RSS

Category Archives: Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Summer 2019)

Strong, simple, sassy female writers this summer!

Distinctly You, by Cheryl Martin~ I had never heard of this author among the Christian living books before but the subtitle, “Trading Comparison and Competition for Freedom and Fulfillment” spoke to me.  I am not half finished with it yet but I am finding the simple prose and reflection super helpful.  It has already begun turning over some rocks in my life for God to work more healing.  I appreciate that Cheryl Martin is so honest with her life and never paints a picture of a spiritual person who has it all together.  You can check more of her quiet, precise voice in the following videos: 

Part 1 / Part 2 

The Money Plan for the Young, Fabulous and Broke, by Suze Orman~ I’m one who finds Dave Ramsey a bit too intimidating for me.  This was a freebie book that I picked up as a breakfast read.  What had I to lose?  An older book (pub. 2004), it’s advice is still classic.  The book is written for an audience in their 20’s, but she includes readers who are a little older and late-but-better-than-never to the party (like me).  Suze has a fun, simple style that doesn’t turn condescending and that is refreshing!  I found her explanations of things like Roth IRA’s easier to understand than a Dummy’s Guide to Investing I had tried to read earlier.  One of my pet peeves about financial advisors is boiling their message down to: “Just don’t eat out so much!”– as though all people who are broke are so because they visit McDonald’s every week.  It’s annoying and assumptive.  But Orman doesn’t get that way.  This book is a keeper and I would like to check out more of her stuff.  So if you think you’ve tried financial guidebooks before and gave up, maybe you should give one of her books a try. 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Spring 2019)

There is so much to see, do and read in the springtime!  Let’s not waste a moment but take advantage of the time learning!

Relearning to See, by Thomas Quackenbush~ I suffer from myopia and astigmatism, along with strabismus on top of that.  So yeah, I have a lot of eye strain.  I’m also not a good candidate for contact lenses and I don’t particularly feel glamorous with two pairs of eyeglasses.  I just have never been able to think well with frames on my face.  Being interested in holistic measures, I’ve heard of improving one’s eyesight naturally using different exercises, diet, etc but never really knew how to implement it or had the confidence it would help with my particular issues.  I discovered this title on goodreads a while back, and then found it at a book sale when a local library was doing a purge.  What a stroke of good luck!  It’s been my breakfast reading material for the last couple of months.  Overlook the author’s unfortunate last name.  This is an in-depth textbook that borrows a lot of material from a learned eye doctor, William Bates, who studied and practiced during the turn of the century thru 1920’s.  A lot of his explanations and reasoning makes sense.  I appreciate that he does not view the Bates Method as eye “exercises”, rather a way of relearning how to see in a natural, relaxed manner.  Some of it gets a little too textbook on me and over my head but that’s okay, I just skip ahead to the more comprehensive parts.  Have I seen any improvement?  I want to finish the book first to understand everything before I begin implementing the techniques daily.  (To be completely honest, it is hard to form a new habit and it is hard to practice while a lot of your work is in front of a computer.)  But there was a moment (which the author refers to as “a flash”) when I experienced a bout of being able to see clearer than I had for a long time.  This was after I’d started trying some of the relaxed ways of looking around me.  It did not last very long, but it was enough to give me some hope and encouragement.  I think a lot of people will be interested in the scientific material presented, and be assured this is not some “quackish” gimmick. 

The Enchanted Hour, by Meghan Cox Gurdon~ This was such a wonderful book to listen to on audio!  I had no idea what it was about when I saw it in the library but the title had me hooked and I enjoy listening to non fiction audiobooks so I took it home with me.  Do you enjoy reading aloud and want a kindred spirit to share your enthusiasm?  You’ll find it in the author who narrates her own book.  Her passion for reading out loud to youngsters, teens, dogs, the ill, disabled, elderly—anybody and everybody!– is obvious.  She provides tons of interesting studies and statistics, as well as interviews with doctors, volunteers and a few guinea pigs on the benefits and NECESSITY of reading out loud.  Did you know that our society has lost approximately a third of its vocabulary and illiteracy is rifer now than it was decades ago?  How can we stop this epidemic and be more involved in our kids’ lives?  The answer is simple: READ A BOOK.  And yet most of us struggle to do keep up this discipline in a modern world of technology.  Gurdon shares tips and ideas from her own experience on how to make reading a fun family habit and how to make memories for years to come.  As a narrator, Gurdon does pretty well since she has had years of practice while bringing up four children.  I do wish she wouldn’t affect character voices for some of the people she quoted or interviewed, as this is sort of a no-no in non-fiction narration and becomes cartoonish rather than enhancing the story.  But she had such a warm, cuddly type voice and I fell in love with her descriptions of babies, tykes and tots.  Please do not misunderstand that reading is for young children only.  Although Gurdon puts a lot of emphasis on this, she also stresses that reading out loud really is good and beneficial for all ages.  

