I read a lot this month (see my last post)! We didn’t do any school so I had a lot more margin than usual, and that was really nice. The baby also transitioned into napping on a more regular schedule *yay* so I was really feeling that extra breathing room!
Sadly, none of the relaxing Christmas-y novels I tried worked out. I always imagine myself getting lost in some kind of feel-good or classic by the fireplace, but well, I’m a non fiction junkie, even at the holidays. 😉 Here’s the best of what I read in December:
I wish I could have liked this book more than I did! First, I didn’t realize I was starting out in the middle of a trilogy, but the book was highly recommended by a book reviewer and writer that I love, so I got it. Elizabeth Goudge is so fondly spoken of as a classic Christian fiction author that I forced myself to finish the book so I could make sure I wasn’t missing anything! (Even though I have started and abandoned two of her other books!) It as slow-going at first, but picked up quite a bit about halfway through. Still, not quite enough for me to be motivated to read it for leisure. While I loved the themes of family, place, and fidelity, the book had a little too much poetry and symbolism for my taste. Lengthy, complex sentences and poetic quotes are the first way to lose me as a reader. If I was a lover of poetry and metaphor, I might have liked the book a lot better. Alas, I am a to-the-point girl. The ending was satisfying and the themes were on point, but I don’t see myself reading any of the other books in the trilogy.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You
You guys know by now that I’m a big fan of Cal Newport and I have to say, even more so after reading this book! (I blogged about his book Digital Minimalism recently). The book addresses the myth of “follow you passion to the work you love.” First, he blows apart what he calls the “passion” myth. Then, using case studies, he builds a code for exactly how it is that real people end up finding success in their career and loving the work they do. He argues (and proves) that in the real world, skill trumps passion every time. (Spoiler alert: no one is ever really an “overnight success.”) It really put some puzzle pieces together for us and helped us pin-point our next steps for our business. This will definitely be required reading for my girls as they start to think about a career!
This book was recommended to me by our realtor in passing one day, and it could not have come to us at a better time. It presents the idea that all failed startups have products; what they don’t have are customers! It encourages founders to give equal effort to marketing as to product development. But it doesn’t leave you there; the author provides and detailed plan for creating a marketing strategy for your startup. Then he outlines nineteen types of marketing channels and tells how to use them effectively. I first borrowed it from the library, but ended up buying a copy for our personal library because I know I’ll want to refer to it again! I would recommend reading it alongside The Lean Startup, as there are many intersecting ideas!
A Framework For Understanding Poverty
My dad who is a public school teacher (elementary special education) recommended this book to me. He sometimes works children from impoverished homes and found this book really helpful. (It is written for public sector workers). My mom also works as a coach with an organization that helps people get out of poverty and into the middle class. This was required reading for her at her job, so they both told me I needed to read it! I read it in one day; it was so fascinating that I could not put it down! First of all, the author laid out from the get-go that the concept of poverty is a relative one. (She did not touch on race but strictly addressed differences in economic class.) The author talked about the “hidden rules”, value systems and behaviors of each class (poor, middle and wealthy). She gave a lot of recommendations to her readers (public sector workers) on things they could do to help as they encounter members of the poor class in their work. Due to the niche audience it was written for, some of the book wasn’t relevant to me, but as a privileged member of the middle class, it was incredibly eye-opening.
Watch for The Light
If you’re looking for an Advent devotional to read in December next year, this is the one. It is a collection of writings and sermons on the Advent from mystics and deep thinkers like Bonhoeffer, Lewsi and Eckhart. On my first reading (last year), I struggled through many of the deeper more mystical selections. This year I was surprised and happy that I found them easier to grasp upon a second reading. There are some that were so impactful they keep coming back to my mind to ponder even though the book is tucked away on my shelf again for next December.
Well, friends, I am now deep into January reading and the stack is both teetering on my nightstand and crammed into baskets in various nooks in my house (enneagram 5 problems!) I’m on a book binge and I can’t wait to cull through share some more gems with you in a few weeks. Happy reading!