Books to Love: On My Nightstand


I really should say by my bed because my nightstand can only house so many books. There are usually three or four books there. I’ve resorted to stacking books behind me on my headboard, to say nothing of the magazine rack where various reference books and a fantastic hard bound, illustrate edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (a personal favorite) rest.

The books you’ll find by my bed are ones which I grab for all the time. Sure, there’s the current novel I’m reading, that always sleeps on the nightstand beside me- currently Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman. But, then there are the reference books, the devotionals, and the inspirational books I grab for more often than not.

Today I’m sharing the books that keep me grounded and help me navigate the choppy waters of this unpredictable sea called Life- physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Fashion is a passion of mine. Correction- style is my passion. Ordinarily, I would never buy a book that could be categorized as a style guide. However, my dear friend Talie- who sometimes knows me better than I do myself- gifted me That Extra Half an Inch by Victoria Beckham after noticing that most of the outfits I was pinning on Pinterest were either being worn by Victoria Beckham or of her design. There were a few exceptions- Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, and their ilk. However, upon reading this well laid out book by the former Posh Spice, I have to say this woman knows her stuff. Her insight and recommendations are practical and span the gamut of suggestions from highly affordable to high haute couture. She caters to women of all means by no means. She does not shy away from her fashion failures or trumpet her fashion successes. Rather, she tells you straight what worked for her, what didn’t, and why.

This book was a surprising pleasure and I find I reference it frequently. Not because I don’t have my own style, but because I respect a woman who has taken the time to tell me what she thinks about various modes of fashion and why she considers them successes or failures. She’s got bang on advice regarding make-up; I am forever thankful for her recommendation of Yves Saint Larantes Touché Eclat concealer was a complete game changer for me- one for which I’m infinitely thankful. She breaks her book into sections, starting with jeans (because, as she says, let’s face it, it’s what we live in). She breaks down cuts and styles and trends, pointing out what worked for her and why. And, as the title would suggest, she’s uncompromising on one accessories- high heels. As a woman who adores her heels and likes them 4-inches or higher, I get that!

Regardless whether you consider Victoria Beckham a fashionista or not, I would recommend this book. It’s an easy read and rather delightful, to boot. Who knows? You might end up with your own copy on your nightstand, too.

I am not a big reader of biographies. The few that I’ve read are either about Attila the Hun or the Marquis de Lafayette or persons of that historical ilk. However, in the course of trying to get inside the mind of a soldier, I came across Eric Blehm’s biography about Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown. I don’t know the precise reason that I picked it up, but I am very glad that I did. This book is a game changer. You cannot read through it without having it leave an impact on you. While I’ve written at large on this topic already in the post The FEARLESS Giveaway -where I am giving away a digital or audio copy of this book- I will tell you one thing I took away from this book.

RESOLVE. Adam Brown encountered many challenges in his life. Some of them were self-inflicted and brought about a host of horrors that could destroy anyone. However, Adam never succumbed. Even when he failed. Time and again. He refused to quit. Starting as an ungifted athlete who wanted with all his heart to play on the Varsity football team to being heavily involved in drugs to betting it all on making it as a Navy SEAL to completing the DEVGRU program and joining the ranks of the top 1% of the SEALs to accepting his final mission, Adam Brown held on to his resolve and never quit. This man was not a superhero. He didn’t come from another planet imbued with special powers. Nor was he injected with some super serum. Adam Brown was an ordinary man who simply refused to quit. He didn’t let his feelings persuade him. He exercised mind over matter and told himself what he was going to do. Then he did it.

I have reached for this book quite often since I read it which has earned it a place on my headboard. I cannot recommend it highly enough. So, if you haven’t read it, head over here and sign up for your chance to win a copy of your own.

I taught Latin for many years. One year I even have the pleasure, and challenge, of teaching basic fundamentals to five year olds. That was quite the battle of wills sometimes. However, at the end of the year, the class gifted me with this book. If you haven’t guess already, Winnie Ille Pu is really Winnie-the-Pooh. I’m a huge fan of that bear of very little brain (see post here). In fact, I was going to marry Christopher Robin when I was a little girl. I keep this book on my nightstand at the ready. While I don’t do it everyday, I do pick this one up and try my hand at translating a few sentences or more depending on how I feel. I like to keep my mind sharp, and since it has been years since I’ve taught a formal class in the rudiments of Latin, I’m glad to say that it’s this book that I can thank for keeping me on my toes.

