Books, Books, Books

I read a grand total of 43 (one book twice) books in 2016, a vast improvement on 2015.  For 2017 I would like to read a minimum of 52.

The below are in order as read, books that made most of an impact (good or bad) are annotated.

  1.  Simply Christian by Tom Wright – a great introductory text with simple explanations.
  2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – the tagline is “creative living beyond fear”.  Yes and yes!
  3. The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.
  4. The Pilgramage by Paulo Coelho.
  5. Longbourn by Jo Baker.
  6. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – this is an “epic” novel.  It is very long and meandering.  I felt that at least 200 pages could have been cut out.  I realise that this book has a lot of fans though so do try it if your tempted.
  7. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle – This is a wonderful book, a must read about a Priest who runs a non profit for ex gang members in LA.
  8. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran.
  9. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (re-read) fantastic, I love C.S. Lewis.
  10. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert – I really enjoyed this as I prepare for my own marriage in 2017.
  11. The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee – profound.  This will stay with you long after you read it.  Completely unexpected but I really loved it.
  12. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho – this is a fantastic book.  Read, it, read it!
  13. Prayer Without Pretending by Rev. Anne Townsend – I am lucky enough to know Anne who preaches at my church.  This was a very insightful little book about prayer and making time for it.
  14. The Day I met Jesus by Mary deMuth and Frank Viola – I absolutely loved this book.  I found it so helpful in learning the stories of these women from the Gospels and having them put into perspective.
  15. Every Day Sexism by Laura Bates – a real eye-opener in terms of statistics, if not in terms of experiences of women.  A great movement to get behind.
  16. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Fielder – I adored this, a really different way to present and write about mental health, for the better.
  17. The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow – I can’t do maths, I don’t like it, this was too hard.
  18. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory – I really enjoy her novels, I can’t put them down.
  19. Work Smarter, Live Better by Cecil Peupion.
  20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
  21. The Wealthy Woman by Mary Waring.
  22. Lean for Life by Louise Parker – read about this game changer here.
  23. Being Mortal by Atwul Gwande – really interesting about societies’ view of old age and ageing and death (not as depressing as it sounds).
  24. According to Yes by Dawn French.
  25. Finally Feminist by J Stackhouse – alright but not amazing.
  26. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest – I really needed this book and it is probably the book that made most impact on me this year.  I would recommend it to anyone (I read this twice).
  27. Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg.
  28. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – a great little book, we could all do with some hygge.
  29. Small Victories by Anne Lamott – a beautiful writer, a collection of essays, some had more impact than others but I really enjoyed this.
  30. A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers – I found this really helpful in helping me to identify the stories of women in the bible as often these are overlooked.  I really enjoyed this.
  31. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – a must read.
  32. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – good.  Not as good as Carry, On Warrior.
  33. Rising Strong by Brené Brown.
  34. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany – I miss Harry and the gang.
  35. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (re read).
  36. Listening to God by Joyce Hugget.
  37. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (re read).
  38. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – AMAZING.
  39. Still Life by Louise Penny – got into the Inspector Gamache books on the recommendation of Sarah Bessey.  Did not think I would enjoy it at first but really got into it. I just finished the second.
  40. Advent for Everyone by Tom Wright – very good a good programme for Advent.
  41. A Christmas Tail by Cressida McLaughlin.
  42. The Problem of Pain by C.S.Lewis – deals with a difficult subject for Christians.

Committed to being kind and other things…

So, a lot has been happening.  There was the whole #Brexit debacle.  I was devastated, I sobbed when I heard the result.  I love being a Londoner, British and European. I am not going to write a whole post on my feelings around the result, because, frankly, others do it better here and here.  I wasn’t surprised.  I am friends on social media with a few people who were voting “Leave” for a variety of reasons, not all of them (praise the Lord) immigration related.  I realised that there was a big division in our country and that some people had researched this and come to the conclusion that to leave the EU would, they thought, be better for farmers, the countryside and themselves.  I also realised that some people had done precisely no research and were blaming the EU for a whole host of problems, including “immigrants taking our jobs”.  Excellent.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs (according to me) of these views.  What I will say, and what I have already said on my own Facebook page is that we are all entitled to our political opinions and we all need to be kind to others, including on the internet.  Calling someone “dumb/thick/lefty idiot” or telling them that they “need to get over it, it’s happened” is oversimplifying the issue and is unfair when we clearly have a very divided country and need to focus on healing some rifts.

I have been horrified that my fears about racism being a large motivator for some people are being confirmed.  The BBC reported this week that there has been a 42% rise in hate crime in the UK compared to the same period last year.  A lot of racists seem to feel emboldened by the Referendum result and this was a particular fear of mine.  This is hugely upsetting and distressing to me.  I cannot comprehend people behaving like this to others, it is alien to me.

I have therefore decided to do my bit by being kind.  I start up conversations with people who are different to me where I can, I smile at immigrants a lot, I have started frequenting my local corner shop and Polski Sklep more in an effort to show these valued members of our communities that they are welcome.  I probably look a bit weird. It feels a bit weird sometimes but, really WHO CARES?! I would encourage everyone to do this.  These are small things, but they are done with love and I hope they make a difference.

Further to my last post I am committed to being careful about what I “like”, share and post on social media.  I always consider if I need to say anything, or if others more knowledgeable than me can do the talking.

In an effort not to become completely depressed about the state of the world and to make myself feel more centred, I have also been doing other things (alongside praying, obvs):

Reading

I bought myself some new books after a self imposed “book buying ban” in November when I realised I had two shelves of unread books and approximately 8 unread kindle books!  Whoops!  Having read a lot since then I decided that I could treat myself, reading helps keep me sane.

