Books for the New Year

The other day I shared my resolutions for 2018. Thankfully I have some help achieve those goals. Cue the books! 

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The Art of Confession by Paul Wilkes
I thought it was pretty fitting that I ended 2017 and started 2018 with this book, as it helped me reflect on the previous year and how I could change for the better for the upcoming year. A large part of my resolutions every year involves becoming a better person, and I think this book is great tool to achieve that.  It's a mere 133 pages, but every page packs a punch, full of insights to mull over.  

The basic premise of this book is how confession betters your life, and the author, in my opinion, does a great job pulling from religious and historical sources to explain the idea of confession and how it can be practically mplemented in your life, whether you're a religious person or not.  The word, "confession", may have a different connotation for different readers, but Wilkes argues if you think of confession as more of transparency, vulnerability, and honesty you'll be able to utilize the art of confession to live a better life, cultivate better relationships, and really, overall, have a better of quality of life... just the things I'd like to have!

A takeaway I received from the book was the idea of "happy guilt", which hinges on the idea that while we need to take responsibility for our actions, we have to forgive ourselves and allow ourself to move forward. A great quote from Paul Tillich speaks to this as being "struck by grace":

"We cannot transform our lives, unless we allow them to be transformed by the stroke of grace... [I]t does not happen if we try to force it upon ourselves, just as it shall not happen so long as we think, in our self-complacency, that we have no need of it. Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a shaft of life breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying, "You are accepted You are accepted." ... Do not try to do anything now... [D]o not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted. If that happens to us, we experience graces... But sometimes it happens that we receive the power to say "yes" to ourselves, that peace enters into us and makes us whole, that self-hatred and self-contempt disappear, and that our self is reunited with itself. I wish you that grace. that you might be reunited with yourself."

I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to do some soul-searching or seeking freedom from stress or anxiety in their life. 

House Jungle by Annie Dornan-Smith
My sister-in-law and brother gifted me this book for Christmas, and I'm so excited to reference it for my resolution to be a good plant mom. It's chock-full of information about plants as well as specific information about how to take care of plants. There's even a chapter called "house plants that can take abuse".  If you've already mastered the taking care of plants part, there's a chapter on how to use plants to decorate your home.  As an added bonus, the book is filled with pretty illustrations of the different plants you might have in your home. I absolutely love this book.

I'd recommend this to anyone who, like me, loves plants but has a black thumb. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I tried to read this book for over a year. Every time I tried to read it, it felt so forced and bland. A lot of my friends loved it and it had great reviews, so when it came up on my library queue I thought I'd give it one last chance. Finally I was able to get through it and loved it. You could say I experienced "Big Magic" with this book; it came to me right when I needed it and spoke to me how I needed it most. 

The basics of this book is that things happen for a reason, especially with regards to creativity, you just have to be open to let and see magical things happen. I'm not really explaining it well. (That's why you should totally read the book.) But this book was completely a completely inspiring way to start 2018. 

I'd recommend this book to anyone who could use some inspiration in their lives. 

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Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton. 
When Workman Publishers asked me what books I wanted Atlas Obscura immediately caught my eye. As someone who loves to travel, this book intrigued me. It's basically an encyclopedia of obscure things around the world; it even includes some random attractions in Alabama, which was perfect for my "explore" resolution! I loved that this book is huge and full of pictures and fun facts. When I told Lance about the book, he was so excited because he'd already been eyeing it on his own, having read glowing reviews of it online. And, not only that, Atlas Obscura was a featured book at Church Street Coffee & Books, our local coffee shop/bookstore; and they have highly curated, impeccable taste. So remember that, I'm not the only person who thinks this book is awesome. 

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves to travel off the beaten path. 

* This blog post was written in partnership with Workman Publishing, who generously provided me with the books The Art of Confession and Atlas Obscura, which I chose from their catalogs. These are my honest, unbiased reviews. 

Check out all the books I've read over the years here.