It’s been a while since I’ve posted a list of books that I’m reading, but there’s no time like now to change that.
I’m calling this post a review of “recently read” books because they aren’t recent books, just books that I’ve been reading recently. I’m afraid these days I’m behind the times when it comes to reading the newest and most popular titles, but I’d rather focus during this season of my life on the topics that are most practical and relevant to what I’m going through, with a few fiction and memoir titles sprinkled in for good measure. And so, here’s the break down of what’s been on my night stand the past few months:
A lot of these titles would fall under the category “Marriage and Family” — not a category I’ve done much reading in in the past. I’m quickly finding there are good and helpful books to read in this genre, and there are…other books. I’m only writing here about the ones I recommend.
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend — Friends and coworkers told me for years that I should read this one, and last summer I finally did. Now I realize just how influential the book is and why — it seems like every other title I’ve picked up recently quotes Boundaries or draws openly from its concepts. I highly recommend it for anyone who seeks to understand how better to relate to family members, coworkers, and friends in a way that protects your own mental and emotional health. I did quite a bit of highlighting in my Kindle copy to reread later, particularly in the section that discusses the boundary needs of children and parents during the stages of development.
ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel — My fiance, Stephen, recommended this one as the parenting book that has most influenced how he handles problem situations with his boys, so I eagerly read it to understand more about Stephen’s parenting style and found that Runkel quotes Boundaries and makes some similar points. Contrary to the title’s suggestion, the book isn’t just about not screaming at your kids. Every person has a different way of reacting in stressful situations, whether it is to scream, to shut down and become distant, to become sarcastic and insulting, or whatever. The premise of the book is that the parent should be the person in the house who sets the pace and maintains a sense of order, not reacting to children out of anxiety, fear, or a need to control. When we react to children’s misbehavior in negative ways, we teach children that they should behave so that we don’t scream at or ignore them — we’re manipulating them rather than teaching them and training them.
As soon as I read the book I started seeing multiple relationships in my life that have moments where I’m reacting and trying to control — screaming might not be my M.O., but still, I think there are ways I can apply the lessons of the book so that it’s not just about ScreamFree Parenting but ScreamFree Life.
The Smart Stepmom by Ron L. Deal and Laura Petherbridge — Yet another book that mentions Boundaries. I learned of this book through a podcast series by FamilyLife Today that Stephen and I listened to on our drive from Washington to Texas. I’m often hesitant to listen to “Christian” radio shows because I’ve found many of them to be “feel good,” lacking substance, or just downright annoying in their upbeatness. But the “Your Stepfamily: Standing Strong” series was refreshingly realistic, and Ron Deal and Laura Petherbridge’s book turned out to be equally grounded in reality but steeped in hope for the long term. Building a successful stepfamily takes years of work, and stepmothers often feel isolated, stigmatized, and unrecognized — but the fruit of the sacrifices made by stepmoms is more than worth it. As I prepare to become a stepmom to four boys (Oh my word. Four boys.), I enter into this family knowing that it will be far from easy, may often be heart-breaking, but if I live my days looking to God’s grace and praying to be a display of His presence to the boys, then I can be the stepmom I need to be.
Preparing for Marriage by John Piper — A thin e-book (can you call e-books thin?), the first chapter contains a long series of questions that Stephen and I worked through over several evenings — questions on everything from theology to household duties to expectations for the holidays. Highly recommended. Download it here.
Currently reading: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (the central question is a big one: what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?); The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn; Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma.
Reading next: Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson; Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman; The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler; Blame it on the Brain by Edward T. Welch.
This started out as one long blog post, but I decided to divide it into two. Look for the next post to cover fiction and memoirs.
What are you reading lately? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?