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2018-19)

I was feeling very stressed during the last few months of 2018.  I don’t do well with rush, pressure, deadlines, and then trying to enjoy the holidays on top of it all.  Looking back over my year, I can tell there were areas where I wanted become more organized and less of a workaholic and so I determined my New Year’s resolution would be to learn to breathe.  These two books were the beginning of my foray into learning to live more intentionally… 

Rhythms of Rest, by Shelly Miller~ I do not feel like I do Sunday well.  I’m not sure where I go wrong, but I thought perhaps relearning what the Sabbath is all about and building upon those spiritual roots were the way to go.  There were dozens of books I could have chosen to read on this subject, but this was the one I started with.  I found Shelly’s voice very soothing and gentle, with a lovely poetic turn to it.  She definitely put forth a convincing perspective on spending slow, fun time with God.  I also enjoyed reading about her family’s journey toward their calling to move to England.  I could relate to some of her trials and it gave the book a type of plot instead of being completely a how-to book.  One thing I wish the author would have discussed more in depth, instead of waiting until the very last chapter, was about how Christ is our Sabbath rest every day of the believer’s life, not just on Sundays (although, it is a holy day set apart as special).  But after I finished the book, I went online to subscribe to her email newsletter called Sabbath Society because I could use a little present of encouragement in this direction now and then. 

Slow, by Brooke McAlary~ This book was just sitting out on the New Arrival shelf at our library and it was calling my name.  I took it home with me and have been slowly reading it since the beginning of the year.  It’s a delightful read.  The author has a great sense of humor imparting little bits of wisdom she’s learned over the years that make her life full of what really matters and less filled with stressed.  Since her years of struggling with deep depression, Brooke has developed a more flexible way of living that includes what she calls ‘wobbly balance’ (my favorite chapter!).  She started by writing out her imaginary eulogy!  From there she took baby steps to live more intentionally.  I took lots of notes!  It was also fun to read during breakfast because it is broken up into short, readable pieces with fun pictures, diagrams and lists.  Her metaphoric word pictures help convey her ideas and they have helped me to relax just a little bit easier and to let go of some of the guilt and perfectionism.  We could all benefit by doing the same, so let this book show you how! 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Non-fiction Books I’m Liking (Fall 2018)

I’m seeing a Japanese theme here, aren’t you?  Enjoy these Asian-rooted books with me this autumn!

The Four Holy Gospels, illustrated by Makoto Fujimura ~ The first time I heard of Makoto Fujimura was on a late Moody radio program.  ‘A Christian abstract artist?  That just can’t be!’ I thought.  I’m not sure how, but somewhere along the way I picked up the thinking that modern art was completely anti-God, anti-Christian and anything that didn’t at least try to look realistic had its basis in evil worldviews.  Thank goodness God’s mellowed me out since then, and I guess the process is ongoing!  For those who may be struggling with this idea that abstract can be glorifying to God, I recommend Francis Schaeffer’s short work, “Art and the Bible.” In any case, I became curious enough to look up this deeply spiritual Asian-American online to see what his art looked like.  I was astounded.  I don’t pretend to understand high art.  I need those trained in it to help me understand it.  But I appreciated the beauty and emotion he infused with traditional Japanese painting techniques to create beautiful washes of color with veins of metallic running through them.  I heard that he was commissioned to illustrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, rather like the medieval illumination of old.  I’ve always wanted to see it, and I finally got the chance.  I wish there was more explanation accompanying his paintings and why he chose what he did (as a lot of it goes over my head), but I loved looking at it nonetheless.  My favorite piece was the full-page illustration, Prodigal God.  I would like to own my own copy someday. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo ~ Spring cleaning… in the fall?  I know, that doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?  But I’ve always felt more like the fall was a second New Year’s for me, a time to hit restart and a chance to attempt more order.  And as alluded to in a recent post, I’ve been feel overwhelmed and stressed out for a long time and my systems aren’t working.  So I need a change.  I found this book at a garage sale and knew that it was a popular, best-selling book.  I’d first heard of the KonMari method of organizing on a youtube video where a woman went through her wardrobe cleaning and sorting according to what she had read in the book.  And then I just started of hearing it everywhere.  Last year I redded [yes, that is a word even though spellcheck says it’s not] my book collection to purge what I didn’t have room for anymore.  I was pleased with the results, but I really needed to read through this cover to cover.  So, I am currently about halfway through and am enjoying this little book.  So much of what the author recommends seems backward to what I was thinking, but once she explains herself it begins to make sense and I am willing to try.  I have already gone through my own clothes closet and am now to attack books again (I acquire new all the time) and papers.  I want to begin to put her principles into my daily living, not just a once a year mad purge.  I know she comes to the table with a very Eastern spiritualistic worldview.  Some readers may feel weird about Kondo’s assigning personalities to things and talking to them, thanking them for their service.  But at the same time, I identify with that because of my struggles with OCD.  So even though I personally don’t believe my Mom’s 34-year old blender that she got as a wedding present and that is now out of commission has a spirit, it is easier to place it in the dumpster after I’ve given it a dignified “thank you for your service” speech.   

