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3BoT Vol. 6: Three Books That Literally Changed My Life

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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3BoT Vol. 6: Three Books That Literally Changed My Life | Faith Permeating Life

The first Thursday of every month, I share three related book recommendations with you. You are invited to link up at the end of the post with three recommendations of your own! Click here for more info about Three Books on Thursday.

I am guilty of using hyperbole on occasion, and there have probably been quite a lot of books that I've claimed have changed my life. Usually I mean they changed my way of thinking about something, which is great, but then 5-10 years down the road I will have forgotten all about it and need to re-learn whatever lesson it was I learned.

So this month I thought I would share books that have literally changed my life -- that is, I can point to things that I do in my life and tell you which book made it happen.

Unsurprisingly, if you've been around Faith Permeating Life for any length of time, you've probably heard me talk about at least one if not all of these books. But maybe this will give you a needed kick in the butt to check them out if you haven't already.

Here are the books that sparked real change in my life:

#1: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
In case you're not familiar with Barbara Kingsolver, I highly recommend her other books; my favorites are The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible. While those are fiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a true story of her family's attempt to eat only locally grown food (mostly their own) for an entire year. Her vivid storytelling is intermixed with informational sidebars written by her husband, and each chapter ends with recipes by her older daughter. I documented the process I went through while reading this book: first, I made excuses about why eating locally was too hard, then I committed to taking some small, manageable steps, and finally I found myself eating vegetarian except for our CSA meat. The book doesn't shove anything down your throat, but it does present a compelling case for why we should be mindful of where our food comes from, and it makes the steps to get there seem not too far out of reach.

#2: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
(I told you these might be obvious.) I picked the perfect time to read The Happiness Project: early December 2010. This meant that rather than thinking, "Hey, I should do a project like this some day..." I thought, "Hey, it's almost January, let's do this for 2011!" I loved Gretchen's approach, which was to pick some guiding principles ("happiness commandments"), then focus on one area of her life each month and create specific resolutions in those areas. This format gave me enough structure that I was able to implement it for myself easily, with enough flexibility that I could focus on what was most important to me. If you want to read all my monthly recaps you can check out the "happiness project" tag, or you could just read my end-of-the-year reflections. You can also check out Gretchen's blog, although I will say that I had been reading the blog for a while when I decided to read the book, and it was the book with its clear structure and timeline that gave me the kick to actually do a project myself. Everything from the fact that I floss every single night to my now-ingrained habit of constantly hitting ⌘+S (Save) while I'm working can be attributed to last year's happiness project. It gave me less guilt and more peace of mind and helped me get my life priorities in order.

#3: The Art of Natural Family Planning published by The Couple to Couple League
Here's a first for 3BoT: I haven't actually read this entire book. The Couple to Couple League and I don't exactly see eye-to-eye on everything, and there's a lot of information on Catholic teaching and the "right" way to do Natural Family Planning throughout this book. That said, this book still had a profound impact on me, and I continue to use it as a reference guide. When Mike and I first decided we were going to do Natural Family Planning, before we were even engaged, I read some other book -- something like Your Fertility Signs -- that introduced me to fertility awareness but also made me super-confused. Like, I charted faithfully for about two years, but I couldn't have told you what any of it actually meant. The Art of Natural Family Planning, on the other hand, is super clear. They have a straightforward charting method (which I replicated using Excel because I didn't want to buy their charts -- sorry!) and there are tons of sample charts in the book as well as actual photographs of stretching cervical fluid. Getting this book a few months before our wedding was a Godsend for me and the reason we've been able to use NFP without any stress or guessing for the past two and a half years. (Click here if you want to know more about Natural Family Planning.) If you're looking for something a little less... Catholic? opinionated? I've also heard good things about Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

What books have changed your life? Leave them in comments or share on your blog and link up below!

Click here for other 3BoT posts!

Please note that this post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on a book cover and make any purchase at Amazon (including but not limited to the books suggested here), your purchase will be supporting Faith Permeating Life. Thanks!


  1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was one of those life changer books for me as well. Love it, and still dream of moving to the country and raising turkeys. I have been meaning to read The Happiness Project, now I really need to get to it. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations. I surprisingly haven't heard of any of them. I'll have to check them out. Three books that have changed my life include: "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson, "Replenish" by Lance Witt, and currently "A Woman After God's Own Heart."

    Vonae Deyshawn

  3. @Jacki
    We also want to buy some land eventually and have a garden and animals. Financially it's not feasible yet, but someday!

    I definitely recommend The Happiness Project!

  4. @Vonae Deyshawn
    Awesome, thanks for the recommendations! I hadn't heard of any of those :) I have a want-to-read list a mile long, but I still love getting new suggestions!

  5. I love these! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Happiness Project are books I keep finding myself coming back to--even though they're both fairly new releases.

    The Art of Natural Family Planning is new to me, although I'm very interested in the topic. It's funny that the other book you mention here--Taking Charge of Your Fertility--evoked big changes in my own life.

    1. I often recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility to people for reasons I explained here -- as much as I love The Art of Natural Family Planning for its practical charting method and photographs, it is very overtly "Here's the right Catholic way to practice NFP." I need to actually read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, though!

  6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was good, though I read it after reading Michael Pollan's books (namely, In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma) so I would credit those books with actual changes in my food lifestyle (foodstyle?).

    I've heard The Happiness Project recommended before; maybe I should actually, you know, read it! ;-)

    1. The Happiness Project is great; I completed a happiness project in 2011. You can check out the "happiness project" tag if you're interested in reading more about my experience. And Gretchen's blog, where it all started, is great also!


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