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summer readsA couple years ago I was burned out on reading. I was on several launch teams, and constantly picking up the next book I was recommended on business, or self-help. It just wasn’t fun any more. I made a resolution that in 2017 I was going to read 100% for pleasure. No launch teams, no self-help books (unless I REALLY wanted to read them), just reading the next book that caught my eye.

Once I took the pressure off of reading I couldn’t get enough of it. In 2017 I read over 90 books, and in 2018 I have already surpassed 200. If I have down time I am no longer clicking through TV channels, I am picking up my Kindle! I’ve gotten some snarky comments about how do I have so much time to read? There are a lot of factors that go into the total number off books I have read, but the biggest one is that we all MAKE time for the things that are important to us.

Another reason I have been able to plow through so many books is that I am no longer picky about the genre. In 2017 I worked my way through the Historical Fiction ebook section at my library. Some of the books were well-written classics that took me a few days to digest, and some were Harlequin novels I could finish in a couple of hours. My old self would have never deigned to read a low-brow romance novel, but since I have allowed myself the freedom to read anything and everything I am finding that they can be an enjoyable and many actually have very well-developed characters and plots.

My recent reads have looked a bit like “What Not To Read On Kindle Unlimited,” but there have been a few books that really resonated with me.

Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger

Imperfect Courage is part memoir, part self-help book. Jessica Honegger is the founder of The Noonday Collection, which is something like an MLM but they sell fair-trade accessories made by artisans in third-world countries. She tells the story of how her eyes were opened to the plight of those less-fortunate and how that inspired her to build a business based on a global sisterhood. In her own story knowing that real people depended on her showing up and succeeding, and she tells us that in our own story other women are relying on us to come through as well.

I’m not really sure what I expected out of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised but the author’s humor and transparency when talking about everything from mom guilt to to fear. She encourages you to find your passion, then don’t let anything stand in your way of living out that purpose. 

Her thoughts on working moms vs. stay at home moms really resonated with me …

when we compare ourselves to others we create a “she versus me” situation and wind up judging other women for our perceived deficiency instead of celebrating their success.

Whether or not you are familiar with the Noonday Collection I think this is a must-read for women and moms struggling to find their identity and purpose, and an enthusiastic champion for the necessity of global sisterhood.

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

A Piece of the World was a book I picked up on a whim from the library. I wasn’t sure what it was about, but it had been a while since I head read a well-written piece of fiction and this looked promising. This book is about the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting – Christina’s World.

Christina Olson lived in the same house on the Maine coast for her entire life. She was forced to quit school at the age of 12 to help out around the house, she was cruelly abandoned by her first and only love, and a degenerative muscle condition slowly steals her mobility. When a young friend brings her new beau for a visit Christina couldn’t have known that her life would permanently change. Young Andy is a painter, but even more a soulmate to Christina. They forge an unusual friendship and she becomes somewhat of a muse for him. In the end he is able to capture the parts of her that no one else had ever seen or understood on canvas. 

This book painted (pardon the pun) a rich tapestry of the people and experiences that make up a life. Whether you are a fan of Andrew Wyeth’s, or just enjoy a well-written novel you must read this book!

The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

I first discovered Jo Saxton a few years ago through the IF:Gathering. She is a gifted teacher who is able to tackle big, complex issues and strip them down til they hit you right in the feels. I think I applied to be on the launch team for The Dream of You and was rejected, so I pouted a little bit but still added this to my “to read” list because I am such a huge fan of hers. I have finally gotten around to reading this and let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint.

From the first chapter I was highlighting quotes like a crazy person. She talks about how society places unattainable standards on women that make us forget who we really are and who we are supposed to be. And how so many of us lack and real relationship with Jesus and have relegated it to a line item on our to-do list.

We are no longer defined or named by our past. Instead we have been given a new identity.

I’m a little biased because I already loved Jo Saxton, but I think every woman needs to read this book. I felt like she shook me by the shoulders and said, “You don’t have to keep living by the same, tired narrative!”

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen by Lisa Gungor

Most of us have probably heard the Gungor song “Beautiful Things” in church before, but my knowledge about Michael and Lisa Gungor was 1. that they wrote and performed that song and 2. that they had come out with some pretty strong statements that made it seem like they were no longer in the Christian faith. I’m pretty liberal and progressive compared to most of my church-y friends, but even I raised an eyebrow. When I saw that Lisa had not only written a book, but it was published by a Christian publisher, I had to read it.

So, to be honest I picked up The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen out of pure curiosity. It is somewhat of a memoir and retelling of her personal journey from childhood in a charismatic church and a broken home, to meeting her husband who shared her faith and values. They worked in ministry, and even started a church at one point. They both started questioning the status quo of the church today, and eventually wrestled with their faith to the point that her husband Michael stated he no longer believed in God. The pinnacle of their struggles came when Lisa gave birth to their daughter Lucie, only to discover she had Downs Syndrome and major heart problems. 

My first thought on this book is that I can absolutely relate to her struggle and questioning of her faith. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in the God of the Old Testament. It’s hard to go to churches that hate and exclude gay people, or support morally bankrupt politicians from the pulpit. 

It makes me wonder when Jesus talks about the narrow road. This one here feels pretty narrow …

I found this book to be an interesting read, and like I said, I could relate with a lot of her questions. There were several parts of the book that felt a little rambling, and to be frank her current beliefs will probably offend a lot of people. Although I believe somewhere in there her husband circled back around into believing SOMETHING, she now refers to God as “Divine Mother.” She seems to rely heavily on visions for direction. 

While I’m guessing a lot of people will just dismiss this book because it doesn’t reflect their own beliefs, I think it hits on some very important questions. There are A LOT of people searching and questioning, and just dismissing them as wrong isn’t going to solve anything. If you are openminded enough to want to see another perspective, this book is worth a read.

___

Those are a few of the notable titles I have read recently, but I would love to hear what you are reading! Drop me an email or going the conversation on my Instagram!

 

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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.

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