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Non-fiction Books I’m Liking (Summer 2018)

The human world is marvelous and dangerous at the same time.  Time to learn about ourselves, and take more precautions and self-care than just slapping on the SPF this summer!

Think Before You Like: Social Media’s Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed, by Gup P. Harrison ~ We live in a scary world, but the internet is a whole ‘nother ballgame.  I’m not one of those sorts to take risqué pictures– of say, their feet– and post them on the internet.  But I do need to be aware of who is out there prowling for my information, how they do it, and why they do it.  This, so I can be a critical thinker and make conscious decisions about what I post and why.  So, when I saw this book displayed at the library, I checked it out immediately.  One thing I appreciated about it is that the author handles lots of information in a reader-friendly format.  The last book I read on the realities of the modern tech world (The Aisles Have Eyes, by Joseph Turow—which I do recommend) was not so accessible for the average layman like me.  I felt it went as deep as one could wish into the subject matter.  If you are on the internet (which you probably are if you’re reading my blog), you need to be informed about what you’re *really* doing to yourself.  Big Brother isn’t coming—it’s already here.  The author says he isn’t for urging paranoia, however I felt paranoid.  If you are apt to worry yourself sick, I wouldn’t recommend this.  For all other citizens of planet earth, please stop the self-delusion and rid yourself of ignorance by reading this book. 

Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone, by Tara M. Owens ~ Sometimes, I am disgusted with humanity, including my own.  Do you ever feel this way?  Not thin enough, put together enough, clean enough, curvy enough, tall enough, smooth enough…  I felt so discouraged that I decided to order this book on inter-library loan, hoping it would help me somehow.  I knew I needed soul-help.  I have not yet finished it, but I know God is working with me through it.  It is not one you just voraciously inhale, but one you reflectively process through.  I’m taking a lot of notes, and I love the devotional exercises at the end of each chapter.  Owens takes her time getting to her point in each chapter, so that you often don’t understand where she’s going with it until the end.  But I’m finding I’m okay with that.  I doubt that I would find myself in the same denominational church as the author, but there are things to learn from Christians across the board.  So far I have not had any major bones to pick with her about doctrinal issues.  If you are a lover of spiritual formation, I’m sure you will enjoy this.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Spring 2018)

Think outside the box this spring by reading up on God’s creation– both the supernatural and yourself!

The Unseen Realm, by Michael S. Heiser~ I had questions and lots of them.  Of course I knew the answers are in the Bible, but there are many things I didn’t understand.  It was so frustrating!  Then I heard a Bible scholar interviewed on the Moody program, In the Market with Janet Parshall (which you can listen to for a limited time here).  What he had to say was so informative, interesting, and outside the box that I actually tried calling into the program with a question to ask but couldn’t get through because the lines were lit.  Since that didn’t work, I set about to order his book through the library.  I spent countless hours reading, rereading, and copying two composition notebooks full of reference notes.  Even the footnotes were as fascinating as the rest of the book.  I read it so much I was thoroughly wore out with the thing by the time I reached Chapter 42!  And then I went exploring through his website, blog, articles and podcast because he has even more amazing footnotes.  Is this book about spiritual warfare?  That is what I thought it was before I started reading it, but it is not that exactly.  It is more all-encompassing than that.  I would say it is rather more the story of created, spiritual beings and the world’s history from a biblical perspective from the beginning to the end.  Is it about weird, alternative doctrine?  No, you don’t have to worry about that.  Heiser may not always side with traditional teaching, but he always backs his statements up with rock-solid exegesis and his extraordinary knowledge of Hebrew.  I felt in awe of the creativity and majesty of God while reading his explanations of various bible passages.  There is one area where I would disagree with, and that is over the question of whether the Flood was a local or global catastrophe (I side with global).  Although I’m not sure that he specifically intended this, I sometimes felt like God was portrayed as continually bummed out in His plan to be in relationship with people and kept moving to the next best plan until He finally came up with Plan Z (Jesus Christ).  It didn’t feel in keeping with the truth of God’s omniscience.  However, I admire his goal of taking the academic out of the stuffy halls and bringing it to the ordinary Christian.  I will be on the lookout for more books by him, and hope there will be soon! [*Note: If you have a hard time getting your head around intense bible study, you may prefer Heiser’s easier version of this information in another book called Supernatural.]

