November Reading

With our slower pace of life, my reading time has gone way up. Which I love! We got me a library card and I’ve been so excited! The Duluth selection of books isn’t as vast as we had at our last library, but we make do!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

I talked about this one a bit previously in a 7QT, but my goodness this one is so good. I hadn’t read much fiction in a while, and this book is what got me started. The story is loosely based off of Kate & William, which is fine by me – I love the Royal Family. It’s of course a bit drama-filled, but what did I expect, really? For a super secular read, I’d say it was pretty harmless. Obviously, the characters have some moral flaws, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. This was an addictive read that I completed in 3 days (outside of work time). The story and the humor were on-point and I’d totally recommend this one! I had a hard time even thinking about reading another book in the week following because I wanted another just like it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling

Before reading this book, I didn’t know too much about Mindy Kaling except that she played Kelly on The Office. I haven’t seen anything else she’s done, to my knowledge. But I really enjoyed her book. It was a super quick and light read. I was quite impressed with her background – Massachusetts native, close-knit family, Ivy League graduate, screenwriter…I knew none of it. And she doesn’t seem like a trashy, Hollywood actress at all. She actually seems like a pretty cool person. I enjoyed how well she spoke of marriage as well as her desire to get married and have children. This book didn’t change my life or anything, but I liked it. Simple as that.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

What a fun & different read. I had no idea what to expect with this book, and wasn’t terribly thrilled with it in the beginning – it seemed a bit odd. But it quickly peaked my interest and kept me wanting to figure out where the story was going. This book is about a wife & mother who is perpetually escaping whatever might draw her back into real life. It centers around her relationships with her daughter, her daughter’s school, and her husband. This book is full of surprises. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, it took a turn. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, but that surprised me as well!

Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Not to be confused with her other book: Against All Grain, which I also own and love. I needed to get Danielle Walker’s first book to see the recipes I missed! This girl is so good. Every recipe. Golden. I especially love her dessert section in this book – the macaroons are delicious. She also has more basic recipes, which I was stoked for. Like coconut milk yogurt – I can get it on pinterest, but I now trust this woman so much that I only want to follow her recipes.

That’s it for now. What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations?

 

7QT: 7 Influential Books

For this week’s seven quick takes (linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum), I’d like to share 7 of the most influential books in my life. Kevin and I often make lists together and it’s kind of a way of taking inventory of where we’re at with things or maybe there’s just more to learn about the other. For this list, he likes to make very clear: it’s not your favorites but rather books that have had a profound impact on you – whatever that may mean. Anyway, I may have forgotten some (and I’m going preface saying the bible is numero uno, but not on the list below), but I think for the most part this list is pretty accurate.

[ 1 ] Harry Potter 1-7 by JK Rowling

Yes. I mean, how could this not be on here? Let’s just say middle school was not exactly my favorite time of life, and I ended up diving into this magical world in a super deep way. Honestly, these stories got me through a lot. Granted, I didn’t really know the Lord at that time, so I’m sure God would have been a better replacement. But as it was, I would turn to these books when relationships were tough or when drama was about. I think to a degree it kept me a little more innocent and distant from some things I didn’t need in my life. Also, they are just so dang good. I still go back every now and again to enjoy the sweetness of these books.

[ 2 ] Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen. Oh how I love her writing. I’m not sure how to explain how this book has been such a great influence. But it may just be that it’s an exceptionally well-written novel that left me feeling content and better off for having read it. I don’t often read fiction books that have characters of such depth, along with simply beautiful language. When I read a page of Jane Austen, I feel like I’ve gained something. That may not make sense, but it is what it is. 🙂

[ 3 ] Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

Really, all of CS Lewis’ writings could be on here (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Till We Have Faces, etc.), but this was the first one I read, and it was at a time when I was experiencing a great “reversion” to the faith. I was a sophomore in college and began going back to the Church for nourishment, and this book proved to be a wealth of wisdom in helping me understand certain truths better than I ever had before. I remember taking this book into confession at one point and just saying to the Priest, “with great knowledge comes great responsibility. I have way more sins to confess than I ever realized.” So thank you CS Lewis.

[ 4 ] The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

I had to read this book for a business leadership course my senior year in college, and it is by far one of the most fruitful reads I’ve ever done for school in my life. I actually read the whole thing, way ahead of schedule (which was not super characteristic of me for class reading), and even took notes! While I doubt I integrate all seven habits into my life in the day-to-day, they certainly left a powerful impression on me. Certain chapters truly made me re-evaluate the way I live my life (at that time as a super type-A personality, always on a mission and on the go, planning like my life depends on it). Simple things like “put first things first” brought to mind Matthew 6 and seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s definitely a book I could benefit from going back to every now and then.

