an email or two over the years but I think it gets lost in your helpers or whatever 🙂 I think SO often of the blessing and encouragement you were to me personally on more than one occasion and had sent you an email or two about that to make sure you knew HOW very blessed I was. I was wishing I could have emailed it straight to you but I know you have to have parameters around things so you can get things done.**

    • Aw, thank you so much for your sweet encouragement! Did you send the emails to crystal @ If not, please do forward them to that. Amy, my assistant who goes through the emails from the contact form, always forwards on emails that are encouragement/thank yous/personal notes, so I’m wondering if maybe they didn’t come through or something?

      • Lizzie says:

        I’ll see if I can find them in my email account and where I sent them :).

        Otherwise, just know that you were definitely a blessing to me and I tell people all the time ;). I know that’s not why you did it but still :)…..

  • Sarah says:

    Since you told us your Top 10 for 2014, could you tell me your top 5 (at least) marriage books? Thanks.

  • Gina says:

    I read The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith – Loved. It. I didn’t want it to end!

    For the upcoming week:

    Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
    Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist
    Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup (audiobook)

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Definitely adopting from Africa! I’ve been thinkin’ for a few years that you all had adoption plans up your sleeves…guess we’ll find out if I was right! 🙂

    And we have been doing morning time (Circle Time) for the past year and a half and love it! Just the past couple of months we’ve added tea and a little snack, meeting around the kitchen table while the two younger kiddos nap. It’s been fun to have that element added to our time together as well.

  • Danielle says:

    While I was tucking in my boys tonight and being still while they fell asleep, it finally dawned on me that you might be joining Lisa-Jo when she makes that trip to South Africa soon! How fun!!! I’m so pumped to read both of your posts when you go….(if that’s what the secret is-and by the looks of the first comment, I’m guessing it is) 🙂

  • Lora says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading about anxiety lately and recently found a ton of helpful information in “The Chemistry of Calm.”

  • Jay Papasan says:

    My niece, Katie, texted me that you were reading The ONE Thing. I sincerely hope you like it and appreciate that you’re already shared it with your audience.

    Trolling through your posts, I noticed that you set a goal to read 12 books on marriage. That’s awesome. Love your commitment to an extraordinary marriage. I thought I’d share that the “one thing” my wife and I do each year it to have an overnight goal-setting retreat. We sync our calendars, set goals together and generally get on the same page.

    We started when our kids were still in diapers and this will mark our 6th or 7th year. My only regret is that we didn’t start earlier. I would highly recommend you investigate and I’m happy to share our template if you like.

    Let me know if you have any questions about THE ONE Thing. Happy new year!
    Jay P.
    co-author of The ONE Thing

  • Mandie G says:

    I just finished reading Under the Dome by Stephen King. It literally took me over 6 months. I kept picking it up and putting it back down…it was a real monster of a book. I decided that I would probably actually finish it if I had it available on my phone through the kindle app.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they just ended a mini relationship whenever you finish a good book…especially a long one?

    I just wrote a post on how to get your kindle books for free. I’m all about saving money!

    Check out my “How I spend $0/month on Kindle books” at

  • Katie Moss says:

    If you’re reading South Africa books, I would recommend “Cry, the Beloved Country” (over “Kaffir Boy” and others). One of my all-time favourites. And the movie (after the book, of course), is also excellent.

  • Ellen says:

    Currently reading “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” and love it. I’m hoping to read 15 books this year and I have another 4 I’ll do via audiobook I think. I have two kids under two, so reading time is hard to find, but getting easier. Love the morning time idea. Wonder if I can implement something similar for my littler ones.

  • I love your website and learn much from the info you share, Crystal.

    The best book I’ve read lately is “Unbroken”….very inspiring! It was non-fiction, but so well-written I couldn’t put it down.

    We were disappointed in the movie, but I’m not sure how anyone could transfer that book to the “silver screen”.

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