Introducing January’s Book Club Selection: The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown cover

The Gifts of Imperfection

Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life by Brené Brown

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

New York Times best-selling author and professor Brené Brown offers a powerful and inspiring book that explores how to cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to embrace your imperfections and to recognize that you are enough.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living–a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

Why Was This Title Selected

I was looking for a discussable nonfiction title, Brown has been on my “To Read” list for ages, and I thought this would be a nice one to begin the new year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

The discussion will begin soon in the Facebook group, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in Print, for Kindle or Nook, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up Next?

The Death of Ivan Ilyich coverThe Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy

What’s it about? “A middle-aged high-court judge who had never thought about his own mortality, Ivan Ilyich must readjust his thinking when he learns he has a terminal illness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2018 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Most Gorgeous Bible Ever. And a Giveaway!

I have a LOT of Bibles. I love the different versions available – translations, study variations, devotional focused. What I have never had is a truly beautiful one that is almost a work of art.

Now I do though. Crossway has issued a new ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, with illustrations and lettering by artist Dana Tanamachi.

Each book has its own unique full-page gold ink illustration. If you find cover art discussions as fascinating as I do, you’ll love the list of illustrations: it includes details as to why each book was depicted the way it was.

There are numerous quotes pulled out and illustrated in the margins. Even with all the illustrations, there is plenty of room to add your own notes or illustrations.

It would make a lovely gift – it’s got a beautiful presentation page, and comes in a nice slipcase.

Win a Copy!

Want your own copy, to keep or give away? FlyBy Promotions has provided me with a copy to give to one of my readers! Continental US only, sorry. Enter using the widget below – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Introducing October’s Book Club Selection: Funny in Farsi


Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father’s glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since. Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas’s wonderfully engaging family: her engineer father, a sweetly quixotic dreamer who first sought riches on Bowling for Dollars and in Las Vegas, and later lost his job during the Iranian revolution; her elegant mother, who never fully mastered English (nor cared to); her uncle, who combated the effects of American fast food with an army of miraculous American weight-loss gadgets; and Firoozeh herself, who as a girl changed her name to Julie, and who encountered a second wave of culture shock when she met and married a Frenchman, becoming part of a one-couple melting pot.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted one memoir for the year, about someone not American or English, and not have it be completely gut-wrenching in subject matter. This ended up being a last-minute substitution when my original pick turned out to be a novel, based on true events.

Anything Else to Know About It?

The discussion will begin soon in the Facebook group, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in Print, for Kindle or Nook, or via Audible.

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

What’s Coming Up Next?

ordinary-graceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

What’s it about? Looking back at a tragic event that occurred during his thirteenth year, Frank Drum explores how a complicated web of secrets, adultery, and betrayal shattered his Methodist family and their small 1961 Minnesota community.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2017 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New Book Love: Reading People by Anne Bogel

Cover for Reading People by Anne BogelReading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

Reading People is a general overview of several personality frameworks (think Myers-Briggs and Enneagram, plus several others). It includes plenty of examples of how understanding that framework has helped Bogel in her personal life, or in the lives of people she knows.

The strength of the book is in those personal examples. You can get an overview of the personality systems online, but reading about how someone has used that information is much more helpful.

In that sense, it reminded me a bit of a Gretchen Rubin book (like The Happiness Project), where she has distilled research down, and tried applying it to her life, then sharing the results. In this case, Bogel is distilling each personality typing system down to a quick summary, with a reference section pointing you to more information on each system.

I appreciated the book’s structure: each chapter discusses one personality-typing system, and it was easy to read it in chunks. It also manages to make some of the more complicated systems (cognitive functions, enneagram) understandable.

While this is the sort of book that I am in general pre-disposed to like, I thought it was very well done and enjoyed it tremendously. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get an overview of the various personality typing systems, and some ideas of how to use that knowledge to improve their own life.

And on a completely shallow note, the physical book is really pretty! It’s got a beautiful gold spine that looks so nice on my bookshelves.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
If the viral Buzzfeed-style personality quizzes are any indication, we are collectively obsessed with the idea of defining and knowing ourselves and our unique place in the world. But what we’re finding is this: knowing which Harry Potter character you are is easy, but actually knowing yourself isn’t as simple as just checking a few boxes on an online quiz.

For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part–collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.

