Week in Review ~ Books I'm Reading

photo credit: Laurent Tougas

It's been one of those weeks. I know you know the kind I'm talking about. 

We all have our unique struggles and life situations that challenge our sanity and well being. Mine happens to be a life changing move in just three months.

It's been a week of changing plans, lowered expectations, and impending deadlines. Oh, I hate deadlines. This week, because of impending deadlines, I especially felt the struggle of balancing my writing aspirations with home life - children, school, meals, and moving.

I don't believe in balance. I believe in priorities. But what do you do when all your priorities jumble up on each other and are hard to sort out? When writing (how I usually sort out the jumble) is too time consuming and taxing on the brain?

You read! Well at least I do. 

This week I took care of the basics (we're talking really basic here), let go of the rest and did my best to keep my head above water, quite literally. As in, I read a book in the bathtub one afternoon at 5pm after supper was in the oven while the kids watched a netflix movie about the human body. I should add, on that day they watched nearly three hours (gasp) of internet streaming video.

You should have heard them when Damien came in the door. Babbling about all the things they learned. Good thing too since that pretty much was homeschool this week.

Sometimes when life gets too much I like to move outside my reality with books. To think about noble ideas, escape in a story, or have a good cry from a heartwrenching read. That's been my week.

I've stolen sunlit moments after lunch, snuggled under the covers in bed, and soaked in a hot tub - all with books.

There's a bunch of books I'm reading right now and you can see some of those on the sidebar under reading. This is a feature I'm trying out on the blog. Don't worry, I don't actually read all of those each day or even each week, they're just in the current "books I grab" rotation. Here's a few I've been reading this week:

  • Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality I have ideas, I want to make them happen. I'm reading this to help me achieve my goals. 
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Amazing. This has been on my to-read list for months. It will appeal greatly to a Christian audience but the story itself transcends Christianity with lessons about personal transformation, governmental power, leadership education and so, so much more. 
  • Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living Wanting to get to know my editor-in-chief from Simple Living Media a little better. Quite honestly, I'm not learning a whole lot of new information from it, I've been a professional homemaker on the simplicity track for many years now. But I like the easy read and little tips I'm picking up on. Plus it's an aesthetically pleasing book with helpful checklists, cleaning recipes etc. Part One is my favorite section.  
  • Making Toast: A Family Story Oh my goodness. Sob out loud, tears streaming down cheeks kind of read. When I start to bemoan all the work I need to do to maintain life and prepare for this move this book helps me remember to be thankful for the breath I am given each day. Thanks to Misha's list at Kind Birds for tipping me off to this one. (I agree with Misha's assessment, there is a fair amount of name dropping in the book. But the writing is superb and the underlying theme of a father's grief and family ties resonate strongly regardless of socio-economic level and class).

I just picked up another stack of library books yesterday that I think will be returned un-read. Too much to read, too little time.

What are you reading these days? I seriously love to know. My own reading is almost always based on recommendations I get from people.

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  • Shannon

    Shannon on Feb. 18, 2011, 8:25 p.m.

    Just finished Surviving Off Off-Grid and Tsh's book. Also read Mad Hungry: Feeding Boys last weekend. I think nearly every book I get from the library is from someone's recommendation too. I just put Making Toast on hold.


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Feb. 18, 2011, 9:50 p.m.

    It's been one of those weeks around here, too. And I didn't even find time to read! I regularly return large stacks of un-read books to the library--right now awaiting my time are: The Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce A. Wardwell, The Herbal Medicine Cabinet by Debra St. Claire, and a second time through Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes.


  • Pamela

    Pamela on Feb. 18, 2011, 10:32 p.m.

    I hear ya! It's been one of THOSE weeks for me as well. An utter disaster. And, somehow, I managed to see the light today. After hiding my head in the sand for four days in a row, I managed to pull myself up by my bootstraps (um, after a seriously huge Starbucks "treat").

    I see (from your tweet) that you are reading Fancy Nancy with Brienne. My youngest is a big fan as well. Have you read "A Very, Fairy Princess" by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma (Hamilton, I think)? It's really good. Geraldine KNOWS she is a fairy princess, even if know one else believes her -- because she can feel it! She says you have to find what lets your sparkle out. I love it. :-)

    Here's to a better week!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 19, 2011, 1 p.m.

