5 Books that I go back to over and over again.
Every once in a while you come across a book that is so good it gets in your head. It changes your thinking. Today I want to share the 5 books that I learned the most from. These are the authors who have guided my journey. These are my top 5, after the Bible, of course.
The 5 books that changed my life
#1. Times to Remember by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1974)
This is the autobiography of Rose Kennedy, as in JFK’s mother. Yes, that Rose Kennedy. Many people my age (mid-30s) and younger know little to nothing about her. She was a woman of great faith, a Catholic, who had 9 children, and obviously, the mother of a U.S. president.
Why did I want to read her book? Well, at the time I knew I was planning to have 4 children. Why not learn from a woman who had 9?
What did I learn from this book? I did learn a ton of historical information from the early 1900s, about the Irish immigrants in Massachusetts (which some of my ancestors were a part of, according to my research), and about how wealthy people in New England did life back then. Ha! This is an extremely rich family.
However, that’s not what stuck with me. What stuck with me is how Rose managed a large family while still being civically and socially active. I learned how she constantly taught her children. I’m a quiet person. I like to read and write and stare out the car window in silence. Rose was excellent about explaining everything to her children and teaching, teaching, teaching everywhere they went. She made them read newspaper clippings and discuss current events with the family. You can see why some of her children ended up so involved in politics. I got so many ideas from her.
I liked how she would make notes to herself to help keep up with all of her obligations by pinning her notes to her clothes. That was one of my chief problems. I’d write notes, but then I would lose them. I don’t have pins lying around, so I write on my hands a lot. This seems to amuse other people, and the only problem is that it does wash off so easily.
Also, this is a woman who endured terrible tragedies in her family, and she always rose to the occasion. By the way, she lived to be 104 years old. For much of her life, she would swim in the ocean around Cape Cod. And let me tell you, I have waded in that water. It is FRIGID. This woman was made of steel.
Quotes from Rose Kennedy in the book.
“If God were to take away all His blessings, health, physical fitness, wealth, intelligence, and leave me but one gift, I would ask for faith—for with faith in Him, in His goodness, mercy, love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could suffer the loss of my other gifts and still be happy—trustful, leaving all to His inscrutable providence.”
“We had always believed in rewards for good behavior as well as penalties for bad; in encouragement, praise, recognition, prizes, such as the silver cups and trophies they accumulated.”
“For parents who have or expect to have a sizable family, my strong advice would be to work hardest on the eldest, for in the direction they go the others are likely to follow. Children are naturally imitative, and although at first they tend to imitate their parents’ examples, as the years pass they tend to imitate those set by older children, especially those in the family.”
#2. Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
If you know me at all, you’d know I have to include it. It’s my favorite book, besides the Bible, and the only fiction novel on this list.
What I love about the Anne series is that not only does it make you both laugh and cry and fall in love with the characters, but it also gets into your soul and your head. When you finish reading it, you can’t help but also feel as vivacious, fun, and dreamy as Anne. You suddenly notice the trees and the sunsets more. You find yourself wanting to know what exactly all those flowers she mentions are, and so you look it up, and your learning just goes on and on.
You leave this book better equipped to laugh at your troubles, to take life less seriously, to embrace the imagination, and to be thankful for what you have…..and you may find yourself looking around for Gilbert Blythe.
Quotes from this book:
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” ~Anne (I sometimes remind my children of this.)
Matthew Cuthbert: I’ve worked hard all my life. I’d rather just drop in the harness. I got old; I never noticed.
Anne Shirley: If I’d been the boy you sent for, I could have spared you in so many ways.
Matthew Cuthbert: I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don’t ever change. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl. (Gahhhhhh!!!! Bawled my eyes out at that part every time.)
(About Anne’s upcoming plans for her wedding) “.. And what would Mrs. Harmon Andrews say?”
“Ah, there’s the rub,” sighed Anne. “There are so many things in life we cannot do because of the fear of what Mrs. Harmon Andrews would say. ` ‘Tis true, ’tis pity, and pity ’tis, ’tis true.’ What delightful things we might do were it not for Mrs. Harmon Andrews!”
