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The 3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ the 1 classic movie we watched)

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

The Fourth Trimester

I was really excited to read this book as I thought it would be great for me to prep for birth and postpartum recovery — especially since I’ve struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety after all three of my pregnancies. (I think a lot of my struggles were related to not taking time to properly rest and heal after my births.)

Going into reading it, I knew the book wasn’t written from a Christian perspective and had a lot of influence from other religions in it. I was prepared for this. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting past a lot of those sections. So much of the advice just felt so self-serving and humanistic…  and some of the advice to ask for so much help and set such strong boundaries after the birth kind of felt like it was encouraging you to come across as a jerk. (Just being honest here!!)

That said, my big takeaways are that rest, good nourishment, and limited movement for the few weeks after birth are really important. Those are my hopes for this postpartum period for my upcoming birth and what I’ve spent the last few months prepping to make happen! This book definitely encouraged me to prioritize that.

Does anyone have suggestions of a good book for postpartum that encourages these things that might be a better fit for me (or something for me to recommend to others)?

Verdict: 2 stars

The Lazy Genius Way

I have heard of Kendra Adachi’s podcast (The Lazy Genius) but, truth be told, I’m not a listener. I think I may have have heard one episode way back when or maybe have heard her on another podcast, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of her.

Despite that, I really loved this book! It’s well-written, funny, practical, and realistic. Kendra has the perfect balance of truth, humor, and grace sprinkled throughout it. She also makes you feel like you can actually get your home and life in better order (notice I didn’t say “perfect order” just “better order”? I think Kendra would approve of that language!)

I love her approach to be a genius about those things that truly matter to you and your family and to be lazy about those things that don’t matter to you and your family. I also found her light-hearted footnotes throughout the book to be a fun addition.

While I’ve read a LOT of time management, home management, and life management books, I still found so much fresh perspective and inspiration in Kendra’s book. And now I’m thinking I need to check out her podcast!

Verdict: 4 stars

The Gospel Comes With a House Key

Okay, I was a little scared to write this review, because it seems everyone I know absolutely adored this book. And, while I really loved parts of it, there were other parts of it that I just couldn’t stand behind wholeheartedly.

Let’s start with what I loved: I loved the author’s desire to encourage what she calls, “Radically Ordinary Hospitality”. It is a lost art in our usually-busy worlds and I think it is one of the biggest building blocks to genuine community and Christlike love.

I also loved that the book shone a light on foster care and the need for Christian families to prayerfully consider being involved in this ministry in some way. (You all know how passionate I am about foster care!)

That said, what bothered me in the book was that she presented hospitality almost as a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. That it’s only in the context of your church and neighborhood and that it pretty much always involves opening up your home for a meal.

While opening up your home is fantastic and serving food is great, I think hospitality can also be inviting a friend to the park or to coffee or to join you in a walk or reaching out to the lonely-looking person sitting on the sidelines at your child’s baseball game or inviting your co-worker to lunch… and a thousand other things.

For me, I believe hospitality is going to take on many different forms — because we all have different giftings and different spheres and circles we run in. I wish she would have talked much more about this.

The second thing I didn’t like in the book was that she was super honest about situations they’ve been through with other people — the good, the bad, the ugly. And in many cases, she shared a lot of details about conversations that I felt were private and not ones to be shared in a published book that anyone in the world might read.

I feel like there’s good chance some of the things she shared openly and in detail about very personal hurts and situations could very well damage relationships in her life — even some of those that might be ones she’s seeking to practical “radically ordinary hospitality” to.

(Maybe she got every single person’s permission to share what she shared and maybe each person was 100% okay with it… even then, I think many of the examples and conversations could have been omitted and the book would have still been as powerful. For me, it would have been even more powerful.)

And now I’m going to go duck from all of the rotten tomatoes I’m going to get thrown at me! 😉

Verdict: 3 stars

Classic Movie We Watched Last Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!)

Last week, we watched Mr. Bean’s Holiday — a movie Jesse and I had watched together a long time ago together and thought the kids might enjoy. They did enjoy parts of it, but they found it a little on the slow side and thought it drug on — especially toward the end.

(Note: I don’t think this actually qualifies as a “classic movie” since it came out in 2007, but oh well, we’re going to say it is since it was the movie we watched last week!)

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

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  • Naomi says:

    I recently read The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton about the lady who was largely responsible for the kindertransport of thousands of Jewish children before and during WW II. I loved it! Her life inspired me and caused me to think deeply. It was hard to put down and very interesting.

  • Natalie says:

    Regarding “The Gospel Comes With A Housekey”…Agreed!!! I had the same thought regarding one-size-fits-all hospitality. Also, her husband is a pastor who is 100% on board with their practices. And their home life is integrated w/their church. Like you said, not everyone is set up like that, and there needs to be a broader definition of the idea of hospitality. Always appreciate your thoughts on the topic, as you have practiced it, inside your home and out!!

    • Yes, that what was I thinking. I know so many women whose husbands/families aren’t on board with hospitality. I don’t want them to feel less than if hospitality looks very different for them than it does for someone else.

  • Lydia says:

    I read the gospel comes with a house key with group of other young mothers and it just totally overwhelmed all of us. I think it was the one size all approach that just didn’t fit our season of life at all that turned us off.