      My own week took a real turn around also on Thursday afternoon. After our quarterly shopping trip to the Patagonia outlet in Freeport we splurged on Japanese supper in Portland. And I splurged a little more after supper for a small handmade ice cream. Things started looking up after that (smile).

      Thanks for the heads up about the princess book. Just when I think we've exhausted every fairy princess story I find there are more to be discovered.


      • Pamela

        Pamela on Feb. 22, 2011, 5:55 p.m.

        Oh, that sounds like a fun splurge - yum!

        I had to totally laugh at myself for thinking that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel on Thursday. It turned out it was more like a meteor headed my way. On Saturday my little one succumbed to an asthma attack. That means she has to take a steroid for 5 (!) days and lots of breathing treatments. I hate putting all of that into her little body. :-( But we were not to despair for too long. Yesterday we finally did take a positive turn. My hubby and kids even made an extra special effort to help with the house while I was out so that "Mommy could start her week on a better note." And that's what love is all about. :-)


        • renee

          renee on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:19 p.m.

          Oh no. I hope everything is ok with your daughter.  And I love the gift your husband and children gave you. So sweet.


  • Marianna

    Marianna on Feb. 19, 2011, 3:13 a.m.

    Like you I often have several books going at once. My main read right now is Reading Jackie by William Kuhn. A fascinating look at the work she did as an editor, and how much it said about her, in the years after she was no longer Jack's widow or Ari's wife. I also have Margaret Roach's And I Shall Find Some Peace There in rotation. And finally a short story collection from Elizabeth Berg titled "The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted".

    I know it's a stretch, but I hope that things calm down for you next week.


  • Jen

    Jen on Feb. 19, 2011, 6:49 a.m.

    It must be going around this week. Full moon?

    I just started reading My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. It's the story of a 20 year old midwife during the Civil War who desperately wants to be a doctor. So far I am loving it, and my mother gushed (where I get many of my great books via hand me downs in the mail).

    Hang in there and I'm glad to hear you are grabbing those sacred moments with books!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 19, 2011, 12:55 p.m.

      I read My Name is Mary Sutter a few months ago. Found it very gripping. Loved the whole plot and character of Mary and her family. Very interesting. I love learning history (I know very little about the American civil war) through fiction. Much more accessible to me.


  • Melanie

    Melanie on Feb. 19, 2011, 2:40 p.m.

    I really recommend "A Gift of an Ordinary Day" - A Mother's Memoir, I read this book a few weeks ago, and made me really appreciate the ordinary moments.

    I am also reading "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers" (you're past that point), but highly recommended for anyone with young children around.

    Next on my list is "Last Child in the Woods - Nature Deficit Disorder".

    I try to read one book at a time, so I can focus more on it's content and keep on that mind track, plus I feel so good when I actually finish it to the end. :o)


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 19, 2011, 2:54 p.m.

      I loved The Gift of an Ordinary Day. In fact I have pages of notes from that book I have been meaning to put together into a book review for FIMBY. That book was very powerful for me.

      I am terrible for having multiple books on the go and then sometimes not finishing.


      • Naomi Kilbreth

        Naomi Kilbreth on Feb. 19, 2011, 7:56 p.m.

        Sometimes not finishing is the best thing you can do though. I have long held this belief that if I start something I need to finish it, but sometimes that doesn't line up with my priorities if I find the book isn't helpful. I've been teaching myself that it is OK not to finish if I don't feel it will benefit me, but if you are enjoying a book it is frustrating when you don't have time to finish it!


        • renee

          renee on Feb. 19, 2011, 9:36 p.m.

          Thank you Naomi, my sentiments exactly. I too am learning to just let something go if I'm not gaining enough from it. Too many things I must do in my life, I don't need book reading obligations also!


  • Carrie (jamesrivergirl)

    Carrie (jamesrivergirl) on Feb. 19, 2011, 4:54 p.m.

    I don't believe in balance. I believe in priorities. This really resonates with me. But I went back and read your August post on the subject to make sure I understood what you were saying. Yes. I understood and want to tell you that I think you are a wise and spiritually gifted woman.


  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on Feb. 19, 2011, 7:54 p.m.

