Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let Books Swallow You Up

     If you're already a reading enthusiast, you might not find it hard to lose yourself in a book. You know the beautiful feeling of looking up from a book to find that you were absorbed in it for several hours.

     That's ok. In fact, that's the best.

     When we have time and space to allow a book to wrap us up in its pages, I think those are the stories that stick with us the most.

     Not all books can swallow you up like this. Not all books have redeeming value or stunning descriptions. Not all books have flawless character development and attention-grabbing first lines.

     But some do.

     Some teach you. Some change your life. Some you love forever. Some make you cry.

     Some make you fall in love with reading all over again.

     Those are the ones that are worth returning to again and again. When you find them, you won't let them go.

     Challenge for today: Revisit an old favorite, a book that swallowed you up, heart and soul.


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Much to Read

     When you're deciding how much to read, it's good to have a bit of a format. Everyone's is different, just as everyone's favorite books are different.

     But whether you're artistic or detail-oriented, laid-back or strict, a words person or a numbers person, a big-goals person or a daily rituals person, the methods below will work.

     "How much to read" includes three basic things:

  1. A vague goal that inspires you
  2. A book count that grounds you
  3. A routine that guides you
     All three are important for managing your reading life. Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

     A vague goal that inspires // This means that your reading life has a direction. You want to read in a certain way for for a certain reason. I really shouldn't even call it a goal as it is more like inspiration. Maybe this inspiration is a person, a thought, a quote, a writer.

     Example: I want to read like super smart people are watching a film of my life.

     A book count that grounds you // This is more of a goal as it is solid and something to work towards. A number for the week, month, or year will set you on a good course. Set your goal, and stick to it.

     Example: I want to read 50 books in 2015 (check!), 60 books in 2016, 70 books in 2017, etc.

     A routine that guides you // To get to your book count by the end of your allotted time, you'll need some routines. Maybe you read first thing in the morning or last thing before bed. Maybe you read between classes or on your lunch break. Maybe you read a ton on the weekends or on vacation. Know what works for you, and try to make it a daily ritual. This can be however structured or unstructured you want it to be.

     Example: I read a calming, non-fiction book for thirty minutes in the morning, fiction in the afternoon, and anything I want to read in the evening.

     Challenge for today: Make up what you want these three to be for you, and you'll have decided how much you specifically want to read in this stage of your life.


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Read Beautiful Words (with Giveaway!)


     I love reading.

     I will read classics and contemporaries, non-fiction and fiction, theology and sci-fi.

     But what I love most in any book are beautiful words. I want the stories to pull me in and stun me with their beauty. I want the spiritual memoirs to make me pause and take a moment to tuck truth into my mind.

     Today, Ann Voskamp's beautiful new book, The Broken Way releases into the world. If you've read One Thousand Gifts, you know the way she weaves poetry and prose, stories of beauty and pain.

     The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life.

     What a subtitle! This book is life-changing and renewing. (Confession time: I love The Broken Way more than One Thousand Gifts!)

     Now that Ann has introduced you to her book, let me share what I love about it. Here's what you're in for when you pick up this book:

     // Metaphors and stories woven so seamlessly that after each chapter, my heart says, "Wow! God did that for her. It reminds me of all the ways He works in my circumstances."

     // What's even better than a bucket list

     // Quotes from the best: C.S. Lewis, A. W. Tozer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Spurgeon, Augustine, Martin Luther, etc. By referencing these greats and contributing her own writing to the spiritual discourses, Ann earns her place among the greatest Christian writers of all time.

     // Finally, a book full of whispered dares to live fully that aren't cheesy!

     // Spiritual encouragement and heart-reorienting for all of us wounded humans

     I flagged so many pages in just the first 100 pages that I ran out of stickies, but I saved enough quotes to share the best here:

"Maybe the love gets in easier where the heart's broke open." (pg. 24)

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you choose to remember and how you remember it." (pg. 33)

"Peace isn't a place to arrive at, but a Person to abide in." (pg. 47)

"Anxiety can come out of nowhere. Get busy, get distracted, and you can forget God. Forget God, and you lose your mind and your peace." (pg. 53)

"Is anything you're doing here adding up to anything that matters? And in the end, is what you've chosen ultimately about Christ and His kingdom? If not, then no matter what you're chosen, it won't matter at all." (pg. 54)

"I told her I was trying to remember to put my priorities on all things unseen. Told her I was trying to slay the idol of the seen, break the idols of performance, and believe the state of my house doesn't reflect the state of my soul. And she's confirmed it's the priorities unseen--the prayers, the relationships, the love while doing the work--that hold the meaning, the merit." (pg. 55)

"Take your one container of time and believe it contains exactly the time you need for a meaningful life." (pg. 61)

"We are done waiting for some elusive future moment to say life is good enough. We are done waiting for some big enough house, some big enough step up, some big, exciting enough experience to finally think we've arrived at the abundance of being and living enough." (pg. 87)


     This book is for the hopers and the suffering--often the two go hand-in-hand. This book is for the teenager who wonders if she's living her one broken life to the fullest and the middle-aged woman wondering the exact same thing. This book is for the readers who love beautiful words and the readers who love to sit and think about a single sentence. This book is for me, and this book is for you.

