I used to be an avid reader. I read so many books, and pretty much always had several titles I was working on. But then, my family grew. And I started a home business. Simply put, life got crazy. And reading got pushed to the back burner. For far too long.
But, I realized last year that I really missed reading. So, I started picking up books again. And found it was a wonderful, screen-free way to relax. I wanted to make sure I was more intentional with my reading this year.
As a way to help me stay motivated, I set a reading goal for 2021. To help me stay motivated and not get discouraged, I didn’t pick a crazy goal. It’s one that is very doable. My goal is simply to read one fiction and one nonfiction title each month. By the end of the year, I’ll have finished 24 books this way. And maybe even more…
My plan is to pick non-fiction titles that will help me with my business. However, I’m sure throughout the year I’ll pick some non-business titles as well. I have plenty of books I want to read!
In January, I accomplished double my goal. I read four books! They were all great titles, making them a good way to dive back into the reading habit.
Altogether, I read three non-fiction titles (one business book, one parenting book, and one historical cookbook) and one YA fiction book. The books I completed were (affiliate links ahead in the list and throughout the rest of the post):
- Responsible and Resilient Teens: 10 Secret Parenting Solutions by Miranda Lamb
- Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression by Clara Cannucciari
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Your Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
- Unbirthday by Liz Braswell
If you’re looking for some new reading material, here are my reviews on the books I read.
Responsible and Resilient Teens: 10 Secret Parenting Solutions
I met Miranda in a blogging Facebook group a while back, and really appreciate her personality and wisdom. She and her family live on a farm, and I really enjoy seeing all of her cow photos on Facebook, since I miss my cows!
But, back to the book. When Miranda mentioned that she was writing a parenting book, I knew it was one I’d want to read. She shares a wealth of information on parenting teens, which I appreciate. Often, it seems much of the parenting material I see online is all geared for younger kids.
I was able to be on Miranda’s launch team, so I received a free PDF copy of the book. However, I knew it was one I wanted a physical copy of as well, so I purchased a paperback version. That’s the one I read, as I really don’t enjoy reading on the phone or computer much.
Once it arrived, I eagerly started reading. It was written in Miranda’s no-fluff, easy to read voice that I’ve grown to enjoy on her blog. This book is only 66 pages, but it’s packed full of valuable insight and tips to help you raise responsible teens who are ready to launch out into the world as young adults.
There are 16 chapters in this book, and each are only a couple of pages. It’s a great book to pick up and read when you only have a few minutes, since you can get through a chapter. I appreciate the way that Miranda encourages you to build a solid parenting foundation in the few chapters. She discusses the importance of being on the same page as your spouse, ensuring your children have been taught to do the things you are expecting them to do, setting boundaries, and more.
These first few chapters are helpful for parents of any age kids – not just tweens and teens. They’re a great reminder that parenting takes love, consistency, and work.
The rest of the book dives deeper into each of the parenting solutions. These cover ten strategies you can use to help you be a better parent to your older kids. They contain examples, tips, and ideas to really explain the concept and make it easy to grasp.
While many of Miranda’s tips were ones we were already doing with our kids, it was encouraging to read about them from another mom. Sometimes you wonder if you’re doing this parenting thing right, and a dose of encouragement can be wonderful.
I especially appreciated her chapter on using physical work to build resilience. Sometimes, I start to feel bad that our kids have chores and we make them work. I worry that the task we have for them is too hard or too much. In today’s society, having your kids work is frowned upon in many circles.
But then, I realize how important a good work ethic is. And that I want to raise adults, not kids. So this chapter was very encouraging to me. I enjoyed reading the list of ideas Miranda shared for physical work kids can do, and as our kids continue to grow and mature, I found some new skills to have them try.
There are plenty of other great tips in this book. It’s one that I’ll pull out again in the future, as more of my kids enter the tween and teen years.
Final thoughts: If you’re raising tweens or teens, and want them to be hard working, resilient adults, I highly recommend this book.
My mom and step-dad got me this book for Christmas, and I read it shortly after the new year began, while we were in Wenatchee for our ministry. It was a fairly easy read, so it didn’t take too long to get through it.
And in case you’re wondering…yes, I did sit down and read a cookbook cover to cover..and I enjoyed it!
It didn’t really feel like reading a cookbook. You see, this one has all sorts of stories woven into the recipes. I really learned a lot about what life was like for Clara, growing up during the Great Depression. As a frugal person, I enjoyed reading her money saving tips. She also shared some fun activities that she enjoyed when she was younger, such as making paper dolls.
There are plenty of photographs throughout, which were neat to see.
While there aren’t a load of recipes in this book that I see myself making anytime soon (though her Di Maria Family Sauce looks amazing), I learned some valuable lessons in these pages, and will likely pull it back out and read again. One primary theme of this book is how important it is to be thankful for what we have. And to use what we have and be creative to reduce waste.
