Book List

Let me start by saying, I did not become a "reader" until my sophomore year of college.  And by "reader" I mean someone who actually enjoyed reading.  I was always that girl who would read if she had too, but not interested in going out and finding fat books with a bunch of words.  Then, in college I was given the book,  Jemima J by Jane Green and was astonished to discover that people wrote books that were funny and interesting.  Literally, I was like, whaaat?  I don't know how it happened (um, wth teachers?) but I apparently had no idea that you could read books that were about things you found interesting.

After Jemima J, I was hooked and started reading like I was a woman of the desert that just discovered an oasis out of nowhere.  As a side note, I still love Jane Green as an author; I think she is so light and fresh and my go-to-girl for easy reading; like at the beach, or on a long train ride.  

Following is a list of what I'm currently reading and some other books that have filled me up with happiness, inspiration, hope, and intrigue.

Reading for a good story & beautiful writing:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (P.S.) by Betty Smith.
Good Lord, do I love this book.  I love it so much it is framed open to one of my favorite pages in my dining room.  There are so many beautiful quotations and the story overall is enough to make you feel like you just might be able to fly.  The stories from days gone by also remind me of listening to my grandma and her similar stories growing up in that era (or maybe the era after that, but it has the same feeling for me).

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
I have read this book three times in my short life of 27 years and loved it more each time.  It is the perfect length of a quick read when I need my spirit uplifted and reminded that I am part of a bigger world.  I absolutely love the idea of the universal language and listening to the omens of the Earth.  Please, that is right up my alley, don't even get me started.  (sidenote:  in general, I just love Paulo Coelho...also love The Witch of Portobello)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
love it.  Love every page of this fat book.  The first time I read it, it took me about 1/3 of the way to even get what the h was going on, then it clicked and I fell head over heels in love with this story.  Then I read it a second time and impossibly loved it even more.  The movie does it no justice (does any movie based off a book ever?) I cannot get over the fact that some writers are able to make stories from thin air.  How on Earth do you come up with such an original story idea that is so beautifully written that you beg for it to be true.  Going back for thirds, no doubt.

Honorable Mentions:
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
What is the What by Dave Eggers
The Glass Castle, A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Reading to open your brain and soul:

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
If this book doesn't make you want to do something marvelous, you are a cold robot.  The amount of persistence that Mortenson demonstrates towards his goal that literally at times I was yelling at the book, "Goodness man, give up already.  It ain't gonna happen" is worth some kind of medal.  Most inspiring to me is the fact that he has redirected the lives of thousands of young people in the Middle East; literally there are people that could point to him and say that he had single-handedly changed the course of their life for the better.  a.may.zang.  To have a dream and go forward with it with your entire heart and soul is the truest form of success.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
I'm not crazy about non-fiction, but I am always finding myself referring to this book or remembering some interesting facts from it.  It is well written and super interesting to learn about the theory.  It's one of those books that stays in your mind long after you've read it

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
Oh, to be able to do what she did and soak up all of that experience fills me with so much hope and a little jealousl.  I love how she writes and how she infuses real history and information about the countries seamlessly into her ramblings about her own experiences.  ahhh, refresh my soul, Liz.

Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke
I revisit this book at least once a year...and my copy is beat.up.  for real, beat up.  The coverlet is missing, Bullet has eaten a corner of the hardback and Greyson tore out the first few pages; but I refuse to let it go.  This book is an uplifting step by step of your whole house (and your mind) to declutter, organize, and get rid of all the junk (physical and emotional) stuff that is holding you back.  She infuses your own personal clearing out journey with inspirational tips from people in her life.  Inside of my heart forever will be the man who lost his house and his belongings in a fire who said "...I could actually create new criteria for what was important in my life..a year from now...I want to be able to say I would have chosen this fire."  I wish Gail and I were real friends.

The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference by Jodi Helmer
Most user-friendly 'going green' book we own.  Easy to flip through the pages or go through it calendar-style as its intended.  This book has helped us make changes in the way we do things around here that have helped our family be more green.  Changes like using powdered laundry detergent instead of easy is that?!

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
Although the idea of a dedicating an entire year to making changes to be more happy seems slightly overwhelming - I was truly inspired by various sections of this book.  Because of reading this book, I made some real changes to the way I do things - for example; I realized that when I feel lonely it has almost nothing to do with my husband and everything to do with the lack of time I'm spending with other women; I got the final push to finish my family yearbooks so as to be a treasure keeper for the family, and I reached out to groups of people in my life by interests to set up meetings and get togethers.  This book gave me concrete ideas to instill more happiness into my already happy life.

My personal picks for parenting help*
*this is tricky because everyone has their own thoughts on parenting.  Its fine if you don't agree with mine, but if you are actually interested in the books that I have found insightful for helping to raise my family the way that I believe will be the best for them, here's my list.  (If you don't agree, I don't really want to hear about it, thank you.)  Most of my parenting comes from the values that my husband and I have inside of our hearts (that were planted there by our own parents and family upbringings).  But occasionally, when we have questions or feel the need to seek out "expert" advice, we turn to these books.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashely Merryman
As a momma (and former teacher) I gobbled this book up in a matter of days.   Its one that I've already quoted in my normal conversations about parenting.  The discussions on language acquisition, and the importance of sleep were among my favorites.  I would suggest this book to all parents, grandparents, and teachers.  Kind of obsessed with it.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon & Michael Thompson
This book has offered insight into the reasons why there is a trend in growing boys and men to withhold their emotions and feelings.  My husband and I have talked about it his own issues with showing emotion many times and how it effects our marriage and his relationship with other people in his life.  We are both learning from this book; him to understand about his own emotional capacity and me to understand and be flexible with my expectations about the emotional range of the various men in my life (my son included).

The Complete Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali
warning:  This book is h.u.g.e as it Napthali's three books combined into one.  I am not a practicing Buddhist, but I do find I have a great tendency to lean towards Buddhist principles about finding calmness inside of oneself.  In my wild life as a mother that consists of constant sticky hands and pots banging and whining - this book has offered me reminders again and again about how no matter how crazy things may be around me, if I can find a place of peace within myself, I will have the strength to take a breath and march on.  This calmness will reflect on towards my children and my family and hopefully instead of yelling and battles, we'll be able to listen to each other with understanding and patience.

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam
When it came to bringing home a new baby, my husband and I decided to go with the Babywise method and it worked for us with amazing success.  Its not for everyone, we understand, but it worked for us and our son was sleeping through the night (in his own bed) after 4 months.  Our naptimes were always on schedule (and he's still napping from 1-3p everyday at 21 months) and he falls asleep on his own (which means when we put him down for his nap or bedtime, we leave him while he's awake).  Not only has this method allowed our family to have scheduled days (which has been extremely important for a Work from Home Mom), but our child(ren) get enough sleep each day & night to allow for their waketime to be enjoyed with smiles and playtime.

To wrap 'er up:  do you know about Paperback Swap?  I stumbled upon this awesome website about a year ago and have been an avid promoter ever since.  It is a community of rabid readers (heh) that agrees to swap books back and forth for the cost of postage.  So, if you're like me and have an inordinate amount of books scattered around your house while you're husband gives you glaring looks occasionally when considering how much you have spent on these mountains of books...then you need to check out Paperback Swap.  It will get your book collection down to something manageable (surely you aren't going to re-read every book you have - post those ones!) and will get you "free" books in the process.  Seriously, just check it out - you won't be sorry.