Oh, that was so fun to think about. Need we even go on? You have to read that book, if you haven’t already!!!
#3. Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman
Alan bought me this book right before we had our 3rd baby. I know. Three isn’t really considered a “large” family, but to me it was, so I found this book immensely helpful. The author has over half a dozen children, which in my opinion makes her more of an expert than all the degrees in the world.
I literally think about tips and use lessons I learned in this book, even still, 6 years after reading it the first time, EVERY DAY. In fact, I often re-reference this one.
Here are some of my favorite tips from Brenneman in the book:
“Some children cost you time because of their character flaws. Think about what you can do in changing your reaction, your disciplining of this child, or restructuring this child’s day so that the character flaw is overcome….” (page 62)
“Letting a baby cry is potentially ignoring hunger, reflux, apnea, teething pain, and the unknown. It also disturbs the development of trust and attachment. Pray for wisdom in understanding the needs of each baby and reading their cues. This is a walk of grace with each child.” (page 103)
“Good intentions don’t accomplish anything. That’s why planning a certain day every month helps a lot in actually getting a hospitality event accomplished. Before I planned for friendship, long periods of time were going by without seeing local friends face to face! It’s not an intentional dropping of friends, it simply requires thought and planning.” (page 91)
“One of the forgotten homemaking practices that is being rediscovered is that of devoting particular housekeeping tasks to a specific day of the week.” (page 129)
So she breaks days down like Monday: Laundry, Tuesday: Kitchen Day, Wednesday: Office Day, and so on. I love this idea. I have yet to be able to stick to it.
I practically high-lighted this entire book. If you are a mom, I’m telling you you will learn a ton. In fact, it’s so much, you have to read it through, and then go back and focus on maybe one page at a time.
#4.On Becoming Pre-Teen Wise: Parenting Your Child from 8-12 Years by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckham
This one is different than the others on this list in that it is more of a how-to book, which to me is not as fun to read. However, I learned so much from it, and it completely changed me as a parent.
What works with a 9-year-old is not the same as what worked for a 4-year-old, and I was still stuck on what worked for a 4-year-old, and guess what! It wasn’t working.
According to this book, tweens already know what they are supposed to do, as far as household and classroom routines go. No more reminding them. You should expect them to do what’s right. This book teaches the phrase, “Do you have the freedom to go outside?” rather than “Put your plate away.” I’ve been using this, and it does work pretty well.
“The parent transitions from parenting by authority to parenting by influence.” p. 31
“A child spells love T-I-M-E.” (p. 42)
“There was a good example story in this chapter about sharing. Instead of mandating that your child share their toys, at this age, leave it up to them. True sharing should come from the heart. If the child then decides to share, they will have joy in their good decision.”
“There is no joy in doing right when the actions required are always tied to my authority.” (page 61)
And last, and by no stretch of the imagination least, this next book, oh wow. My words cannot do it justice.
#5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
I read this book 10 years ago because I found it on sale. As soon as I finished it, which only took a day– It’s that good–I got myself to the store and bought a few more copies to hand out to people. Y’all! You gotta read this book.
This is the true story of a Dutch family who hid Jews from harm during World War II. Hundreds of Jews came through their home, were supplied ration cards under the table, and they found homes for them. They dedicated their lives to helping the persecuted, until the Gestapo caught them and sent the entire family to the German death camps. Corrie is the only one of her family who survived, thanks to an error.
But this is not a tale of woe and misery. You will not feel depressed after reading this book. Not from the way Corrie tells it. You will taste the victories that they had. You will feel inspired and motivated and renewed in your faith. It’s that good.
“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
“Corrie, if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love! We must find the way, you and I, no matter how long it takes.”
Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought about them. What are your top 5 favorite books?
April Alan is a happy mom of four boys, and she also writes at https://storiesofourboys.com. When she isn’t blogging, she’s usually doing exotic things like cooking, picking up kids, and coloring Mickey Mouse with her toddler.