Before writing this post early this morning, I dug into my archives and realized I did not share my spring library with you, so prepare yourself for a longer and more detailed list of goodies to keep you company pool-side this summer! Whether near your bedside, in your purse, or stacked in little piles along your bookshelves, books are such great companions, aren’t they? The offer me joy and comfort throughout the day when I find that my mind could use a little exercise. Like always, I love bouncing from genre to genre, learning about the ways of the world and the art of living both in poetry and in prose. But in this season in particular, I have been very intrigued by virtues of faith, calm, creativity and wholeness as they relate to non-fiction in more essay-driven texts. These themes are ones I have felt called to recently explore in our current state of affairs, both domestically and on a global scale, as our world continues to simultaneously mystify and enlighten me. The whys and the hows, the pulse of more philosophic inquiries, have been rising to the surface of my mind lately, and I have found that engaging with such material has further opened that Pandora’s box, if you will. Right now I am more driven than ever I ever have been to wrestle with those big questions. I am eager to share such guides of inspiration with you, as they have thus far impacted my life in a series of profound ways. First up, let’s chat about technology and the all too familiar (and let’s be real, discomforting) disconnect that can come from that intoxicating glow of your screens, along with the implications this so called ‘addiction’ can have on us as parents and our little ones.
- The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD – This book was recommended to me by a friend who has taken a social media sabbatical and is currently in pursuit of other ways to share and connect with the world. I checked it out at the library per her praise and after reading about ten pages immediately headed to Amazon to put it in my cart. For those of you who follow my Snapchat, you know I write all over my books. I am a note-taker by nature, and such tactile habits help me better understand and remember what I am reading while making the text more meaningful to me. For this reason, if I know a book is going to be a rather good one, I’ll go ahead and buy it and scribble away. This book hit home and is one I know Andrew and I will reference time and time again throughout our years of parenthood. The doodles in the margins and the underscores of quotes are something I’ve already found myself revisiting. Essentially, this book chronicles the ages of our children and the corresponding implications too much screen time can have on their relationships with themselves and others. It gave me a lot to reflect on as a parent who is involved in social media, and how I want technology to shape our days and influence our lives on a broader scale. It was a constant companion during my social media break and helped me restructure my perspective of and relationship with technology, namely, the internet. I found the writing to be both insightful and eye-opening. It was the breath of fresh air I craved. I foresee picking it up again as our babies grow and mature in what the author refers to as “the digital age”. One thing I really appreciated about this book it that it did not shame technology and our use of it, but rather showed healthy ways of integrating into your rhythms at home. It offered rich and creative alternatives in how to best create closeness with our children without the use of screens, something I feel is deeply needed in every home right now. I can say that because of this book I have healthier habits in place for both myself and our kids throughout the day, something I am looking forward to sharing with you down the road.
- The Kaufmann Mercantile Guide: How To Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster, and Master Other Simple Pleasures edited by Alexandra Redgrave & Jessica Hundley – A bit of a change of pace for you…something a little less technical, per se. I originally got this book for Andrew for Father’s Day and I ended up reading through the whole dang thing in one sitting before wrapping it up! Organized by specific lifestyle categories (i.e. kitchen, outdoors, home, gardening and grooming) this neat little book is chalk-full of how-to’s and helpful tidbits to make life more fun and functional. I particularly liked learning about how to start an urban compost (something we are just starting to expand on at home) and how to make fire cider, a natural health tonic with an impressive list of ingredients to help boost one’s immune system. I think this would make a really nice gift to someone you care about, or maybe you should just gift it to yourself…sort of like I did.
- The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer – I came across this title by way of my favorite podcast, On Being. Despite it being a very short read at mere sixty five pages, I found this book to be very renewing and deeply profound. Its’ author, Pico Iyer, is known for his travel writing and is a well-known essayist, however in this text he uncovers the beauty and calm in going nowhere. Meditation and stillness is something I have been starting to dabble in to help my anxiety and with the everyday stresses of life and motherhood. This book explores those mindful notions and offers up the idea that there’s never been a better time to slow down and give ourselves the gift of presence. I also enjoyed how the author wove in quotes and life-enriching lessons by Thomas Merton, Matthieu Ricard, and Leonard Cohen. One quote I starred and underlined was the following, “Simplifying one’s life to extract its quintessence is the most rewarding of all pursuits I have undertaken,” a quote by Ricard, Tibetan monk and researcher of happiness. The perspectives offered in these pages both lifted me up and grounded me. For this I am thankful.
- Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippet – Reading this beautiful collection of interviews could not have come at a better time for me. Much like her thought-provoking podcast On Being, Tippet’s book Becoming Wise delves into the big, bold, philosophical questions that linger around the themes of language, love, faith and hope. Never before had I read a book that both celebrated poetry, religion and science in the ways that this one did. I was enthralled with the string of rabbit holes each chapter gently led me down as I continued to question and explore my own life and inner landscape from page to page. This text touched on current events, such as the racial and economic divide in our country and was not afraid to explore both the delights and doubts embedded in the more prominent religions of the world. The only negative thing I have to say about this book was that it touched on physics in one of the later chapters, something I am really not very interested in. In fact, physics might just be my least favorite subject. Nevertheless, I dug in and read it with an open mind, knowing that reading such material was ultimately in my best interest, however tepid. I’ll leave you with this, if you’ve ever wanted to have a dinner party with some of the world’s most beautiful, wise, and inquisitive minds, you’ll have a deep appreciation for this book and love it as much as I, for that is exactly what it felt like whist reading it.
- Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash – With the end of summer drawing near and the new school year fast approaching, I decided now was a good time to learn more about the philosophies of Waldorf education and the inspiring teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Although I am currently in the middle of this book, there are a few things I can share with you about it. So far, I have found this book to be very informative without the drain of complicated pedagogical jargon, yet I have found it not to be too watered down. A nice balance, if you will. It touches on important issues (like problematic standardized testing in the US) and the value in educating our children through creativity, imagination, problem solving skills, and ethical reflection (to name a few). As a former teacher, this book really speaks to the ongoing headache and heartache I felt in the classroom with regard to the often times ridiculous standards I was expected to achieve as an educator. I appreciate that the Waldorf approach embraces the whole child and educates not just at a cognitive level, but also on an emotional and physical one. As with any educational curriculum there are hesitations and questions I have, along with areas of concern, but something this book continued to highlight and spark within me was excitement and hope for the future of our children given that there are structures in place to help prepare them for life, not just graduate school and future employment. As Steiner famously said, “Receive the children with reverence. Educate them in love. Send them forth in freedom.”
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris – This is one Andrew is currently listening to on audiobook from appointment to appointment and to and from work. Have you heard of Audible? He is a big fan. Anyhow, Andrew is enjoying it so I thought I’d throw it on here for those of you who have perhaps heard of this title or author and wanted a little more information. From what I’ve gathered, it is about efficiently living in the now and creating a life that offers freedom to do what is normally reserved for the season of retirement. Now, a 4-hour work week sounds a bit crazy (and unachievable) to me, and not something I think Andrew or myself even want for ourselves. That being said, reading books that offer different perspectives concerning how others are living their lives is something we both have respect for and can learn from.
What books do you have stacked on your nightstand or stocked in your Amazon cart? I am going to pick up more fiction next season and am needing recommendations for the upcoming autumn season!