I know I mentioned these before, but I’m bringing them up again because I do grab for them all the time. Whether I’m writing something and a quote comes to mind that I want to make sure I get right or whether I’m reading and I come across a reference, I like to have these two volumes within easy reach. I also firmly believe that reading through the works of Shakespeare augments your status as a highly educated person. There are histories, mythologies, and legends discussed in detail, and each play, poem, or sonnet is filled to the brim with wisdom. And since wisdom is the principle thing, one must never neglect the acquisition of it.

Brian Simmons translation of the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs called the Passion translation (TPT) is quickly becoming one of my favorites. What makes it a particular favorite of mine is that he is more than a translator; he’s a philologist. Philologists don’t just take the meaning of the words they are translating to heart, they give them cultural, societal, political, economical, or religious context to the time in which those words were written. While the Passion translation is very readable because the language is in our modern vernacular, there are copious footnotes that provide richness and bountiful understanding and scope to the text.

The first book of the bible that Brian Simmons translated was Song of Songs. If you’re familiar with it, you’ll know that the Song of Songs is perhaps the raciest book in the bible. However, I prefer Brian’s take on it:

We see the Shulamite’s breathtaking journey unveiled in this amazing allegory. It is the path every passionate lover should choose. But this divine parable penned by Solomon also describes the journey that every longing lover of Jesus will find as his or her own.

Song of Songs is an allegorical work. Certainly it provides the blueprints on how to build a passionate and prosperous marriage. But, it is an example of how Christ loved his bride, the Church, and how we in turn should love him.

Song of Songs is my favorite book in the bible. However, this translation, which has the added boon of being slim and easy to slip in a purse, took my love for it to a new level. There is profound revelation in the context of some of the images that are discussed and referenced in this book, and by the end of it, I always feel closer and more intimate with my Savior.

Simmons also published a year devotional called The Divine Romance that takes you through the Song of Songs verse by verse. This is also a small volume which fits easily in a weekender bag or even your purse or pocket. Bite size wisdom that is always rooted in unconditional love.

Honorable Mentions:

This book! Oh, my, but this book! If you’ve never taken the time to actually read through it, you’re in for a treat. If you find folklore intriguing, or if you’re a little obsessed with ancient cultures (go ahed, I’m raising my hand here, too) or if you prize excellent writing, you’ll be happy to have this essential reference book on your go-to bookshelf.

There’s an old saying: A proverb a day keeps the doctor away. Since the book of Proverbs contains 31 chapters, that’s pretty applicable to any month, give or take a day. That’s why this year, I’m reading a chapter in the book of proverbs daily and repeating it every month. We all know that we can learn something new even going over ground we think we’ve covered already, right?

What happens when a philologist writes a devotional? You get Rick Renner’s classic Sparkling Gems Volume One. This was my Christmas present last year and is my new devotional for this year. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. What expounding on scripture! And I feel like I’m learning Greek to boot.

What books do you consider to be staples on your nightstand? They don’t necessarily have to be on your nightstand, but just books you grab for frequently.

The FEARLESS Giveaway

The FEARLESS Giveaway is now underway here at Whiskers On Kittens. As I Will Be FEARLESS is the theme of 2019, Whiskers is giving away an audio or digital copy (winner’s preference) of Eric Blehm’s FEARLESS: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown. Adam Brown’s life is an example of how to embrace fearlessness in our own lives and walk out the purpose of our lives. I cannot recommend this book enough. Truly one of the best. The Giveaway (Contest) is open through 11:59 P.M. CT January 26th 2019 to all legal U.S., U.K., and Australian residents.

The reason Eric Blehm titled Adam Brown’s biography fearless has little to do with the success that Adam achieved as a Navy SEAL. Rather, those successes are because Adam Brown had already cultivated being fearless. It started when he was a young boy. And even when he went off the deep end, when drugs reeked havoc on his life as well as his family and friends’ lives, that fearlessness is what brought him through to the other side.

Click the link below to see how you can enter for you chance to win this once in a lifetime read.