     You have the opportunity to win a free copy of this book. That's right: I'm giving away a copy! Just leave a comment below by midnight on 10/30, and I will draw a name and announce it on 10/31.

     I am also giving away an advance copy of the study guide that accompanies this book, which will not be available until December. Let me know specifically if you are also interested in the ARC of the study guide, and I will enter you into a separate drawing.

     The Broken Way challenged me to live a purposeful life of giving and resting in Christ, who is our peace. It's a book that comes alongside you wherever you are and dares you to live fully.

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." ~John 10:10b ESV


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Favorite Literary Quotes

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” 

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” 

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” 

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” 

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” 

“One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” 

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 

“You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” 

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” 

“He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two.” 

“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” 

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” 

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” 

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.” 


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to Befriend Bookworms

     Yesterday and today, we're talking about how reading is better together {link will take you to an awesome article on a different site}.

     Let's discuss befriending bookworms...with gifs!

'How can you read this? There aren't any pictures.'
     Every bookworm knows what it's like to talk to someone like Gaston, am I right? Don't be a Gaston! He can't even read. (Love how Belle's face represents every misunderstood bookworm ever!)

     For most bookworms, books represent trust. If someone actually dislikes books, it's hard to understand them. Befriend bookworms by showing interest in their reading lives and asking good questions.

     But don't interrupt readers when they're absorbed in a book. That's the quickest way to lose a friend.

Appreciate good literature already!
     The easiest way to be friends with a bookworm is to become a bookworm yourself. If you really appreciate literature, you won't have to pretend to appreciate it.

     It's so exciting when you agree on the most important things in life. :)

When you and your friend both love a book
     And once you befriend a bookworm, you will have a friend for life!


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to Talk About Books

     If you want to have a better reading life, we need to talk about the social aspect of reading: how to tell your friends about a book you're reading, how to discuss literature at a somewhat intelligent level, and how to summarize your own thoughts on a book.

     1. Don't try too hard. Don't work like crazy to sound intelligent. If you are intelligent, it will come across without you trying.

     2. Respect books. Authors put work into their books. Don't hate on books you didn't enjoy. Others may enjoy those books; they just weren't for you. Let others have their opinions. After all, if we were all the same, the world would be boring.

     3. Make observations as you read. This will prepare you for future bookish discussions. Maybe you related to a character, or maybe you didn't understand something. Your friends are there to help you process the book only after you interpret it for yourself.

     4. Stand by your opinions. Don't give into the common opinion about a book just because it is popular. Always be honest with your thoughts and feelings.

     5. Recommend a book only if you think the other person truly will enjoy it. If someone has a different taste than you do, they may not enjoy a book just because you did. Keep their preferences in mind as you gush about your new favorite book. Don't recommend willy-nilly.

     6. Don't be shy about giving disclaimers. Maybe a book has some language or elements that readers should know beforehand. It's always better to give these up front, especially when you're recommending or lending.

     Challenge for today: Talk to someone about a book!

     Tomorrow we'll discuss how to befriend bookworms. :)


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Even More Bookish Nerdiness

     Want to join in even more bookish nerdiness? Here are 3 things book nerds have fun with (whenever they aren't reading, of course!)

     1. BookTube. Yes, it's just YouTube videos that are bookish. "BookTube" isn't an actual website. Just go to YouTube and search for "books" or "reading" or "booktube". You'll find hours of entertainment made by your fellow bookworms. (Check out my new BookTube channel.)

   2. Bookstagram. Once again, this term refers to bookish accounts, this time on Instagram. I don't personally have an Instagram. If I had one though, I would be super into this! Mostly, book bloggers are the only ones who commit their entire account to pictures of books.

     3. Goodreads. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Get on Goodreads, and find your new favorite books, quizzes, quotes, polls, friends, groups, etc. It's THE book social media.

     Challenge for today: Explore one of these communities that is new to you.


This post is part of my 31 Days to a Better Reading Life series.