Six Inspirational Books to Read this SummerA funny thing has happened since we gave up cable, I find that I do actually have some time to read. It’s not that I don’t miss TV. I actually love TV…a lot. I watch all my very favorite shows online still. But instead of plopping in front of the TV each night watching whatever happens to be on HGTV, I’m finding great joy and inspiration in reading again. Here are a few awesomely inspirational books I’ve read over the past few months.
I read this book in one hour, sitting in the family room amongst the chaos of my husband, all three kids and two dogs wrestling. It was that good. I just couldn’t stop reading. It wasn’t until just a few years ago, that I really got back into following my creative passions. This book is SO inspirational but it’s also realistic. Luna speaks about working her full-time job while getting back into her creative passions…and doing that until she was able to do the creative thing full time. I read this during a week I was feeling burnt out with, well, everything. It reminded me how much I love what I do and how I want to focus more on spending time just creating. This is a book I will pick up and skim again and again whenever I’m feeling uninspired!
All too often, we feel that we are not living the fullness of our lives because we are not expressing the fullness of our gifts. -Elle Luna
She talks about figuring out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling and how to change it if you’re not happy with your answer.
Her bits of humor thrown into such deep thoughts about what to do with one’s life are refreshing too!
When you decide to look for your dreams in real life, where do you go? Craislist, I thought. -Elle Luna
The bottom line is we get to choose whether we follow our “should or our “must”. This book will enlighten your on the difference and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Much like The Crossroads of Should and Must, I felt like this book was written just for me. I’ve read it cover to cover several times. It’s a small book filled with a lot of heart and I refer to it often when I need a little inspiration.
I love every word of this book, but the chapter on taking care of yourself struck a chord with me. I love what I do, so it doesn’t always feel like work…which means I sometimes spend too much time doing it and letting other things fall wayside…like cleaning and working out. I loved the quote this chapter started with:
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work. -Gustave Flaubert
Kleon’s follow up book, Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered was a great read as well.
3. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
This is the book I’m currently reading. I’m only a few chapters in and already so inspired to find ways to be more happy. What I love about this book is that it’s not really about going from sad to happy, per say. It’s about creating daily habits and routines that make you more aware of what you have that makes your life good and also changes you can make to be more happy (even if you already consider yourself happy).
Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens. I wanted to be one of those people…I knew it was easier for me to be good when I was happy. I was more patient, more forgiving, more energetic, more lighthearted, and more generous. Working on my happiness wouldn’t just make me happier, it would boost the happiness of the people around me. -Gretchen Rubin
What’s not to love about that? More happiness, more love, more kindness. Sign me up! I can’t put this book down.
I read this during our first family vacation to the beach over Spring Break. Every painfully honest word of this book touched my heart, head, and/or soul. One of my favorite quotes in the book especially as it applies to art, creativity, and blogging and the whole comparison game:
If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it. Be generous. Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself. -Glennon Melton
Two more of my many, many favorite quotes from the book include:
People who aren’t kind on the Internet, aren’t kind. Parenthood and God are forever tries. -Glennon Melton
Melton has a serious talent for story-telling. While I don’t necessarily agree with her 100% on everything, I love, love, loved this book. Her honesty is refreshing, endearing, and relatable. We are all a little broken but we are in it (life) together.
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain If you’ve read my blog a while, it’s no secret that I’m a textbook introvert. Growing up, it often made me feel like a bit of an oddball. While I’m super friendly, I thrive on alone time. This book, while a little overly scientific in my opinion, opened by eyes to the fact that being an introvert isn’t a bad thing. Cain explains how to use it to your advantage, especially as it pertains to your career (and life in general as well).
Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts — which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one-third to one half of Americans are introverts — in other words one out of every two or three people you know. -Susan Cain
This book is AMAZING. It was the basis for my chore chart project. No matter whether your kids are toddler or college students, this book covers it all. The basic concept is that parents need to “drop the worry ball” so kids can pick it up and learn to worry for themselves, which helps them be proactive and make good choices. I’m a HUGE worrier so this concept really resonated with me. Dr. Russell advocates that we should let kids fail in “non-catastrophic” ways so that they have the chance to learn from their failure and make a better choice the next time. (He admits this can go against our natural instinct but gives tips on how to do this throughout the book). None of this “every kid gets a trophy” nonsense. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book (which I highly recommend reading in its entirety):
One of the trickiest parts of parenting is learning how to guide and protect your children yet leave them to their own devices enough that they develop their own ways of coping with the big, bad world. We have to do both. We must be active in our children’s lives, at various times teaching them directly, controlling their freedoms, or advocating for them. At the same time, we need to do the opposite: We need to be park-bench sitters in our children’s lives: interested and available, but relatively inactive, giving them their freedom and letting them learn on their own, making mistakes along the way. Fortunately, we don’t need to be perfect parents (perish the thought!), just good enough. (p. 24-25) We should aim to be emotionally present, interested and ready to help, but let them make choices about what to do on the monkey bars so that when they fall and it hurts, they can become anxious about it–instead of relying on us to do it for them…Unfortunately, kids won’t pick up that worry ball unless and until parents put it down. (p. 26-27) When it hurts, she learns. It’s as simple as that. The only thing that can interfere with it is parental meddling. So though we obviously don’t want our kids to know it, we should actually cheer to non-catastrophic, painful failure. (p. 28) Just sit on the bench and sip your latte. This will be hard to do and sometimes you will feel like a bad parent. But you will be doing the right thing for your kids and ensuring they succeed on the jungle gym of life (p. 32)
He even gets into parenting kids with ADD/ADHD, why a “trophy for every kid” creates a sense of entitlement and how this style of parenting can be challenging in the “common core” and “no child left behind” styles of education. He tells you how to deal with these things (and more) so you create responsible kids who do not have a sense of entitlement. It’s not our job to assume personal responsibility for our kid’s academic efforts (or lack thereof). It’s our job to teach them how to do it themselves. It’s worth noting that a lot of this applies more to kids ages 6 and up, as you obviously don’t want to let your 2-year-old fall off the monkey bars. 😉