What I Read In December 2016

I am a self proclaimed book worm. I love every single thing about a brand new book. Reading is my time to learn, grow, rest and recharge. 

Because I love books so much, they are one of my favorite things to talk about and share with other people. I'm going to be spending a ton more time here on the blog in 2017. With that said, I think sharing the books I read each month with you is a great way to help you get to know me better and a way for you to discover some amazing books to check out for yourself.

I don't have a set number of books I try to read each month. Some months I read a ton (like I did in December) and some months I might only read one book. I have tried setting a goal for a specific number of books each year, but I find that takes the fun out of it for me.

So...with that being said, read when you can and as much as you can. Books take us places we would have never gone otherwise.  

I read all kinds of genres:  Fiction, nonfiction, self help, business teachings, Christian books and memoirs. I even love to dive into a young adult fiction novel now and again. It brings me back to my days as a classroom teacher when I loved reading what my students were reading. I also can't watch a movie based on a book without reading the book first. It just seems wrong to me. 

Let's dive right in to December's books...

 

168 HOURS: YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK

By Laura Vanderkam

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While reading 168 Hours, I realized that I have way more time on my hands than I ever thought. We all have the same 168 hours in a week. Our success and happiness simply depend on how we use those hours.

After interviewing dozens of successful, happy people, Laura Vanderkam realized that they allocate their time differently than most of us. Instead of letting the daily grind crowd out the important stuff, they start by making sure there's time for the important stuff. 

Laura shows that with a little examination and prioritizing, we can find it possible to sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, and even take up a new hobby such as piano lessons without giving up quality time for work, family and other things that really matter to us. 

My one word for 2017 is FOCUS. One reason I believe this is the word that stood out to me as I was reflecting on 2016 and setting my intentions for the new year is because of what I learned from this book. My main objective for 2017 is to focus on the things that I feel like God is calling me to and to learn to say no to the things that only clutter up my life. 

If you are looking for a book to help you evaluate where your time is going and to determine how you want to use your time intentionally, I am recommending this one to you for sure!

 

THE MAGNOLIA STORY

By Chip and Joanna Gaines

I fell in love with Fixer Upper about two years ago when I was sick and searching for something to binge on Netflix. I stumbled on Fixer Upper and decided to take a look. Because I live In Texas I had heard of the show and of this fun, charismatic couple that love Jesus. 

Instead of telling you what I thought of this book, I want to share a few excerpts from the text. So many things that Joanna and Chip said really spoke to me and where I am right now in my life. I hope they speak to you as well.

At this point in the story, Joanna is explaining the details of them opening up their home goods shop, Magnolia, for the first time. Here is what she had to say...

Some friends and family members tried to talk me out of doing this. They felt it was just too big of a risk to take because I had no experience running a business of my own, no training in retail sales or marketing. I had never owned property before. And I knew next to nothing about home decor or design. Truly, the only home decorating I’d ever done was in the house where we were currently living, and that had just been one big experiment for me.

As an entrepreneur, can you relate to how Joanna must have felt in that moment? Not sure how things were going to work out, feeling insecure and not equipped to own her own business, and then to have family members not supporting her? I think most of us can relate to wondering what the heck we are doing and craving the support of the ones we love and admire the most.

I’d listened to my own intuition and let God guide me toward the plans he’d had for me all along.

As a creative entrepreneur that feels called and nudged to use our strengths to grow our own business, we can sometimes feel like we driving down the road without a roadmap, not sure which direction to go next. But if we will listen, follow our intuition and let God lead us, we can't fail. Because we will be learning and growing along the way. 

And then finally...

Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner, And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning - and he will be there until...

As you can see, this story is filled with amazing nuggets that will encourage you and inspire you on your own journey towards creating a business that you love and want to share with others. 

 
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I must admit, this is my second time to read this book from cover to cover. Christine Caine is one of those women that just lights a fire under me every single time I hear her speak, read something she wrote on social media or dive into her books. She always seems to say just what I need to hear at the perfect moment.

Each of us has a race to run in life. But this is a different kind of race. It's more than a competition, greater than a sporting event. It's a race with eternal implications - a sprint to destiny. It's why we were put on this earth at this given time in history. 

But I do know from God’s Word that you are not here, in this place and this time, by accident. As you give God your time, your gifts, your resources and talents, he will use them to have a critically important and eternal impact on this world.

I am going to talk more about the lessons from this book in a later post so I won't give it all away here. But just hear me on this...YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

 

THE NIGHTINGALE

By Kristin Hannah

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This book practically ripped me in half. Once I started it I couldn't stop. It might be my favorite fiction novel of 2016. 

This story is told from the perspective of those that lived through World War II in France. It's the story of two sisters from France and how they survive the horrific conditions of the war. 

It left me reeling for days. I had trouble shaking it from my mind and I found myself reliving parts of it over and over. 

If you love historical fiction you will LOVE this one! My goal for 2017 is to read more quality fiction and memoir because I loved this one so much!

 

IF YOU FIND ME

By Emily Murdoch

This young adult novel was short but packed a heavy punch. 

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember until she and her younger sister are rescued by a social worker and her father. Carey's bipolar, meth addict mother kidnapped her when she was five and hid her away in an abandoned camper deep in the woods. For years she left Carey and her younger sister, when she came along, for weeks at a time to fend for themselves. 

Carey carries with her a dark past that hides many secrets, including the reason Jenessa, her sister, hasn't spoken a word in over a year. 

This is a story of true redemption, healing and letting go of shame and finding a place for forgiveness and true understanding of unconditional love.

 

SMALL GREAT THINGS

By Jodi Picoult

I am going to struggle with explaining to you exactly how amazing this story was. I actually chose to listen to this one on Audible while I ran, walked my dog and traveled in the car. 

Instead of me trying to even begin to put into words how much this story stretched me, I am going to let Amazon do the work. 

"Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game." - Amazon.com


Did you read any good books in December or recently? Leave me a comment below so I can check them out. I am always looking for my next great book! Or did one of these strike your fancy? Leave me a comment and tell me which one you will read first.