Disclosure: I was sent a pre-release copy of the book, but I also bought my own copy (and passed it along to a friend). I was not required to write a positive review, and the pre-release copy had no impact on my opinion on the book. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New Book Love: Come & Eat by Bri McKoy

Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table coverCome & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy

When I first heard of McKoy’s new book, I was eager to read it. There is something magical about what happens when you share food with people. Acquaintances become friends, and friendships deepen.

The church I attend even emphasizes this concept: every week in our bulletin is the acronym BLESS. The acronym is based on “the habits that made Jesus so effective in helping others take their next step with God.”

And the “E” that’s right there in the center stands for “eat with others rather than alone.”

McKoy’s book is all about ways to make that happen, no matter where you are in your current life situation. As she says in the book, “The food never has to be extravagant because the person at the table always is.”

Quote from Come & Eat by Bri McKoy

But if you are looking for delicious recipes, she includes those too, as well as prayers, and questions to encourage conversation.

One of my favorite features (ok, besides the recipes) is the appendix that includes a 21-day “Adventure at the Table” to help you increase the number of times you gather around the table, which may require a radical shift in routines and habits.

The book is very faith-based, so if you’re not a Christian believer it’s probably not going to be a great fit for you. It’s not just the prayers following each chapter, but many of the suggested conversation starters and questions have a strong faith element, as well as the overall narrative.

If you are a believer, it’s very encouraging, and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

Book Details

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Come with your brokenness, your celebration, and your worries, but most of all come and eat.

In today’s busy and often superficial world, we all crave something deeper and truer. Maybe it’s relationships that go beyond the surface or gatherings that allow for joy and pain. Bri McKoy tells us this is within reach! All we need is a table, open hearts, and a simple invitation: come and eat.

McKoy invites us to discover how a common dining-room table can be transformed into a place where brokenness falls away to reveal peace and fellowship. Whether the table is laid with bounty or with meager offerings, whether it is surrounded by the Body of Christ or homeless, broken souls, she shows us that healing begins when we say, “Come in. I may not know you, but I know your maker. And so I offer you my heart.”

For all those who are hungry and craving more of God’s kingdom in their homes, Come and Eat offers recipes, tips, and questions to jumpstart conversation, while reminding us that fellowship in God’s love is always the most remembered, most cherished nourishment. Because when we make room for others, we make room for God, and our homes become a vibrant source of life, just as he means them to be.

Disclosure: I was provided a pre-release copy of the book for review as part of the book launch. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

10 Nonfiction Books I Can’t Stop Recommending

10 Nonfiction Books I Can't Stop Recommending

  1. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

    It works for so many reading situations and interests. Enjoy reading about history? Interested in sports history? Narrative nonfiction? Nonfiction that reads like fiction? Just looking for a great book? Boys in the Boat!

  2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    At the slightest opportunity to promote this look at Introverts, I take it. Introverts needing to understand themselves, extroverts needing to understand the “other side” – it works for all. I’m eager to read Quiet Power, her version for children, as well.

  3. The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

    A thought-provoking memoir, which touches on so many topics. It’s marvelous for book clubs, and it’s not nearly as well-known as it should be. Anyone looking to expand their usual reading choices should take a close look at this as a possibility.

  4. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Recommended when someone isn’t afraid of a book with some heft. It may be over 800 pages, but it’s a marvelous account of Lincoln’s presidency. She has a gift for bringing the past to life and making me care about things I never expected to (like Lincoln’s cabinet).

  5. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    It’s an easy introduction to the epistolary style and is a great follow-up read to so many books (but especially The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). It’s also short enough that it works well as a recommendation for anyone looking for a quick read.
  6. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
    Yes, it’s the third of her memoirs, so you should probably read the other ones first, but this one was the most interesting, as it looks at her life as restaurant critic for The New York Times. I’ve never wanted to be a restaurant critic, but this book made me wish I was friends with one and could go out to eat with them occasionally.
  7. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    It’s actually a toss-up between this and another Bryson title, A Walk in the Woods. Both combine memoir with history and geography in a humorous travelogue that always makes me feel like I’m traveling with him. In addition, these are both excellent as audio books.
  8. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
    Speaking of audio books, at the slightest query for a great audio book I mention Elwes’ memoir. I don’t even like celebrity memoirs, but this isn’t so much an account of Elwes’ life, as it is a look back at the making of the movie The Princess Bride. And as much as I enjoyed reading it, listening to it is even better. The familiar voice of Wesley, along with brief appearances by Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Rob Reiner, and more. Spectacular!
  9. Give Your Child The World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin
    Not only for homeschoolers, although I do bring it up regularly in that context. For anyone wanting to introduce children to the world, it’s an amazing annotated listing of books by geographic region, organized by age range (4-6, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12). There’s also a helpful index by time period in the back.
  10. 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
    I suggest this title ALL THE TIME for anyone thinking of homeschooling, wondering where to start if they want to homeschool, and of course for those looking to consider particular curriculum options. What isn’t so obvious from the title is that the book includes a fabulous introductory section, describing types of homeschoolers, and helping parents figure out their child(ren)’s learning style(s). If you are homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling, you should read this book.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Book Pairings: Dictionary Fascination

Because good books can be even better when they’re well-paired.

