Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Books! Books! Books!

It turns out that making a reading list for myself for 2013 might be one of the best ideas ever!  I've read five books in a month--a reading rate that I haven't enjoyed in ages.
Three of the books I read were on my original list, while two were other titles that I picked up from my bookshelves as they caught my attention.  Here are some of my thoughts and reactions during my reading, in case you might be interested in some of these titles as well.
Creative Display, by Geraldine James, got me thinking about how I wanted to decorate the house once the Christmas decorations came down.  The book (purchased from the Clearance room at Anthropologie) inspired me to head to the basement and find some decorative items that I had packed away years before, as well as rearrange items that didn't look quite right to me on our family room shelves.  I wanted a "vignette effect," areas of interesting objects grouped together that bring me pleasure when I look at them. 
Some of the reviews on Amazon were critical that the book didn't provide textbook kind of advice on creating displays, but I thought it was more of a book to "marinate in" and let it influence my next move.  I've picked it up at least three different times after reading it, in order to flip through the pages and re-kindle my decorating instincts.
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God:  Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways, by Lysa TerKeurst was a great inspirational read.  The message of the book is to say "yes" to God, even before we know what He might ask us to do, so that we do not miss the "divine appointments" He has in mind for meeting with us in our lives.  I like the idea of God seeing a "yes-heart in me," in Lysa's words.
"...if you are in the thick of living with all that life throws at you and you simply whisper yes, you are equipped.  'Yes, Lord.  I want Your patience to invade my desire to fly off the handle.' 'Yes, Lord.  I want Your perspective to keep my emotions in check.' 'Yes, Lord. I want Your provision so things don't seem so overwhelming.' 'Yes, Lord.  I want Your courage to do what I feel You calling me to do.' 'Yes, Lord. I want and need more of You in every moment'" (13). 
If building your relationship with God, learning to see Him at work in your daily life, and being able to rest in His presence speaks to your soul, then I would recommend Lysa's book to you. I am interested now in reading some of her other books (especially, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl), and have bookmarked her blog for further reading.
I picked up my copy of Collaborative Art Journals and Shared Vision in Mixed Media by L.K.Ludwig to re-read when I was asked to participate in my very first Art Journal Round Robin.  I am in the midst of preparing my own journal for the exchange, and will be working with Mary, Janet, and Danielle for the project.  I am very excited to try something new like this.  Ludwig's book provides plenty of art journal eye candy (you can see all my blue sticky notes sticking out from the pages), and gave me some fun ideas for my journal, such as some options for a sign-in page for the participants. 
She talks about some of the practical considerations of hosting a round-robin (duties that Danielle is graciously attending to, such as working out an exchange schedule), and has chapters for all kinds of art-sharing, including art journals, swaps at retreats, individual swaps, and swaps of more dimensional art work. 
This book isn't going to add to your repertoire of art journaling techniques so much as inspire you with gorgeous examples from a variety of artists.  And it gave me ideas for future art exchanges that I might be interested in trying to host!
I ordered the book Sticky Faith:  Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids, by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark because of the title more than anything.  I have read a few really high quality books about parents sharing their faith with their children, and I thought this might make a good addition to that particular section of my library.  There is much for a parent to take away from reading it, but even more, its target audience would seem to be pastoral staff and youth group leaders.  The authors are especially looking at how to build faith in teenagers that will last through and beyond college, which is a time when many young Christians "shelve their faith" for awhile. 
There was some really good food-for-thought, though, such as helping our kids discover what it means to trust Christ in everyday life, as opposed to having a "doing Christianity" that focuses on youth group meetings, quiet times, short-term mission trips, student Bible studies, and the like.  It also made me think about the importance of building a network of loving adults who care about my children's well-being and future, and having intergenerational church experiences.  I started thinking about ways that my own church could develop its outreach to teenagers headed off to college, members who are currently in college, and young people who have just graduated and are returning to church. 
Finally, I read Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin.  Her first book, The Happiness Project, launched me into a Happiness Project of my own that got me jogging, breathing deeply for self-control, and looking for healtheir, non-toxic alternatives for my home and personal care products (among other things).  Gretchen's second book was just as inspiring to me as the first.  She wrote very much from a place where I am right now.  Many of the projects she undertook were the kinds of things I have been undertaking myself, and refelect the theme of simplicity that I am seeking this year. 
For example, her whole chapter about being happier about our possessions focuses on simplicity.  Rubin writes, "Cultivating my possessions, then, wasn't a simple matter of organization, elimination, or accumulation; it was a matter of engagement."  To that end, she set out to "cultivate shrines" around her house--"places of super-engagement."  This idea very much reflected my own decorating instinct brought to the forefront by the Creative Display book.  What Rubin referred to as a shrine, I thought of as a vingette--a place where we identify, arrange, and spotlight meaningful possessions. 

In the same chapter, she talked about getting rid of materials for a project she'll never finish; my plan is to finish all those projects I've purchased materials for.  She decided to ignore feng shui; I have feng shui books leering at me from the bookshelves, with ideas I've never managed to incorporate.  She talked about preserving sentimental objects that she cherishes; I just purchased archival boxes and sorted the girls' artwork from the past five years.  She tackled the task of reading the manuals for machines and gadgets, and I read the manual for the camera my husband bought me for Christmas (though I found out that the real meat of the directions is on a CD in the camera box, which I haven't yet looked at!).  Rubin's anxiety over family photos closely mirrors my own, and her "quest for a cause" mirrors some of my own thinking. 

The advice that stuck in my head so that I was able to put it to immediate use was her plan to undereact to problems.  I can't tell you how many times something will go wrong with the girls--a drink spilled, a bowl of beads spread out over the kitchen floor, a broken toy--and the words "underreact" floated through my brain and helped me to keep my cool. 

I am currently reading four books at one time--a Bible study text for 1 Corinthians, a novel from my 2013 reading list, a non-fiction book from the library, and a home decorating book from my bookshelves.  I have something to pick up in any mood!  I feel like having a reading list for the year is making me more conscious of my reading and more inclined to pick up a book instead of spending mindless hours on the Internet.  It feels like a very good use of my time!


Anne said...

Wow! Not only are you reading a great deal (and a great variety) you seem to really be absorbing them. Isn't it great when something "sticks" after you close the cover?

Beverley Baird said...

You've had a busy month reading - with such varied, interesting books.
Have you tried any of the book challenges floating around? They are fun- and keep you focused too.
Will add these books to my ever growing list!
I'm trying to get through a few from my TBR shelves as well!

leekrek said...

all of those books sound great, and good for you reading 5 already said...

Wonderful selection of "reads"... enjoy! ~xx
I can not wait to see & read about your experience with the journal book exchange... HOW EXCITING!! :]

VivJM said...

I enjoyed reading your reviews. I think "Happier at Home" sounds especially up my street, off to add it to my tbr list :-)

scrapwordsmom said...

So many awesome reads!! That last one sounds like it's exactly what I need this year!! I think I'm gonna see if our library has it:) Thanks for sharing!!!

BTW...I will be mailing your art after February 20th (payday). Thanks for asking!! I am so happy you won it:)

hula-la said...

so many little time. I know this to be true. I work in a library.

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