Tag Archives: book recommendations

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about The Truths We Hold, and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings. So, shall we?

In the final chapter of The Truths We Hold, Kamala Harris shares 8 mantras which she and her team rely on as touchstones and guideposts. They use them as “starting points for policy conversations and as ways to determine whether we’re on the right track.” For our final thoughts on this book, I’d like us to take a moment to reflect on these mantras.

How can we apply these bits of wisdom? How can we start conversations, enact change, and lead the charge in our own lives and around issues that matter to us most? 

How can you embrace innovation?
What is a bold action you’d like to take? Are there risks involved?
How will you test your hypothesis?

In what instance would it be helpful for you to hear from other voices?
What questions would you ask?
How can you amplify those voices?

What happens when seemingly insignificant details get swept aside in favor of grand pronouncements?
Are there tedious tasks you can take on and actually enjoy?
What’s one tiny change you think could have a BIG impact on your life or the country?

How do you wield your words for good?
What words do you think are most powerful?
How can you make your language more inclusive?

Are there goals in your life that would benefit from reverse engineering?
Once you’ve worked backwards, are there ways to adapt the steps to make the end goal better and more attainable?
What can you say to the people in your life who tell you the answer is 8 without acknowledging that they added 4 and 4?

What are you fighting for?
Who are you fighting for?
How can you join forces with other folks?

Have you witnessed any “fights worth having” lately? How did they make you feel?
Who inspires you to keep fighting and to never back down?
What strategies can you use in your life to be brave in the face of adversity?

In what ways are you “first”? What have you achieved, what goals have you met, how have you succeeded?
Now, how can you pull others up with you?
Who do you “take into the room” with you? Who is cheering you on?

Have you read The Truths We Hold yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or tune in next week for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

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Would You Do This?

Would you buy copies of your favorite book(s) in bulk and keep them on hand so you can give them away?

Mimi Ikonn mentions doing this in a house tour video I watched years ago and it’s such a great idea that it really stuck with me. As she says, “We always buy a couple extra copies of our favorite books. That way, when people come over and we end up talking about our favorite books, we can just give them a copy.”

She and her husband keep spare copies of The Alchemist. Isn’t that brilliant?

What books would you want to keep copies of? I think I would choose The Poisonwood Bible and Wild. Maybe an extra copy or two of my book club selections? But it is so hard to choose!

So, what do you think? Would you do this? Have you read anything lately that you loved so much you would totally rush out to buy extra copies??? Let’s chat below…

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

confessions of a secular jesus follower tom krattenmaker reflection questions

1. In Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower, Krattenmaker clearly knows his stuff when it comes to the Jesus presented in the New Testament. He recounts many stories and offers a secular spin.

How well do you know Jesus? What stories of him, from Scripture, do you remember? Do you have a favorite?

2. Historically, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples served an invaluable role as a place where emotional and spiritual needs were met and where a sense of purpose was established. With the move away from organized religion, these needs and purpose are often cared for elsewhere.

Where would you say these needs are met and purpose established for you? 

3. Jesus has been held captive by a nationalistic culture of white, middle-class, anglo-centric, mostly male people. Yet, he was born with darker skin, was from the lower class, had a male body but a seemingly female soul and often voiced disdain for religion. He lived between east and west. The only thing he excluded was exclusion itself.

What do you struggle with including in your circle of love and acceptance? How might you work towards being more inclusive?

4. Jesus said, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” The early Church actually forbid membership to soldiers. And yet countless people of faith have fought and died believing a a “just war policy” that simply was not of Jesus’ thinking.

Is it possible to end violence and war? What might that transformation look like?

5. Marie Kondo is gaining immense popularity right now for her clear the clutter that fails to bring joy philosophy. This book really highlighted for me the similarities between her take and Jesus’, who reminds us that there is enough for everyone to have all they need.  We tend to be hoarders rather than distributors of our wealth.

How might you better meet the needs of others? How might you share your wealth? What do you think it will feel like if you give some stuff away?
*Note: Krattenmaker’s interpretation of the loaves and fishes story would be a wonderful section to revisit before taking on decluttering projects! What do you think?

6. Isolation, depression, and anxiety are at epidemic levels in our country today. Much of this stems from a feeling that no one cares, no one gets me, there is no one. Jesus was all about radical hospitality so that everyone cares, everyone gets me, there is everyone. So, your challenge today is to make contact with people – chat with a cashier, make eye contact and smile at a homeless person, check in with a family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile (actually talk, no texting). And then come back and reflect on how it  felt.

Who benefited most from these encounters? How might you incorporate these little actions into your everyday life?

7. You read the statistics – we are an Incarceration Nation.

What would it look like to offer restorative justice rather than retributive justice (locking everyone up) in our society? Where might this begin?

8. The author asks a very good question, “Were he suddenly inserted into our time and place, were he to behold our structural racism and all the other forms of injustice borne by one group or another, what would Jesus have us do?”

Thoughts? 

