I really like to consider myself a minimalist, but there is one thing that I don't mind having an abundance of: books.
Amidst all the technological options for reading, there is really something amazing about having a paperback book in your hand. You can take it anywhere, it doesn't keep your brain on before bedtime, and it won't try to send you an email or notification while you are reading it (if it does, please step away from the book...).
But because I am a minimalist, I must, MUST purge my home of physical things every once in a while. While I value books, they need to pull their weight in my home. Through several rounds of gathering, choosing, and taking many books to Goodwill, I have discovered a few books that have made it to the elite Keep Forever pile. These books are books that I have read at least 2 times, and I continue to pull them down off the shelf at different seasons of my life. So here they are:
This book is a personal memoir of a Canadian mom who moves to her French husband's home country of Normandy France with her 2 daughters. She finds herself in complete culture shock, most of which has to do with food rituals. Determined on fitting in, she learns about what it is that makes French children superior diners to their American counterparts, and discusses her journey of implementing it with her own children. I originally picked up this book because I was brushing up on my French, and I started to wonder how different cultures raised their children. The draw to the book is the idea that French children have almost NO problem eating things like broccoli, beets, sardines.... all the ok-here-we-go-gonna-see-how-this-goes-foods. When I read about how the French approach eating, I was thrilled because it made so much sense; the idea that pleasurable, social and healthy eating should be married. I quickly realized that this book isn't even for parents necessarily, but for anybody who eats.
I love this book because it is personal; the mom does not spare moments of failure and despair; what mom hasn't felt that with feeding toddlers? The French really do think they are superior in a lot of ways, but they truly are when it comes to food. This book is a must.
* Staying Healthy with the Seasons Elson M Haas*
This book came under my radar during my first year at IPSB massage school in Asian Healing Arts. Staying Healthy with the Seasons is written by a doctor who has studied both Western and Eastern (Traditional Chinese Medicine) medicine, but mostly discusses what foods to eat and activities to do according to the seasons. In my 15 years of studying health and nutrition, I have found this book to be key to good health because it addresses something that NO western diet does: eating according to our external environment. Most Western diets/eating fads are macro-nutrient centered- Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and calories. Western health is also obsessed with weight. This often leads people into calorie restricted diets that don't have enough of the right vitamins and minerals, overtaxing the organ systems. Weight is only 1 indicator of health, and should always be assessed in light of other health signs.
Eastern nutrition is much older than Western, and its originators looked at the body as a whole instead of systematically. So if a person has chronic stomach pain, Western medicine will look at the stomach and digestive system, but Eastern will look at everything in the body that affects the stomach. Eastern health also takes into account what the climate is like, since that directly affects the body. Is it humid? Very cold? Is it summer time?
One thing that I love about this approach to health is that it doesn't exclude any food group or diet. A vegan diet excludes any animal product, and conversely a Paleo diet has a lot of meat. Which is healthier? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, both are acceptable, depending on the season and what organs need to be brought into balance. In winter months, TCM calls for eating more meat and animal products, where summer is more of fruits and plants.
Last thing: there are some principles in TCM that you need to use God-given discretion; just as principles of Western medicine can be worshipped and looked to for answers, so can Eastern medicine. Christians are usually more easily freaked out by TCM things like Yin and Yang and the 5 elements symbol, but these are no more dangerous than idols of Western medicine. So in summary, just be aware of what to throw out, and if you are in doubt, don't do it.
* The Starch Solution John McDougall*
This is a book written by a physician about a vegan diet that is starch-based (grains and root veggies). I personally believe that this is the ideal diet, that can be tweaked with the TCM adjustments discussed in Staying Healthy with the Seasons. You can actually watch a 1 hour long video summarizing Dr. McDougall's nutrition philosophy here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XVf36nwraw
*Real Food, Nina Planck*
This book basically promotes a high fat animal based diet, much like a Paleo diet. The author has no nutrition background to speak of, and the book is highly lacking in scientific evidence, but people don't seem to mind. I personally liked it because of the free flowing style of writing, and I do think that there is a season for eating a higher amount of animal foods. I usually lean towards a diet like this when I am pregnant or during winter months.
* Loving Our Kids on Purpose Danny Silk*
The category of books that I have read about most is parenting. I really do feel like parenting is an assignment from God; little people that He has entrusted to our care, so I put time into gathering wisdom from tried and true methods. Aside from having really awesome people in my life who have given sage advice, I have read A LOT of parenting books.
This book is one of the most amazing relationship books I have ever read; I say relationship v parenting because the principles in the book will breath life into ALL your relationships. Danny Silk emphasizes the power of choice, and not only how it alleviates many parent/child power struggles, but how this is a reality of God's kingdom. This book of course is but one of many tools in the parenting toolbox, so if you are looking for great parenting advice, I would recommend being open to other approaches and having spiritual parents who have been in and out of the trenches of raising God honoring people.
*Playful Parenting Lawrence Cohen*
This book emphasizes the power of play in your child's life; how it can help them express emotions, work through problems, help you to understand them. This is a book that as a Christian parent you need to read with a BIG grain of salt. There are some examples and advice that I would straight up reject. On the flip side, I do think that sometimes as adults we forget how much play children really need, or we know and we just are simply unable to deliver. I want to emphasize that I think this parenting tool is like an offshoot of primary parenting principles- it shouldn't be the meat of your parenting, but using it to season your relationship with your children will be very helpful.
*On Becoming Babywise Gary Ezzo*
This book is primarily on how to set a sleep/wake routine up for your child, from infancy throughout toddlerhood. I like this book because it is centered around the renaissance of the parent-led schedule instead of child-led, something that our culture sees less and less of these days. I found this book to be like AED for my time and energy management; when my daughter was born, I pretty much followed an Attachment Parenting method without really knowing it. I still think there are aspects to this method that are great, I just think that for first time moms, it can spell disaster because you don't know what to expect anyways. Every time I have a baby, I check this goldie out from the library to freshen up on my Babywise tactics.
So, there you have it! The books that have stood the test of time! What are YOUR favorite books??