[ 5 ] Confessions by St. Augustine

I remember going home to PA for a two week period after graduating college. I’d soon be going back to Boston, but not to BU. I reflected on the transition I was about to experience and I honestly didn’t have a ton of confidence I was ready for it. The Catholic community I had in school was phenomenal; in just three short years, I felt like I had learned and grown more than I ever thought possible. And to be honest, I was afraid there wouldn’t be more to come after that. During those two weeks, I picked up St. Augustine’s Confessions at a used book shop, which was one of the most providential things to ever happen. The beauty of it was two-fold. First, I felt like I could connect to him on a personal level, having experienced certain intensities in my spiritual life through times of conversion/reversion. Second, I realized how naive I was to think that my learning and growing would ever stop, unless I simply decided to turn away from the faith. He showed me just a glimpse into the immeasurable depths of God, and how I can seek out truth my entire life and I still may never scratch the surface. This revelation is what pushed me forward, and still often does.

[ 6 ] Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

This was another one I read the year after graduating college, and what a good time as well. As I was figuring out how my prayer life would look now that I was working full-time and trying to be involved in young adult life (not to mention dating), I could not have asked for a better guide. St. Francis de Sales just gets it. He gets it all. His words to the laity are understanding, but not demeaning. He doesn’t give us lay people an easy out because we have to live in the world, but he also wasn’t advocating for 10 hours of adoration a day. He provides detailed instruction as to how to live a devout life even with all the demands of work, relationships, home life, etc. It is an incredibly timeless read; it was written in the late 1500’s/early 1600’s, and yet everything he was saying felt applicable to my own life.

[ 7 ] True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort

While St. Louis de Montfort can sometimes come off a bit harsh and intense depending where I am in my spiritual life, this is a book I think I will always need to re-visit as a devotional read. It has had a profound effect on my life by helping me deepen my relationship with the Blessed Mother. And in countless ways, this has shaped my spiritual life.

There it is! The books that have left a mark. Please let me know if you’ve read any of the above and feel similarly! And what books have been most influential in your own life? I want to know!

 

Collections.

Reading // Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Father Michael Gaitley. An inspiring read about how we can and why we should console the heart of Jesus. It seems to fit well with where I’m at in my spiritual life right now, and it’s helping me in ways I’d never imagined.

Cooking // anything whole 30 compliant. More specifically, I’m learning to add a whole lot of variety to foods I already love, like eggs, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, cabbage and more. I’ve also made a few sauces, dressings, and spreads that I’m quite proud of.

Watching // still Parks and Rec. I can’t get enough of this show. It just leaves me feeling so happy. Also, I’ve watched Leap Year twice since I’ve been on a rom-com kick the past couple of months. Any innocent love story that takes place in Ireland has my heart.

Wearing // the in between winter and spring clothes. Which is really just winter clothing 80% of the time, with some spring pieces mixed in. I went for a walk today and wore a light jacket with my riding boots in replacement of my winter coat and snow boots. Today was a rare gem – back to the 30’s tomorrow. This week the sun is out and the snow is melting, so praise Jesus for that.

Listening // Celtic Pandora station. This music brings me and Kevin so much joy. I could listen to this music for hours around the apartment and not get sick of it. We just want to go to Ireland!

Wanting // these moccasins from Minnetonka. I love moccasins, but I always go back and forth feeling like there’s no season for them here. It’s either precipitating or hot and humid. But I still want them!

Longing // Spring! Every little bit of sun that hits my skin is like a gift from heaven! The days are getting lighter, the sun’s making more appearances, the temperatures are slowly getting higher. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much because, as I’ve learned, winter could come back in April if it wants to. BUT I am excited nonetheless!

Advent Reading

I love the Christmas season. Like most people, I find it to be super magical and all things lovely. And I’m always headed somewhere for Christmas as well since I don’t live near family, which means there’s always a trip to look forward to (as well as vacation from work). This can make the patient waiting of Advent a bit difficult at times. And since Kevin and I have covered our television with purple cloth, that means no movies or shows or music (except Advent hymns) to pass the time.

So in addition to just spending some quiet time with my husband and taking our evenings slower, it’s a good time for some reading. And not just any reading, but some Christ-centered, Advent reading. I haven’t read much in relation to this specific liturgical season, but what I have read has been beautiful. So allow me to share!

Advent Reading

The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI

I read this last year during Advent, and while sometimes spiritual reading can be something I gotta push myself to do daily, this was quite the page turner for me. I love the way Pope Benedict writes – very simple and straightforward, but packed with such beautiful insight. This book covers Jesus’ origins and nativity to the finding of Jesus in the temple. It helped make the season come alive for me and to focus on our Lord and specifically his birth and childhood.

True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort

This little treasure is about making perfect devotion to Jesus through perfect devotion to our Lady. Advent is a great season to reflect not just on our Lord, but also on the way in which our Lord came into this world: through Mary. By increasing devotion to her, we naturally grow closer to Jesus. This book will aid in that devotion.

Sermons to the People: Advent, Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany by St. Augustine

I randomly came across this book in a used book store many years ago, and since I love St. Augustine so so much, I purchased this one without thought. I will admit, some of the things he writes about are not the most grounded in Church doctrine (naturally, as certain things have only become fully known to us as a Church over time), BUT it is still a fantastic little collection of his homilies and the heart of what he says holds a lot of truth.

These are a few of my favorites that I’ll be revisiting this season. If you have any suggestions for Advent reading, please share! I’d love to venture out into new things!