"The Art of...." Reading Challenge

Happy New Year!  

Some years I love to give myself a reading challenge for the year.  Rather than just making a book list for the year, I like to do this because it gets me to read books I might not normally read.  This year was No exception!

My Goal:  To read 12 books with “The Art of...” in the title.  I finished 10!

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
I read this in one night.  It’s not my favorite genre and I got to the point where I just wanted to finish it. I’m not a fan of animal thinking/talking books. Surprisingly, I have found myself thinking about this book throughout the year.  Maybe it’s because the movie just happened to come out soon after I read the book.  I think this is a beautiful story or love and pain.  Relationships.

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
This was one of my favorites of the year!  I read it in February, thinking it was fitting for Valentine’s Day.  Fromm showed me that love is much more complicated than we give it credit for.  It’s easy to say, “Just love them.”  But love is such a multifaceted word, with many as many ways to feel it as their are people in the world!  The greatest lesson I learned from this book was that a mother’s love is the deepest.  Because whereas in most relationships love is a coming together, motherly love is a pulling apart.  A mother’s love is most deeply shown when we allow our children to leave us.  I have experienced that feeling tremendously these last couple of years as my kids have become adolescents and begun to leave the home.  It is heart wrenching for me!  I highly recommend this book.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
This is a hidden treasure I’m sad I didn’t read sooner.  This book brings life into mothering and homemaking.  Schaeffer shows how joy can be brought into ever aspect of a homemaker’s life, especially in the seemingly monotonous and mundane tasks.  I would recommend this to every young mother.

Life Reimagined:  The Art and Science of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
I was browsing the library shelves for a different book when this one popped out at me.  Did you know there are little to no books written on midlife?  Yeah, we joke about having a midlife crisis, but we don’t take the time (as a society) to fully realize how true that can be.  Whereas there is plenty written and talked about for the younger and the older ages, midlifers (between the ages of 40-65) are expected to just manage it all!  This is the busiest and most stressful time in life and we have a hard time taking care of ourselves as we are taking care of both the young and the old.  And yet, in order to not only survive this stage but to thrive in the next, we need to cling to friendships, take care of our health, find meaning and purpose, and enjoy the journey.  This book was timely just as I enter (and have felt the keen pressures) of this stage myself.

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
Written by a husband (musician) and a wife (psychologist) this is a beautiful book about discovering creativity by opening ourselves up to all possibilities rather than sticking inside the box.  Full of precious quotes and little gems, I felt inspired to let go of social norms and “have tos” to become who I am truly meant to be.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
While reading this book I kept saying how beautiful it was (ask my dear friend, Kelly).  And it did feel beautiful while reading it.  Afterwards I wondered why I had liked it so much, though.  Maybe I just didn’t love the ending.  Maybe when I expected a happy ending, all I felt was sadness.  It was also a bit unnecessarily graphic in sexual content.  I really don’t know how I feel a bout this book.

The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh
I read this book in preparation for a presentation I gave to youth in September.  Like The Art of Loving, this book helped me to see how power is also a word full of deeper meaning than we give it credit for. With a focus on mindfulness, I learned that power is in the present moment and when we are being our most authentic selves.

The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
This book was wonderful!  I first listened to a podcast interview of the author on Leading Saints and then decided to read the book.  It’s funny how a seemingly simple concept can be so forgotten in our current society.  Do we know our neighbors?  Do we stop and visit with them or just wave and keep on driving?  I have personally found so much joy in “walking my neighborhood.”  When I walk rather than drive, I almost always run into somebody to visit.  I find joy in knowing who I’m mingling with at church.  Again, what may seem like common knowledge has become a lost art for sure and this book is purposeful and necessary.

The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith
Meh.  Not super great.  I don’t really love this author.  I’ve tried!  And modern literature just doesn’t seem to do much for me.  This book was pretty pointless about a girl who got mixed up in the drama of a woman who’d had an affair.  I thought it’s as going to be a mystery.  Not the case.  Sorely disappointed.

The Art of Remembering by Alison Ragsdale
A broken book for sure.  This was depressing.  It had the same elements as the movie, “The Vow,” if you’ve seen that one.  Again, I’m not sure how I feel about this book.  I have the opposite reaction to this book than I had with the Heartbeats book.  I didn’t love it as I read it, but afterwards I can’t say I hated it.  It’s a story about love and lost love. Memory and lost memory. Pain. Marriage. Life.  There is a bit of language.   I just don’t know what else to say about this one.

Overall consensus:  I loved the nonfiction more than the fiction on this list.  I would love to continue reading more Art of... books, but I plan on reading only a few next year rather than one a month.  I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and found some great books to add to my personal library.


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