May reads on the left, June reads on the right.  Don’t judge me for “Billy and Me”, it was needed after the EU referendum result, and was actually alright!  Best read of May?  It’s a tie between “Everyday Sexism” and “The day I met Jesus”, both profoundly feminist books, what’s not to love?

image

Healthy eating and exercise?

Fallen off the wagon a bit here, but I have rediscovered a love for yoga.  I need to get back on board with my BBG workouts again, I’ve lost a bit of motivation after my bridesmaid moment passed!

Thoughts about my future and career 

Always a lot of thoughts.  I attended a wonderful vocations course (the first of its kind) through the church and for the last five weeks Wednesdays have been my favourite night of the week.  I am so glad I did it, I feel so much calmer about the future and my calling.  It was great to discuss things with a group of strangers (bar one person) and learn from their wisdom and experience.  I found it enlightening.  That sounds like a big word but I really did.  I discovered more about myself, the way I learn and approach things and about how to listen to God.  I still don’t really have all of the answers but I definitely have more clarity which is refreshing, particularly in a time when everything else seems so uncertain.

Socialising

I have been seeing lovely friends for good conversation, wine, food and fun, and I am always grateful for their time, especially those who have babies and whose time is precious.

Watching

Re Watching Doctor Who from Series One (the new one with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor).  That’s right.

Finishing off “The Wire” we’re on the final series and it’s past its best.

Gardening

I love my vegetable patch and my little herb garden. It is so satisfying watching things grow. My lettuces are my particular pride – insane!

I try to be organic and use the companion planting technique to reduce pests – this means planting crops together which assist so nasturtiums in with the runner beans are supposed to prevent aphids. Unfortunately, slug pellets seem to be the only thing working on those particular pests!

Things I am carrying forward into coming weeks:

  1. I’ve purchased a new Bible Study plan “Open your Bible” from “She Reads Truth” whose App I have used before, and I am looking forward to getting started.
  2. More Yoga.
  3. More reading.
  4. Bullet journaling.  I am still not 100% clear on what this is, but I want in!

I hope those of you that are feeling uncertain and a bit unanchored feel less so soon.

LOVE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Committed in April

So this is a bit late, work has been manic since I returned from holiday and I also had my sister’s Hen Do (weekend just gone) to plan… So lets see how I’ve been getting on with my commitment goals in the month of April:

1. To writing/blogging more

Well. I am not great at getting into a routine with this but I think it has been getting better, at least this month of May anyway. I was obviously away in April….so that’s my excuse for then! I’m aiming for a blog post at least every two weeks, hopefully working up to every week. Maybe. Still enjoying it though so this is good.

2. To continuing Bible Study/Prayer

I have done a lot of reading around these subjects but, surprisingly little in the way of doing. Poor. Having just read “Prayer Without Pretending” by Anne Townsend I am putting this into practice this month so hopefully there will be more practice here when I do “committed in May”. Let’s hope so as this should be a priority!

3. To reading more

Yes! Progress here! In April I read four books:

image

  •  How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran – this was most enjoyable although quite similar in a lot of places to How to Build A Woman which I preferred as I thought it was funnier.
  • Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle. What a book. So many “aha!” moments, and those moments where you realise that sometimes you are a bit self righteous and cringe at yourself for your utter stupidity. No one is “better” we are all loved. Beautiful words throughout, I cried at various points. No surprises there.
  •  Re read – Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis. As always I appreciate his simple way of explaining complex theology and the fact that he does it in such a “British” way. Some of it (on marriage) is very outdated but otherwise full of wisdom. I turned down so many corners of pages to highlight my favourite parts. A great book if you are new to theology or Christianity as he writes from the perspective of a former atheist.
  • Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert. I was a huge fan of Eat,Pray,Love so came at this with expectations. They were met and this book was very pertinent to me at this season of my life. Plus Liz is funny!

4. To pursue a possible career change

Well, again a lot of thinking and praying not a lot of doing just yet. That’s okay though. I don’t know my “calling” just yet. This post of Sarah Bessey’s here made me feel a lot better about this particular work in progress; it doesn’t have to be a mountain top moment.

5. Healthier eating and more exercising

I was going so well with this – I had hugely cut down on my sugar intake and was doing Kayla Itsines BBG workouts which I had made huge progress with. For me you understand – I’m not talking six pack progress, but I had lost 7lbs and felt more toned, healthy and had more energy! However, I then went to Italy and ate all the food.

I haven’t really had the same commitment to it since getting back. I have had a lot of eating out at weekends and I am writing it off as a bad couple of weeks and starting again on Monday with renewed vigour!

I have also been going to see my osteopath which despite costing me a fortune and still being pretty awkward, has helped, at least with my Runner’s Knee…which will hopefully have a knock on effect on my squat/back pain.

6. Saying “no”

Hmmm. This is probably the toughest one for me. I have got better at this, at putting myself first. It’s still a work in progress though. I am on both the Parish Council and the Deanery Synod for my church, I work full time (long hours) and have commitments with family and friends which I love but it’s hard to juggle them all and still have “me” time. The holiday in April was much needed though and I felt I did less rushing around. I have certainly cut down on mid week meet ups this year limiting them to once a week if that! #proud.

Something else happened in April that meant I was out celebrating a lot…we got engaged in holiday in Cinque Terre! Since then I have basically been drinking all the champagne and eating all the food! And why not?! We are thrilled! Proposal post to come! but that’s definitely very committed 🙂

image