What I’ve Been Reading. Or, Short Chapters Make for Happy Mommy

My husband likes to say that I read for a living. (I think he might just be a little jealous.) Yet, this description isn’t completely false. When I’m not reading a book so I can write a small group guide, or reading a friend’s manuscript or advanced reader’s copy, I’ve been reading books that are like warm water on your feet. Or, ice cold water on a hot day. Or a piece of dark chocolate melting in your mouth. Books that are feeding my soul but not straining my brain. Because at the end of the day of maneuvering the emotions and demands of a 3-year-old, that’s about all this mommy can handle.

I’d like to introduce you to a few that I’ve recently finished. And, get this, the first book has no words. Brilliant.

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Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy
I was immediately drawn in to this book by the beautiful images displayed on each page. (And, yes, I was also drawn in by the title which resembles another someone special in my life.) I love how the artist depicted the loving and supportive relationship between Noah and his wife. I also thought it was interesting to see the timeline of constructing the ark against the backdrop of Noah’s son being born and growing into a man. Most importantly, this book made me want to go back to the Bible and spend time re-reading the story of Noah in Genesis 6-9. Although the book may be too advanced for toddlers, my 3-year-old son is captivated by it and wants me to “read” the book to him over and over again in my own words. Each time, we find something new to explore and share.

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When I’m done reading Curious George to my little guy and the dishes are done, I’ve been plopping on the couch with one of the following books. Each memoir has super short chapters that are not necessarily connected to each other – more like short essays on life as a mom, wife, and friend. This has been just my style after a long day.

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The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life, by Melanie Shankle
This was my first introduction to Melanie Shankle. I loved her humor, perspective, and ability to make fun of herself and the situations that married life threw at her. Each short chapter walks you through her life from singleness to dating to engagement, and finally marriage. The title references the compromising that is central to every marriage, for better or for worse. She is very relatable and can even cross generation and gender lines in her style and message. I brought this book on a family vacation and would often leave it on the table. Occasionally I’d find my 75-year-old father-in-law reading the book and chuckling to himself. I also loved that in unexpected moments in the book, she’d turn the corner and bring depth to her story by sharing how God was molding and refining her in the process. “Not one thing we have done changes that we are his. He created us and loves us with a love more fierce and loyal than any we will ever know.” – Melanie Shankle

 

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Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn, by Melanie Shankle
This is a great read for the pooped-out-mom who doesn’t have huge bandwidth for heavy reading. It’s poignant, relatable, and makes you feel like you have a friend on this journey of motherhood. She shares the good, the bad, and the hilarious from the moment she found out she was pregnant, to her initial days as a Mom, to managing expectations in an over-achieving preschool. Each chapter is short and easy to pick up during a nap time or right before falling asleep when you crash into your pillow to start your day as a mom all over again. I do feel like Melanie skimmed over some of the harder moments in her journey as a mom (i.e. her miscarriage and her decision to only have one child). I wish she would have opened up a bit more about those aspects and gone into greater depth, as I believe her audience could really benefit from her perspective.

 

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Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, by Shauna Niequist
I had the privilege of hearing Shauna speak about this message before diving into the book. During her talk as well as in her book she shares how the message of Bread and Wine evolved from being not only about entertaining and sharing her favorite recipes, but a journey of shedding light on her shame with body issues or having a not-so-perfect house. I soaked up her honesty and wit and often would linger on a thought from her book as I struggled with my own perfectionist tendencies. Bread and Wine is about inviting people to the table and not worrying about what you’re serving or whether your house needs an intervention from Hoarders before you let people in your front door. It’s about community and living life together and the importance of sharing a meal. I have devoured almost all of the recipes and have had so much fun connecting with friends across the miles, who are also reading this book, on the latest recipes they’ve tried from Bread and Wine. She even includes a book group discussion guide, menu plans, and sample menus for entertaining. (And if you must know, here are my favorite recipes: Flourless Chocolate Brownies, White Chicken Chili, Annette’s Enchiladas, and Esquites.) I keep this book alongside my recipe book collection.

 

Happy Reading!! Let me know what you’re reading too!

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