We can’t always predict what life will be like. But, ingenuity, contentment, and a willingness to work can help us get through even the hardest times.
Final thoughts: If you’re interested in the Great Depression, and how people lived during this time, or are looking for some Depression era recipes, I think you’d like this book!
This book was recommended to me by a friend who is also a freelance writer.
My business is all about creating content. So, I want to make sure I’m creating the best content possible. This was a timely read for me, as I’m planning on really diving deeper into my blogging efforts to slowly fade out some of my client work in the coming years.
This book is full of tips to help you create great content AND leverage it on different platforms. Once you create a piece of content, there’s no reason for it to stay where you originally posted it, just collecting virtual dust. Instead, it’s much better to re-imagine it and let it work for you again and again. Since this is an area of my business that doesn’t come as naturally to me, I really appreciated the insight.
Honestly, this is a book I need to reread since there is so much inside. I walked away sort of feeling like I’d been trying to take a drink from a fire hose. There were just so many ideas and tips that really got my brain going.
I often read this book with my planner nearby, so I could take notes and stop to do some brainstorming. There were some fabulous tips on creating headlines (which I currently stink at). I also appreciated the tip on mixing things up with your content. I sometimes get stuck in a rut, so this was encouraging advice.
This book is broken into four parts. The first one discusses the rules of content and how to make sure your content is attracting the right readers. Part two is a how-to haven – you’ll find tips for creating webinars, blog posts, case studies, videos, and tons more. I sort of skimmed through some of these chapters during this read, as I am not currently utilizing some of these methods. However, I know I’ll be back as I integrate additional marketing avenues into my business.
The third part was actually my favorite. It shared so many different success stories of how a variety of companies used their content to grow their business. It was motivating to read, and I appreciated the different industries and size of companies that were represented. For instance, there was a chapter on the US Army, one on Kodak, and several on smaller companies.
The final part is just a single chapter long. but it contained a valuable checklist you can use when planning and creating your content. There’s also a link to some additional online content (that I haven’t checked out yet.)
Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, though at times it was overwhelming. I’ll be pulling it off the shelf again frequently, to go back and reread some of the tips I’m ready to implement at the time. If you’re looking for a book to help you create better content, this is an excellent option.
My oldest daughter found a different book in this series this summer at a Wal-Mart in Missouri, when we were down at Missionary Acres. She loved it, and used some of her money to order additional titles.
I read a couple of them over the summer, but then we came back home and our fall was a whirlwind of doctor appointments, surgeries, and catch up. So, I sort of forgot about these books. But, when I asked my daughter for a fiction title recommendation for January, she handed me one of these Twisted Tales, a title about Alice in Wonderland, titled Unbirthday.
At 504 pages, it was definitely the longest book I read in January. It’s a thick one, much longer than many of the other Twisted Tales I’d previously read.
Like the other books in the series, this one takes a common fairy tale and twists things up a bit. Starting with the Disney characters and plot, things move in a completely different direction. The driving question this time around is:
What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?
This book, as you might have guessed, was about Alice – the little girl who went to Wonderland. Except now, she’s no longer a child. She’s a young adult. And she goes back to Wonderland. There, she realizes that things are in trouble. It’s no longer the place she remembers. The Queen of Hearts has gone completely mad, trying to bring about the end of the world so she can win.
The book starts off in such a way that it captured my attention. The author does a great job of developing the characters, and weaving together the two worlds as Alice jumps back and forth between them. Almost all of the characters that were in the Disney movie make an appearance in this book, plus you get introduced to more.
I enjoyed reading about the adventures Alice had in Wonderland, and in the real world, as she navigates life with her older sister (who is trying to set her up with a gentleman who is not a great fit for Alice.)
The Wonderland sections were definitely darker than the original Disney, so if you’re thinking this is a good book for your younger kids to read, I’d be cautious. There are fights and deaths, and at one point, Alice almost dies and has to go back to the real world immediately.
I will say, I didn’t like the ending. There was a lot of build up in this book, and then it seemed to wrap up too quickly. It was a completely different ending than I thought it would be, and I was a bit disappointed.
But, despite that, it was a book I enjoyed most of. And, when the next one in the series comes out in April, I’m sure I’ll read it as well. They’re a fun way to unwind and think creatively about familiar stories.
Final Thoughts: If you enjoy reading mixed up fairy tales, this one was mostly good. It’s all about Alice in Wonderland, so there were lots of fun characters, and the world-building in Wonderland was neat. However, the ending seemed rushed.
Did You Read Any Good Books In January?
I’m looking for more titles to try this year, so I’d love to hear your recommendations. (Especially in fiction – I seem to always have loads of non-fiction on my to-read list, but not as many works of fiction.)