I’ve talked a few times recently about my goals for 2022. One goal I set was to read 3 books a month, and I’m proud to share that I actually read 4 in January. They were all just SO GOOD that I flew through them.
I should note that I listened to a couple of these books on audio, which is how I was able to fit them all in this past month. It’s so easy to pop on one of these books any time I’m in the car or on my daily walk. If I had to wait until I could sit down, there’s very little chance I’d be able to finish all 4 of these.
It’s funny because as I started recapping each of these books for this post, I realized there is a prominent theme throughout all four of them: Busyness is not the key to happiness. Each of these books convicted me so much and is helping me achieve one of my other goals for 2022: Be more intentional with my time.
I’ll share a quick recap of each of these books, but I honestly highly recommend every single one of them. I re-read one of these books twice because it was just THAT good. Here’s a bit about each and why I think they’re worth a read!
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I was honestly fairly hesitant to read this book because I’d heard it’s heavily about writing. Obviously, I do a fair share of writing for my own business, but I hardly consider myself a writer. But I decided to give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.
This book is about so much more than writing. The author shares a lot about her own life and ties in a ton of parallels to writing. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about how so many of her students just want to get published. It’s all they care about — and they fail to enjoy the journey along the way.
I found so many parallels between this story and the world we live in. It’s so easy to get caught up in the next big milestone, whether it’s graduating from college, buying your first home, getting that promotion, getting married, etc. It’s easy to be so focused on arriving at the destination that we can become unsatisfied in the journey.
I honestly loved the message Anne wove through this book. Instead of only focusing on the accomplishment, we could all benefit from slowing down and embracing the journey along the way.
Pray by Val Marie
I’ve been obsessed with Val Marie for a long time now. Her journals have been a game-changer in my prayer and devotional life, so when I saw she’d recently written a book on prayer, I immediately ordered it.
As I imagined, reading this book felt exactly like talking to a friend. I’ve read a lot of books on prayer by authors like Tim Keller and C.S. Lewis — and they all felt… big. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I often struggle with the message in these books because they’re not overly relatable to my own life.
Pray is the exact opposite of this. It felt super attainable. I love that she gives you real-life action items and an entire section at the end of each chapter where you can reflect.
I can picture this being used as a devotional book if you don’t have the time to power through it quickly. You could honestly read a chapter a week, just take your time working through it, and get so much out of it. It’s also a very easy read so you’ll be amazed how quickly it goes!
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
THIS BOOK, y’all. I can’t say enough. I’ve actually read this book twice now and am planning to write a full blog post on it, but I wanted to give a quick recap in this post too.
The author of this book is actually a pastor in Oregon who found himself preaching six sermons a day, feeling busy and in a hurry all the time. Eventually, he had a come-to-Jesus moment and realized something had to change. After seeing the ways his life had changed, he decided to write this book.
In this book, John Mark reminds us that Jesus was never in a hurry, and in order to have a relationship with him, you have to eliminate hurry from your life. There are SO many amazing quotes I highlighted in this book that I’m dying to share with y’all but I’ll try to keep it to just a couple.
“To walk with Jesus is to walk with a slow, unhurried pace. Hurry is the death of prayer and only impedes and spoils our work. It never advances it.”
As a society, we have this constant inability to sit still. I struggle with it myself all the time. People in a rush don’t have the time to enjoy the moment and give attention to their relationship. As this book states, hurry kills relationships; love takes time. The author quotes Mary Oliver, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”
The biggest takeaway for me was the need to incorporate a Sabbath into my week. It’s something I started doing at the beginning of the year and honestly, it’s been so good for me and my faith. It feels like a small change to my daily life, but I’ve noticed a big difference. As I said, I’ll write a full post on this at another time, but for now, I want to share with this amazing quote from the book:
“In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to.”
Take Back Your Family by Jefferson Bethke
This was the final book I read in January. It was good, although, of the 4 I read, it was probably the most “okay” in my opinion.
The basis of the book is how our ideals as a family have shifted over time. Jeff talks a lot about the “nuclear family” and how its focus on each individual versus the family unit has changed our priorities.
To display this, he uses the example of two young boys: one from another country and one from Atlanta. When asked what their goals for the future were, the boy from a different country said he wanted to be successful so that he could provide for his family and his community, while the boy from Atlanta was more focused on what he could buy and how successful he could be.
This example highlights how we’ve come to prioritize the wrong things as a society — more focused on helping ourselves than our family or others.
I really enjoyed the way the author shares tangible ways to bring your family back to a team mentality, such as creating a mission for your family, talking about the reasons you work, go to school, etc. He walks through what it means to be a family on a mission and how to work in an integrated way instead of being individually focused.
Jeff wraps up the book talking about finding your family rhythm by incorporating things like Sabbath and then making sure you’re filling your time intentionally. I felt so convicted by this message and even more adamant about celebrating the Sabbath ourselves. I’ll leave you with this quote from the book that I’ve come back to several times since finishing this read:
“Life is just a collection of weeks. Learn to have a good week, and you’ll look back and have a good life.”
Brighton Your Day
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