Writers Read.

One thing that helps get me into the writing mood is to read. A lot. Preferably to read books and articles that are written by very gifted writers, although sometimes that can backfire if I start comparing my writing skills to theirs and find mine sorely lacking in comparison and I wonder why I bother attempting to write anything remotely insightful at all as I will never begin to compare to these incredibly talented writers. Not a healthy way to read or write, let me tell you. (And you wonder why I struggle with writing consistently?) But I digress…

Here’s a rundown of some of the books that have taken over my nightstand of late.

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist. I was first introduced to Niequist’s writing when I reviewed her latest book, Bread & Wine, which I absolutely loved. Do you ever feel like a writer is writing directly to YOU and that you feel an instant connection to them? That is how I feel about Niequist. I would gladly read anything she has ever written or ever will write, including grocery lists. {It’s a healthy obsession, I promise.} Unsurprisingly, I loved Cold Tangerines. It’s a series of short essays written about life, faith, family, pain, joy, and the like. I tried to limit myself to a chapter or two at a time because I didn’t want the book to end. And, in typical God fashion, there were certain chapters or passages that I read at JUST the right time. Next up is Niequist’s Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way.

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton. Similar to Cold Tangerines, this one was also a series of essays written by the founder of the Momastery blog (which I’d never read or heard of until I read her book). Melton writes very openly and honestly about her addictions (she’s a recovering bulimic, alcoholic and drug addict) as well as her marriage, family and faith. I am drawn to writers who are unafraid to share their deep dark insides (or who, in spite of their fear, share it anyway) and I found myself also trying to read just a few chapters at a time to prolong the experience of reading. Melton’s writing is funny, raw and heartwarming. I may have enjoyed it even more if I was a mother, but I still found it to be a very thought-provoking read.

Immanuel: A Daily Guide to Reclaiming the True Meaning of Christmas by Ann Spangler. I picked this one up as a $5 special at Lifeway a couple of Christmases ago, and am trying to make it a tradition to read in the weeks leading up Christmas. The book is divided into six sections covering six different names of Jesus, each intended to be read a week at a time. I usually read this in the morning as my quiet time before getting ready for work. It’s a good little devotional-type book that is providing some insight into some of the different names of Jesus and the meaning behind them.

Get Positively Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Good by Carmindy. This was an impulse buy on Amazon a couple of weeks ago when I was ordering some Christmas gifts (luckily it was a bargain buy so I didn’t feel too guilty for getting myself a little something). I was familiar with makeup artist Carmindy from her makeovers on the recently dearly-departed “What Not to Wear” and figured I’d take a gamble with this one. I’m only a few chapters in, but I have to say that I was really impressed that the first part of her book deals with our attitudes toward our appearances. Too often we (myself included) tend to focus on what we don’t like about ourselves, trying to cover up what we consider to be flaws. Carmindy’s approach is to accentuate the positive and let go of negative self-talk. She also shares some of her own beauty journey, including her struggles during those always-painful awkward years. I’m not sure how many beauty tips I’ll come away with that I hadn’t already heard before, but so far I’m enjoying Carmindy’s attitude toward seeing ourselves as beautiful.

Read any good books lately?

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