One of the side benefits of taking a break from the online world has been reclaiming time to read old-fashioned books. The towering pile of half-finished paperbacks on my bedside table had been getting dusty, but I rescued part of the stack this summer.
It’s rare that I read fiction. What I love the most are non-fiction books that I think will help me improve myself, my life, or my outlook. I took a few on my two unplugged vacations. Here are the five that made the first cut — the suitcase — and the second cut — sharing with you:
Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt
Rosenblatt’s advice about writing well is insightful and even exciting, but this award-winning author and professor parted the clouds and let out the God light when he dared to answer the most profound question for me: why write?
Sex & Sensibility: The Thinking Parent’s Guide to Talking Sense About Sex by Deborah M. Roffman
I count myself among the many parents who want to guide their children through the confusing process of growing up, but have no idea how. After hearing Debbie talk at our elementary school, I knew she was the one to be my guide. Instead of the black-and-white “don’t do it” that we use to counter the media’s “just do it,” Debbie helps us provide kids with more realistic guideposts that are based in our own values.
NOTE: Debbie has just released a new book, Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person about Sex. I haven’t read it yet, but since Sex & Sensibility leans towards wordy, I think Talk to Me First is probably the better bet.
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Even though it was written in 1978, this book is still a wise and comforting roadmap for anyone who believes that it is possible to evolve as a person, a parent, and a partner. Somehow I got a hold of this book when I was a teenager, and I loved it then like I love it now — especially the parts about discipline and love. Self-discipline, Peck says, is essential to achieving anything from saving money to being a good spouse.
Peck’s definition of balance helped me understand why it’s so hard: the essence of balancing is “giving up.” Giving up going farther at work so we can spend more time with our family, giving up staying up late watching TV so we can be well-rested the next day, giving up our lazy time for cleaning so we can have a restful environment. When we realize what is required of us, I think it’s easier to step up to the plate. Do you?
Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World by Susan Sachs Lipman
This new book, written by fellow blogger Suz Lipman of Slow Family Online, is a wake-up call to anyone whose life has become more about chaos than calm. I’ll be reviewing this gem in a later post, but here is one of my favorite lines from the book:
“Instead of freeing us, technology … has created a culture in which many of us are afraid to unplug, for fear of missing something. It turns out that, instead, what we wind up missing is a life of family connection and joy.”
Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
Another older book which is in its third printing, Your Money or Your Life was at the forefront of the voluntary simplicity movement: which some describe as “simple outside, rich inside.” Powerful stuff in this brave book about how we get caught up in a cycle of trading our life energy for money and our money for possessions.
The authors take people through a nine-step process of getting out of debt, saving money, and finding the peace of “enough.” There is even a whole section on frugality, which they define as that “elegant fit between our real needs and how we enjoyably and ethically fill those needs.”
Thank you for letting me share what not only has been shaping my thoughts this summer, but what is helping me chart a clearer path as I go forward.
Have you been reading this summer? I’d love to hear what books have helped you be a better you.