Books I Read: December 2017

Books I Read: December 2017

December is traditionally not a great month for reading for me. It’s just so busy! I have very little time to sit and read, and I usually opt for Christmas music during my listening time. Plus this particular December was just so crazy. Getting settled into a new home is just so much unprecedented work. It’s not just unpacking, it’s like 10000 mini projects everywhere you turn. Awesome. But busy and exhausting. Still, I was able to cram in 4 books! (Ok so two of them I technically finished in January… shhhhh)

Coming soon is my 2018 lineup – I have at least 3 books lined up for each month, and I’m keeping my goal of reading 3 per month. It’s the perfect amount for me! I have to always be reading something and have stuff on hold to meet it, so it keeps me on my toes and very intentional about my reading. I highly encourage a reading goal for everyone – even if it’s read 1 book per quarter or try an audiobook!


Lara Casey has taken a pretty winding path through life, but it’s all been to learn what she can now share with us. Cultivate is all about creating an intentional, unrushed, imperfect, God-centered life. Lara uses garden experience and metaphors to help you uncover the problems in your “garden,” the parts of your life you want to cultivate, and the hand of God in your life.

I bought the Lara Casey Powersheets bundle, which included this book and Make it Happen (which I’m hoping to read this month). This was a very helpful read alongside the Powersheets, and very timely for a new year and coming out of a season of overwhelm and lack of direction.


  • There are so many breakthrough principles, at least for me. “Complaints are clues” was a huge one for me. Embracing “seasons” in your life was another, because I’ve very much been the type of person who always wants to be blooming but we all need seasons of winter to prepare for spring.
  • I really enjoyed how God-centered it was. I definitely felt spiritually strengthened and inspired to think deeply about what God is telling me and giving me in this season of my life.
  • She legit made me want to plant a garden!
  • It’s very optimistic and light. I really felt like it was within my reach to change my life and schedule. I really felt like I could create something new and happier.
  • The prompts made for good pondering and journaling, and I highly recommend reading this in small bits and taking time to sit with what you’re learning about yourself and God.

Less Good

  • She’s so cheesy! And very “save-y” as Ryan calls it lol. So nice! So kind! It just gets to be a bit much.
  • The garden metaphor is powerful at times, but often feels overused.
  • By about 2/3 through I just wanted to be done.

*Adding a new section! To whom I would recommend this book, if I would recommend it!

Recommendation: For anyone feeling overwhelmed, lacking direction, wanting to go after what matters in their life. Especially good for moms!

Lighten Up! Finding Real Joy in Life

Chieko Okazaki is a fresh, inspiring, empowering Mormon leader. She was the first woman of color to serve in a General Auxiliary, and she served in all three! She is known for her optimism and realistic approach to the gospel. Lighten Up! is her view of big tent Mormonism – the gospel for each and every one of us, personalized. She shares how she believes the gospel and particularly our relationship with Jesus Christ can lighten our burdens, rather than weighing us down with expectations.

Oh how I needed this work. I’ve actually been reading it for months, because I just wanted to stop and savor each page. It became scripture study for me, a few paragraphs each day. I loved every word of it. It’s one every modern Mormon woman should read.


  • Her perspective is so refreshing. She cracks open a lot of traditional Mormon beliefs that are based in culture or expectation, rather than actual doctrine. She believes everyone can interpret doctrine and commandments in the way that works best for them, when the principle is clear.
  • Between Chieko and her husband Ed, they experienced a lot of prejudice in the world and in the church. But she expresses gratitude for those opportunities, rather than bitterness. She thinks we should use every interaction to improve other’s opinions and beliefs.
  • Reject additional burdens. REJECT ADDITIONAL BURDENS. You don’t have to keep picking up burdens because someone recommends them in a sacrament talk or urges you to try them in a Relief Society lesson. Accept things in your season and REFUSE GUILT. Amazing.
  • The thing that stuck with me the most was her perspective on the Savior. She shares a visual/practice that stuck with me – rather than inviting the Savior into our beautiful front room and leaving Him there while we do all the drudgery of our day, we should be cooking dinner and doing the laundry WITH Him there.

Less Good

  • A lot of this comes from different talks she’s given, and you can kind of tell. It tends to be a little jumbled. But if you’re reading it in pieces as inspiration it doesn’t really matter.

Recommendation: Every Mormon (or spiritual person) everywhere. Especially people who are frustrated with church, overwhelmed in the gospel, or feel out of place. This would make a great gift!

How to Boil Water: Life Beyond Takeout

In this Food Network guide, food n00bs can learn all the basics. Part recipe book, part instruction manual, this book includes photos, demonstrations, graphs, charts, and helpful text to teach you everything from necessary kitchen tools to perfectly poaching an egg. 

I’m not sure this should count as a “book” but it’s here! I am still very much a beginner when it comes to the kitchen, and I have so many gaps in my knowledge. So even though I’ve made some great strides this last year, I feel a need to fill those gaps and keep learning. This was a helpful guide and a very quick read for sure.


  • Very welcoming and non-condescending. Do you ever read a fancy cookbook that’s like “use these $300 ingredients or you can just use table salt and pepper if you’re a peasant” ? Yeah. This one is genuinely helpful and not at all condescending.
  • I like that it included tools! It goes through all the basics you need in a kitchen and what you’d use them for.
  • Basic information that everyone else seems to know. If you’re like me, everyone else seems to know stuff about cuts of meat or basic cooking temperatures that I’m clueless about. This book starts from the very basics and explains why you use certain cuts of meat in certain dishes or cooking methods.
  • Easy but enticing recipes. Literally starting with toast and working up to crepes and roast chickens! Even the most complex thing in there was do-able.
  • Tips – every page had helpful tips about grocery shopping, storing food, and making your cooking more efficient and easy.
  • Fast – I read this in one afternoon.

Less Good

  • This definitely isn’t super modern – it has a very 90s vibe.
  • I am kind of a snob about wanting a photo for each and every recipe, sorry!

Recommendation: For someone who wants to start at the very basics to learn to cook. It would make a great housewarming present for a non-chef, or for a kid moving out for college!

Women in Sports

This illustrated guide shares the stories of 50 incredible athletes who changed the game – literally – for women, sports, and the world. In these artistic pages you’ll find women from all over the world, playing all kinds of sports, and representing all kinds of progress and differences. 

I am so so grateful to have this book in my home. I really like the illustrator’s style, which made it fun and interesting to flip through (it would make a cool coffee table book for sure). As an athlete myself, I absolutely loved reading these stories – most I’d never even heard of.


  • I loved the variety of sports and nationalities. So much incredible work has been done by female athletes around the world, and I loved seeing the wide range.
  • This is something I 100% want to read with my girls when they’re old enough to appreciate it. These would make a great “one-a-night” read with kids.
  • The women featured include women with disabilities, various sexual orientations, political stances, and dramatic histories. All they had in common was a distinctive impact on sports.

Less Good

  • They layout was an illustration surrounded by facts & blurbs, with a main page of text, also surrounded by small blurbs and illustrations. It made it a little chaotic to read.

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What do you think?