I love to read and this year has been a CRAZY BUSY reading year! I’ve read some of the most impactful books of my life this year, so I wanted to take the opportunity to share them with you!!
These are some seriously amazing books! Honestly. I’m going to riff for just a minute on each one and what I took away from it. And I strongly recommend and encourage you to add them to your own personal reading list!!!
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Okay – this book is UH MAZE ING! Truly. Summary: Author Brene Brown discusses how vulnerability is the key to human connection. She debunks myths around vulnerability and gives readers practices to cultivate vulnerability and other aspects of wholehearted life.
I read this book for the third time this year – this time leading a book study on it – and I feel like I got even more out of it this time than I did the first two reads. This is one to keep and re-read whenever you need a wholehearted living boost.
Favorite Quote (It’s too hard to choose – but here is one that I loved that has truly become the cornerstone of my work through A Teacher’s Best Friend):
If we want our children to love and accept who they are, our job is to love and accept who we are.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book (by the author of Eat, Pray, Love) is a deeply encouraging reminder of the creativity that lives inside all of us. Whether you want to paint, dance, sing, innovate, or just want to think outside of the box you’ve placed around your own life, this book will give you the courage to go for it! It’s full of all kinds of wisdom and truth, and it’s fun and easy to read.
Favorite Quote: (and one I wish we would communicate to our students as well)
You do not need a permission slip from the Principal’s office to live a creative life.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
This powerhouse book by Brene Brown (can you tell I’m a little obsessed with her) is about the moments in life when you fail, when you are “face down in the arenas of life” (love, parenting, friendship, teaching). It’s about the moments when we’ve come unglued, reacted poorly, snapped, and failed. It’s about how we get up – how we rise – and how we move from reacting to responding in the midst of feeling, acknowledging and honoring our own emotions.
It is a truly powerful book – one I will gift to many people, but will never give away my own copy as it is already stained with the tears of new understanding, growth, and challenge. This is a book I will cherish and read over and over – ESPECIALLY when I’ve fallen and failed (soooo basically it will never leave my nightstand).
We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
This gorgeous book is all about gratitude. When challenged by a friend to write one thousand things she is thankful for, author Ann Voskamp takes a spiritual journey she never bargained for. Through her absolutely stunning imagery, Voskamp takes you on the spiritual journey of gratitude. Before reading this book, and beginning my own gratitude journal, I never realized how truly transformative gratitude can be on our hearts and spirits. Amazing!
The one thousand presents wake me to the presence of God – but more so, living eucharisteo, living in thanks, had done the far harder work of keeping me awake to Him.
Thrive by Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington, CEO of the Huffington Post, writes about how her world-view was turned upside-down when she was hospitalized for fainting due to exhaustion (literally – that’s the diagnosis!). She is forced to reexamine the choices she has made and the unsustainable life she created for herself working 14+ hours each day and being a single mother.
For those of us who struggle with work/life balance and self-care (okay – ALL of us teachers) this is a GREAT book to read. She reviews lots of wonderful practices for self-care (sleep, mindfulness, taking time for friends etc.) that help her create a life of well-being and helps her redefine “success”.
Find your place to stand – your place of wisdom and peace and strength. And from that place, remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us – women and men – can thrive and live our lives with more grace, more joy, more compassion, more gratitude, and yes, more love.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
This is another book that I reread this year. I’ve actually owned this little baby since high school and have read it most years of my life since. It’s chalk full of wisdom – Toltec wisdom actually.
The main point of the book is this: we believe things about ourselves that have been ingrained in us since childhood – some of which are not true or no longer serve us. We have the ability to create NEW agreements about who we are. He suggests these four be the basis for your new agreements for your life: (1) Be impeccable with your word, (2) Don’t take anything personally, (3) Don’t make assumptions, (4) Always do your best.
The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This little book is about creating a peaceful environment for your life. So many of us have clutter all around us. All that does is clutter our minds and make us discontent because we don’t LOVE everything we see. This book is about decluttering and only keeping the things that truly bring you joy – joy to behold, joy to wear, joy to use etc. Her simple method will have you decluttered and organized in no time (and yes, I do fold my clothes on end now – you’ll understand once you read it)
Favorite Quote: (Is she talking about things or something deeper here? You decide.)
To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have a hard time with food. I have struggled with weight (and control) my entire life, vacillating about 40 pounds over and over and over. To tell the truth, I know everything there is to know about dieting and nutrition. I can tell you exactly what I “should” eat and what I “shouldn’t”. And that’s the problem. I’ve always gone from being super strict on a diet to eating like a toddler let loose in a candy store.
But I’ve made the choice to get off this crazy rollercoaster ride once and for all. And this book helped me do it.
Now I’m looking at food/eating and exercising all through the lens of self-care – taking care of myself because I love myself and I want to do things that help me to live the best life I possibly can. It’s been AMAZING so far. And although it is odd not to stand on the scale after a few days of eating well, I am resisting the urge because I’m in this for a new reason – ME!
All of the changes you want to make regarding deprivation and insufficiency will come more easily if you believe you’re 100% deserving 100% of the time.
Managing the Inner World of Teaching by Robert and Jana Marzano
And here we are – the only book with “teaching” in the title on my list of Best Wholehearted Teaching Reads of 2015. 🙂
This book, by teaching reasearch gurus Robert and Jana Marzano, finally gives credit to the mental/emotional life of a teacher in impacting their ability to be successful with students (can I get an AMEN!). In the book, they outline how managing your inner world (thought life) helps you to stay in the moment and make wise choices in your responses to stressful situations instead of coming unglued and reacting.
A far more “researchy” book than all the others on this list, but still a great read. It speaks to the art of mindfulness in teaching, and gives concrete examples that real teachers face in their battle for presence and peace.
What teachers think and how they feel have an impact on what they do. Stated differently, the “inner world” of teachers’ thoughts and feelings affects the “outer world” of their behaviors, which in turn influences students’ learning.
So there you have it – my 2015 reading list! I recommend any and all of these books and the links are below.
What is on my reading list for 2016 you ask?
Some of you know that my husband and I have one beautiful daughter and have struggled to conceive another child. We had one miscarriage in 2015, and have yet to get pregnant again. Infertility can be extraordinarily disheartening, and I’ve had some painful moments in 2015. But I’m hoping that with these two books on the nightstand in early 2016, I can use this time of waiting to uncover more about myself and to understand even more what it means to be wholehearted – to live wholeheartedly – experiencing the full power of life’s joys and life’s pains.
Some of you are there too – whatever your pain point is in life – I get it. I know what it’s like to feel out of control. I know what it’s like to feel a “hole” but to still desire to live whole.
I’m with you. And I can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for all of us.
~Alison, A Teacher’s Best Friend