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What I’m reading and listening to | January 2020

Last year, I made a running list of what I read (though I fell off the wagon toward the end of 2019).

The problem with that method is that you end up with one REALLY LONG and bulky page, so I thought this year, I’d break it down by month instead.

And I’ll include how I access all of these items, since this is a frugal blog, and that extends to entertainment as well. 😉

What I Read

Lost Connections

(free: library book)

Lost Connections Review

I put this book on hold after seeing an interesting article by the author, and I gotta say, the book was as fascinating as the article.

It’s really meticulously researched and documented (the notes section at the back is enormous), and if you are interested in the topics of depression and anxiety, I think it’s a worthwhile read.


(free: library book)

Burnout book review

This is a book specifically written for women, since the authors posit that women experience stress differently than men, mainly for cultural reasons.

I didn’t agree with everything in the book (when do I?), but I thought the list of ways to “complete the stress cycle” was really helpful.

(Completing the stress cycle is basically a way of letting your body know that you are ok; helping it to wind down from stress.)

The top recommendation was exercise!

bumper plates

And that’s followed by

  • breathing (slowly)
  • positive social interaction
  • laughter
  • affection (either with people or animals)
  • a big ol’ cry
  • creative expression

I was struck by the fact that both Lost Connections and Burnout were talking about how human interaction and emotional/physical connection are key to our mental health. 

And both of the books also talked about how having a higher purpose in life is helpful, as is being able to make meaning of our suffering.

All of those things resonated with me as tenets of my Christian faith.  Following God is my higher purpose in life, the Bible encourages close fellowship with other people, and my theology gives meaning to my suffering.

Anyway, it was interesting to see two secular authors encouraging me to do what the Bible tells me to do!

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

(purchased, because the library has exactly one Paul Tripp book!)

a shelter in the time of storm review

Mr. FG and I read a devotional together most mornings, and this is our current read. It’s a collection of 52 essays based on Psalm 27, and we’ve found them to be encouraging and helpful.

For Christians, this is a good tool to help make meaning of suffering, as I mentioned in the review above.

What I Listened To

Floodplain by Sara Groves

(I listen to this one on Spotify, but it’s also included in Amazon Prime memberships.)

This is my most played album on Spotify at the moment.  I especially like the tracks “Enough”, “I’ve Been Here Before”, and, “Your Reality”.

Sara Groves Floodplain review

Spotify has a whole separate Floodplain commentary album where Sara explains the meaning behind all of the album songs. It’s like the modern version of liner notes from the days of CDs!

The Dream

(free to listen to on most any podcasting platform)

This podcast is so, so fascinating. I listened to the entire first season + the bonus episodes + every current season episode over the course of a single week.

The Dream podcast review

I couldn’t stop listening and I also couldn’t stop talking about it.

Mr. FG and the girls might as well have listened to the podcast by now since I blathered on so much about it. Heh.

The first season and the bonus episodes are all about the multi-level marketing industry, and the second season is about the wellness industry.

Fair warning: there is a little bit of language in a few episodes. I didn’t find it to be an overwhelming amount, but I just wanted you to know.

What have you been reading or listening to? Recommend something good to us!

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Tuesday 4th of February 2020

I have been listening to:

Conan O Brien needs a friend. I only listen to the best of ones....they have adult language so I only listen when alone or walking the dog.

I also liked the PODCAST: Scattered I learned a lot about Cuba!


Monday 3rd of February 2020

To go with the first two books I suggest: Digital minimalism by Cal Newport

He talks about relationships and anxiety and a whole bunch of other stuff on why we should choose tech that adds value to our lives.


Monday 3rd of February 2020

Ooh yes, I listened to that one this summer and I thought it was really good!


Monday 3rd of February 2020

May I recommend the podcast of a friend of mine, Kate Hanley? She is very uplifting and positive.

Geneva Vallejo

Monday 3rd of February 2020

I'm sure it's been asked but do you track you books on Goodreads? They have a yearly reading challenge each year that I always enjoy participating in. I also love seeing what my friends are reading, it leads to me picking up books I normally wouldn't.

What I'm reading: Fish In a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt - I read this with my nine year old son. It's about a little girl with a learning disability and her struggles in school. It does have a happy ending and has sparked some empathetic discussions with my little guy. It was given to him by his best friend's mom because his best friend has some learning disabilities that my son didn't quite understand.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo - Reading this one with my son right now. She's favorite author for both of us and the fact that she's local to us makes it even more fun.

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurardottir - She's a favorite author of mine but I am struggling with this book. I'm so far along that I will finish but I'm just not connecting this time around.

What I'm listening to: Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness and The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - both were books on my reading list that I downloaded the audio book for. I didn't love either of them but they did make the commute to work better.

Bad Batch - Wondery puts out some good podcasts that always have a good story behind them.

Sawbones - one of my all time favorite podcasts, just playing catch up after audio books.

Jennifer Y.

Sunday 2nd of February 2020

Hi all,

Like the addition of the book source. Books are frugal entertainment!

I just finished a wonderful book called Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. It is the story of a young woman getting back to the business of life after a life threatening illness and a smart young girl with a mysterious/troubled past.

I also regularly listen to Anne Bogel’s podcast, “What Should I Read Next.” Wonderful book suggestions!

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