recent reads // 02

recentreads-01 I've been a reading fiend lately! No complaints here, though. Maybe it's the lack of social media, the pregnancy hormones, or working SUPER hard to achieve some margin in my life to even have time for reading (or perhaps all three!), but I've been devouring some downright amazing books lately, and have several more on tap for April that I'm super pumped about. Here's a bit about each of the three books I read recently, and my recommendations!

1. The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner / Oh man. This book is SO SO GOOD!! It's all about putting on the oxygen mask and making time to care for ourselves first. It's not aimed in a selfish way, but focuses more on how to be the best wife/mom/business owner/employee/insert-whatever-you-are-here by prioritizing self care and eliminating the guilt that comes along with it. It's super convicting while also sharing practical tips about how to find those wasted "fringe hours" (or minutes!) throughout your day and use them for good. I've already adopted several of Jessica's tips and would recommend this book to all the women in my life. I also really loved that it has a workbook element, with question prompts and space for answering them throughout. It really helped me think through some of the reasons why I don't care for myself well, then jot ideas down later for overcoming those reasons. Part book, part workbook, super inspiring and great.

2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker / Gosh, where to even begin with this book. It's been a long time since I read a book that I can honestly say completely changed how I look at life and everything in it. This book did just that for me. In the book, Jen explains how over the course of 11 months, she went on an intense pursuit of weeding out the excess in her life by focusing on simplicity in seven areas: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media and stress. She focused on one area each for seven months. For example, month one she only wore seven articles of clothing. Month two she only ate meals comprised of seven ingredients. Month three she only spent money at seven locations, etc. Although I don't think I'm going to completely do the whole seven experiment, it absolutely shifted how I view stuff  as well as our current circumstances. For instance, Jen cites a statistic in the book that states if you make $35,000 as your household income, you are in the top FOUR PERCENT most wealthy people IN THE WORLD. That stopped me in my tracks. I circled it and highlighted it and read it over and over again. Between Matt and I's combined income from all our various sources, we make just shy of that now. And lately, especially with the baby coming, I catch myself thinking "it's just not enough." I find myself envisioning life when we're making $50, $60, even $70k (as if we'll ever get there as a self-employed business owner and with Matt's job in public safety, insert crying laughing emoji face. No one becomes a cop for the money.) I thought about all the places I've traveled to in the world, places where people live in mud huts, walk two miles each way to carry fresh water to their homes, eat the same meal morning, noon and night (if they're lucky enough to eat three meals a day) and wear the same outfit over and over and over again. And these people? They are the most faith-filled, joy-filled people I've ever met. They have it figured it out. It's true, what everyone says. More wealth does not equal more happiness. I feel like a huge heart shift happened while reading this book. Suddenly, looking around our house, I don't hear the backbeat of not-enough-not-enough-not-enough. Instead, a new chorus has formed. So-blessed-so-blessed-so-blessed. We are in the top 4% of wealth in the entire world. That's not something to take lightly. This book just totally shifted my perspective on what's "enough", what's excess, and how to be good stewards of everything God has given us--money, possessions and the Earth included. I'd recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but with the warning that it might completely change you. You might get really mad at yourself, at society and America as a whole. You might decide to give away 80% of what you own, decide to go down to one car and commit to only eating produce you grow in your own garden this summer. I mean...hypothetically speaking. Here are a few of my favorite lines:

      • "What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can't manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount?"
      • "A fast creates margin for God to move."
      • "When accumulation is not our bottom line we are liberated to disperse our time and resources differently."
      • "I can't have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings He begged me to avoid."
      • "We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful."
      • "I want to confront the big part that says more with the smaller part that says enough."
      • "I am commissioned to be a light, but I can't illuminate this world while competing with the lights of others."

3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell / I'd heard such great things about this book, and it definitely did not disappoint! I've read other Rowell novels--Eleanor & Park and Landline, but so far Attachments is hands-down my favorite. I actually thought Rowell was primarily a YA author, but both Landline and Attachments have adult characters, which I really love. What I loved most about Attachments was how the storyline wasn't too heavy or complicated, yet it was still poignant and moving. It was witty and funny and made me laugh out loud, but I got misty-eyed at other parts, especially the flashbacks to Lincoln and his high school sweetheart. Rowell writes a way that just puts you right there in the scene and lets you feel the real, raw emotions, which I love. Also, all the email conversations reminded me exactly of myself and my friends, so I was super entertained by that. Overall, I super loved it and would highly recommend it for a quick, fun, fiction read. I'm really excited to dive into Rowell's newest, Fangirl, next!

What have you been reading lately? Anything you super loved, or that were total duds? Sound off in the comments; I'm always all ears when books are concerned!

PS. want more book reviews? Here's another post I shared!