Well, it’s been a while since I wrote one of these, thanks to a very fateful book last year that led to me getting married!
Anyway, since we have settled in, I’ve had a bit of time to pick up reading again and have made my way through a couple of shorter yet still great reads.
Drew and I received the book Cherish for our wedding, and it’s honestly my favorite marriage book so far. One thing I dislike about a lot of marriage books is that they’re written for people whose relationships are already in a bad place and can be a bit of a drudgery if you’re looking for something to be a bit more encouraging and inspiring.
Cherish isn’t like that. The idea is that cherishing your spouse is taking love to the next level and being proactive about championing the other person, whether it’s making space for their passion, helping them out in social situations, or understanding their inner motivations. We both have been really enjoying it. If you’re a newlywed or engaged I’m going to guess that you’d really like it.
The first book that I finished was Where You Go, a Christmas gift from my sister Rachel. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes view of the Pence family and their youngest daughter Charlotte’s perspective on the challenges of being in the public spotlight. Since I’ve lived in Indiana for most my life, our family was very familiar with who they were before the White House. It was interesting to read about their life and family and deep faith.
Book Girl was a selection I was super excited to read, mostly because I love anything from Sally Clarkson (if you haven’t checked out her podcast—it’s wonderful.) This book is by her daughter Sarah and it’s about the transformative power of being a reader.
This book did not meet my expectations in some regards and challenged my thinking at the same time.
First, I expected more of a manifesto (or maybe a pat on the back if I’m being honest) about why being a reader is such a good thing. This was not that. Most of the book constituted extensive lists of books for women in different seasons of life.
I’ve realized that people read for different reasons. Some read to affirm what they already think. Some read to be challenged. Some read for a quick bite of learning that energizes them for whatever practical thing they face.
I am not good at reading deep books. I know the value of them but it is a skill I have not cultivated enough. Drew is the opposite. He enjoys and eats up philosophy and theology. And maybe that is why Book Girl was good after all. Sometimes we need a book to not be what we expect so it shakes us from complacency and comfort and expands our thinking.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Ah, this book. Here comes an essay. It’s funny that I happened to read it when everyone is being so anti-Marie-Kondo. I saw an interview of her on a late-night show and I was shocked and appalled by how disrespectful the host was—making fun of her at every possible change. It is the definition of immaturity to invite someone on your show to share ideas and then turn it into a comedy segment. In our materialist culture, she has a wonderful message and the book honestly had some amazing ideas that I had never thought of before, such as…
…not keeping books that you know you’re not going to read again for another 3-4 years–or ever. Books are heavy and take up a lot of space. And as avid of a reader I am, there are a sizable amount of books in my collection that were just okay—not by any means classics. I’d rather pass on a book to another person or donate it than have it as a dust collector unless it’s a special edition/collectors copy or especially beautiful and useful for decorating.
…ruthlessly editing your wardrobe. Drew’s clothing was my first area of attention. He needed some wardrobe updates (#bachelorstatus) and so he was more than happy to part with old shirts, socks and random worn-out articles of clothing. (P.S. If you’re a guy over 25 you probably should part with promotional and old political t-shirts and get some nicer threads. Or get married and assign your spouse to the task of updating and cleaning out your closet.) And then we got him some really nice clothing items in smaller quantities. Along the way I discovered that he didn’t even own a winter hat and gloves, so we fixed that as well. Overall, it was a success.
My clothing was next. My style has shifted somewhat over the last few years and so a move has given me an excuse to get rid of clothes that no longer bring me joy and edit out a lot of scarves, out-of-date fashion jewelry and uncomfortable shoes.
…not keeping old paperwork. I was able to go through years’ past of random paperwork and keep what was relevant and discard the rest–because getting married, moving and keeping up with utilities for two houses produces a pretty good stack of paper.
Let me just say that getting rid of so many things has made me much more mindful of why I buy things.
Since then, I’ve purchased a bright red coat that makes me smile every time I put it on. Not because it was particularly fashionable, but because it’s a bright spot during the overcast and windy Michigan winter. That’s the kind of thing I want to spend my money on, you know?
If you’re thinking I should have known all of these things already– of course I did! We read books sometimes to learn, but often to be reminded of things, to connect disparate points, and be motivated to change and action. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is towards that purpose.
What have you been reading? Leave a comment!
What I’ve Been Reading is a blog tradition that I’ve kept up with over the last couple of years.