- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile – For my first of 2019 I finished this wonderful introduction to the Enneagram. It is filled with practical lists, anecdotes and steps for transformation.
The true purpose of the Enneagram is to reveal to you your shadow side and offer spiritual counsel on how to open it to the transformative light of grace.
Information is not transformation.
Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
We most delight and reflect the glory of God when we discover and reclaim our God-given identity, with which we lost connection shortly after our arrival in this fallen world.
2. Still Life by Louise Penny – After hearing so many raving reviews about this series I decided to give it a chance even though I rarely read mysteries. It did not disappoint! The characters were rich, the descriptions of food were marvelous and I was surprised at who did it in the end! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.
We choose our thoughts. We choose our perceptions. We choose our attitudes. We may not think so. We may not believe it, but we do. I absolutely know we do. I’ve seen enough evidence, time after time, tragedy after tragedy. Triumph after triumph. It’s about choice….Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It’s as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. So when I’m observing, that’s what I’m watching for. The choices people make.
3. The Home Place by Carrie Le Seur – I picked this up at our local bookstore. It was fun to read a book that takes place where I grew up. I was surprised by the ending. It reminded me of a Hallmark movie but with a very dark twist of the depravity of a broken family.
There’s a pain in her stomach that hasn’t gone away for days. Montana has drawn her close to whisper in her ear that evil exists, even in places of great beauty. Even in the people you love. But evil is not the end of the story. Her arm is tight around her big brother and the land rolls out beneath them. The home place rises solid beside them…
4. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny – Book #2 I am really enjoying this series and love that not only is there a story line that is complete in the one book, there is also an overarching story that continues across books in the series.
Clara saw good. Which was itself pretty scary. So much more comforting to see bad in others; gives us all sorts of excuses for our own bad behavior. But good? No, only really remarkable people see the good in others.
5. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny – Book #3
He had a lot to ponder and he knew that everything is solved by walking.
6. Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty and Peace by Christie Purifoy – This is a lovely book telling the story of the places Christie has lived with connections to the trees that were in those places. She is an amazing story teller weaving together her appreciation of the natural world, stories from the Bible and her own personal story. It is such an encouragement and an education all rolled up into a beautiful book.
Sometimes, placemakers make new. Build fresh. Start from scratch. But most of the time, they repair. They restore. They protect. Sometimes, placemaking is nothing more than the refusal to unmake.
7. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny – Book #4
To live in chaos was to live in a prison. Order freed the mind for other things.
8. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny – Book #5 This series keeps getting better and better. This is the best story yet.
Which was why, Gamache knew, it was vital to be aware of actions in the present. Because the present became the past, and the past grew. And got up, and followed you. And found you.
9. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — I read this in one day (while I was sick). I loved how it explored the idea of how important positive human interaction is in our lives. Yes we can live and survive on our own but we don’t really come to life without community of some sort and we can get to some pretty dark places when left on our own.
If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.
10. The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman – I absolutely loved this collection of essays, prayers and practices to help you discern your next right thing. It is so practical and filled with grace and love. I highly recommend it!
This is a mini version of our decision-making practice: create space, name the unnamed things, and do the next right thing.
11. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny Book #6 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series
The wiry, self-contained man stared at him for a few seconds then invited him to sit and told him the four sentences that lead to wisdom…
I’m sorry. I was wrong. I need help. I don’t knowHe’d never forgotten them and when he took over as Chief Inspector, Gamache passed them on to each and every one of his agents.
12. Normal People by Sally Rooney – I did not enjoy this one.
13. Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith – This is a wonderful, fun, clean and romantic summer read! I desperately want to go for a long train ride now!
14. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This was a fun method of storytelling! The story is told interview style, like you are watching a VH1 program on a band from the 60s & 70s. It has all the things you would expect from that time period. It’s a perfect summer read. My favorite was the theme of forgiveness. I absolutely loved the character of Camila and the example she is.
I had hurt Camila. God knows I had. But loving somebody isn’t perfection and good times and laughing and making love. Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You have to be with someone that deserves your faith and you have to be deserving of someone else’s. It’s sacred.
15. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – This book is a classic for a reason! It made me think of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder except that it was written about living in Brooklyn instead of the wild frontier. I absolutely loved the mother’s advice for educating her children.
The secret lies in the reading and the writing. You are able to read. Every day you must read one page from some good book to your child. Every day this must be until the child learns to read. Then she must read every day, I know this is the secret.
There are two great books. Shakespeare is a great book. I have heard tell that all the wonder of life is in that book; all that man has learned of beauty, all that he may know of wisdom and living are on those pages.
And what is the other great book?
It is the Bible that the Protestant people read.
And you must tell the child the legends I told you — as my mother told them to me and her mother to her. You must tell the fairy tales of the old country.
16. The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra) Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You by Lisa-Jo Baker – I was blessed to be selected for the launch team for this wonderful book! Do you need a cheerleader in these middle years of life? Than Lisa-Jo has written just for you! Lisa-Jo is right there in the middle along with us as middle aged women trying to juggle family, home, work and our own desires. She isn’t afraid to speak right into the struggles that are facing so many of us from our bodies, to our marriages, parenting, our homes, our failures, sports, friendship and faith. She teaches us to savor this time in our lives and to find the good in our ordinary days. Through laughter and tears Lisa-Jo touched my heart and helped me renew my perspective in my everyday life. I highly recommend this!
This is what we mothers do for each other—we offer our own failures as proof that our sisters and daughters, our nieces and grands, will make it through the perilous journey of mothering too….This is the antidote to the loneliness of motherhood and the lie that we have failed. This willingness to give other mothers our true stories, especially the ones that don’t always have happy endings.
17. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum — I absolutely loved this YA novel about teenagers dealing with grief, big life changes, family and love. (And the main character gets a job at the local bookstore!)
In the Venn diagram of my life, my imagined personality and my real personality have never converged. Over email and text, though, I am given those few additional beats I need to be the better, edited version of myself. To be that girl in the glorious intersection.
18. The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay — This latest release from Katherine Reay was my favorite book by her yet! I loved this tale of 3 women and a bookshop. It’s filled with so many book references (and she even gives you a compiled list at the end of the book!) Telling the story from all 3 points of view is my favorite with themes of forgiveness, love and honesty. One of my favorites so far this year!
19. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey — This was a fun book if you enjoy rom-coms. Very predictable and I wasn’t very fond of the main characters although the support cast included a couple of great characters. Made me want to watch all my favorite rom-coms.
20. I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott — I really enjoyed these essays from a woman in the middle years. It made me feel less alone even though our lives are different she gave voice to many feelings I have had these last couple of years.
I miss you when I blink. I have felt it so many times in my life, at points where I didn’t know who I was anymore, where I felt that when I closed my eyes, I could feel myself gone.
21. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
22. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
23. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
24. The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
25. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
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