9. Let’s talk about non-dual thinking or living with paradox. Many hear this and think of eastern religions. But Jesus was also a non-dual thinker. That means sometimes there is no right or wrong, this or that, my way or no way. Sometimes both are right, my way and your way. It’s about coming to the conversation with an open mind.

Can you think of someone you strongly disagree with? Do you know that person’s whole story? Have you really listened to that person’s reasoning without judgment? Could you have that conversation? If not, why not?

10. Lunatic, Liar or Lord? Time to brainstorm some more L words that might describe Jesus. One I love – LOVE.

Your turn. 

Have you read Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or tune in next week for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

❤ Thank you to my mom and sister for their help with this series. Grateful to be part of a family that loves and encourages reading! ❤

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about the man behind Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower. (Well, the author, Tom Krattenmaker. Not Jesus. LOL) I shared some of his other work, and a few interviews, which hopefully placed the book in the broader context of why Krattenmaker, again and again, finds himself turning to the figure of Jesus.

Today, I’d like to widen the horizons of that context even further and offer some extended reading. Perhaps these pieces will bolster the book’s argument for where to find inspiration and input in your own life, perhaps not. Either way, I hope they are illuminating.

I must admit, Krattenmaker’s NOTES section made the process of discovering “further reading” super easy. Most of what follows was pulled from those pages; I selected the ones I felt best broadened the scope of each chapter and linked them for you here…

First, listen to this —
On Being with Krista Tippett – The Equation of Change

For more on contemporary American Religion —
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert Putnam and David Campbell

For a deeper dive into exploring the modern world in theological terms —
The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium by Walter Wink

I’d love to know, what do you think about the interpretation of modesty in this article? 
Yoga Pants and What the Bible Really Says about Modesty
and here’s another opinion piece the book makes reference to in Chapter 3 —
The Caligulan Thrill

To enter into a conversation with Jesus —
Let Me Ask You a Question: Conversations with Jesus by Matthew Croasmun

For more on questioning the meaning of life —
What Makes Life With Living? Take a Moment to Ask 

* QUICK INTERMISSION *
So much to read and take in, amirite? How about a little break in the action for some tunes! Click  HERE for my Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower playlist on Spotify. 🙂

For a greater understanding of the “urban age” discussed in Chapter 6–
America’s Urban Future

Some further reading on who we lock up —
The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

The invisible and forgotten —
The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

For more on religion and politics —
God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics by Stephen Carter
and an interview with Jonathan Haidt —
Defusing Political Conflicts

How to approach the resurrection as a nonbeliever —
Easter for Atheists

Some more secular inspiration —
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly

Ok, that should keep us all busy for a bit. Happy reading!
And, one more time,…here’s the link to the Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower SPOTIFY PLAYLIST. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

mid-week round-up

What’s going on this week? The countdown to Christmas is truly ON!! We had a wonderful long weekend in Louisiana visiting with Chet’s family. (We also ate all our favorite local specialties, saw the lights at the local zoo, and went to the movie theater to watch the new Spiderman movie — highly recommend.) We’re off for round 2 of holiday travels this weekend so for the next few days I’ll be running around like a mad woman trying to get everything done. Hope your week is a bit calmer than mine, and here are some links I’ve been reading this week…

RIP Penny Marshall, the first woman to direct a $100 million dollar grossing film.

How old are all the characters on Seinfeld?

The race to find the most precious religious relics.

The top 10 books of 2018, according to everyone.

The only small-talk worth having.

Devon Sawa, the original Stan, on who he stans.

Where Americans find meaning in life.

Is it time to nix the two-week pay cycle?

A cozy sweater to wear with leggings.

Your future grandchildren’s responses to how dating worked before apps.

Isabel Wilkerson on Michelle Obama’s book and the Great Migration.

[Related: The Warmth of Other Suns and Becoming.]

Made me laugh.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Books to Read if You’re in Search of a History Lesson and 3 At-Home Date Night Ideas.

mid-week round-up

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! In honor of the holiday, I’ve rounded up some Thanksgiving content…

A Thanksgiving capsule wardrobe.

Wines to enjoy at Thanksgiving.

A Thanksgiving menu for under $50.

Dollar Tree DIY table centerpiece.

Movies for the whole family.

Gratitude journal.

Recipe for cheesy cauliflower.

Getting your car road-trip ready.

And a few other links you might enjoy…

Obsessed with Roxane Gay’s Goodreads account.

The untold stories of the housing crisis.

The future of aging just might be in Margaritaville.

Actually really looking forward to this movie.

Made me laugh!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you next week!! xoxo

For the love of BOOKS!

What have you been reading lately? While I believe ALL seasons are great for reading, Fall weather feels especially conducive. Don’t you think? There’s something so lovely about curling up on the couch because, hey, it’s already dark outside…but in reality you still have plenty of hours ’til bedtime.

