A 50-count pack of colored pencils, with their uniform points and array of pretty hues lined up neatly in the box makes my heart go pitter patter.
Picking out a three-ring binder with coordinating page dividers is a thrill.
It’s been years since I received a school supply list in the mail, but I still love roaming the back-to-school aisles when they pop up (earlier and earlier it seems) in the summer.
Those glue sticks, rainbows of markers, and lined paper are a harbinger of fall and a busier time of year. The chaos of summer freedom is replaced by the chaos of autumn routines. Even though my children are quite young, I can feel the pace of life quicken as we move into the next season.
Extra-curricular activities are multiplying, ministries are launching, school is starting. Life is ramping back up for the majority of us come September, and sometimes the transition is just plain hard.
I don’t always do change very well, but I’m wanting to approach this new season with intention and joy.
I usually turn to books when I need some inspiration. These seven books have propelled me through many different seasons and are motivating when life feels a little out of control. *Bonus: they are all quick reads.
7 Books to Motivate You This Fall
Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews
Annie Dillard said, “How we live our days is how we live our lives.” I’ve always found that thought convicting and inspiring. In this 30-page ebook, Amy Lynn Andrews lays out a time management system that encourages people to make their days reflect what they want from their lives.
Her straightforward approach to time management breaks down into four steps — purpose, plan, place and plot — that help identify the priorities in your life and how to reorient your time to reflect those priorities. I found the exercise of thinking through my roles, and goals for each role, extremely illuminating.
Even if you don’t end up using her grid system for scheduling your days (though it is super effective), the process of completing the first three steps gives a good reset and refocus to how you spend your time. Available—->HERE
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider
Reading Organized Simplicity was my first brush with the concept of simple living. As a recent college graduate who was struggling with purpose and moving around a decent amount of personal possessions, I was instantly taken with the idea of living intentionally.
True simplicity, Tsh says, is “living holistically with your life’s purpose.” So after exploring the “why” behind simple living, the book moves on to the “how,” ending with a ten-day plan for organizing your home.
The book covers everything from house cleaning (including some great, green cleaning solution recipes) and personal finance to managing your stuff as well as your time. Tsh also gives really helpful, room-specific, tips for simplifying your house.
I appreciate that Organized Simplicity gives equal weight to the practical, physical ways we can simplify and the more theoretical, spiritual ways we can live with intention. I’ve circled back to these tenets many times when my life becomes more full than I’d like. Available—->HERE
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
This book is a little bigger (272 pages) than the others and has gotten some flack for being longer than the message necessitates. However, the Way of The Essentialist that McKeown lays out is a game changer.
McKeown leads you through the process — the systematic discipline — of deciding what is truly essential, then eliminating the rest. His point is that instead of getting more done, we should focus on getting only the right things done.
Essentialism did for my productivity what the KonMari method did for my possessions — helped me strip away the unnecessary chaff distracting me from my goals and priorities. Available—->HERE
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Shauna is one of my favorite authors. Her essay style books are engaging and I appreciate her commitment to authenticity in sharing her story. Present Over Perfect, her fourth book, debuted in August. I’d like to think it isn’t a coincidence that a book whose tagline is “leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living” was published right before many people’s lives become a bit more frantic.
Observing someone else learn something is sometimes the best teacher. In her gentle style, Shauna invites you to observe her own journey as she moves from pushing and proving to peace and play. Her story reminds me that I have control over what I allow in my life and my schedule. This book will challenge you to lighten your load so you can focus on the higher-stakes aspects like parenting, marriage, and friendship. Available—->HERE
How She Does It by Anne Bogel
A paradigm shift in the last couple decades has changed how families function and support themselves, blurring the lines between personal lives and work lives. More women are veering from the traditional roles that made up the home economics standard of the past. They are adapting their schedules and source of income to fit the unique needs and goals of their family.
But this new paradigm can be challenging to navigate. Every season brings obstacles and changes that affect home life. Anne shares a brief history of the workplace before discussing some different obstacles and changes through the stories of other women who are cobbling together solutions to work for their family.
Hearing different women’s solutions is a great reminder that there isn’t one right way to create work/life balance. The common thread that Anne draws out is intentionality; all of the women, as well as herself, have approached their unique situations with intentionality and an open mind. Available—->HERE
The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris
I had to look up what quotidian meant when I first heard of this book. Quotidian is a fancy way to say ordinary or mundane. In The Quotidian Mysteries, Norris advocates for the inherent worth of the everyday tasks that seem to suck the soul right out of you: think the never-ending piles of laundry, changing thousands of diapers, cooking meal after meal.
It’s easy to find God in a beautiful church or while listening to worship music, but finding God when you’re entering data in a computer five days a week or when you’re elbow deep in dishes? That’s a different story. Norris’ story-driven narrative will breathe new life into your daily rhythms, giving space for your soul to find meaning in the quotidian.
This is the perfect book to reset your perspective, to help you take a deep breath and dive back into the routines activities that happen every day. Available—->HERE
The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence (born Nicolas Herman) was a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris. Because he didn’t have the education to become a cleric, he served in the kitchen for most of his life. Despite his lowly position, Brother Lawrence was known for his joy and peace. The guiding principle in The Practice of The Presence of God bridges the gap between secular work and sacred work: if it is done for God instead of man, all work is sacred.
I have returned to this little book many times since I first read it in high school for its reminder that no matter what activity I am engaged in, no matter what season of life I find myself in — no matter what — I can choose joy and glorify God with my attitude.
Of all seven books in this list, reading The Practice of The Presence of God might just make the most profound impact on your autumn. Regardless of where you are on the journey of simplifying your possessions, managing your schedule, or finding work/life balance, it’s always timely to glorify God in the process. Available—->HERE
What books are you reading to keep your head in the game this fall?
Emily C. Gardner
*A small reminder, or if you’re new here: If you purchase the items through the links here, Club31Women might get a small affiliate compensation – with no additional cost to you – from some of them and so I thank you for that. But while I appreciate your purchase, you should also know that we share this as our genuine opinion and personal enthusiasm for these items. See my full disclosure here.
Here at Club31Women, we recognize that not everyone has the same taste or point of view on books or movies, but we offer these short reviews for your consideration. Our hope is that you will find something new and wonderful on this list of recommended reading!
~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
Emily C. Gardner is a Southern California native transplanted to the Northeast with her youth pastor husband and two sweet kiddos. She's a woman of many enthusiasms, which these days include reading, real food, and running. In her fringe hours, Emily channels her creative energy into curating book flights on her blog and sharing photos of her current read. Connect with Emily on Instagram and Pinterest.