Fascinated by words? Find history compelling? Enjoy a good memoir? How about a little of all three?

Start with The Professor and the Madman, about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Blending lexicography, history, and biography it’s an amazing look at the incredible feat that the OED really was and is.

Next, move on to a modern look at a dictionary with Word by Word. Part memoir, part behind-the-scenes peek at how it’s done at Merriam-Webster. I don’t often have job envy, but when I do it’s for a job like that.

Don’t think that you have to be a complete word nerd to like either book – sure, it helps, but it’s not a requirement. Both books are compelling enough to satisfy any nonfiction fans, and both provide a lot of discussion fodder. They’d work well as a book pairing for a discussion group!

The Right Word(Have a young reader you’d like to get in on some word fun? Read The Right Word to them. It’s a picture book biography of Peter Mark Roget, and it’s lovely.)

Want still more word goodness? Make sure you follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter. Their social medial game is excellent, and that way you’ll get links to the word of the day, and not miss out on their entertaining tweets.

Find the books:
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Print | Goodreads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

When You Can’t Get Enough of SHARK WEEK

Sharks fascinate me (and terrify me too; there’s a reason I have no interest in scuba diving), and as much as I rarely watch TV I have been known to dip into the Discovery programming offered during Shark Week.

But what do I like even more than the shows? Reading about sharks from the comfort of my couch. No risk of shark attack there!

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo

What makes this one especially terrifying is the fact that one of the attacks took place eleven miles inland. That’s right, swimming in a river that far from the ocean itself, thinking you’re safe… (shudder)

In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton

Close to 900 sailors survived the torpedo attack that sunk their ship in the South Pacific. By the time they were rescued four days later, only 317 remained.

The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey

So. Many. Great. White. Sharks.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

When your life story is so amazing that the time you had to choose between staying in a life raft being strafed with bullets or diving into shark-infested waters turns out to be only a minor anecdote.

Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks by Juliet Eilperin

Disclaimer: I haven’t read this one. I just can’t look away from the cover image.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Three on a Theme: Jane Eyre

My in-person book club reads an annual “book flight,” inspired by a post at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

This year the theme voted on by our members was Jane Eyre. (I’m excited about this, as I didn’t think it would be the winner, but it was my pick).

The first book in our trio is, not surprisingly, Jane Eyre.

For a reimagining of the Jane Eyre story, we’ll also read Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. What sort of reimagining? Well, Jane is a serial killer, so I’m guessing a pretty creative one.

The final book in our flight is the 2016 biography Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, by Claire Harman. I’m hoping we gain a new appreciation for Brontë’s work through looking at her life and times.

I can’t wait to dive into these three, which is good because, at over 1500 pages between the three, I need to get moving on reading them before our October meeting where we’ll be discussing them. 🙂

Find Jane Eyre: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Find Jane Steele: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Find Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

lost-in-shangri-laLost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

I’ve read so much about World War II but I love that I can still come across new-to-me stories on some aspect of the war. The latest? A rescue mission in New Guinea that had me reading sections out loud to my husband (always a sign of an interesting book). What an incredible story!

The book is filled with photographs, which helps visualize the people and setting. One drawback to reading the book on my Kindle is that the included map was too small to be of much use, so keep that in mind if you’re debating which format.

Zuckoff does a decent job of bringing the individuals to life, but there isn’t as strong an emotional connection with any of them as the very best narrative nonfiction provides. I did appreciate his follow-up interviews in New Guinea, and assume he did the best he could with the historical record available.

There are some definite moments of “can you believe this!” that could lead to a fun discussion, and make me think it would be a good choice as a book club selection.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:

On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over Shangri-La, a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea. Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals. But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed.

Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.

Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside–a journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man or woman.

Drawn from interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio–dehydrated, sick, and in pain–traversed the dense jungle to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.

By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!