By Alex Davis
The season of calm before the holiday hustle is the perfect time to pour a cup of chai tea (or a fancy coffee shop latte) and dig in to a great book. I recently polled several women about their favorite reads, and the responses encompassed picks from historical fiction to biographies to self-help books. I don’t know about you, but I am quick to grab a book that comes highly recommended by a friend, even if it is outside the scope of what I typically read. As such, here is a list of some top picks by my bookworm friends (a few personally recommended by Yours Truly). I hope you will be inspired to try a few yourself!
Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
Only one word adequately describes Jen Hatmaker’s writing style: Real. The acclaimed author of Seven and For the Love is back to encourage women with a message that is simultaneously hilarious and incredibly true: life can be a total mess. It is full of pain, frustration, boredom, confusion. But women have the moxie to weather it all with grace. To overcome. To rise up resiliently in the face of challenges. Each and every one of us has enough moxie to overcome life’s challenges. Hatmaker’s words will make you feel seen, heard, and known – not to mention, comforted and affirmed in the knowledge that you are never alone.
All In by Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove is the transformational entrepreneur behind Care.Com HomePay, a corporation that revolutionized home childcare by simplifying household employment tax obligations. All In is a very honest account of Breedlove’s journey to launch her business. Not only is her story itself incredibly inspiring, but she also offers a blueprint for readers in designing their own successful careers and lives. It was this book that first introduced me to the concept of work-life “integration,” and it has since become one of the foundational principles behind this blog’s mission statement. Even if you are not an entrepreneur aspiring to build a multimillion dollar corporation, this is a must-read: Breedlove’s advice on cultivating integration in daily life will inspire you to start taking charge of your own day-to-day schedule and consider how you can make space in your life to work on your passion projects.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker.
This page-turner will whet your appetite for historical fiction. Molly, a teenager living in foster care, gets roped into fulfilling community service hours at the home of a very old woman, Vivian. As Molly begrudgingly helps Vivian clean out boxes upon dusty boxes in the attic of her old mansion, Vivian regales her with stories about her past. Concurrently, the book tracks the story of a young Irish immigrant who was orphaned when her family was killed in a tragic house fire. The young orphan’s story holds some shocking parallels to the main protagonist’s, and the ending features a thrilling plot twist.
This is a must for all my Southern souls out there. Flannery O’Connor was a Southern Catholic author who wrote about ordinary people undergoing extraordinary experiences. Her stories are simple but rich with profound symbolism that cuts straight to the heart of the human experience. “Parker’s Back,” which literary scholars laud for its heart-rending conversion story and the double meaning in its title, is a fantastic place to start.
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.
This book was released more than a year ago, and I wish it had not taken me so long to get on board. Niequist’s story about how she traded hustle for a simpler, slower, more intentional way of living was a catalyst in my own quest to redesign my schedule. Her voice is encouraging and sincere, and her story is incredibly relatable. I challenge you to read this and not feel motivated to reevaluate how you have been spending your time.
The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith.
When a friend let me borrow The Nesting Place, I thought it was a decorating book: a collection of beautiful pictures with gratuitous text. But while the author of the popular blog, Nesting Place, shares an abundance of photos of her home, the book reads like a personal story – and it is excellent. It is largely her account of how thirteen different relocations taught her to embrace imperfection in her home and in doing so, create a space that truly serves her family, no matter where she happened to find herself. It is also a guidebook for those of us who struggle to do the same. Her tagline is: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” As a new homeowner myself, I have benefitted tremendously from her advice on how to think creatively about ways to make my home more functional and beautiful by embracing its imperfections and limitations.
Did I mention any of your favorite reads? What else should be on the list? I’d love to hear – share in the comments below!
Featured image by Ivorymix.