On Mama’s bookshelf

Life as a mom of four kids is always busy.  But now that my children have all passed through the infant and toddler years — and are all school age — I seem to have a little more room in my mama brain for things that require more mental capacity. 

I feel as a mother of kids age 5, 7, 10 and 12, I’ve regained the privilege of reading for pleasure! 

I enjoy reading and, as a teacher-mama, I read to children all the time. I love sharing stories with children and the genre of children’s literature overall, but I’m also drawn to literature that’s written specifically to grownups. 

I particularly appreciate illustrated cookbooks and other inspirational project books when I’m looking for new recipes and ideas. I also like to revel in a good novel, travel essay or personal memoir that can give me a little escape from my day-to-day life, even if it is in my imagination. 

Summer can be an opportune time to pick up a book and catch up on some reading. Here are some books I’ve recently enjoyed that you may want to put on your book list this summer:


Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
by Shauna Niequist

After a particularly long and hard week, I was drawn to the title of this book at our local library. Niequist offers her personal experiences, plus practical advice and sound reminders for living a life that’s grounded and connected to the people and values that really matter in our lives. 

Reading this book encouraged me to simplify, slow down and nurture connections with my loved ones; and I was also inspired to foster my spiritual connections. 

In one chapter, Niequist describes her experiences in “fake resting” and how we as mothers need to make time to do some real resting to avoid burnout. I would recommend this book to anyone whose life feels too fast paced or disconnected. 


At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
by Tsh Oxenreider 

This personal memoir takes you on an adventure across four continents with the author, her husband and their three young children.

This was a quick and engaging read that allowed me to travel vicariously to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Germany and England. 

I enjoyed Oxenreider’s personal stories shared, glimpses into the different cultures and her perspective traveling with children, including the challenge of balancing her yearning for travel/wanderlust and contentment. 



A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors
by Ashley English

When I needed inspiration for my backyard homesteading adventures, I discovered several books in English’s Homemade Living series at my local library, including Canning and Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Keeping Bees and Home Dairy. 

I was drawn to the style and content of this new book. A Year of Picnics isn’t about homesteading, nor a typical cookbook. It’s photo heavy and offers inspiration for 20 location-specific, themed picnics, complete with recipes, a “sip and savor” section for all of the foods as well as descriptions and tutorials for the games, crafts and activities found in the “to make and do” and “to behold and explore” sections within each chapter.

Some of the summer-themed picnics I’m hoping to try include Breakfast Picnic, Waterside Picnic, Children’s Picnic and maybe even Movie Night Picnic.