  • Sarah says:

    Totally agree with your analysis of Gospel Comes With a House Key! Thank you for writing it. People need to hear your perspective on the book.

  • Ashley says:

    I just finished We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. It’s based on a true story of a Jewish Polish family (parents and their adult children) in WWII. It is a heavy topic and there is some language, but I found the story to be amazing and compelling. The author intersperses a history timeline, so you can understand what’s happening in their lives in light of the global context of the war.

    • Melie says:

      I 100% second this recommendation! It’s a similar concept to “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” where it’s fiction but based completely on real people and real events, so I highly recommend Lucky Ones to anyone who liked that book. My main criticism is that the pacing was a bit off in places, but I think that’s because the author followed what was known of her family’s actions and didn’t make anything up to fill in the gaps.

  • Jessica says:

    I have come to a point where I have a hard time taking in so much information. After working a long day, I can’t even have the tv on. I don’t know if it is the introvert in me, some depression or something else. That said, I’d like to push through and do more. The Lazy Genius Way peaked my interest. I’m bummed that it isn’t released until August. I’ll head over and check out the podcast until then though. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

    • Also Jessica says:

      THe pod cast is really great. It’s very gracious, low-pressure, forgiving. I love it. 🙂 Sounds like it will be a good fit for you. 🙂

  • Jeni says:

    Movies: Yours Mine and Ours (original), Cheaper By the Dozen (original), Operation Petticoat, Father Goose, The Music Man.

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree completely with your review of “The Gospel Comes with a House Key”. I adored “Confessions of an Unlikely Convert” so I was excited to read another book by her, but I only got a few chapters in and decided not to finish it. In many ways her suggestions challenged and inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and reach out, but I agree that hospitality can look so different from one person to another, and she kind of gave the impression that we all need to be hosting 30 person dinners once a week! Thank you for being willing to share your thoughts on this book 🙂

    • Maria says:

      I laughed when she basically implied she always cooked for 10 or 12 so extra people were always welcome. Ummm. We have 6 kids. That’s normal cooking for me! 😜

  • Kim says:

    I love “The Lazy Genius Podcast”! Kendra makes you feel okay about not being perfect; she meets you wherever you are. I highly recommend checking listening to the podcast. She is a Christian.

  • Amber says:

    Hi! What books on time management would you recommend? Thank you!

  • Sarah says:

    I think you would love Kendra’s podcast! I’m honestly surprised you don’t already listen. 😉

    • Well, I listen to very, very few podcasts, so that’s the reason why! I picked a few back at the beginning and stuck with those few and haven’t really branched out or checked out any new ones since then!

  • Toney Sanchez says:

    How do you find Kendra’s podcast?

    • Jordan says:

      You should be able to search any podcasting app from your phone for “The Lazy Genius” and it should come up! I hope that helps! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Laura R says:

    I’m sorry to hear you feel that way about The Fourth Trimester. Birth is a physical, human experience, so I’m not surprised they took a humanistic approach. As for making mothers come off as jerks, I think their intent was to empower women to self-determine what they and their new child needs. We are the best mama for that baby. There is a significant amount of information on the baby’s birth process, but not enough about the birth of the mother.

    I dug around and thought you might like Living Beyond Postpartum Depression: Help and Hope for the Hurting Mom and Those Around Her by Jerusha Clark. It has information for mother, husband, families, and lots of verses throughout to support everyone.

    • Thanks so much for the suggestions! I think it was just all of the weird stuff in it that I struggled to get past… it seemed like it was combining a lot of different religious practices from a bunch of different cultures into one book and it felt conflicting and also just really “out there” as a result. I also thought that it almost made me feel like I was given a bunch of additional to-do’s that I had to do instead of grace and I think it could especially be overwhelming for a brand-new mom.

      I was hoping to find a book that had a gentle approach to post-birth and encouraged moms to slow down, rest, recuperate, etc. and give really simple ways to do so that was maybe a little more accessible to the everyday woman (and maybe a little shorter and without so many different conflicting religious practices?)… so far, based upon the lack of responses, I guess maybe there isn’t one??

      • Naomi says:

        I had severe post partum depression ever my first baby was born- primarily struggling with anxiety. The book Calm my Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow really helped me. It’s not specifically about motherhood but it helped me with my perspective and just trusting God with the struggles and season I was in. This book combined with worship music, memorizing and reading out loud Scripture, and a daily 30 minute walk outside by myself helped me significantly- along with talking with my husband and family about how I was honestly doing. Praying for you Crystal!

        • I loved that book! One of my favorites! My PPD was always physical and related to pushing myself too hard (not taking a maternity leave at all and being back to working full-time within a day or two of giving birth — of course, I didn’t realize that’s even what it was until after my third pregnancy!). This time around, I’m actually taking a 5-week maternity leave and making sleeping at night a HUGE priority! I’m so hopeful that these two things will mean that I don’t have PPD this time around — especially since I’ve made so many changes in the last few years health-wise that have radically transformed/relieved my once-incessant anxiety! I’m also going into it very aware that this is something I have a tendency to battle and so we’re taking very proactive measures to (hopefully) avoid or minimize it. We’ll see!

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