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Eat Bacon; Don’t Jog: I love this book so much I’m actually going to do a blog post about it. One of these days.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl: I love all of the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. You can’t go wrong with them if you and your family like “Man Food.”
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier: This is another super recipe collection.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: I love all of the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks, but if you can only buy one, this is my favorite!
Craft Books on Writing
The War of Art: This book is fantastic for anyone who is a creative. Or for anyone who has a goal. It speaks to “The Resistance,” that force that comes against us whenever we desire to improve ourselves or the world. I need to read this once a year.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: This is the book I recommend to all new writers but really, all of us can benefit from reading it. I suggest you read it before you write another word.
Bird by Bird: This title is on just about every writer’s list of favorite craft books. It’s super counsel on writing and the writing life.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: Like Bird by Bird, just about every writer I know has read this book. Know why? Because Stephen King wrote it. Not only does it include great writing advice, there are wonderful stories about how King got started and why he writes what he does.
Stein on Writing: Jerry Jenkins recommended this book at his “Writing for the Soul” conference. It is a really terrific craft book. I love the chapter on resonance, something I’ve not heard taught anywhere else.
Handling the Truth: This is probably my favorite book on writing memoir. I read it in grad school and plan to go through it again. One of the coolest components is Kephart’s reading recommendations.
Journey of Desire: This is the book responsible for me being a writer. If you’re unsure of your purpose on the planet, this would be a good place to start your detective work.
One Thousand Gifts: I love this book for two reasons. First, the language is very unique. And then, it prompted me to start counting my blessings which is such an important practice.
Prodigal God: I am a huge fan of Tim Keller and this book is utterly fantastic. I’ve read it twice and will read it twice again. The story (and backstory) of the Prodigal Son will surely move you further along in your faith walk. Read it with a friend. That’s what I did. We texted our thoughts on the book back and forth, back and forth.
Cold Mountain: In my opinion, this book is superb. I cannot imagine the research that went in to it, but I love, love, love the world building, characers, and detail in Cold Mountain. I’ve met the author and he is quietly wonderful.
Fire Is Your Water: I love this book by my teacher and friend, Jim Minick. It is a special story written about a unique time and place. And it has a raven as a character. The thing I love best about the book though is its gorgeous language. I need to read it again and take notes on the lovely turns of phrase.
Oral History: I don’t usually care for a thick and constant use of dialect but Lee Smith is so deft with it, it is a plus, not a minus. What a fantastic story! There’s a woman with wild curly hair and a witch and decades of family drama. I can’t wait to read more books by Smith.
To Kill a Mockingbird: This is one of my favorite books in the world. I love the story. I love the language. Again, I’m not usually a fan of dialect, but Harper Lee gets it so right, I adore it. I have the sequel but I’ve not been brave enough to read it yet.
Winter’s Bone: Tony Bear and I watched this movie then I bought the book and gobbled it in a day or two. It is one of my top three favorite books. The story is fantastic. The protagonist, a teenaged girl is unforgettable. And the writing is simply magnificent. Read the book, then watch the movie.
Nonfiction I Love
Stay Here with Me: Bob Olmstead was on the faculty of Converse College, where I got my MFA in Creative Nonfiction. A friend recommended I read Bob’s memoir and like Winter’s Bone, it is one of my very favorite books. What an interesting and gorgeous story. Not only that, it has some of the most unique writing I’ve ever come across. I will read this book again!
Boundaries: This is my all-time favorite books on dealing with people. It will tell you what you’re doing wrong and it will tell you what the difficult people in your life are doing wrong. There are lots of examples and how-to’s. In a perfect world, I’d read this book once a year.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People who Drain You Dry: This book was recommended to me by a friend who is a psychologist. As soon as I said, “I have someone in my life that I think has Borderline Personality Disorder,” he gave me the title. This is a great book for dealing with people such as anti-socials, obsessive-compulsivs, narcissists, passive-aggressive and more. It explains how to recognize them and how to communicate with them so you have a chance of getting what you want.
Love Languages: This is a great book that identifies the five languages: gift giving, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and physical touch. Once you figure out what your preference is, and that of your loved ones, it can make life more pleasant for everyone.
Toxic Parents: This is an excellent book for people who grew up in toxic home environments. Read this book if your parents were alcoholic or drug-addicted, verbally or physically abusive. Read this if they controlled you with money or guilt. You need this book if you had to take care of your parents and/or your siblings. This book has a chapter for each of these scenarios and more. Susan Forward, the author, offers lots of helpful ideas for dealing with these situations.