Sharing the books I read in March and if I recommend adding them to your list!
Hi friends! How are you? I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far. I’m sorry I disappeared on ya the past couple of days. Usually I’m able to get blog posts written over the weekend, but after finishing 5 days in San Diego and Disney with the girls, I wasn’t able to get it done. I’m back now, and trying to last through all of the work I’ve neglected. It was worth it; we had an amazing time and I’ll share more later this week!
For today, I wanted to share the books I read in March and if I’d recommend them. There were a couple of gold stars in the mix, including the best book I’ve read in years, and an unexpected flop.
March 2023 Book Recap
This was a re-read from years ago, when I was postpartum with P, dealing with… a lot… and I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually retained. This book is an excellent way to reframe how you think about the core muscles and pelvic floor.
Some of her advice is different than what we commonly hear in the core and pelvic floor world. For example, she emphasizes the outer portion of the transverse abdominal muscles (under the external and internal obliques) and how they draw the belly and corset the waist from the SIDES instead of the center. She also talks about the importance of full range of motion in the ribs, when many of us tend to only focus on keeping the ribs down to reduce strain on the linea alba (the connective tissue running down the center of the core in between the rectus abdominus, which stretches to make room for the baby and can lead to diastasis recti).
She focuses on strengthening and stretching the various muscles of the core for full range of motion and optimal strength, and also provides exercises on which exercises are visceral (muscular) and skeletal. One of my favorite tips: when you’re doing deep breathing and core engagement, think about contracting the muscles moving up, like a wave, instead of down. It’s very easy to think about just bringing in the center of our core, which can actually increase abdominal pressure and pelvic floor pressure.
If you’re a fitness nerd like me, and/or if you work with postpartum or female clients in a fitness environment, I highly recommend it. 9/10
An illustrated guide to the anatomy of the abdominal muscles and how to tone them successfully without injury
• Presents the 16 most effective and safest abdominal exercises for great abs
• Reveals how common ab exercises, such as crunches, can damage the spine, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and internal organs
• Offers tips to get rid of belly fat–both superficial fat and deeper visceral fat
Presenting a new type of abdominal exercise program designed with the body’s anatomical relationships in mind, Blandine Calais-Germain reveals the 6 underlying principles for working the abs efficiently, 7 exercises to get you ready, and the 16 most effective and safest abdominal exercises for a flat belly. Pointing out that ab exercises are not without risk, she reviews the most common abdominal exercises, such as crunches and leg lifts, and explains how to avoid injury to the neck, lower back, pelvic floor, diaphragm, prostate, and internal organs as well as how to protect these vital structures with appropriate abdominal work.
Exploring this often misunderstood region of the body in her trademark anatomical style, Calais-Germain details the muscular structures that make up the abs, revealing that strength alone is not the sole factor in a flat stomach. Including tips to get rid of belly fat–both superficial fat and deeper visceral fat–this book reveals how to get great abs, lose weight, gain strength, and build your core all without hurting yourself.
The Mastery of Love
I listened to this one while walking Maisey, and really enjoyed it. His work may see a little woo or out-there to some reader friends, but it’s always a good reminder for me to draw inward, increase my awareness, and focus on the things that truly matter. This book emphasizes loving others as well as loving yourself, healing wounds, and becoming more joyful and peaceful. 8/10
In The Mastery of Love, don Miguel Ruiz illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Using insightful stories to bring his message to life, Ruiz shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.In the Toltec tradition, three fundamental masteries guide us to our true nature, which is happiness, freedom, and love.
The first is the Mastery of Awareness. This mastery teaches us to be aware of what we really are. It is the first step toward freedom because we cannot be free if we don’t know what we are, or what kind of freedom we are looking for. The Toltecs said, “Let us see ourselves with truth”, and they created a mastery just for awareness.
The second is the Mastery of Transformation, which teaches us how to become spiritual warriors and stalk our actions and reactions so we can break free of the knowledge that enslaves us. This mastery shows us how to change the dream of our life by changing our agreements and beliefs.
The Mastery of Love is the result of the first two masteries. From the Toltec perspective, everything is made of Love. Love is Life itself. When we master Love, we align with the Spirit of Life passing through us. We are no longer the body, or the mind, or the soul; we are Love. Then every action we take is an expression of Love, and Love in action can only produce happiness.
