Category Archives: Books

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

No matter how crazy-busy my day is—and most of them are chaotic—I always carve out 20 minutes for personal reading. Sometimes, I can manage a little more, but I never do less. Books have always been very important to me and I really need those quiet moments by myself to relax and decompress, or I become extremely stressed out.

Lately, I’ve been on a non-fiction kick, mainly Judaica and Cooking. Despite having small blocks of time, by reading consistently every day, it’s not difficult to finish multiple books per week. 

Art of Revelation – Yoram Raanan

One of Israel’s most famous painters was inspired by an unimaginable loss: In 2016, Arab terrorists set Yoram’s village on fire, destroying his studio that contained forty years of work (over 2,000 pieces in total).

Instead of becoming horribly bitter or disillusioned, he turned the tragedy into triumph, with an incredible art book that describes the Torah through 160 original paintings, each of which is accompanied by commentary written by his wife, Meira.

I have always believed that Torah is so much more than words. Some people may actually connect with it better through other means like pictures or music. Yoram’s artistic gift, coupled with his wife’s interpretations, is a new and fresh way to look at familiar Scriptures. 

This book is 5 Stars, for sure!

Recipe for a Delicious Life – Zipora Einav

Written by a celebrity chef who worked with Mariah Carey, Bob Hope, Aaron Spelling, and Pierce Brosnan, Zipora’s interactive cooking experience is a book/CD set that combines recipes, stories from her interesting career, health advice, and lots of affirmations and positive thinking. This is not strictly Kosher, but some of the food will work for the Kosher kitchen. I’m eager to try “Pierce Brosnan’s Moroccan Chicken” because I’m a huge fan of his movies.

I agree with her suggestion that cooking accompanied by music is 100% more fun. This is a short book that’s easy to read and provides a nice distraction that doesn’t require a lot of concentration (i.e. good to read right before bed).

Do Not Photograph – Joshua Haruni

Have you ever wanted to peek inside a foreign world? If so, you’ll love this book that focuses on the Hassidic community who are notoriously camera-shy. For 8 years, the author spent considerable time and effort to win over his subjects and was rewarded with deeply personal moments caught on film, after he had won their trust. The readers get to see an Orthodox wedding, students in a yeshiva, holiday celebrations, a child’s first haircut, prayers at the Wailing Wall, and so much more. 

This form of Judaism is so different from my own, but some things are universal—Torah, family, life cycle events, etc. Definitely more pictures than text, making this one another easy read. 

 

Are you reading anything good? I’m always open to suggestions.

Can You Afford To Stay Home with Your Kids?

Most American families have both parents working in 2018. While some mothers truly enjoy working at a meaningful career, there are many women who don’t want to work outside the home—especially if they have a newborn or toddler—and do it only because of finances.

While the cost of living is higher than it used to be, many families can survive with only parent being employed, provided they are willing to budget carefully, reduce unnecessary expenses, and embrace simplicity.

Some folks may not be aware that there is actually a cost to working. If you’re paying for daycare, you have to make over 25K annually just to break even! Yes, most employees make more than that, but they compromise their time by doing so and kids are only young once. 

So what can you do if you want to quit your job, but you don’t have/make a lot of money?

Erin Odom shares her first-hand experience with this complicated situation in her new book You Can Stay Home With Your Kids. Erin is a mom of 3 girls and 1 boy. She and her husband originally wanted a shared career in ministry, but it didn’t happen, forcing them to move to another state where her husband took a low-paying job as a high school teacher in North Carolina. (When I say low, I mean low—probably 20K less than first-year teachers here in New England are paid! I was truly shocked at how little they earn.)

Once she was home all-day, every day, she researched any possible way to live on a bare-bones budget—using cloth diapers, cooking meals from scratch, buying only from thrift stores, becoming a one-car family, and downsizing to a small apartment with two bedrooms.

Because I’ve been into the frugal lifestyle for over a decade, none of her tips were new to me; however, they are excellent tips for someone just starting out, especially newly married and first-time moms. Erin divides her book into eight sections that are easy to understand and covers many topics related to family life. It’s not an in-depth masterpiece like my favorite budgeting book from America’s Cheapest Family, but it’s a good, quick read. 

My only complaint about her book is the size itself! It’s a pocket hardcover, half the size of a standard book. Anyone who suffers from eye strain like I do will find the size of the text challenging. Obviously, the publisher had a hard time expanding 100 tips into 200 pages, so just be aware of what you’re getting. I received a copy for free to review, but if I was buying, I’d have to do a Kindle version. 

Summer Reading Programs for Kids

While summertime means fun and play for most, it should not be an excuse to stop learning. (Truly, learning should be lifelong—for kids and adults!) Here are 5 summer reading programs for kids, available around the country:

1. Books-A-Million

Read any 4 books from their Summer Reading Adventure section and receive a Free Pencil Case with pencils in store.

2. Barnes & Noble

Earn 1 free book after reading any 8 books and recording them in a journal.

3. Half Price Books

When kids read for 300 minutes during both June and July, they’ll get a free $5.00 gift card per month. That’s only 15 minutes per day—very reasonable goal.

4. Chuck E. Cheese

Kids can earn free 10 tokens after reading each day for 2 weeks. In addition to reading, they have many other reward charts available for good behavior in other areas. 

5. Six Flags

Intended for kids in grades K-6 who complete six hours of recreational reading. The prize is a free ticket to Six Flags!

Along with these nationwide programs, don’t forget to check your local library. Most have their own and some offer really nice gifts. My family has gotten free books, McDonald’s coupons, and an invite to an End-of Summer kids party. 

Sorting Through 400 Books

Since I was very small, I have always loved to read and over my lifetime, I’ve built up quite a collection of books. I knew I had a lot, but I didn’t realize it was over 400 until I started sorting through them.

Because we’re looking to move this summer (hopefully), a major downsize is needed. Books are heavy and they take up a lot of space, so bringing every one of them just isn’t feasible. 

I’ll be honest: some of these books are total junk—broken spines, missing pages, worn jackets, etc. But there were many good ones as well, some good enough to sell. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • 31 books for sale on Amazon (more recent and popular titles work best)
  • 69 books sold to Sell Back Your Book (mostly reference and older ones)
  • 2 donated bags to Goodwill (All novels)
  • 5 donated bags to the library (1 for kids, 4 for adult circulation)

Yes, I still have a ton left, but feel really pleased about making a huge dent in the mountain (getting rid of them takes almost as much effort as reading). Even if I don’t need them anymore, I’m so glad that these books can be enjoyed by others and stay out of the landfill. It’s hard to part with a collection, for sure, but in the end, it’s a good thing.