One of my favorite things is a fresh crispy salad with bacon, feta cheese, and thin homemade ranch with extra garlic. Mmmm. And also: books! My house is full of many kinds of books. Every year I purge stacks of them and yet my collection continues to grow. I’m going to share a few of my current favorites, listed in no particular order.
I’ve included the link to each. (Budget tip: Don’t buy them new! If you can wait a week or so, snag a used copy if available.) Keep scrolling to read my comments on each!
- The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
- The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
- Finding Your Purpose as a Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground by Donna Otto
Bonus Novels: Two Ways Home by Sonda Kraak (Sequel to the equally delightful One Plus One Equals Trouble in the Love That Counts Series) and our favorite cookbook of course.
The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
Among all the books I own, I’ve never read one on interior design! Gifted to me by my sweet sister-in-law for Christmas, I have devoured it. While reading it, I became aware of how poorly I was speaking of my home:
“I hate having the laundry in the kitchen,”
“My bedroom on the main floor is annoying because the kids are so far away,”
“The toilet in the basement is so old, I can’t stand to use it,”
“This house is so big I can’t keep it clean!”
Myquillyn Smith says, “Don’t apologize for what you have. It makes guests feel uncomfortable, it encourages discontentment, and if you’re married and your husband hears you apologizing for what he’s provided, it could be hurtful.” That hit home for me and my list of things that were “wrong” with my house. She showed me how to begin loving my home, and how to use my “lovely limitations” (like the laundry in the kitchen) as springboards for creative action.
She gives step-by-step guides to making your house a home. No, she doesn’t tell you what colors to use or designers or type of furniture or decor. She goes a step deeper and gets you asking, what is the purpose of this home? This room? This couch? She is always reminding us that a home is there to serve people, not the other way around and it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
I’ll be the first to admit, interior design is not my strongest skill, but this book is SO MUCH MORE than a decorating book. It’s a confidence-building, take action, bloom where you’re planted, seize the day, kind of book that I will be returning to for years to come. She has another I haven’t read that I will get my hands on soon: Cozy Minimalist: More Style, Less Stuff
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
I was not excited to read this when my Dad gifted it to me. “Yay… a book about prayer…” But, let me just say, “WOW.” The growth in my faith that I have today was watered by reading The Circle Maker. I have underlined passages in every chapter and filled margins with notes. Batterson uses his own personal experiences and biblical miracles to show God’s ever-present ever-listening qualities. He says, “Nothing honors God more than a big dream that is way beyond our ability to accomplish.” After reading this chapter, I fell on my knees and spilled out my dreams of paying down $20,000 of our debt in one year. This was June we weren’t even close to the $10,000 mark. I began circling that dream. By December we had paid back $29,000. Whaa?? God gets full glory for that one.
What it boils down to is believing that God is able and yet the answer will always be “No,” if we don’t ask. He encourages us that we “don’t worship the Great I-Used-To-Could.” We worship the Great I Am. If you want a book to energize, inspire, and fuse hope back into your relationship with God, this is a great choice.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Um, no, this book will not inspire you to be a better homemaker or teach you better ways to pray. But yes, really, really, it’s one of my favorites! When my baby girl was two days old I began reading aloud to her as something to do. I had a long and slow postpartum recovery, spending upwards of seven hours a day sitting and resting for months. This book was one of the few we owned that I had never read. Why would I want to read a book about dinosaurs?! Gag! But the husband insisted I give it a try.
Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. There is a lot of blood and some language, the dinosaurs and the gagging, remember? But the story is incredibly fascinating, the science is intriguing, and the characters are interesting. All around an exciting and thrilling read. I also love his sequel The Lost World. And we won’t talk about the movies. They’re fine. But the books are fantastic. If my daughter needs therapy someday because her mother read aloud Jurassic Park her first week of life… send me the bill.
Finding Your Purpose as a Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground by Donna Otto
I own almost every one of Donna’s books. I stumbled upon her podcasts, Modern Homemakers, after searching, “Organization.” Apparently she was teaching about organizing before it was trendy! Though this book isn’t about your physical home as much as your role as a spiritual leader in your home. (The one she wrote about managing your physical house is called “How to Get More Done in Less Time.”)
Is your home peaceful? Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? Is home a place where everyone feels safe? She gently teaches you what to do when you’re overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.
While this is not a quick read, it is worth the energy. I find I do best reading a couple pages at a time and letting it sink in. It is packed full of wisdom. Finding Your Purpose would make a fantastic book for a bible study or book club. I have read through it twice in the past four years, each time feeling more empowered in my roles as a woman, wife, mother, and homemaker.
Two Ways Home by Sonda Kraak and the rest of the Love That Counts Series.
Reading novels was my main hobby. At least a couple hours every day. Growing up, I read so much that I didn’t understand there were people who didn’t read. What sort of life would that be… I was such a reader all my life I didn’t know it was to be classified as a “hobby,” it’s just what I did.
Not surprisingly, I went to college and got a degree in English because… books.
In Middle School, I blasted through all the Janette Oke novels and fell in love with anything Historical Fiction with clean romantic tension, but also fantasy and dragons and epic adventures (and dinosaurs apparently). I tried to give up reading a few years ago when I had too many kids and not enough time or sleep. But recently, I started again. Bless my baby who doesn’t sleep through the night and the hours I spend awake when I should be sleeping. I bought Sonda Kraak’s novel on my phone’s Kindle app for free with my Amazon points and I read it in 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute, and 7 minute intervals while letting my baby work through his emotions, if you know what I mean. Also, I find I can read in night-mode without disturbing the baby while he nurses in the evenings.
So, bla bla bla… I love books. Let me tell you about Two Ways Home and how much I loved reading it. Girl meets Boy and … well, if you’ve read an inspirational romance book ever then you know the drill. EXCEPT, Kraak’s writing is topnotch. The characters are funny and witty and do silly things that make them realistic. The hero is swoon-worthy, yet has his own demons to slay. The heroin is strong, yet she learns the beauty of having someone love her and pray for her.
Outside tales of how Laura had to chase down her taco, what do you read? I’d love to hear about any great books you’ve stumbled upon. Are there stories that have just stuck with you? Non-Fiction you keep thumbing through and pick up again and again? We all know that your newest favorite cookbook is Simple Real Food Recipes (#sorrynotsorry) but is there anything else you’ve been reading lately? Let me know!
Tasha Hackett, friend of Laura, lives in the middle of Nebraska where God has blessed the earth with extreme versions of all four seasons. When she is not feeding her family of six, including her Middle School science teaching husband, three sons and a daughter, she can be found sewing, painting, sneaking Jalapeno Cheetos, dreaming of forests, staying out of debt, Instagramming for Laura at @heavenlyhomemaker and looking snazzy in a vintage tweed blazer while attempting to write a novel in 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute intervals.