On My Nightstand: January Reading

One of my favorite Jane Austin characters is Elizabeth Bennett. Oh, I can so relate to her! I love the part in Pride and Prejudice where Darcy lists what an accomplished woman looks like and adds at the end: “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

Oh, yes! I couldn’t agree more! I don’t consider myself a great reader, but I do like to read, and I learn so much when I do read.

So here are the books I read in January:

     Half the Church Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Woman by Carolyn Custis James was eye opening, to say the least. Whether you agree with her completely or not, she will make you think. She will challenge your thinking. Her excellent, well- researched writing is refreshing and thought-provoking. This book is a companion, of sorts, to Half the Sky by Kristoff and Dunn which I have not read, but talks about the plight of women worldwide. After reading Half the Church, I understand more than ever that that there are many places around the world where being a woman is dangerous and degrading. I understand that, as a Westerner living in suburban America, I should be concerned about this. I still, however, am left with lots of questions about what to do about it. I realize that it would be impossible to give those answers in a book, but I am left wondering what my response should be. For the moment, I am letting it simmer. But I do know that I will think differently about the plight of women from now on. What that means for me? I’m not yet sure.

As a side note, the It’s a Girl! Documentary Film will be coming out this year. You can see the trailer here. It will break your heart.


Eat That Frog 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy was a motivating read. The title is taken from Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The idea is that if you do whatever you hate most (phone call, laundry, bill paying, etc.) first thing in the morning, you won’t have anything worse to do and it will ignite you to be even more productive the rest of the day. I do find that to be true. When I get something done right off the bat in the morning, I tend to get more done throughout the rest of the day. It’s an easy, stimulating, and helpful read. Though it is primarily a business book, I find that I often benefit more from time management books geared to professionals than I do from ones written to homemakers. Is it because I don’t completely fit into any “home” mold? I don’t know! I learned some things and have put some into action. That’s the point of reading.


The Organized Heart A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos was gifted to me by a friend for Christmas. (Somebody knows me well!) This book is not as much an organizational book as it is a survey of the heart issues behind our often chaotic homes. She addresses five idols of the heart: perfectionism, busyness, possessions, leisure, and difficult circumstances, all of which lead to an unorganized heart. This is a very short book, and like most books, even if it isn’t anything necessarily new, it will remind you of truths and spur you to “keep on.”


A Meal With Jesus Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission Around the Table by Tim Chester is an excellent book on hospitality. If you aren’t currently opening up your home to others, this will hit you between the eyes. If you already are, this will renew your purpose and remind you of the great importance of hospitality. Chester gives Scriptural and current day illustrations of how hospitality is a means to share each aspect of the Gospel with our fellow-man. I came away with renewed purpose to keep opening my home, as well as with some ideas for new ways I can improve.


Practical Theology For Woman How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives by Wendy Horger Alsup is an excellent primer on theology. It’s short and concise, while thoroughly explaining some cardinal doctrines. I heard Wendy speak at our former church’s ladies conference last year and have also followed her blog for some time. She is an outstanding thinker and communicator. I highly recommend her writing.

That’s it for my January reading! Have you read any good books lately? I’m always looking for recommendations! Please leave a comment!

 Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. It does not change anything for you, but if you make a purchase from one of these links I receive a small percentage. I’d appreciate you supporting my new blog.


  1. Totally impressed with how much you read. I got through 1 audio book, and 3/4 of another and 1/4 of another! :) I really want to read the Meal w/ Jesus one. Do you own that or was it on your Kindle? Thanks for the summaries and the inspiriation. If a mother of a preschooler, toddler, and infant can do it……

  2. LOVE your site, Johanna! I’ll be adding you to my reader! :)

  3. elva farrell says:

    Another great post!! I wish I could say that I had read that many books last month. Thank you for th reviews. It is so helpful when looking for good books to read.

  4. Loving your new blog, Johanna!

    I am behind in my reviews so haven’t posted my January reading. :) Will probably combine Jan and Feb. We’ll see.

    I started “A Meal with Jesus” on my phone’s Kindle app. Really enjoying it so far. This book and others are helping me see the community aspect of the church that is often neglected. Going to add the other 2 I haven’t read to my list. Thanks for the reviews!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Keren. Looking forward to your reading list, but I already have several on my list based on what you’ve read.
      Yes, community is SO important. That is something that Brian and I have grown so much in our understanding of. Our former church was particularly helpful in that!

      • Really trying not to comment on everything! But I was intrigued about A Meal with Jesus (open in Amazon now) since our church is really growing (spiritually, not necessarily numerically) in our gospel community emphasis. So just curious if either of you have read Total Church. Andy’s read some of it to me, and we’ve listened to some sessions with the author. Ha, I just realized that AMwJ’s author is one of the co-author’s of TC–whoops! Another good reason for us to check out this new recommendation. Thanks!


  1. […] I recently read A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester that gave a helpful view of hospitality. You can read my short summary here. […]

  2. […] was a very interesting read. This was not a quick motivational book like Eat the Frog that I read last month. This was nearly 250 pages of fascinating case studies and observations on productivity and how […]

  3. […] his book, Eat That Frog, Tracy recommends that even if you are in a job or are someone that has a constant barrage of […]

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