    I love reading. Especially biographies because I love to read about other people's lives, especially parents and people who lived in 18th-19th century U.S. But unfortunately, reading for me has taken a backseat. I guess there is a time for everything, and it's been a year I bet since I've read anything just for fun (or distraction). So, right now I have only two books I'm working on. Parenting from Your Strengths, by John Trent and The Confessions of Our Faith which is the westminster confession of faith and catechisms. Of course, those don't exactly provide a break for the mind, but they are enlightening. This summer, I have midwifery textbooks to look forward to :0)


  • Sara S

    Sara S on Feb. 19, 2011, 10:55 p.m.

    I recently finished reading Radical Homemakers. Great book...but more of an intense read than I originally thought. I'm currently in the middle of The Well Educated mind. Another intense book, but I'm taking notes as I go along and that helps.

    Thanks for listing your current reads. I've been wanting to read about Bonhoeffer for quite sometime. BTW, I read Making Toast too after hearing a interview with the author on NPR. WOW. I choked up several times during the book.


  • Amy @ Missional Mama

    Amy @ Missional Mama on Feb. 20, 2011, 12:35 a.m.

    I have been wanting to read Bonhoeffer for awhile too and Organized Simplicity is also on my list.

    I am presently reading God Planted Five Seeds by Jean Dye Johnson, Missional Mom (which I will be running a review/giveaway soon) and Leadership Education among others.

    I enjoy seeing what others are reading. Thanks for posting!



  • debra

    debra on Feb. 21, 2011, 12:19 a.m.

    Um, I second (third? fourth?) that - it was a rough week! Can we blame it on the moon? I'm reading the Five Love Languages of Children by Chambers, and just picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog (gasp! a novel!). Recently read Carrying Water As a Way of Life by Linda Tatelbaum - enjoyed it, nice and simple journal-style read of a homesteader who is still at it thirty years later.

    My February often finds me deep into something I would normally consider "trashy" reading - it is purely a way of coping with the lingering end of winter, I think, and I've given up feeling bad about it. I read enough good stuff the rest of the year!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 21, 2011, 1:57 a.m.

      I really liked Carrying Water as a Way of Life by Linda. I did a giveaway of her book Woman Who Speaks Tree almost 2 years ago.

      Nothing wrong with reading novels (smile). I go through phases also of reading novels, non-fiction, biographies etc.


  • Callie Moon

    Callie Moon on Feb. 21, 2011, 4:43 p.m.

    I just finished The Scarlet Pimpernel and really enjoyed that. I saw the latest movie years ago and really enjoyed it. The books storyline was completely different then the movie. It was a fun read.

    I'm also reading Little Women and plan on reading Little Men and Eight Cousins. This has been another fun read.

    I'm also working my way through A Tale of Two Cities. I'm sure you can see that I'm trying to read some of the classics that I never read when I was younger.


  • New Urban Habitat

    New Urban Habitat on Feb. 21, 2011, 5:03 p.m.

    I've been reading so much lately too. Escapism is so important for me around mid-February. I just finished Origins by Annie Murphy Paul and I have a big stack of library books waiting, including Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas, Simple Prosperity by David Wann, and Copeland's cure by Natalie Robins.


  • Kika

    Kika on Feb. 21, 2011, 5:47 p.m.

    I've been reading tons of Ted Dekker novels for fun... one of my personal goals for this year is to have more fun! But I am also awaiting an amazon order of "The Urban Homestead" and "Radical Homemakers". I had wanted to quite buying books this year but can't get either of these through inter-library loan. Oh and I have about five more books on nutrition/education waiting to be picked up at the library. Aaaaah. I'm happy when I have tons to read and think through.

    Yeah! You have your "inspiring internet" reads back up.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 21, 2011, 6:08 p.m.


      Yes, Damien worked a couple hours this weekend on that for me (and readers!). We are using our own bookmarking system that automatically posts updates to my blog. I will be updating this page also and then announcing it at FIMBY once I've finished.


  • Tammie@Simple, Healthy, Tasty

    Tammie@Simple, Healthy, Tasty on Feb. 21, 2011, 10:32 p.m.

    For a long time I talked about how I needed balance! And I really just couldn't find it! Then I started to think about priorities and seasons and even moods and abilities for that day or week or whatever. I still try to have some sort of balance but it's so nice to know that I don't have to do every little thing all the time. There is a time, place, and a season.

    As for books it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who has a handful of books going at once that I kind of rotate through. Right now I'm reading Toxic Relief, The Continuous Atonement, Master Your Metabolism, Cheaper by the Dozen, Energy Medicine for Women, and a whole pile I want to read! ;) I totally understand so many books so little time!!!


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