Book of the Month: Some Books I Have Been Reading

Sooo. For some reason, I haven't talked about any book here  in a while even though I have actually been reading. I have no reasons for that. But I decided to share a bunch of books I have been reading for my own personal development.

1.) The first is called, "Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis" by Joan Bolker. I mean, you can't literally write your entire dissertation in fifteen minutes. Lol. Anyway, in this book she gives tips and advice on working your way through the dissertation writing process, from developing a working habit to choosing advisors and a committee; to getting started on writing; to your first draft and other tidbits. Spoiler alert: the key to writing efficiently and finishing in decent time is to write every single day. You can say this about most habits.

I learned a little while ago that consistency is actually a better goal to strive for than excellence or perfection. If you do something every single day, and I mean every single day without fail, you will inevitably be great at it. Take that approach with writing. Carve out time, sacred time for writing, where you do nothing but write. Not research, not edit, just write. So in that sense all of what the book addresses,  I already knew. In fact most things did not apply to me because I have passed those stages in my career. It's a great book nonetheless. But you can read all the books in this world about writing, and except you actually commit to these principles, you would be wasting everyone's time. So in a nutshell, I read the book not just because I am currently writing a dissertation myself (pray for me, y'all!) but also because I needed a reminder/refresher of some of what she talks about.

2.) The second is, "When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life" by David Burns. First things first, if you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. Many people are suffering from various mental health challenges. Sometimes, I wonder if people are misdiagnosing themselves. Who knows really? I know for sure though that our mental health should be prioritized. And if you can't afford therapy or you are still trapped in shame because you are afraid of what people would think if you go to therapy or you just don't know what to expect in therapy, then get this book. If you want to get better, period. Everyone should read something like this book.

It provides you with ammunition to defeat any kind of anxiety, without conventional therapy or prescription drugs. My favorite aspect of the book is his assessment of  the inclination of medical providers to prescribe drugs for every darn thing. He teaches you 40 new anti-anxiety techniques. I gotta say you need time with this book because it is very detailed, and working through all the tools can honestly be tiring. I will say though that if you can, you should do them because they are very effective. He also gives home-works and asks you to fill in the gap etc. I will be honest, I didn't have that kind of time to work through all of it. I just didn't. So while I read it painstakingly, I certainly could have been more thorough.

Can this solve lifelong anxiety and/or other mental health challenges? Definitely. But I think I would still prefer sitting in front of a therapist while they work through issues with me. I would rather someone asks me all the questions. It's too much to do by yourself. And I say this as someone who is incredibly introspective. That said, if you flip towards the end of the book, he walks you through exactly how to use each technique; how to work your way from an upset feeling to getting better. It's a solid book that everyone should have and read. I was just lazy. Plus I think more generally, I read the book when I was in a good place mentally (thank God!). Had I read it when I was in a much worse condition, I am sure I would have done the work, for sure. I would say (disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional) before using all manner of medication, at least try the techniques in a book like this. One interesting thing about this book is that he (an actual psychiatrist) admitted to the arbitrary nature of the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders. He acknowledges that sometimes what psychiatrists call anxiety disorders are basically just normal feelings people have from time to time.  In fact, according to Burns, some medicines like Xanax make people completely dependent on them, so much that when you stop taking them, you experience withdrawal symptoms that heighten whatever initial problem you had. There is also a whole thing in the book where the author exposes drug companies that selectively publish studies and the bias in the literature that create false perception about the effectiveness of antidepressants. This is why I would caution against popping pills for the sake of. But heyyy, you do you. This is just me talking about a book and I do NOT HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE, so what do I know?  And oh yeah, of course, brain diseases totally exist, not to mention serious psychiatry problems like schizophrenia, bipolar etc. I don't think there is a way around such ailments that does not involve medications.

3.) And finally, we have  "Discerning the Voice of God - Bible Study Book - Revised: How to Recognize When God Speaks" by Priscilla Shirer. This one is good for anyone committed to strengthening their relationship with God. I will admit that this book might come across like it's for mature Christians only. Because while I absolutely adore Priscilla Shirer, I do think she wrote this book with an assumption that her readers have attained a particular level of spirituality. If you are still really growing or if you are a new Christian, and you read this book with some of its instructions, it can easily become frustrating.

In her defense, I don't think there is a straightforward, simple enough book out there for all Christians about understanding God's voice. But ultimately, I really love that she acknowledges that understanding the heart of God is not about hearing a clear, audible voice. And though many Christians depict it like so, it is not always entirely true or at least not complete (I still do NOT think God told you what dress to wear to Church. Bite me). I also think that Christians should not live a frantic life, where they are constantly searching and searching for the voice of God and then getting frustrated when they hear nothing. Instead rest in knowing that God is always within you and will never forsake you. He is true to his word about leading you and allowing his will come to pass. I have actually spoken a lot about this on the blog: see knowing God's will for your life. Or what to do when you are waiting.  Or How to make decisions when your faith wavers. Interestingly, Priscilla does echo some of the sentiments in the posts I linked: yes sometimes you are not sure if it's God. Have faith anyway. Sometimes you have to work with exactly what God has placed in your hands right now and keep doing. And sometimes you have to just step out in faith and obey because you feel God is impressing it upon your heart to. All of these are never ever easy. Fear not, it's not all abstract. She does give some practical lists of things you can start doing at the moment to better understand God's will for your life.

Whew. Well. that's that.

Book of the month was quite busy this year so I hope to continue next year. What were your favorite books this year?




  1. We just posted our best and worst book of the year at the best thing I read was born a crime but it is a backlist so i didn't have it as my best. I am hoping to have a better reading year in 2020.

    1. Ah I will go check it out now. Born a Crime is AMAZING. That book is actually of the one brilliant memoirs (or maybe even book generally). I loved loved it.