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Books Read in March: Becoming a Person of Influence, The Possibilities of Prayer, ReWork, By the Shores of Silver Lake

I feel like so many of the books I’ve been reading recently I’ve dubbed “excellent”. It’s becoming a bit redundant or overused, but seriously, Becoming a Person of Influence is yet another superb book.

I was inspired to listen more, encourage others more and go out of my way to build up and believe in other people. While I love to motivate people, I sometimes can become so focused on my projects and to-do list that I don’t make people as much of a priority as I should in my life.

This book challenged me in many ways. The biggest? If I want to make a difference in others’ lives, I have to take the time to invest in their lives.

I look back at some of the people who’ve had the greatest influence on me and I know it was because they weren’t too busy to listen, to help, to encourage and to take time for me. I want to be that kind of person for others, as well. This book truly inspired me to do so and gave me ideas for how to practically implement this.

Also read in March:

The Possibilities of Prayer — I’ve read a few of E.M. Bounds’ books before and have always been blessed by them. While this wasn’t my very favorite book of his and I disagreed with some of the theology, it was full of encouragement regarding the necessity and blessings of prayer.

ReWork — Hands down, this is one of the best business books I’ve ever read. In fact, if you know me well in real-life, you’ve probably heard me blabber on about it the past few weeks since I loved it so much. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.

The premise? Break all the rules of the “experts”. Think way outside the box. Be a teacher: if a business idea works well for you, share your secrets and people will respect you more. Stop worrying about your competition and start being a trend-setter. Keep your company small for as long as you possibly can. Don’t grow until it hurts.

(Note: There is a quite a bit of language in the book and I was disappointed because it somewhat hampered my excitement about the book. And I know some disagree with me, but I always find four letter words in books bothersome because I feel like they are unnecessary and crude.)

By the Shores of Silver Lake — The children and I loved reading this together. We’re almost sad that we’re nearing the end of the Little House series because we’ve enjoyed reading it together so much!

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
March — Becoming a Person of Influence

April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer

April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

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  • Heather Finnegan says:

    After you read Three Cups of Tea, read Stones into Schools. Both were amazing books!!!! What a better understanding I have of Middle Eastern Culture, and how our country will never win the war on terrorism without investing in schools in other countries!

  • Radical, Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt is one of my favorites from this year. I found the book inspiring and convicting. I highly recommend the book, it’s got great content and is well written!

    • Brianna says:

      I was gonna suggest the same book! It is very convicting! Really puts things in perspective.

    • Stefani says:

      Radical is a must read for every Christian in my opinion and you feel called to action afterwards. I also recommend Crazy Love by Francis Chan as the views of him and David Platt are similiar but they take it in two different directions.

      • I agree! I really enjoyed Crazy Love as well as his other book, Forgotten God. Both are fantastic! Along the same lines are the books The Hole in Our Gospel (Richard Stearns-no relation:)) which was incredible, as well as Primal by Mark Batterson. To be fair, though, I have loved all of Batterson’s books!

  • beth says:

    Please remember that this website and the way you run it encourages and uplifts others, and makes a difference in people’s lives. Most of us don’t know you personally but it’s very clear how invested you are in truly helping your readers. The grace and humility with which you offer information about yourself, usually without being preachy and judgmental, is inspiring. I don’t share some of your values (which I don’t mean in a critical way at all, just that we’re different) and I’m almost a decade older but I have such a great admiration and respect for you because of what I read on this blog. I frequently take myself to task and feel inspired to do better after I read many of the things I write.

    At this moment I’m sitting in a Starbucks near the Magnificent Mile shopping area in Chicago. I’m spending the weekend traveling with a friend and I’ve realize how my perspective and values have changed since the last time I was down here. Reading your blog has contributed to that change and for that I thank you.

  • Thanks for the suggestions – I’ve reserved “Becoming a Person of Influence” and “ReWork” from my local library! I can do it online – it’s so simple. Speaking of simple, right now I’m reading “Less Is More,” a series of essays on simplicity, edited by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska.

  • Jessica says:

    Thanks for the recommendations Crystal – I have added them to my “watch for at the thrift store” list.

    I really appreciate the honesty and integrity that you have put out in your opinions on things on your blog, it makes me feel like I can truly trust your judgement on a book and not wonder if you’re praising it simply because you have some deeper motive. I love, love, love your honesty. So thanks for that 🙂

    This month was a disappointing one book wise for me – I read 4 books, including one that was “huge” in the blogging world and people were raving about but after reading it I felt like it was all hype.

