Editors' Picks, Vol, 5 | What We're Reading

At Spoken Bride, we love a good book, a good meal, a standout statement necklace, a heel you can dance in, and the list goes on. And when we make those discoveries, we want to tell everyone. So every month or two, we're sharing our latest and favorite finds in everything engagement, wedding, and honeymoon-related.

Whether you prefer literature, spiritual reading, or nonfiction, the best of the written word has the power to illuminate truth and goodness and to reintroduce us to ourselves. Take a look at what we're currently reading, and we hope you'll find inspiration for your own library or reading list.

What We're Reading 2017 | www.spokenbride.com

Andi, Business Director

The Poldark Series by Winston Graham: I know it's cheesy, but I enjoy the show and a certain Spoken Bride team member (who shall remain nameless) said the books were great, so here I am. The books have actually been better reads than I expected: no Fabio-esque hair blowing in the wind, beautiful descriptions of Cornwall, and an omniscient narrator so I finally can understand what's behind all the longing glances on the show.

The Catholic Table by Emily Stimpson Chapman: I just love this book. If you read Emily's blog by the same name, you'll find it's a lovely approach that gets to the heart of our faith: fasting, feasting, and how Jesus brings it all together. I love Emily's understanding of hospitality--it's always been my goal to have a comfy home with a open door, and it was nice to read about someone else who loves having guests in their home.

Write. Publish. Market. by Jodi BrandonThis is a well-written, straightforward book with great information on how creative entrepreneurs can self-publish or get published through traditional avenues. I've got ideas swirling in my head and sketchbook of a project I'd never, ever, even thought of doing until the Holy Sprit recently started nudging me.

Daily Companion for Married Couples by Allan F. WrightI picked up this little daily devotional at the Mission Santa Inez gift shop as a Christmas present for my hubby. Each day we have a short quote from a saint, author, the Bible, or the Catechism, followed by a short reflection and discussion question. It's been nice having something to talk about together right before we go to sleep, and is short enough that we can read and discuss the topic within five minutes.

On my list for 2017:  Karol Wojtyla's The Jeweler's Shop, David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler's The Little Oratory, Fulton Sheen's Three to Get Married (again), and G.K Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

Elise, Social Media Manager

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp: I'm not exaggerating when I say this book has been completely life-changing. Although Ann is not Catholic, I was incredibly surprised by how well her thesis supports the Catholic theology of communion. The Broken Way is a compilation of Ann's reflections on how as humans we can live an abundant life, not despite, but with our wounds and brokenness. Ann's words touched me deeply and the book was a great reminder that "I am His and He is mine." 

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines: Any of my friends or family can tell you I love Chip and Joanna's show, Fixer Upper, on HGTV. For me, this story was one of hope. I cried multiple times while reading it. As an entrepreneur, I could relate to Chip and Joanna's story of ups and downs in trying to run their multiple businesses. It was incredibly inspiring and reassuring that Chip and Joanna overcame many obstacles in their lives and still remained faithful to what they knew to be God's calling for them. 

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber: For 2017, my goal is to work more on my business instead of in my business, meaning I need to continue learning how to be the best manager, boss and bringer of clients instead of only doing client work. Easier said than done. The E-Myth has helped me shift my mindset as a business owner and learn how strategize when it comes to scaling my business. 

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: This book is a beautiful reminder to view ourselves how God sees us. It is only when we understand God's truly unconditional love that we begin to align our lives with our true vocation and calling. 

On my list for 2017: Seth Godin's Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Elaine Sciolino's The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, and Henri Nouwen's The Inner Voice of Love.

Jiza, Co-Founder + Creative Director

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp: Ann Voskamp candidly shares about her life’s struggles and faith in the book “The Broken Way”. Emotional, raw, honest, this book is full of nuggets of wisdom. However, this leads to my next book. 

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Fr. Jacques Philippe: Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) and your classic ENFP, I can get easily swept away or deeply engrossed in the intimate & emotional experiences of others. That being said, I needed a breather from The Broken Way and picked up this book in its place. Being written by a priest, this book offers objective & gentle spiritual direction and wisdom on finding and keeping peace that only comes from God and God alone. 

