Fall is crazy busy, but there’s something about it that also drives me to ramp up my personal reading list. Maybe it’s the cooler weather, the start of a new school year, or my internal drive for focus when the season dawns, who knows. Perhaps coffee just tastes better with an accompanied book in hand.
Regardless the reason, I love reading. I love a stack of books waiting for me, perched on my night stand, sitting in the car, and tucked in my purse. And I wholeheartedly believe that regular, personal reading is necessary and good at any stage of life.
I’m a mom of three kids ages eleven weeks to five years, I run a busy household and a side business, and every minute of my day is precious. If I find the time to read a book or two, anybody can.
Here’s what I’m hoping to read this fall.
This book (and several others mentioned below) were recommended at the debriefing workshop my family and I attended several weeks ago, and it taps in to the topic of soul care. I’ve already cracked open the book a little, and so far it’s delicious. Barton explores different ancient spiritual practices, such as lectio divina and examen of consciousness, and how they can be applied today in everyday life.
A quote from the beginning chapter:
“Your desire for more of God than you have right now, your longing for love, your need for deeper levels of spiritual transformation than you have experienced so far is the truest thing about you. …There is a place within each one of us that is spiritual in nature, the place where God’s Spirit witnesses with our spirit about our truest identity. Here God’s Spirit dwells with our spirit, and here our truest desires make themselves known.”
I’ve barely peeked inside this book, but it also came recommended at our workshop, specifically about the topic of exploring the gift of shepherding and the ancient tradition of spiritual direction. As my husband and I explore what’s next for us vocationally, we want to strengthen our muscles and skills of caring for others and walking alongside friends in an intentional way.
From the preface:
“Spiritual friends nurture the development of each other’s soul. Their love for each other translates into a desire that the other settle for nothing less than becoming all that he or she was intended to be. What they offer… is the gift of themselves and their companionship. …Spiritual friends are soul friends. This means that they care for each other as whole people, not simply as spiritual beings.”
Simple Homeschool editor Jamie Martin recommended this to book to me as a good one for Simple Mom’s Book Club. Whether we get to that in our club is still up for debate. Regardless, I want to read it for myself, in order to better understand my children and how to be their most reliable teacher.
John Holt was a leading voice in education and one of the earliest voices of the modern homeschooling movement. This book is one of his classics, and I’ve wanted to read it for awhile now.
From a later chapter in the book:
“Their learning does not box [children] in; it leads them out into life in many directions. Each new thing they learn makes them aware of other new things to be learned. Their curiosity grows by what it feeds on. Our task is to keep it well supplied with food. …[This] doesn’t mean feeding them, or telling them what they have to feed themselves. It means putting within their reach the widest possible variety and quantity of good food — like taking them to a supermarket with no junk food in it (if we can imagine such a thing).”
Henri Nouwen is one of the great modern-day spiritual writers of our time, and was a leader in the Catholic church and at various universities. This short book is the answer to a request from a friend of his — to write a book explaining the spiritual life in terms that he and his friends could understand, avoiding theology and technical language. I’m really looking forward to this one — I’m told to read it slowly and savor just a few pages at a time.
From the book:
“It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the world of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on on having. But I don’t know anyone who is really happy because of what he or she has. True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others.“
I’m about three-fourths through this book, and it’s a good one. Soul Custody goes through different choices we make in life, and dedicates a chapter to discuss how the decisions we make affect our souls. Whether it’s what to eat, what job offer to take, in which relationships to invest, or how to spend our time, each choice we make ultimately affects our soul, for good or bad. Ultimately, we need to make soul care a priority in our lives in order to nurture our inner being and make wise choices.
From the book:
“Becoming who we were meant to be is the primary way of knowing the God who really is. By accepting ourselves, we learn to accept a God who is loving, gracious, creative, able to forgive, and willing to extend mercy — all attributes the soul craves to be healthy, free, and alive.”
It’s interesting to watch the trends in my reading pursuits, and how they ebb and flow with different topics and various writing styles. I tend to read more practical, life application books in the spring, fiction in the summer, and headier, hardier topics in the fall and winter. I’m not sure why.
No matter, though, I feel better when I’m always reading through something. Even if it’s just five minutes before I pass out at night, reading keeps my wheels greased and my mind focused on something outside my immediate sphere of diapers and snack time.
I’d love to hear what’s on your nightstand. What books do you hope to read soon?