books of the month: reading for dreamers and kids-at-heart

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Can I just say how wonderful the convenience of a Kindle is? I mean, I've had them for years, but I don't think I've ever appreciated digital books as much as I do living overseas. Not only is it easier than acquiring the hard copy, but I read three of the books on this list for free because of my Amazon Prime membership. This was a short month, but I still managed to pack it full of reading - in fact, even more than last month! I really loved most of what I read, which was a mix of inspiration, solid business advice, and parenting insight, with a little young adult fiction thrown in to lighten the mood...


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jin Sincero

Josh bought this book for me, as he had heard it recommended by several people and thought I would like it. I guess if you have low self-esteem and/or are new to this whole following your passion thing, you *might* like this book. For me, it was just too much and too little. I found the author's voice to be annoying, and the book repetitive and shallow. She seems to assume that the reader was incredibly self-deprecating, which is just not my thing. I'm guessing in an effort to be amusing or clever, she continuously flip-flopped on her choice of terms for certain things throughout the book (for example, The Universe, God, Source Energy, and Higher Power all used to refer to one spiritual guidance), which just seemed insincere and left me feeling disconnected. Since he hasn't read it himself, I guess I won't hold it against the hubby that this one was a bust... it's the thought that counts right?


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This has literally been on my reading list basically since I started my photography business over six years ago... how does that even happen that it takes a person that long to get around to reading something? There's a reason that nearly every entrepreneur you talk to will tell you they've read this book. It's a treasure trove of sound business advice - basically defining the "secret sauce" of every successful person in history. What's even more amazing is that it was published in 1937 and is still relevant over 80 years later. I'll admit that it's a bit of an exhausting read due to the intensity, but I highly recommend it to any fellow entrepreneur out there. Here's one of my favorite takeaways...

"Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the 'time to be right' to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."

Good. Stuff.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I realize that I'm about 15+ years late to the party on this one, but after all that nonfiction and the intensity of the previous book, I needed some easy reading that I could get lost in. Since the Harry Potter books are free to read with my Amazon Prime membership, I thought I'd give 'em a go. I'm not exactly certain why I never got into them as a teen... I'm guessing it had something to do with the period from about 14 to 21 where I only read what was required of me in school. Even at 30 and having seen at least half the movies, these books are completely worthy of the hype. 


A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman

Because she's also from the Triad area of North Carolina and because the synopsis caught my interest, I bought this one and dove in. Long story short, it's about embracing your art and gifting the world your talent - whether that is painting or writing or teaching or cooking or mothering or building. You get the point - your "art" doesn't necessarily have to be art, as long as it makes you come alive. I've read sooo many of these types of books (and she frequently references one of my favorites, The War of Art), but I still thought this one was great. Her voice is unique, and the message inspiring. She also has a great blog, if you're into that. This... this spoke to my soul, y'all...

"You are the beloved. So be the loved. Receive your belovedness and then hand it out, receive grace and be gracious to others, remember you image-bearing identity and move into the world with a job to do. Show up as you are with what you've been given. And don't allow the voice of doubt and discouragement to hold you back."


The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

After having checked out the French philosophy on parenting, I decided to move on to the Danes. Much like Bringing Up Bebe, it's written from the perspective of an American who finds herself suddenly submerged in this new culture. This was a really quick and simple read (a must for busy parents), and I found it interesting that we already seem to follow many of the Danish parenting "philosophies." It was a good reminder of the positive effects of teaching kids an overall "glass half full" way of thinking, while being realistic, open, and honest with them. I'm still not sure I subscribe to the full-on "hygge" culture of long, dedicated periods of time of extreme togetherness (as I think many Americans would agree), but overall, I think I can get on board with the happiest people on earth.

So, that's it! What about you? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think? What are you reading now? I've almost finished everything that I've already got on my Kindle, and I'm looking for something new!

books of the month: inspiring reads for moms

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If you checked out my post about goal setting for the year, you know that one of my main aims was to take care of myself, and for me, part of that included finding a way to read more. In case you didn't know, finding spare minutes to read with a toddler running around is not exactly easy, BUT I carved out the space and read FOUR WHOLE BOOKS last month. That's literally more than I read in the whole last year!

Miles likes for me to stay in the room as he settles down in his crib for a nap, so I decided to use that time to quietly sit in a chair by the window and peruse the pages. I thought it'd be fun to do a little book review with my own little 4-star scale, so here are my thoughts...


* * * * This book has been recommended to me so many times, and to be honest, I've put off reading it for two years. I was pretty against reading any parenting books while I was pregnant and during Miles's first year for fear of developing pre-conceived notions of the way things were gonna be (and because what new parent has time for that?!), but this book really is worth the time. It reads less like a "this is how you should raise your kids or else" and more like a memoir of an American raising children in France. Plus, it really does provide some good insight into parenting and reveal how crazy the American way can be at times. I've already implemented the French idea of feeding Miles in courses and not letting him snack all the live long day, and it has been life changing!


* * * I had actually started this a few months ago, but in the midst of travel and toddlerhood, I didn't make it past the first section. I've followed Emily Ley for years (since attending Making Things Happen back in 2012), and it was so fun to see her story in the pages of this GORGEOUS book. Very lighthearted yet inspiring without being overly self-helpy. <--- That's totally a word. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of parenting, work, or the need to live a Pinterest perfect life, this one will lift you up and give you some simple tools to get back to what matters. A beautiful, meaningful gift item for a mama, friend, or teacher.


* * My dad had sent this over with my mom when she visited, and since I'm a fan of Fixer Upper, I was looking forward to reading it. At first, I didn't love the way the book was written with the back and forth dialogue between Chip and Jo, but after awhile, I got used to it. This one is a quick and easy read, but it didn't change my life or anything and was only mildly entertaining (thus the two stars). That said, it is inspiring to see their whole story from humble beginnings to a TV show.


* * * * This was by far my favorite book that I read last month. Another of my goals for this year is to be more present with my family. I find it so easy to get sucked in to my iPhone or the computer, and avoiding them some days can seem like breaking an addiction. I've been trying to break out of the habit of spending time on #allthethings when he's around, and this book was just the kick in the seat I needed. The author's own experience reiterates what we miss out on when we go through life distracted and "busy" and drives home the whole "live in the now" mantra. A great read for any parent in this "go go go" world we're living in now.

So there you have it... more to come at the end of this month as I'm already halfway through book two for February!

What are you reading right now? I'd love to hear your recommendations!