4 Books that Made Me Better in 2018


As much as I would like to think that spending my free time lying down and bingewatching Southern Charm makes me a better wife, mother, and citizen, I am pretty sure all the hours I have logged gorging on everything Bravo has not actually progressed me as a person.  That much.  It has made me keenly aware, however, that there is a big difference between a botoxed 37-year-old and an everyday, organic 37 year old.  😦

Don’t hang up!  Don’t click away just because you just found out that I’m 37.  Slash basic.  Don’t be shallow like me!

So, anyway. 🙂 I took some time to read this spring.  Not because I wanted to become a better person. But because our VPN setup was detected and disabled by UK’s media police…hence I got permanently cut off from Bravo.  (You can’t stream that amazingness outside of the USA no matter how hard you try.  And no matter how hard your husband tries for you.)

So books it was. 

In all honesty, I have poured over all four of these titles in the past few months.  They’ve sharpened me, made me feel more professional, and brought me up to speed in areas that actually matter–I hope they can help you as well.  


Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer’s Rethinking School is a must-read (or audible download) for American parents of school-aged children. 

Empower yourself to help shape and personalize your child’s education—read this now!

The five-section book covers:

  • how our current K-12 system came to be
  • how to best make the system fit your child
  • ideas for creating solutions for when it’s not a good fit
  • advice for parents whose children may be dealing with disabilities, bullying, maturity differences, and giftedness
  • how standardized testing may legally be declined (though the system doesn’t advertise it)
  • how to choose reasonable alternatives for one or more subjects that are not working

SWB has been my education guru for the past 8 years.  (She also wrote The Well-Trained Mind, The Story of the World, and The Story of Western Science.)  This is her latest work, it is pure brilliance.  

We have no idea how much power and freedoms we enjoy in the United States 🇺🇸 to make the system work for us.  Our schools exist to serve the students, not the other way around.  

If Susan Wise Bauer is reading this, the invitation to tea in the Cotswolds still stands.  🙂



The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper PlaceAndy Crouch.

Keeping technology in its proper place is a necessary discipline for every person, not just the kids.  This is the playbook for how to navigate the buffet of technological temptations that inundate our children.    

Andy Crouch has done the research for you, he laid out all the statistics on technology use in our society.  He reminds us how technology can bring us together and be used for the greater good, but that instant gratification and entertainment can not replace the harder work of developing our minds, hearts and souls.  

He points out how to put various boundaries on technology in order to keep our children engaged in “3-D world” as much as possible. 

This work is full of ideas and concepts to help create a family culture that we love.  It’s written from a Christian perspective, so not all his points will apply to everyone.  However, the wisdom Andy lays out will resonate with people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds. 

This leads me to the next great book–the antidote to our technology-driven society:



The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah MacKenzie

Straight up, Sarah MacKenzie‘s writings/podcasts/blog posts have made me a better mother.  That’s a pretty big statement.  All of her work, everything she publishes, re-energizes me to lead my children toward truth, beauty and goodness. 

The Read-Aloud Family reveals how reading aloud prepares your children for academic success and develops compassion and empathy in your kiddos through stories.  It also addresses how to find time to read aloud, and how to choose titles that work best for your family.  It is full of fabulous book lists as well.  

One thing I have seen from personal experience which she underscores in the book: reading aloud doesn’t have to mean hours per day.  It can be peppered all around school, sports, and social schedules.  She actually encourages reading mere minutes per day–a five-minute portion is plenty to get the ritual established.

Growing young minds, being more present as a parent, and connecting closer as a family in five to ten minutes per day?  There’s not a better bang for your buck.  This is a life-changing (potentially world-changing) habit that needs to be revived in our culture.



The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Ian Morgan Cron

Thank you to my friend Jen Hartney for pointing me to this one.

Turns out, reading a personality assessment in narrative form resonated with me far more than answering a questionnaire followed by a printout of my results. 

This book is worth a year’s fees of therapy and counseling.  

Look, I have been on the brink for a long time.  I have.  But when I read The Road Back to You, I realized something so amazing: I am not *completely* insane!  I am just a 4, which explains everything!  Oh, and that unnamed loved one is a 5, so I am not frustrated at them anymore!  And my husband the 9 godlovehim, he’s great too, and everything all makes sense now.  Most personality “flaws” are just behavioral manifestations of their particular type…not that the flaws are always acceptable, but it helps me to give out more mercy.


Self-awareness is crucial for mental and spiritual health.  “What you don’t know about yourself can hurt you– and your relationships.”  Do yourself, your family, and your friends a favor and find out who you are.  This book is such a wonderful tool for amassing this kind of wisdom.  Note: we had a hard time narrowing down a number for my mother.  She was on the line for a few different numbers.  After ruminating over it a few days, she landed on the one that best describes her. 

If you are not instantly sure which of the 9 types you are, it might take you some reflection to land on it.  I, however, am textbook–took me eight seconds to decipher myself.  



Alright, that’s it.  Have you read any of these?  Please share with us your most favorite bits of wisdom from them.
Thanks for stopping by!  



3 comments on “4 Books that Made Me Better in 2018”

  1. As always you inspire me to do more with myself. All these topics speak to me, especially Rethinking School (this season of trying to figure out if I want to homeschool or send the boys to a different school) and the Read Aloud Family (just because I know it is the right thing to do, but finding the time is a itchb).
    Thanks friend for always adding value and wisening me up!


    1. Rethinking school is *everything* for empowering you as the leader of your kids education (regular or home schooling)… You’re gonna love it. Get it on audible and put it on 1.25 speed. The read aloud family is like the “it starts with food” of resetting your family culture. Also if you are looking into homeschooling, read her first book “teaching from rest” it’s phenomenal


      1. Thanks love! Will definitely get it on audible. Getting Read Aloud in my hands as soon as possible! 😘


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