Occasionally I have been asked if I have any non-fiction recommendations. That is such a broad question, I might add. It is also not one easily answered. I can easily begin grabbing books off a shelf and end up with a towering stack before I am even finished and I am constantly adding to that stack. So when I decided to create this list for you all, I kept in mind how I differentiate between a non-fiction that was good and one that I recommend. Knowing someone’s principals changes the type of book I would recommend. So, what am I getting at? These are a list of nonfiction books that I enjoyed and why.
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
It was not intentional that I grabbed this first off the stack but maybe one could describe it as a omen. This is probably the book I give away the most and will always pick up second hand copies anytime I see them at the thrift store. I even remember how much I paid for the first copy I ever got my hands on, ten cents. I remember thinking, I hope this is a good book and boy, talk about not judging a book by it’s cover– or by it’s price! This book is about being the Proverbs 31 women with a Mary viewpoint of sitting at the feet of Jesus. The thing I really took away from this book was that we needed to have a balance view and that was what Martha lacked. Joanna Weavers asserts that we tend to be either or, rather than having a balanced viewpoint of both women. I identify more with Martha and this book was a beautiful reminder that it wasn’t about bad Martha vs. good Mary, but that we all need to grow in maturity and see the spiritual side of things. Great book.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
I don’t even remember how I learned about this book. I asked if anyone on Facebook owned it, in my attempt to save money of course, and a friend sent me a copy to read. I was about 1/2 way through the book when I went online to Amazon and purchased a copy to own. I truly did not expect to think so highly of it. Amazon has this little blurb in the description box and I thought it was too perfect not to include:
Invitingly written, with equal measures of wit and erudition, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction will appeal to all readers, whether they be novices looking for direction or old hands seeking to recapture the pleasures of reading they first experienced as children.
I cannot think of a more accurate description. I have decided to include this small book in my highschool curriculum.
There are so many reasons why I love this book, maybe the biggest one is because it touched a chord in my Charlotte Mason heart: Jacob illustrates how the act of reading, turning physical pages, putting our mind to the words on the page and absorbing the dialect, is giving deliberate attention and focus’ on growing the muscles that have become dull in today’s word. After writing all that, I want to re-read this again!
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This is filled with illustrations and stories of of how people get into habits, how much of market research and advertising strategies are a part of daily habits, how addicts can change habits, and how we can use this information to learn and know about the habits we would like to break or make. Simply written and definitely a book that changed my perspective of many many things.
Sacred Parenting and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Life changing! I do not say that easily or lightly. I think a lot of times we are so quick to throw those words out there without any thought or action as to what we are saying. However, Gary Thomas has written wonderful books that focus not on changing situations the situation or give you a blueprint for a 12 step program to fix everything– instead Thomas turns the tables and writes that parenting affects the parent. Or instead of working on a “happy marriage” (a noble goal to be sure) working on a Holy marriage. This is not a read to be taken lightly or wantonly, but with the realization that this is God’s calling and purpose in your life.
When Children Love to Learn Edited By Elaine Cooper
Probably the heart of my education desires is that my children love learning. I want them to know more. To explore more. To desire to understand more. But too often we can push our kids to our own desires and kill that love. To this end Charlotte Mason Education sparked a fire in my heart. This book explores what Charlotte Mason about each subject in a tangible way so that we can get to the heart of the matter and begin educating our children with our end goals in mind, and not be bogged down by so much information to process.
The Art of Work by Jeff Goins.
I know the author wrote this as a way to find your passion at what you want to do and the best way to succeed at doing it, but honestly I found so much more insight between the lines. I couldn’t stop thinking about how Goins illustrated the Master and Apprentice relationship and how we have lost taking pride in our work. Now, fair warning, if you grab this book and sit down assuming that this is what the book is all, then I have misled you. This is just the largest thing that has stood out to me. This book is about, well, the art of work! Another book that I will be requiring my highschoolers to read.
A Woman After God’s Own Heart; Beautiful in God’s Eyes; Loving God with All your Mind by Elizabeth George.
All three are my favorite that she has written, and she is a very prolific writer. My favorite thing about Elizabeth George is that she is great and putting a lot of Bible and scripture in these works. So often it feels like many authors fill their books up with experiences and insights and then throw a verse in now and then just to make it biblical. With Elizabeth George, I read Biblical truths. I read as a sinner, some of the hard truths that I need to acknowledge. The books focus on making God a priority in our lives. On Instagram, I posted many nuggests of wisdom and truth when I read Loving God With All Your Mind last year. If you enjoyed those photos, then I recommend getting these.
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider
Before Kon Marie swept the world with her “spark joy” method for minimalistic and organized living, Tsh Oxenreider wrote this gem of a book about choosing what is necessary for life in order that you can live a fuller life. I really loved how this was laid out in a way that gets to root of the matter and then the second half is the practical application for you to make choices to live a more simplistic and intentional life. Some choices she made were a little too extreme for me. For example, I remember her only having 8 plates for her family of 8. I like extra because I often have accidents and unexpected guests, and while she does cover this in her book, for me I needed a little bit more stuff for practical reasons. BUT, for the most part, this just gets to the core of my struggles and gave me a perspective to strive for. I love having a family mission statement.
I don’t Want to Talk About It by Terrance Real
Over years of experience you learn how to handle delicate subjects and issues that arise in your life but one of the most frustrating things is depression in men. Men don’t talk. With my girl friends they tend to be more open about feelings and struggles and even when they don’t talk– they do, kwim? I can understand some of what men are going through in a practical way but in the emotional I really struggle with comprehension. Terrance Real shows different situations, insight, and research about how men go through depression. This was such a help for me, especially when I just want answers and it isn’t as simple as that. I wish more people knew about this book so I am throwing this one out there.
The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.
Want to know everything you can about a sodbuster? This book is your key to understanding my heart! I live vivaciously through this work of art! I dream about the seasons of farming and husbandry. My copy doesn’t look read much but I can assure you all that it has been read THROUGH (and this is more of a how-to reference type of book) at least twice, if not three times. Actually, as soon as I post this, I may go an re-read it again. AHHH!
By the way, I also recommend Julia Rotham’s books. I think both would go extremely well together.
Again, this is just a few. I kept thinking of more and more but that will be for another time.