My reading tends to fall into seasons. Not so much the calendar seasons, but certain weather calls for certain books.
In the summer, I need fiction. Chick lit, murder mysteries, good storytelling–things that make me stay up late and can hold my attention for hours at the pool. I do not need to be challenged or grow from the books I read in the summer, they are for entertainment purposes only.
Maybe it’s because I will forever be conditioned to think of the end of summer and fall as a time for learning, but right now, I’m all about growing and healing and thinking. My current to-read stack is Love Over Fear by Dan White Jr., Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (a re-read for me), Addiction and Grace by Gerald G. May, MD, Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (a book I’ve skimmed but never read all the way through), and Not Quite Healed by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe. I’ve got some fiction sprinkled in for book clubs and I’m listening to some non-fiction audiobooks, but I’m ready to buckle down and learn as the weather (hopefully) cools off.
Do you have seasons for reading?
I don’t have a rhythm for encouraging books, but I know when I need them. After I read a heavy book or when things in real life feel extra challenging, I can search out books that will soothe my soul and quiet my heart. Maybe you need that right now?
These books are ones I run to when I need hope, freedom, and lightness:
Embracing Weakness: The Unlikely Secret to Changing the World
By Shannon K. Evans
I like this one because it’s short and helpful. I don’t know if it’s just the Enneagram Eight in me, but I need the reminders that weakness isn’t an ugly word. There is a lot of beauty that can actually come from the weak pieces of us, and Evans reminds us that there is power in our weakness if we are followers of Jesus.
The Next Right Thing podcast
Okay, this is a podcast, but there’s a book too so I’m not cheating. I haven’t read the book (it’s on my Christmas list, if you’ve started shopping already…), but the podcast which inspired the book is so good I’m recommending it without reading it. Emily P. Freeman is thoughtful and wise. She doesn’t give you answers, but invites you into the questions so you can, on your own, find the way. There’s almost a therapy-level quiet and safety in her podcasts. Her voice is soothing and her stories always jar something in my heart. If you’re not buying any books this year and the library doesn’t have any of the ones I’m suggesting, just subscribe to this podcast for free and start exploring the archives (a new episode comes out most Mondays). I hope this will be encouraging for your heart.
If you are buying books right now, get this one and let me know how it feels: The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Decisions by Emily P. Freeman)
Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Unhappy People
By Bob Goff
Goff is a pleasure to read. His view of this world and life is so joy-filled that you can’t help but want what he has. (He has Jesus, but also an extra spark of something I can’t put my finger on.) I read Bob Goff when I want to remember what open arms can do. Not just because it’s fun, but because it points people to Jesus. His stories are unbelievable and exciting and push me outside my comfort zone in the nicest way possible.
Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
By Anne Lamott
Often God doesn’t change my circumstances when I ask, He changes my heart. A lot of these books do that for me, but especially Small Victories by Anne Lamott. Beside her ability to craft a good sentence and a great story, I enjoy her reminders about how much grace is all around us if we just pay attention.
Let Me Feed You: Everyday Recipes Offering the Comfort of Home
By Rosie Daykin
Sometimes my heart needs quieted in the kitchen. Let Me Feed You is full of recipes that feel comfortable. I don’t like fussy recipes, things that require me to buy things I’ll never use again. I like cookbooks full of ingredients I normally have and with food my family will actually eat. Pretty pictures do not mean a successful dinner. But this one does it all: gorgeous photos and food the Graham girls devour. I like to borrow cookbooks from the library to try a few recipes before spending the money on them. This one passed the library test and I can’t wait to give it a home on my kitchen shelf. Sometimes what your soul needs is a messy kitchen with something warm in the oven and this book is perfect for that.
Simple Living for a Frantic World
By Brooke MCAlary
When things feel too loud in the world, I walk around my house and make a pile of things to donate to Goodwill. I can’t control the chaotic things outside my front door, but I can make sure my home doesn’t reflect it. I know this isn’t what everyone does, but when I feel extra twisty inside, I turn that energy outward to making my home more cozy. Simple Living for a Frantic World is about that task, about making our lives less full so we don’t get consumed by the world’s pace and energy. This book talks about schedules, boundaries, home, and creating a life we don’t want to escape from. I know what to do to make this happen, but I still enjoy hearing other people’s stories of real life balancing.
Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff
By Myquillyn Smith
One way I balance the world’s pace is by making home a soft place to land. We’re not home as much as I would like in the fall, but when we do stumble through the back door, you better believe it feels cozy. Cozy Minimalist Home isn’t about stripping the house bare, but quieting rooms so they feel like rest when you’re in them. I grabbed this book as soon as it was released and spent the next two weeks walking around my house taking things off of walls, shelves, and surfaces. Less stuff out meant less stuff to manage. Then I let it sit to see if I missed what I had taken away. Spoiler: I didn’t. And my rooms felt like they could breathe, like there was more space to live. If you’re in a season that feels full and overwhelming, this book will help you quiet your home so you can regain some balance.
Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Living
By Shauna Niequist
Do you have a book you return to when you don’t know what to read? Or when you need a reset? Cold Tangerines is that for me. I’ve read this book countless times in the 10+ years I’ve had it. For me, it opened my eyes to a style of writing and storytelling I didn’t know people were allowed to do. I bought this at a bookstore on a college campus in Louisville, Kentucky right after Chris and I were married. I devoured it. It became a way for me to center myself, remind myself why words matter, and how good words can connect us to others. This is probably not Niequist’s best writing. It is her first published collection of essays and she’s grown and evolved a lot since then, but I still love this book more than the others because of who I was when I discovered it. (Also, if I let you borrow this, please kindly return it. I miss it.)
Do you have a favorite good-for-your-soul book? Do you have seasons for reading different genres? Tell me all your book thoughts please.
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