On My Nightstand: April-June

It has been awhile since I have given you an update on my reading. I actually finished up several books on vacation, and I realized I had better get up to date before I share those in my July reading post. Here is the list of what I read in April, May, and June. I think I will stick to monthly updates from now on because this is kind of long.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. I wrote an overview of the book here.

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross is an excellent book. When my friend Keren posted about this book I knew this was one I wanted to read. We have made some conscious decisions in our family to simplify our children’s lives. Toys, clothes, and schedules are all things we have taken into consideration. I found this book to be very confirming of the choices we made, and also gave me some new ideas of things I could do. His thoughts on how our culture’s push of “too much, too fast, too soon,” is hurting our children are worth reading. This is a very practical, how-to book.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. Read my post on the effect of culture on parenting.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life by Laura Vanderkam. This short ebook will inspire you to use the early morning hours that nobody else wants to achieve your goals.

Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging by Rachel Meeks. This was a basic guide, but I found quite a few helpful tips for blogging.

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme. I found it very intriguing to read about what Paris was like just post WWII. I also determined (yet again!) that I am not a cook. While I was fascinated with how she worked tirelessly to perfect each recipe, I can’t imagine loving cooking that much. I loved how she approached living in a different culture with such enthusiasm. A fun, interesting read about someone who is an icon of French cuisine in America.

Building a Life out of Words by Shawn Smucker is another short ebook that I got for free. I found his journey of leaving a steady paying job to become a writer something I could relate to. While we are in Seminary, not pursuing a writing career, I could relate to the ups and downs of choosing a life (and therefore an irregular income) that is counter-culture. I also found in intriguing at how a writer thinks about his work.

All The Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending by Laura Vanderkam. Normally when I read a money book I come away trying to find more ways that I can scrimp and save. This was a much more positive view and I came away looking for ways that I can use the money I have in a meaningful way. Read my thoughts on Money, Happiness, and the Christian.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book came recommended to me by several friends. Initially I had trouble reading it. While I know the writer was careful and could have made it much darker, I don’t like anything that comes close to dark. I am kind of sensitive about things like that.  However, like a good writer, he completely pulled me into the book. As a novel it is excellently written. More importantly, though, I was given a small peek of what life is like in Afghanistan. Though written as a novel, the story has many auto-biographical elements. It is about a 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan. I will never again hear news about Afghanistan and the Taliban without thinking about real moms, dads, and little boys and girls. These are real people in the news. I am grateful I read it.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan.This was another book that I got free on my kindle awhile back. I am thankful, because I don’t think I would have read it otherwise. It was an excellent reminder that our lives are meant to be lived fully for God. Chan observes that too many Christians are living their Christian lives very “safely,” and hardly distinguishable from non-believers except for going to Church on Sundays. My least favorite chapter was the one of examples. I am sure that for some the examples would be helpful, but I found them to be distracting from the overall message. The rest of the book was full of scripture and when the Bible speaks directly to us it is far better than any human example.

What have you been reading lately? Any good reads I should add to my list?

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  1. Anna Day says:

    I recently picked up a quick read entitled “A Meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester. I highly recommend it as it makes you think about the importance of meals in life, community and ministry. Tim Chester is masterful in his handling and application of Scripture and I think its an important topic to be thoughtful about as its such a regular part of our days.

  2. Andrea Cavanaugh says:

    I agree about The Kite Runner — I ended up really liking that book, even though it was a hard read. I also loved the author’s other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I ended up liking that book even more than The Kite Runner. The books are heartbreaking and beautifully written, and I think that is the reason they stay with the reader. I agree that I rarely hear about Afghanistan now without thinking of those books. I was struck while reading ATSS that though the author was writing about two female characters, the story was ultimately a “poem” written to his homeland, to express his sorrow over the destruction of the land he loves.

  3. I have seen that morning book as well as the French parenting book, and both have piqued my interest. Everyone has to quit recommending books, because my “to-read” list is getting huge.=)

  4. I’ve been reading Chasing Mona Lisa, which I got free on Amazon for my Kindle. It’s a fictional novel about Nazi-controlled France during World War II. I don’t know how much is based on fact :) I haven’t finished it, but so far I’d say it’s okay. Not great.

    Other than that I’ve just been reading Philippians over and over because I need the daily encouragement (new baby, nursing all the time, etc.), and Psalms. Thanks for your suggestions and reviews!

    • Johanna says:

      I know exactly how you feel, Amanda! So thankful for the encouragement of Scripture in those tiring days right after a baby. You’re job right now is to just enjoy that baby. :)

  5. Oooo, I’ll have to check out Simplicity Parenting. I think I’ve seen it advertised somewhere (?) – this sounds right up my alley!

    • Forgot to add…
      100 Mile Diet (just posted on this and just watched it on DVDs – very intriguing.)
      Finishing up Respectable Sins by J. Bridges.
      Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman.
      Just finished Calm My Anxious Heart (Bible study) by Linda Dillow.
      Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus is a cute, easy read.
      Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Love it) with Darcy at messageinamasonjar.
      Kisses from Katie on my list next … And some others!!

      • Johanna says:

        That’s a great list! I’ll have to look into some of those! (And I highly recommend Simplicity Parenting–I think you would like it!)

      • I am about to buy that Linda Dillow book. How was it?

        • It was really good. I know it’s been popular for quite some time now. I used it in a starter Bible study to 1) get to know the women better with a more novel-ish type book that relates to all ages and stages and 2) to get a feel for how much time these ladies would have, or set aside, for a study for future reference. A definite valuable read.

  6. I am definitely going to have to move up “All the Money in the World” on my list. I was just checking out “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” and saw it is pretty inexpensive via Amazon Kindle or Audible. So, I think I’ll read that soon, too. (My husband does a lot before breakfast. ;))

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