I think Anne, of Green Gables fame, said it best —

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Sad to see October go. But so excited for what books lay ahead in November! If you’re in the same boat, here are some books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend for next month’s evening couch sessions:

Sharp Objects
Delancey
Honeymoon in Purdah
Under the Banner of Heaven
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vacationers
Some Girls
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

I’m currently reading The Silver Star, which is written by the same person who wrote The Glass Castle. My friend recently recommended Nevada (I added it to my reading list right away), and my mom and sister both LOVED The Electric Woman. Also, I recently saw someone perform an amazing oral interpretation of a story from Her Body and Other Parties, which totally made me want to reread.

So, what are YOU reading? Anything you’ve read in the last few years that you can’t stop recommending to people? Would love to hear!!

P.S. How to make time for books.

What Will Happen When You Start Reading More Non-Fiction

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

I’m a big believer that everyone should be reading more. Did you know, 1 in 4 Americans didn’t read a single book last year? For someone who has always considered myself a bookworm…this blows. MY. MIND.

Of the books out there, I think non-fiction gets an especially bad rap. They’re all like those school text books that put you straight to sleep, right?

WRONG!

In fact, besides the multitude of non-fiction books that are just as page-turner-friendly as their fictitious cousins, reading non-fiction can come with a lot of benefits…

You’ll Learn Valuable Lessons

When you read non-fiction, you can learn a ton of valuable life lessons. You could read about a specific time in history or read the biographies of interesting folk, giving you insight into both tragedies and triumphs. Reading non-fiction can help guide you when new opportunities come your way. They can offer you a powerful lens through which to view the world around you.

You’ll Improve Your Concentration

Reading requires a ton of focus. Increasing the amount of time you spend reading non-fiction each day can drastically help with concentration and productivity levels. I have found reading for 15 minutes before tackling a task that requires a lot of focus preps my brain to concentrate. Other times this may be of benefit to you? On a public transit commute, before you go to bed, or while you’re waiting for an appointment. 

You’ll Master New Communication Skills

Did you know that reading non-fiction can improve your communication skills as well? Your vocabulary will certainly expand, but you’ll also be able to begin mirroring how accomplished authors formulate their thoughts into words with the greatest efficacy. This can help you look more professional in the workplace and it can also help you gain confidence when expressing yourself.  You’ll find that many language learners practice English by reading aloud. Even as a native speaker you can take a page from their book (pun intended!) and brush up on your skills with a little at-home oration!

You’ll Gain General Knowledge

When you read non-fiction, you can easily boost your level of general knowledge as well as your intellectual level. (And if you’re still in school, actually doing the assigned reading will make sure you’re better prepared for those quizzes as well.) Regularly reading non-fiction will help you to better answer questions on the spot and give you fantastic talking points when you meet people who have similar interests to you.

If you’re convinced, here’s a reading list of some of my favorites to get you started —

A Few Non-Fiction Faves:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Kitty Genovese by Kevin Cook (I blogged about this one HERE.)

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (I blogged about this one HERE.)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky (I blogged about this one HERE.)

* * *

At the end of the day, non-fiction will expand your knowledge and increase your intellectual confidence. When you put the work in and set time aside for reading, you can easily reap these benefits. Reading non-fiction is such a wonderful way to learn more about new subjects and expand your interests! So go do it!!!

 

mid-week round-up

What have you lovely lot been up to? Chet and I went to an aquarium (in Chattanooga) last weekend, which is our favorite way to celebrate his birthday. And tomorrow I’m flying to Kentucky to hang out with my mom for the weekend. Summer – SLOW DOWN! Hope you’re having a great Wednesday, and here are a few interesting internet offerings…

“How Pixar’s open sexism ruined my dream job.”

The forgotten story of The Radium Girls, whose deaths saved thousands of workers’ lives.

An advertising campaign that highlights the remarkable.

Dealing dead people’s things.

Looking into reading options for when I’m done binge watching E.R.

How science is saving ballet dancers.

A summer reading list curated by Ann Friedman and readers of her weekly newsletter.

The arrest of a Russian belly dancer exposed simmering tensions in Cairo’s belly-dancing scene.

Great sale if you love OXO products. (*raises hand*)

The rise and fall of the family-vacation road trip.

This documentary looks NUTS!

Sign up HERE to be a rapid response volunteer for immigrant parents and their children.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger and 18 Movies to Watch When You’re Hibernating (because sometimes summertime heat is cause for hibernating in the A.C.).

mid-week round-up

Happy Wednesday! What are you up to this week? My best-friend Katie is coming to visit tomorrow (squee!) and I can’t wait to show off our new area. I’m ready for some summertime activities and a healthy dose of gossip. Hope you have a great rest of your week, and follow the links below if you’d like to loiter online a little longer…

This made me laugh out loud.

Strawberry cheesecake popsicles for a homemade summertime treat.

I love this blog post that tells the real story behind the beautiful wedding photos.

A sweet pin.

I have mixed feelings about this.

19 quick and easy weeknight dinners.

On my reading list.

Well-behaved women make history too.

My summer mood in a nutshell.

More women in the U.S. live alone than ever before.

How to feed the resistance.

7 ideas for random acts of kindness when the world feels like a dumpster fire.

P.S. A couple Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Two Poems and A Simple Cure.