    I am going back to my “old” way of deciding what books to read – asking people I love and respect what their recommendations are. I have found some treasures that way. I forget if I mentioned it last month, but have you read A Severe Mercy? It’s a biography and a beautiful story of God’s love and grace.

    Wish I was your neighbor so I could borrow from your library 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      You’re welcome. I don’t expect that everyone will agree with my opinions on books (some of my dearest friends love books that I found to be disappointing and visa versa), but it’s really important to me to be honest.

      Okay, so now I want to know what book you felt was all hype. Want to email me the title? And email me which books from my list you’d really love to read. If they aren’t loaned out, I’d love to pass them your way. 🙂

      No, I’ve not read A Severe Mercy. I just looked it up online. Is it by Sheldon Vanauken? Thank you for the recommendation!

  • Terri says:

    I love reading your book reviews. Thank you for inspiring me to read more books!

  • anushka soni says:

    ‘The Power of Now- by Eckhart Tolle’. I love that book and its changed my way of experiencing life. That book opened a whole new world to me. Another interesting book is ‘A New Earth’, by the same author.

  • WilliamB says:

    There are follow-serieses (?) to Little House. Rose Wilder Lane’s friend/executor wrote a series that, to my reader’s eye, are based on stories Rose told him. That seemed to be the beginning of an explosion. There’s a (likely totally fictional) series about Laura’s mother and, well, after that, I lost track. There’s a Little House Cookbook as well; the author uses recipes from where and when Laura or Almanzo’s mother was doing the cooking.

    Were you aware that LIW takes many liberties with her books? When your kids get older it would likely be a good teaching experience, to read a serious bio of LIW and compare it to her books.

  • Jamie says:

    Did you move the Artisan Bread book up on your list? I was just wondering since I had suggested that. I checked them both out (the authors also have a “healthy bread” book which is more whole wheat recipes) from the library a few weeks ago and I am sad that I have to turn them in on Monday. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

    • Crystal says:

      No, it’s been there since the first of the year. 🙂 But I don’t have it until later in the year on my DIY projects. Because I’m hoping to do some experimenting with the recipe before posting about it for my DIY experiments in 2011. 🙂

  • Linda Dietz says:

    Love your post about books read/to read! I read Christian fiction to unwind before sleep. For “serious” reading, I am currently reading, “Becoming a Woman of Influence” by Carol Kent. I also like to read a book to help prepare me for upcoming important spiritual seasons. I read “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” edited by Nancy Guthrie each year before Easter.

  • Tiffany Hogue says:

    I just finished ‘Heaven is for Real’, by Todd Burpo. Wonderful and quick read.

  • Erika says:

    We’re with you all about being sad about nearing the end of the LH series! My girls keep asking to read extra when we can because they get so excited to finish each book–but they haven’t realized yet that we have just one more left! (At least in this read-through!!) And you have such great books lined up for this year (especially Getting Things Done and Honey for a Child’s Heart!)–but I would love to recommend One Thousand Gifts. I went ahead and put it at the top of my reading list once I got a copy–and I am so glad I did!

  • Deb H. in Wisconsin says:

    Crystal, my daughter LOVED the LIW books too. She also loved it when we visited Walnut Grove and Plum Creek in MN. However, I want to suggest another series that you and your girls may enjoy: All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. There are 3 or 4 of them??? The books are about a very frugal Jewish family living in New York around the turn of the century. Cricket in Times Square is another family favorite and there are about three more books that follow that one. BJU press puts out a series called “Mice of the Herringbone” and it a series about pirates using cats and dogs as the main characters. I think my boys enjoyed that series more than my daughter.

    • WilliamB says:

      re All of a Kind Family: I’ve been trying to remember the name of this book for many years … although I never remembered when there was a librarian around to ask. In particular I remember the horror of losing a library book and how much work and deprivation it took to replace it. All their allowances for 5 months! I also wondered how the girls felt, when their father was so happy at the arrival of a boy that he wept.

  • Kim says:

    I love that you have a yearly plan for reading! What a simple but great idea!
    I am in a book club, and it’s been great because I am reading more, and I am expanding my reading material. We just finished reading “When Crickets Cry.” great read!

  • Heather says:

    I loved All-of-a Kind family when I was a kid! Need to reread.

  • Aisha says:

    Please, oh please share when you have time to read your book list selections and the bible in a year? Please 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I usually try to read 10-15 pages in the mornings right after I read my Bible. And then I sometimes have a chance to read while waiting for an appointment, in the car, or on Sunday afternoons. But mostly, making a point to read for 10-15 minutes every morning before starting my day is how I’m fitting it in. I glean so much from reading that I’ve found it’s important for me to make time for it most every day — even if it’s in small doses!