When we master Awareness, Transformation, and Love, we reclaim our divinity and become one with God. This is the goal of the Toltec.
The Power of Positive Thinking
I listened to the audio version of this book, and it felt like I was getting advice and motivation from a wise grandfather. I loved it. I had no idea that this is a Christian book and heavy on scripture, and it was a pleasant surprise. I especially enjoyed the emphasis on faith and how this can make you a more joyful and positive person. I can definitely see why this has stood the test of time and has become a self development classic. 9/10
An international best seller with more than five million copies in print, The Power of Positive Thinking has helped men and women around the world to achieve fulfillment in their lives through Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s powerful message of faith and inspiration.
In this phenomenal best seller, Dr. Peale demonstrates the power of faith in action. With the practical techniques outlined in this book, you can energize your life – and give yourself the initiative needed to carry out your ambitions and hopes.
You’ll learn how to:
- Believe in yourself and in everything you do.
- Build new power and determination.
- Develop the power to reach your goals.
- Break the worry habit and achieve a relaxed life.Improve your personal and professional relationships.
- Assume control over your circumstances.
- Be kind to yourself.
This book was everything I love about historical fiction. It’s beautifully written with captivating descriptions and character development. The plot pulls you in from the first few pages, and I couldn’t read it fast enough. Also, I couldn’t believe that it was based on a true story! It definitely opened my eyes to a new era of historical fiction, especially since I tend to read a lot of WWII era books. 10/10
Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance.
Full of the drama and verve with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life, and offers an unforgettable portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival.
Don’t Miss Out
Ehhhhh I really wanted to love this book because it was our Bible study book for the season and… I didn’t. I loved the topic and feel like the Holy Spirit tends to be treated like an afterthought in the trilogy, but this book didn’t do it for me. I told my friend that it felt like mansplaining; repeating the same content in various ways throughout the book. I could have simply read the last chapter and gotten everything I needed.
At a few points in the book, the author confesses that she doesn’t feel fully confident about broaching such a huge subject. I feel badly that I didn’t love it, especially because I know what it feels like to deal with imposter syndrome and insecurities about writing.
I think this is why it’s so valuable to study the Bible in a group environment. I got way more out of our group discussions. The book didn’t enrich my life in the same way that All Things New did for me. So, for *fun*, I ordered another one of Kelly Minter’s books (this one) because I loved the last study so much. I figured it would be something good for me to do while we aren’t officially in group study again until the fall. (We’ll have some unofficial more casual meetings over the spring and summer.) 2/10
There is so much more than what I’m settling for! That was the revelation about God that changed Jeannie Cunnion’s life and lit a fire in her soul.
Jeannie was surprised to realize that even though she had been following Jesus for more than 35 years as a preacher’s kid and Bible teacher, she was missing out on all of God.
She grappled with questions like:
Why do I keep stumbling in my walk with Jesus?
How can I experience God’s power in my life?
What are the benefits of having the Holy Spirit inside me?
Isn’t the Holy Spirit only for the super-spiritual or super-strange?
The answers to those questions became a message that will forever change how you think about God. Don’t Miss Out is an empowering invitation to discover the work of the Holy Spirit – in you! Through stories that are both tender and challenging, Jeannie invites you to welcome the Spirit’s work in your life and dive deeper into the transforming love of Jesus. It’s time to embrace the Holy Spirit.
The 100 Years of Leni and Margot
This book is the best book I’ve read in years and is definitely in my top 10 of all time. I felt like I truly knew all of the characters, and it’s a book that I’ve continued to think about since I turned the final page. I also cried on and off for the last quarter of the book. It was so good, so beautifully done, and even though it’s a bit of a heavy topic, it’s intertwined with moments of levity and joy. 10/10
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she’s dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital’s arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined.
As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni’s doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital’s patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived—stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.
Though the end is near, life isn’t quite done with these unforgettable women just yet.
Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we’re gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time.
So, tell me, friends: what was the best book you read last month? What are you reading this month?
Check out my January and February book recaps here and here.