It’s Just My Nature!, by Carol Tuttle~  Remember the old Color Me Beautiful style system from way back when?  All you had to do was match certain colors up to the season you were diagnosed with and you were told you’d be magically transformed.  I devoured that book in my teens and have ever since been interested in color analysis and other systems and classification for personal fashion style.  I love the idea of being one’s own unique personality!  Of course, there are the new 12 or 16 color seasons now.  But I stumbled across Carol Tuttle’s website and videos and learned of a different way to look at things.  Instead of matching colors, her system is more 3-D in that it takes into consideration a person’s inherent energy.  The end result is an honoring of not just the person’s appearance, but also of the way they process life.  One of my resolutions this year was to explore this new ‘typology’ to better understand myself.  I’ve never gone through Carol’s Dressing Your Truth program as far as purchasing anything or setting up an appointment in person, but I enjoyed reading her book and watching her videos online for free.  I love seeing the transformations that come about after someone has worked with her!  (After going through the process, I believe I am a Type 2.)  It’s amazing how it really does involve more than just outer looks and delves into a study of the way we approach and think about life.  I loved getting better acquainted with myself and it even broadened my understanding of how I viewed myself in the past.  Although I don’t subscribe to all of what Carol teaches, I believe one could comfortably embrace most of her energy profiling program.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Winter 2017-18)

A new year; what will it bring?  Curiosity, intrigue and surprises are in store for us this winter with these books!

Escape from Colditz, by P. R. Reid ~ This book has long been on my mom’s shelf.  She and I share the same interest in stories of WWII, including POW experiences and especially escape attempts!  I remember the Steve McQueen film The Great Escape was a favorite of mine from around age 8.  So of course this was on my reading list!  The problem was that I was confused because it goes by several different titles, has different editions, sequels, compilations—which do I choose to read?  As it turns out, I wish that I had gone with Reid’s later edition, “Colditz: The Full Story”.  His first history of Colditz was written a mere few years after his experiences and he did not have more details until much later.  I will be getting my hands on that version [as well as several films on it], but yet I can recommend these books by Reid because they make for great reading. Reid appears to keep a light “stiff upper lip” attitude toward his captivity, yet I’m sure things were rougher when suffering the reality.  I originally thought this would be a detailing one large escape attempt, rather like the one from the famous Stalag Luft III (The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill).  Instead, I quickly found it to be a narration of the author’s experiences at the fortress Colditz and the numerous failed and successful escapes made from there.  More like Hogan’s Heroes though much more serious, real, and dangerous.  The prisoners’ innovativeness, and ability to laugh and create entertainment even in a sparse atmosphere was enjoyable to read.  No matter how many avenues were thought of, tried, discovered, foiled and so on, they could always come back with another idea to escape.  Reid said there were basically two types of prisoners—those who succumbed to their imprisonment, and those who could deal with the depression that accompanied it and so put all their energy toward escape plans.  Which one would you be?   

A Curious Faith, by Logan Wolfram ~ I’m still finishing up the last chapters of this book, but it certainly has come to me at the right time.  I’m immediately drawn to any book with the word ‘curious’ in the title (for obvious reasons), but add the topic of Christianity on top of that and I’m all in!  I have been gleaning so much from it and copying out large passages of quotes.  This definitely is a great book to start the new year off right.  Worry, waiting, fear, control, decision making, spiritual dryness, and disappointment are a part of every human’s life.  But in the context of a curious following after God, how do we deal with these everyday things well?  How do we endure and trust with joy and childlike faith?  I think if you have these questions, you will enjoy author Logan Wolfram.  She writes simply yet eloquently.  She has really helped to make has certain Scripture come alive for me.  I can’t wait to finish this and highly recommend it to my sisters (or even brothers) in Christ!   

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 6, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,