I had originally wanted this list to contain only 12 books (one for each month), but I just couldn't narrow it down that far, so I'm giving you a baker's dozen. Each book was chosen with care for different reasons in order to help myself and you learn what it means to live simply and with intention.
I'm trying to again bring down my spending, so I first looked at books I had previously bought but never read (best of intentions and all that). Then I looked to see if my local library had physical or ebook copies available for borrowing. I bought the remaining books using some Christmas money that I got so I was ready to start reading at the first of the year. (Also, buying the books before January was a loophole in my "No Spending in January" that I mentioned earlier this week. I'm sneaky like that!)
Without further ado, here are 13 books to read if you are simplifying and living with intention in 2016.
I heard about this book after listening to Emily P. Freeman on The Happy Hour podcast and The Influence Network podcast. Emily talked about how she always loved the idea of Tuesday because it was the least appreciated day of the week. The idea of loving Tuesday is about appreciating the mundane in daily life and how God works in the small moments too. After listening to her, I cannot wait to dive into this book. I also talked my book club gals into making this our book for February
I have read Shannon's blog, The Simply Luxurious Life, and listened to her podcast, The Simple Sophisticate, for a while now. I love how Shannon is a advocate for luxury in everyday life and for every budget. She is not one to encourage a person to spend beyond their means in order to have a rich life and is very vocal in the fact that a rich life includes much more than things.
This is another book that I discovered while listening to my podcasts. Jessica Turner was interviewed on The Happy Hour and on The Influence Network Podcast. The Fringe Hours addresses the issues of finding time in your day to do something for yourself. Jessica shares how she uses small pockets of time to fulfill her creative side. I want to read this book because I know that I'm guilty of seeing small windows of time as useless and only using them for scrolling through social media instead of making the most of them to help create a life I love.
This book seems to be everywhere! I've seen it on countless Instagram feeds and heard about it on blogs and podcasts. With my goal in January being to simplify the clutter in my house, I knew that this was going to be a must-read for me. I haven't read it yet, but it is very close to the top of my stack. Marie Kondo promises that "if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again." Offering a system where you simplify and organize by category instead of by room, she says you will get results that last. I cannot wait to see if this system works!
Again, Lara Casey has been a guest on a few on the podcasts that I listen to (are you noticing a pattern?) and several podcasters and bloggers I follow rave about her PowerSheets. Make It Happen is the story of how Lara decided to make her life about a greater purpose. The whole point behind my Simple 2016 is to get rid of all of the extra stuff and live with focus and intention. I'm ready to make it happen in 2016!
How could you not want to read a book called Cold Tangerines? It's the quirkiest name, and I just need to know what is inside. Shauna Niequest has written three books and one devotional, Savor. Cold Tangerines is about finding God in our everyday moments, realizing that He is in all of the "nonspiritual" aspects of our life, and how this realization can change everything and lead us to live our best life. I've heard Shauna in a few interviews and she seems so genuine. Plus, her blog is amazing. I have always wanted to throw a fancy dinner party, and I will definitely be using the tips on her blog...but I digress...
I actually don't remember how I stumbled across this book...maybe it was a suggestion from Amazon? Anyway, after reading the title and subtitle, "Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison," I knew I had to read it. I already talked earlier this week about my struggle with comparison. I don't only compare myself to my peers and other bloggers, but I've even fallen prey to comparing myself to stories of my grandma who was also a stay-at-home-mom. I'm hoping to gain some perspective after reading this one, because if there is one thing that can steal your intention and simplicity in life, it is comparing yourself to others.
Have you seen HGTV's My Big Family Renovation? If you haven't, then you need to see it, but if you have, then you undoubtedly know who Jen Hatmaker is. I honestly had no idea who she was until seeing the show. Jen is an author and frequent guest of Jamie Ivey on The Happy Hour podcast. I love that Jen makes me remember that Christians are real people. We read some of the same books and watch some of the same shows as the rest of the world. We aren't limited to reruns of Andy Griffith and only get to listen to Christian music (both of which I do like, however). "7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence." While a serious subject, you can bet that there will be laughter to go along with every story because Jen is hilarious.
I've heard multiple bloggers and podcasters comment on using Strength Finders to help them learn more about themselves. I included this on my list because I think that learning what our strengths are and what they are not, opens us up for a more enjoyable life. We tend to focus most of our energy on our weakest areas, but we should really be working on those things that we are naturally gifted at. By learning what those things are, you can begin to focus on things that you are good at and enjoy, while delegating those things that you do not essentially simplifying your life and helping you to live your purpose. You might even have your spouse take the Strengths Finder evaluation to see how you two can make your home life run more smoothly.
10. 10% Happier
This book was recommended a while ago by Shannon Ables (above) on her podcast. Shannon herself practices meditation and was impressed at how this book helped her in her practice. I have to admit that I have an incredibly hard time quieting my mind. I often find myself praying and then five minutes later realize that I have started to think about my to-do list or what we're going to have for dinner and I have no idea what I was praying about. Learning how to quiet one's mind is essential for prayer and connection to the world around us. It also leads to less stress which has great health benefits. Learning the simple art of meditation can help us live with more focus and more intention, which is what this Simple 2016 is all about.
As most of you know, I'm a HUGE Dave Ramsey fan. As a matter of fact I'm going to be teaching one of his courses at my church later this month. Anyway, at first I didn't think I wanted to read this book because my husband and I already follow a budget. We are pretty good financially. But what got me interested was that this book is supposed to focus on women and the description says that it includes topics like cleaning and organization on top of financial and budget insights. I've also seen this book around many places on social media, so I decided to add it to the list to read this year in hopes that I can gain some additional insights on how to live well and spend less.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project (which was actually just recommended to me this week by a fellow blogger after she read my Simple January post). In this book she explores how changing our habits can lead to building happier, stronger and more productive lives. I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost a year now and I still have not gotten what I would call a routine down. I am a person that does well with a schedule and the lack of one while staying home, sometimes takes its toll on me. I'm hoping that after reading this book, I'll be able to put some healthy habits in place so that I am more productive and healthier.
This is the only book that I have not bought or found at the library yet. I plan to purchase it after my no-spending goal this month. The book was given great reviews by Lara Casey (above) and Jess Connolly, owner of Naptime Diaries. In this book, Valerie Woerner gives practical steps to a life well-lived. She read self-help books, and this book covers her journey of actually putting all of that advice into action. I also plan to buy the workbook to accompany the text.
There you have it. Thirteen of the books I plan on reading this year to help me in my journey to a life well-lived with simplicity and intention. Do you have any other books to recommend? Leave me a note in the comments below if you do!
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