During the month of January, I quit Netflix for three weeks. Let me explain:
- I noted I watched way too many cheesy Christmas movies during December.
- While I typically only watch Netflix while doing housework, I admit I overwatch.
- I want to read more books in 2018 – fiction, non-fiction, faith based, memoir, history, you name it.
So from the beginning of the month until a week ago Sunday I nixed it. The end result?
- No Netflix makes me a little sad.
- Each day, I read a bit out of one physical book I loved.
- I listened to SIX audiobooks.
- Not listed below, I also read the Book of Proverbs.
I learned that perhaps it would be a good idea to keep my Netflix ban in place during the day and listen to more audiobooks. It’s February 5 and I finished my second one this month already. If you’re not already, I highly recommend listening to audiobooks. I typically have one on while I’m doing housework. It’s an easy way to distract myself from drudgery. Rather than a pricey subscription based service, I use the hoopla and Overdrive apps from our local libraries. So the books are FREE.
Without further ado, here’s what I read:
Tattoos on The Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Gregory Boyle
This was the only physical book that I read and I absolutely loved it. I’d heard Father Boyle’s story and a couple of interviews on the On Being Podcast before (here and here). His conversational memoir style coupled with deep wisdom grabbed my heart and attention. I asked my mom to buy me this book for Christmas so that I could read it before diving into Boyle’s newest volume Barking at the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship (which I just began last week because she bought me that one, too). Both of these books are opening my eyes to my own comfort and lack of compassion. Both stretched me while also making me giggle and misty upon occasion. I love Boyle’s storytelling style and ability to weave together separate narratives into a unifying theme.
I have two odd book obsessions: 1) Books about cults (this one is on my list this year) 2) Autobiographies penned by female comedians. Leah Remini’s Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology lands smack in both camps. I listened to this book on Overdrive which allowed Remini to tell her story in her usual wry although sometimes foul-mouthed style. She’s funny even if I don’t love the language she uses. I had little knowledge of her background or Scientology so this book filled in all sorts of blanks for me. It was definitely a guilty pleasure sort of read and not transformative on a soul level like some of the other books I read this month but I still enjoyed it.
I don’t read much fiction. This is a huge disappointment to my oldest daughter Anna (15) who reads books like others breathe air. Last year, with her encouragement I read both The Giver and Son by Lois Lowry. I loved both for their allegorical and spiritual themes. I skipped the two books in between in the Giver Quartet though. So in January I read both Gathering Blue and Messenger. Actually I listened to both on audio. I typically read non-fiction books and listen to fiction and autobiographies on audio. I tried listening to a theological volume this month on audio but had to quit because I found myself constantly pausing and writing down long quotes. It’s a great work, but I’m going to need to invest in a physical copy. I digress.
It was no shock that I loved both of these books given my prior experience with Lowry. Zoe (age 9) and I listened to Number the Stars last year, too. While it’s a departure from the dystopian world of the Giver Quartet, I’d recommend it as well.
I get it. Most women of my age and socioeconomic background read this book 7 years ago and saw the movie, too. I did neither. I enjoyed the storytelling and presentation of The Help. Listening to the voices of Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin, Jenna Lamia, and Cassandra Campbell in the audiobook enhanced the work and kept the separate narratives from becoming too confusing. I still feel a little conflicted about the work as a whole. A white protagonist features as the central, prominent force magically lifting women of color from the pit of racism and economic persecution. It’s a white savior sort of concept that I’m not a fan of. Spoiler: In the end, she gains her happily ever after of pursuing a career and passion in New York City while the women she interviewed remain in a similar position unable to escape in the same way. The unsettling stark realities of systematic racism probably unnerve me as much in this 1960s storyline as they do in the ways society hasn’t advanced much over the last fifty years. While a riveting story, there are greater ramifications here I’m still unraveling. It makes me uncomfortable, but in a good way.
I never get the title of this book correct. I constantly refer to it a You Before Me. Again, Me Before You is a book many women read and then saw the movie or vice versa and I hadn’t done either. I was familiar with overall storyline though so no shocking endings for me – thanks movie trailers. Anna already read this book, too. We had a good discussion about the difficult choices and ethics of euthanasia as well as prolonging life through difficult treatments. It was a light read despite its ethical underpinnings.
Friends and mentors of ours suggested The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery and taking the Enneagram over December. I checked out the book on Hoopla and listened to the audio. But I ended up buying a physical copy that Brian read, too. The book wasn’t what I expected at all. I enjoyed the folksy storytelling of Ian Morgan Cron. He’s coming to Indy in March, by the way if you live locally and enjoyed the book, too.
More than anything, I took away from this book to pay attention to what I do on a regular basis. I don’t spend enough time self-reflecting. I want to be attentive to my healthy and unhealthy habits and behaviors. This book explores an ancient personality evaluation and helps you identify your type and unique struggles through its lens. We took the $12 online assessment and had some great conversations about why we are who we are and why we do what we do. It was a worthwhile exploration and discussion.
I typically update what I’m reading on my GoodReads channel. As a reader, learner, author, and academic, I try to engage content that I love as well as content that pushes me out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t mean that I agree with everything an author puts forth or endorse their belief systems. However, I do feel there’s something to be gained by reading across genres and authorial scope. I’ve set a goal of reading 80 books this year and have knocked out 9 thus far.
What did you read in January? Have you read any of these works?
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
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