Good Reads

2018 Reading List: January

While I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I did set a goal of reading at least one book each month this year.  I love reading, but I usually don’t set aside time to do it.  I recently finished my January pick, so I thought I’d share a quick review.

January Pick: Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.

Present

This book.  My goodness, y’all.  I’ve never read such life-giving, soul-quenching, or freedom-driven words before.  It’s all about letting go of the need to do more, be more, buy more, say more, etc., and start living the life God designed for you.  It was an inspiring reminder to say yes to wholehearted living, connection, and freedom, and to say no to busyness, chaos, and unattainable expectations.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you feel like your life is spinning out of control (which is, like, everyone).

Below are some of my favorites quotes from the book.

“So I ran and ran and talked and talked and spun circles around my life, avoiding that emptiness.  What I find now, though, is that the stillness is where I feel safe and grounded, and that the frantic living spins me away from myself, from my center, from my new and very precious awareness of how deeply I am loved.  I return to the silence to return to love.”

“I’m learning, though, that the God who loves me isn’t just looking for apologies and report cards.  He wants me to bring the vinegar so that I can taste the oil.  He has all the time in world to sit with me and sift through my fears and feelings and failings.  That’s what prayer is.  That’s what love is.”

“Our friend Ian, an Episcopal priest, taught us something I’d never heard, something that shaped all of us: on a rainy night, with the raindrops echoing loudly on the roof, he told us we never take communion.  We receive communion.  Taking, he said, is what happened in the garden. Receiving is what will put the world back together again.”

“But as I learn to dwell in the silence of my own heart, I’m finding myself drawn to the silence of nature – of water, land, expanse.  As I learn to trust the stillness I’ve been running from for so long, I’m finding that I crave more and more silence.  I’m drawn back to the water, to the sound of the waves instead of the sounds of traffic and the blare of action and excitement.”

“But what I’ve learned the hard way is you don’t answer to a wide swatch of people and their opinions, even if they’re good people, with good opinions.”

“This makes me wonder, of course, about all of scripture… how many other stories have I twisted to tell my own story?  How many images of God have I constructed out of my own wounds?  And what would happen if I stepped inside of them like I did this one and found the narrative fundamentally altered.”

“Hold close to your essential self.  Get to know it, the way you get to know everything in the world about someone you’re in love with, the way you know your child, their every freckle and preference and which cry means what.”

“Burnout is not reserved for the rich or famous or the profoundly successful.  It’s happening to so many of us, people across all kinds of careers and lifestyles.  If you’re tired, you’re tired, no matter what.  If the life you’ve crafted for yourself is too heavy, it’s too heavy, no matter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less.  You don’t have to have a public life or a particularly busy life in order to be terribly, dangerously depleted.  You just have to buy into the idea that your feelings and body and spirit aren’t worth listening to, and believe the myth that busyness or achievement or both will take away the pain.”

“The snow was only meant, created, commanded to fall.  The rain was only meant, created, commanded to pour down.  You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird, wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.”

See what I mean about life-giving, soul-quenching, freedom-driven words?  Good stuff.

I think I’ve decided to read Turtles All the Way Down by John Green in February.  I’ve got a few more days to decide, but I’m pretty sure that’s the one.

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2 thoughts on “2018 Reading List: January

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