Tag Archives: book recommendations

mid-week round-up

What have you been up to loves? Last weekend, Chet and I saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…complete with a huge tub of popcorn. Have you seen it? Sometimes I just can’t get over how good an actor Leo is! Hope you have a fantastic week, do a few things for your own enjoyment, and here are some links you might want to check out…

The best street art in every state.

How to give constructive criticism without making it awkward.

Everyone knows about urine-detector dye, despite the fact that it has 100% never existed.

These cookies are my new favorite thing.

How to eat candy like a Swedish person.

24 books under 200 pages, recommended by TED speakers.

An ice cream truck owner who hates influencers so much he charges them double.

When should you tell a child their adopted?

A fish pie loaded with summer’s bounty.

Fall is right around the corner!

Sweet new merch from Call Your Girlfriend.

16 words people often mix up that can make you look foolish.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — My Favorite Words and The Truths We Hold — Continued Material.

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Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about The True Memoirs of Little K, 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?

1. Why do you think Adrienne Sharp chose to claim these were the “true” memoirs of Little K in the title of this novel?

2. From where does Mathilde gain her power? And how is it take away?

3. What are your thoughts on the love between Nicholas and Mathilde? How does your perception of their relationship change as the book goes on and history unfolds?

4. What impact does the revolution have on Mathilde and her son? What do you think their relationship would have been like a century prior?

5. How would you have reacted if you, like Vova, were asked to impersonate the Tsarevich in public?

6. In what ways did being the daughter of an Honored Artist of the Imperial Theater and part of a family of prized performers benefit Mathilde? Can you think of other famous families of performers who impacted culture or history?

7. Why do you think Alexandra ignored popular opinion to hitch her wagon to Rasputin’s star?

8. If you were the Tsar, what would you have done differently to protect your family and heir to the throne?

9. In your opinion, was violent revolution the only way the suffering of the lower classes could have been resolved in Russia?

10. What does this book reveal about the nature of survival?

Your turn. 

Have you read The True Memoirs of Little K yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up from the questions 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 stay tuned to the blog 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 ☕

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about the author of The True Memoirs of Little K. I shared some of her other books, and a few interviews, which hopefully highlighted how Adrienne Sharp’s experience with ballet strengthens her fiction.

Today, I’d like to offer some extended reading about the historical context of our current book. While the work is fiction, it is based on fact. Mathilde Kschessinska is an actual person and her place in history is well documented. Let’s learn a bit more…

Continue Reading:

Continue Watching

Continue Listening:

Continue Experiencing

  • Look up a ballet company near you and consider purchasing a ticket for their next show! 

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

mid-week round-up

Hello friends! Do you have big plans this weekend? We’re going on a day trip to a nearby state park, and we’ll also be stopping by a flea market. Who knows! Maybe I’ll find something I can’t live without. Either way, after a bunch of project deadlines this week, I’m ready for some weekend diversion! Hope the rest of your week is super sweet, and here’s a bit of reading material…

The story behind Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”

[Related: 5 reasons I can’t get enough Dolly.]

Being a mother and a champion was a crazy dream.

How fairytales are told in other tongues.

[Related: Our storytelling minds.]

These millennials got new roommates.

Anytime young people get together, the pics start flowing.

The Japanese secret to a longer and happier life.

Russia is reopening an investigation into the world’s greatest mystery.

Cute kimono for lounging poolside.

Historians have largely discarded the lie that the “frontier” was an empty Eden waiting for American expansion—but not David McCullough.

[Related: The Pioneers by David McCullough]

As thousands of taxi drivers were trapped in loans, top officials counted the money.

Homeless mom’s letter to NIMBY supporters.

A Fab Five favorite writes a new memoir.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — 9 Insights from Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky and How to Spend Your Time Helping Others.

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

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 4

Hi friends! I’ve been super busy the last few weeks and the blog has definitely taken a back seat…but don’t worry — reading has not!

For consistency’s sake, I wanted to have a part 4 on this book. Butttttt I just don’t have time to write up a full-on reflection. SO! I shall direct you to Parts 1 – 3 on Last Night I Dreamed of Peace — here, here and here. I’d love if you’d check them out!

Also, since reading this book club book, I’ve also devoured Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook. Either would make for an awesome summer read if historical fiction is your jam!

I’d also like to announce that the next book I’ll be discussing in this series is *drumroll please* THE TRUE MEMOIRS OF LITTLE K by Adrienne Sharp. Nab a copy and follow along, why dontcha?! It’s a fictionalized account of the real life Russian ballerina who was the mistress of the future Tsar Nicholas II.

Want the full Finding Delight Book Club reading list?  CLICK HERE.

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 ☕

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.