  • Oh…yes…read ALL the LIW books….even traveled to Mansfield, MO for the LIW festival! A favorite memory from our elementary homeschooling days (now my children are in high school). Just finished reading The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn. Before that book, I had finished some Christian historial fiction as well as Mary Beth Chapman’s Choosing to SEE. In February, I read and reviewed several Christian fiction books as well as a Kids Sports Devotional book and one book on Fasting. I really didn’t think I had read that much until you asked the question! I “blog for books” so I post my reviews on our blog in exchange for a copy of the books.
    On another note….I have the Artisan Bread books (both of the them)…so worth it! LOVE THEM. We go in cycles of making bread, though…depends on what has been happening around our home…..
    Anyway…off to start the next book:)….

  • Carrie says:

    We just finished the Little House series 2 weeks ago and I cried when we were done. We decided to read some of Beverly Cleary’s books next since we will be visiting Portland next month. And I was so happy when my 4-year-old said, “After that, can we start again at the beginning of the Little House books?”
    Right now I am reading “Ghost in the Little House,” a very in-depth biography of Rose Wilder Lane. It is kind of sad and a let-down in a way to see Laura and Almanzo as real people instead of their fictionalized ideals, especially since Rose and Laura had their difficulties as mother and daughter. Still, a very interesting book.

  • Stefani says:

    Crystal, I agree with the other comments in that I really enjoy your honest opinions on the books you read. I know you have your book plan mapped out but I would love for you to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp just to see what you think. I’m in the middle of it right now and it’s really good. She’s a writer for DaySpring cards and has a poetic writing style that is intriguing and keeps my interest. The best part of all though is how she shares her personal struggle against bitterness and how the Lord has taught her to be in a constant state of gratitude. She also shares how the Lord has helped her overcome grief of a young sibling being killed. It has really helped me to see “gifts” in the everyday and I think all women need that encouragement.

  • Rhonda says:

    “The Prayer Strategy Resource Book” by Ruth Shinness. You can order it from It is not a “reading” book – it’s a book you read every day along side your bible. It will totally transform your prayer life! It has been such a blessing! I can’t recommend it enough!!!

  • Karin says:

    I love snagging other people’s book lists, putting them in my library queue! Thanks for the list!

    I got your April book “Artisian Bread in 5 minutes a Day” a month or so ago and can’t wait to see what you think! I have baked bread for just a short while but am SO impressed with this book! The bread is delicious! I have a pretty simple bread maker, but haven’t touched it (gasp!) since reading this book.

    They have another book “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” which discusses the multi-grain, whole grain etc. types of bread!

    Look forward to seeing what you think of your April read.

  • Kelly says:

    after you finish the a Little House series you could always start the Ann of Green Gables series. I find it funny because i started the Little house series when I was in elementary school but then I got caught up in required reading that I didn’t finish it until the summer after I graduated high school.

  • Carrie says:

    Crystal, you might enjoy Becoming a Woman of Influence by Carole Kent. I had to read it for a leadership program my husband and I were involved in. It is wonderful. She’s a God-fearing woman, and she is encouraging in a humble and quiet way.

  • Melody says:

    If you’re sad about finishing the Little House series you could try the books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother and daughter. I don’t remember the authors of those two series, but they were both very good!

  • Adena says:

    Thank you for doing the book reviews. Just this weekend, I was browsing thru the business section at Books A Million trying to decide on one. btw, I am reading Organized Simplicity now. Love it so far.

  • It is always fun to see what other people enjoy reading and find encouraging! I think it is good to consider when we read reviews too, that we are all different and find encouragement from different things, based on our likes, dislikes and circumstances. = ) I read a book on a young girl who tried to commit suicide, and how God saved her life amazingly, how He taught her about Him through it and she has an amazing ministry, it really touched me! Another friend said she read it and thought it was not very inspiring.
    I keep picking up books on the same topics lately….a couple I have read lately ….
    Beaded Hope by Cathy Higgett
    Red Letter’s by Tom Davis….not done with this one
    Living on Purpose by Tom and Christine Sine- this one really spoke to me. It was really good on looking at your life, evaluating you are living with your family and everything.

  • Melanie says:

    The 5000 Year Leap is one of the best books I have ever read.

  • Anne Alexander says:

    I seem to love all of the Christian Historical Fiction
    Just learning from other womens lives that have survived hard times and not lost their faith.

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