January Bookshelf

dsc_5317dsc_5322This past month has gone from the frigidity of deep winter months, to the sweet taste of spring, then back again to huddling under blankets by the evening fireside. I would say, in general, I am a winter person – spending the entire year yearning for cold, frosty mornings, the silence of snowfall, and the clean air that accompanies it. BUT late winter/early spring in the Middle West always gets me down, mostly because the weather is so fickle. It is not unusual to have a day of 55 degrees – a warm breeze, the smell of grass, and the sun on your face – then have the following day be 20 degrees – a disappointing followup to the temptation of warmer weather.

Needless to say, I do enjoy a longer period of time where the only reasonable extracurricular to do is sit at home with my sweet boy and read. (I tried running – but there is nothing more miserable then trying to ‘start’ running  when the temperatures are near zero. It is almost a guarantee you won’t go running the next day.)

This month I read some truly inspiring books. I always feel so refreshed after a season of intense reading, of intense learning. I feel closer to God and closer to who He has called me to be.



Unlatched By Jennifer Grayson

A must read for those who have breastfed, are breastfeeding, or are torn on whether or not to in the near future. I would also recommend this book to those who have family members or friends who breastfeed. OK – actually I would recommend this book to anyone because its simply amazing. Overall, it is a captivating read. Our nation is plagued by misconceptions – and breastfeeding is unlike any other. We, as a culture, have taken the act of nourishing our children the way biology allows us to, the way God designed us to, as a vulgar display of ‘natural man’, an act that only those of ‘uncivilized’ nations partake in or those who are impoverished and cannot ‘afford’ to feed their babies formula. When, in reality, women were built for the duty of raising and nourishing children. Grayson explores all divisions of the debate from the microbiology of the gut and breastmilk, cultural differences across the globe, government programs such as WIC and cow milk subsidies, and the history of breastfeeding in our nation. An excellent read and one that I will reread in the near future.

UNLATCHED is a deeply engaging, highly personal, well researched, and thoughtfully balanced account of how modern society has denormalized breastfeeding. Jennifer Grayson does not expect every mother to follow her example and breastfeed babies for three or four years. Instead, she asks us to consider how formula feeding became the norm and how government policies perpetuate it as the norm (see especially the stunning chapter on the Women, Infants, and Children program). She argues compellingly that our challenge as a society is to restore breastfeeding as the default for feeding babies, and to provide the support—political as well as emotional—that mothers need to breastfeed successfully.” –Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of, among other books, What to Eat

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis By J.D. Vance:

The number two book on Amazon this month, J.D. Vance explores the culture of the rust belt and how reopening coal mines, steel mines and the like will not fix the socio-economic problems of the eastern/southern population. Having grown up as the descendent of a steel worker in Ohio and without a steady family life, his knowledge on the subject of family, job security, cultural norms, and the country’s view of this isolated culture is unlike any other. I found it particularly interesting given that so much of President Trump’s support was held by members of this culture, as well as others like it, like coal country.



The Wonderful Things You Will Be By Emily Winfield Martin:

Lovely book with lovely artwork. We rented all of her story books from the library this month – her storytelling is simple, yet it opens the mind to the hopes and dreams we have for our children, as well as the deepest desires we have for ourselves.

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table By Pat Brisson:

A short picture book on where food originates and how it gets to our homes. I really appreciated this book, mostly for the simple, child-friendly approach to larger themes such as distribution, labor, etc. It didn’t sugar coat over the work, energy, and resources needed to generate our food, but instead carefully explained the thankfulness we should have BECAUSE of all the effort. I find it disturbing how disconnected our population is from our food sources. It makes it easy to buy the cheap meat on sale or the conventionally grown tomatoes when we turn a blind eye to what it means to have billions of pounds of fertilizer and pesticides pumped into the ground annually, or the health and environmental risks of cattle lots. This book allows children to ask, from an early age, the questions we as a nation are refusing to ask.

Mossy By Jan Brett:

An endearing tale of a wild turtle turned local attraction and the hearts of the people who care for her. Jan Brett’s artwork is breathtaking – and from a science/nature perspective, incredible accurate. I found myself able to identify most of the moss and lichen! The story of a piece of God’s nature taken from its home is one that many of us can, at the very least, acknowledge. We see it each time we go to a zoo or see a bear in chains in documentaries about Southeast Asia or a beautiful bird with clipped wings in a glass case. But even more applicable to our daily lives is the heart of the young girl who notices that poor Mossy the turtle just isn’t as happy in her alternative home. I love the innocence of children and how plainly they see our world. This is yet another tale of the kindness that we are called to bestow on the creatures God has declared we have dominion over.



Aromatherapy Garden: Growing Fragrant Plants for Happiness and Wellness By Kathi Kaville:

I never intended on reading this book – I mean to say – it was never on any kind of ‘wish-list’ of future reads – but as I was chasing my one year old through the aisles of the library (exhausting work by the way, there are MANY aisles) Atlas pulled this one off of the shelf. So I added it to my armload to return to the cart at the end of the aisle so that a librarian could re-shelf it, but instead was so intrigued by the title that I decided to give it a read – and I am so glad I did. Smells mean so much to our human life. The scent of freshly baked cookies invites a guest in for a cup of tea and a lovely conversation. Warm summer breezes that carry the early fragrance of lilac and lavender bring subtle smiles to our faces. Crackling firewood from a nearby neighbor remind us of adventures past and fun and friends – all reflected by the warm glow. The idea that we can plant flowers, herbs, and shrubs around our homes that center us, bring us joy, and turn our focus, as a result, to the Almighty, goes right along with my idea of HOMEWARD. I want everything in my home to reflect God’s glory, and I can’t wait to get to our next home this summer and begin placing plants near the entry of my home that aid in the focus of our home. This book details a good starting place for anyone considering an aromatic garden of any size. From arrangement to what to plant and the benefits of said plants, the author inspires the reader to be creative and to form a deep connection with the earth in our hands and the joy and peace that come as the result of our hard work.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments By Valerie Ann Worwood: 

My new favorite essential oils book and I likely will never have one I like more. This book is THICK – an excellent reference book. She organizes the chapters by topic such as ‘traveling’ or ‘children’ and by oil, but the index is so thorough that searching by oil, topic, gender, ailment or age is very easy. There are a lot recipes, over 800 in the Anniversary Edition, and clear guidance in how to treat your family and yourself medicinally with oils.



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