I went a little bit crazy at the library two weeks ago. Well, I went a little crazy online placing holds on books. Before I knew it, I had nine books on hold. Nine! Which isn’t a big deal, except FIVE of them became available all at once. And one is in transit to my local branch as I write this blog post. Plus I started another one on my Kindle. Geesh. Get a grip, Karen!
These books are different from the ones I’ve read most of my life. I’ve pretty much always been a fiction girl. I love historical drama, especially novels set in World War II (which is great because it seems to be a popular genre these days). I also used to love reading thrillers by authors like James Patterson and David Baldacci, but ever since I had kids, I can’t read them anymore. I swear the world becomes a much scarier place when you become a mom, and I don’t need anything adding to my worry. Does anyone else feel that way, too?
But the books I’ve been reading lately are non-fiction – personal development, to be specific. I am 35, and I am finally ready to dive into the self-help genre. I’ve tried to read similar books in the past, but I’ve never really been into them. I tried to force myself to get through them, but my head and heart just weren’t there. Maybe I didn’t think I needed a makeover (just a mini, not extreme), but I think it had more to do with me not being ready to take a hard look at myself.
I think that’s the key component needed when someone’s looking to make a change: being ready. Learning about yourself isn’t easy. While it can be freeing, it can also expose some ugly truths that you may have wanted to keep hidden. Understanding yourself means that you take responsibility for your own actions and disappointments.
If you’re not ready to embrace both your good and your bad, and to make some changes, then I recommend waiting. The sentences and paragraphs and chapters that make up these books won’t mean a thing if you don’t want to hear what the authors have written.
I’ve read some great books recently, and some that are just okay. I’m hesitant to say they were bad because maybe they just weren’t for me. In fact, there’s one best-selling book that people rave about and I found it to be…meh.
I probably liked my “great” books so much because they’re what I needed to read at that moment. I noticed that several of these books have very similar themes – being vulnerable and not isolating yourself – and that’s what I’m working on doing right now. I mean, duh! Of course I’d gravitate to those kinds of books.
I recently listened to an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast during which she talked about some advice she received from the great Maya Angelou: “When you know better, you do better.”
I’m trying to forgive myself for mistakes I’ve made in the past, mostly related to supporting Ryan and his business. But here’s what I’m slowly realizing: I didn’t know better. I feel like maybe I should have, but I didn’t. Sure, there are some things I could have done differently, but the big decisions I regret? Those ones I made with the best of intentions. I just didn’t know any better.
But now I do, and I’m still learning. These books are helping me get there.
So, you’re probably wondering what I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m a little late to the game reading these books because not a single one was released in 2019. In fact, one was first published in 1992!
*These books discuss personal development from a Christian perspective.
1. *The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile: The one that started it all! My friend let me borrow this book earlier this summer when we were in Buffalo. It blew my mind. I’m a Four on the Enneagram, and when I read the chapter on Fours, I started crying because I couldn’t believe how accurately it described me (except for the whole creative part). The Enneagram is very trendy right now, but apparently it’s been around for a long, long time. I’m itching to read Suzanne Stabile’s book, The Path Between Us, which deals with the Enneagram and healthy relationships.
2. *Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend: This one was originally published in 1992, and man, it’s still so relevant today! It was updated and expanded in 2017 (I picked up the older version from the library), plus they’ve written additional Boundaries books on specific topics like marriage, dating and children.
3 and 4. *It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered and *Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst: You should see all the highlights in my copy of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. This one really hit home for me. I keep thinking that I’m living someone else’s life; this isn’t the way my life was supposed to be. One quote I read on her blog and in her book is the kick in the pants I needed to pursue this podcast: “I also know there’s someone else in the world who would drown in their own tears if not for seeing yours. And when you make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, you make the world a better place.”
5. The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin: This one is fun and light-hearted. I love that her first personal commandment is to “Be Gretchen.” That doesn’t mean she remains the same; it just means she tries to be a better version of herself.
6 and 7. *For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards and *Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker: She’s hilarious. She’s also one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. These are fun, light-hearted reads that made me feel a little bit better about myself.
8. Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun: When I read this book a few weeks ago, I thought to myself at one point, “I wish I had this sooner!” Y’all – I did! I bought it last summer but only read about half of it. I don’t think I was ready for it last summer. Back then, I just wanted someone to tell me “You’re right, and Ryan’s wrong. He made this mess, and now he needs to fix it.” I wasn’t quite ready to see where I could’ve done better as Mrs. Startup.
Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!