Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Review

I wanted to share with you three books that I read this year that really made an impact on me. They were captivating reads for me, and ones that challenged and stretched my way of thinking- a characteristic mark of a truly good book.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I mentioned this book in yesterday's post. I read this book at the beginning of the year when I was so sick in the early days of my pregnancy. It was the thing that helped me realize that if I could stay mentally stimulated or engaged in something it would improve my quality of living and attitude, as I was mostly just getting through the days at that point. Gilbert speaks of the creative process as a living, breathing thing that we must listen to, engage with, and honor. She speaks of artists, and creatives- something I consider myself to be- and how they can literally engage in a (metaphorical) dance with their inspiration. She speaks of the way ideas come to us and how we can honor them by working our butts off to help them come up. It reminds me of an artist I love, Brian Kershisnik and what he said of his work, "I firmly believe that when a painting succeeds, I have not created it, but rather participated in it." Or how Michelangelo famously said, "  Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." 

I would really recommend this book to anyone. I think it presents a really unique concept in a way that is convincing and powerful. It is illuminating, and Elizabeth Gilbert's energy, conviction, and humor are contagious.

The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl. To date, this is hands down my favorite parenting book I've read. Contrary to other cross-culture parenting books, these authors don't make a mockery of American Parenting. Instead, an American woman married to a Dane, along with a Danish psychologist wrote this book about the natural culture and ways of parents in Denmark after years of observation. The book uses the acronym, "PARENT" to pinpoint the 6 key elements of Danish parenting, which are,

P- Play

A- Authenticity
R- Reframing
E- Empathy
N- No Ultimatums

T- Togetherness

I was attracted to this book when I heard that it focused on empathy and how to instill this oft-forgotten characteristic in your children. After reading it, I discovered that all 6 of the elements they outline are powerful in raising children. Something that is unique about this parenting book is that it is not at all condemning. It clearly and quickly lays out each concept, and doesn't spend time pointing out all the ways you're doing each one wrong. It doesn't make you feel guilty for the way you're currently doing things, but instead makes you think, "Oh wow. That makes a lot of sense. I want to try that." I also love this book, because I feel like the principles it teaches are in line with the way Jesus Christ treated others. This book teaches you how to honor children in the way you think and interact with them, and illustrates how to nurture them in a way that will really help them feel understood, safe, and content. This book is a quick read, and it doesn't read like a textbook. I have this book in physical, digital, and audio form because it is a great reference guide that I turn to often.

The third book I recently listened to was "The Magnolia Story" by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I've watched a handful of Fixer Upper episodes and have enjoyed Chip and Joanna and their antics together, and I was just curious about this book. I never expected to be so inspired by it. It was so enjoyable to listen to that I finished the five hour book in about two and a half days. I took away a lot of lessons from it, including: staying close to God, cleaving to your spouse, dreaming big, listening to inspiration, putting family first, enjoying the journey even when its not going well, not sweating the small stuff, trying to be a good person, and finding the path that's meant for you. Chip and Joanna have a way of living this really beautiful, authentic life that is centered on what is good and right, and they don't make you feel jealous or like your life isn't good enough. I really can't recommend this book enough. I'm hoping to listen to it with BJ on our drive to Utah at Christmastime now that he's finally conceded to watching a few episodes of Fixer Upper with me. (He totally enjoys it.) This book shows how God prepares those who follow Him to have a voice and share their story in a way that will lift and inspire others. Chip and Joanna do this in such a pure way.

The books coming up next for me are, "The Highly Sensitive Child" by Elaine N. Aron, and "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown.I love the power of a good book.

What have you read lately that you love? Any recommendations? I'd love to hear!

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