All-Time Favorite Book List by Malinda Zellman-Winkle

Listed here you will find my all-time favorite reads.  They range all over the place, so enjoy the reviews!  I will add to it over time.  The first two are the best-ever in my opinion (excluding the Holy Bible, of course).  Those that follow the first two entries are not necessarily in any order of greatness - just great books I highly recommend for these difficult days we live in. 

#1 Favorite:

Simple Abundance:  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

by Sarah Ban Breathnach

There are only a few books I have read in my life that I consider seriously life-altering.  They changed me from within or they triggered something in me to lead me to change things that really needed to be changed in my life.  This is one of those books.  Most women love this book.   

A DAYBOOK OF COMFORT AND JOY is a compilation of 366 short daily meditations encouraging women to find comfort and joy in the simple things of their lives.  I first read this year-long book in about two weeks because I simply couldn't put it down.  I have read this again and again over the years and I am reading it yet again today as I write this post. 

This daily, year-long format worked well for me because her thoughts and suggestions were constantly flowing through my days for a whole year until it had a chance to really change my way of approaching life. 
I have learned the hard way that if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to be much help to anyone. 

So, her admonishment to tend to yourself is not inappropriate at all.  It isn't a matter of putting yourself before all others.  It is simply encouragement to take well enough care of yourself so you are capable of being a good woman-- mother, worker, girlfriend - whatever your goals in life.  This book is very highly recommended reading for all women at every stage of life!

I don't advocate all this authors' other books. Some of them go a bit far afield for my personal preference. But, this, her masterpiece, is very, very good.

Reviewed by Malinda Zellman

#2 Favorite Book

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives

by Richard A. Swenson

This book is for any person who feels they a living an overloaded life.  That includes a lot of people these days!  If you need more contentment, simplicity, balance and rest in your life, this book is for you.  Written from a Christian perspective, it shows you how to restore yourself emotionally, physically, financially and how to get a handle on time management to boot.  I don't know about you, but I needed to work on all four areas when I first discovered this read. 

But, I warn you...  after you read this book you may be subject to making some changes in your life you never dreamed possible.  If you do, it may lead to a life you never dreamed you could live too - like a life of happiness with physical and financial health plus enough time to do the things that matter most to you.  Learn to create margin in your life and you will be living a better life.  Say goodbye to anxiety. 

Dr. Carlson is a Family Medicine practitioner.  He lays out the facts about what really ails people he sees in his practice day after day.  He makes his case in a matter-of-fact, statistical way to prove to us that Americans, frankly, tend to live too close to the edge.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I also found his writing to be very easy to read and down-to-earth -  not doctor-like at all. 

Reviewed by Malinda Zellman

From the Back Cover of Margin:

RX: FROM THE DESK OF RICHARD A. SWENSON, M.D. Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

More great books for you to enjoy during these hard times:

#3 Favorite Book: 

The  Grapes of Wrath

by John  Steinbeck

In the late 60's one of my best friend's mother got this book banned from the junior high school library.  She felt it was inappropriate reading for young people.  When I went to my local library to get a copy recently, it was filed - where?  in the Young Adult section.  My, how times have changed.

The reason I turned to this book is twofold.  First it is set during the Great Depression.  We are living in a near-depression right now (2011) in this nation.  My degree in Economics makes this whole present financial fiasco we all face very interesting.  So, I wanted to read an account of what it was really like during the Great Depression. 

This is a novel. But, John  Steinbeck did actually live in and among the very type of people this book is written about.  It features a family of farmers who were run off their farm after the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  They heard there was work in California, so like everyone else, they sold what personal belongings they could sell and packed up what they could carry as they headed west. 

What an adventure!  If you care about how bad times could really get, it might not be a bad idea to read this book.  These people lived through just about everything - including the deaths of family members, starvation, homelessness, lack of work anywhere, an uncaring law enforcement/government, a still birth, and the list goes on. 

Steinbeck is a wonderful storyteller.  So, you really care about each and every member of this family as the epic unfolds.  It makes you wish for a sequel when you get to the final page.  It's that good. 

Yes, it is still somewhat controversial, but there is much to be learned by it if you consider what it has to say about migrant labor and the parasitic economic system of that time.  There are parallels to our present days.  You are bound to notice the way the middle class were beaten down into lower class citizens with few options for survival.  Look around you today.  People everywhere are searching for ways to save their homes, feed their families, and keep their family together. 

I would read this book myself before deciding whether to share it with your teens.  There are some mature themes.  But, at age 53, I just had to find out why it was banned from the library when I was in junior high school.  That was my second reason for reading it. :-D 

#4 Favorite Book:

Centered in God:  The Way of Jesus The Way of Life

by Evan Drake Howard

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This is another life-changing look if you are brave enough to center your life on God. If you have put your spouse or your kids or your job or any other thing at the center of your life, it is just a matter of time until you will discover it doesn't work. Howard has the true solution and does an excellent job of conveying his ideas about a centered life to the uninitiated. Highly recommended

#5 Favorite Book:

The Good Earth

by Pearl S. Buck

While exploring the depths of economic crashes as they affect everyday people, I chose to read another classic that shares the lives of a family in China who faced a difficult economic climate and overcame. It is an inspiring epic-like story of multiple generations. It is hard to miss the theme that shows how wealth has the potential tarnishing the youth who grew up wealthy. To fully enjoy it, you really should buy a little box of Good Earth tea (available at your grocery store or Walmart). The tea, named after this classic plays a role in story and you can fully indulge yourself by sipping a spot of tea as you enjoy this wonderful read.