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home & School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: If you follow my personal Instagram, you’ll find a lot of homeschooling photos of my children. While I am still new to it, I love Charlotte Mason’s methodology and approach to education. This book beautiful frames Miss Mason’s belief on educating not just the mind, but educating the will and the entire person. 

Black Moon (The Poldark Series) by Winston Graham: This is my “waiting room” book. It’s an easy fictional read for anytime I just need my mind to turn off. If you love British television, I’m sure you have already been watching Captain Ross Poldark and all his drama. Season 2 left me a bit distraught, so I hopped on Black Moon to eagerly read about Ross’s redemption that supposedly happens in Season 3. 

On my list for 2017: Brian Kennelly’s To the Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (I need to finish reading this one), Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter (this one, too), Jennie Allen's Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard, and Jennifer Fulwiller's Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It.

Stephanie, Co-Founder + Editor in Chief

Island of the World by Michael D. O'Brien: A few friends had recommended this modern classic of a Catholic novel, but the 800-page commitment intimidated me. I shouldn’t have worried. This story of a soul, the fictional Josip Lasta, is the amazingly compelling chronicle of one man’s life, from boyhood to old age, under the Communist regime in Croatia. Amidst the depths of human evil and depravity and to the heights of love and communion, Lasta’s life serves as a reminder that no man is ever truly alone and that the hand of providence is constantly, actively at work in the world. Reading this, I have been staying up long past my bedtime on pure adrenaline and wonder, have recalled many similar details from John Paul II’s youth and young adulthood in occupied Poland, and have experienced a renewed sense of the fact that freedom is complete gift and grace.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: As a former English major who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I only recently picked up this book for the first time. Austen once said that of all her characters, she identified most with Fanny Bryce, the heroine of this novel, and I can see why. A sharp observer of conduct and of the subtleties that pass between men and women, Fanny is often the lone individual with the eyes to see falsehood and shallowness for what they are when her family becomes taken with two beguiling new acquaintances. What Mansfield Park lacks in romantic banter compared to, for instance, Pride and Prejudice, it more than makes up for in dead-on emotion and perception that still feels relevant hundreds of years later, a quality I’m really enjoying.

Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer: I am forever, and I mean constantly, in search of a love story that will sweep me off my feet. Between my being a hard sell on grand, emotionally-driven gestures and having some differences of opinion with the culture’s notions of romance and dating, I guess my bar is pretty high. But I think I might have found one. This funny, unpretentious, and beautifully written novel, told in letters, is based on the real-life correspondence of Flannery O’Connor and the poet Robert Lowell. O’Connor was a convert to the Catholic faith, while Lowell was a religious skeptic for much of his life. Their discussions of the Church and the faith often feel like spiritual reading, and the depth of goodwill and admiration between Bauer’s imagined versions of these writers has brought me to tears. Truly, in my opinion it’s a romance for the ages!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: Sometimes the right book comes along at the right time. A few months ago, my husband and I experienced one of the rougher periods in our marriage as we struggled to prioritize each other over our other responsibilities and as a particularly overwhelming, sleep-deprived season of our parenthood took its toll on our ability to show each other basic patience and kindness. This book introduces a married couple that’s drifted apart. With the help of a surprisingly plausible magic phone, they receive a second chance to make good on their relationship. Their story moved me in a way it might not have, had I not recently experienced this difficult time. It struck me profoundly how small wounds can pile up over time and cause serious damage to a relationship, and how our every interaction with our spouse presents us with a choice. To choose forgiveness over pettiness, sacrifice over self, and authentic love over convenience is painful and purifying, but a worthy effort every time.

On my list for 2017: James Keating’s Spousal Prayer: A Way to Marital Happiness, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow, and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope.

Christina, Associate Editor

From Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman: One of my passions/side hobbies is psychology, especially when it’s related to family of origin. This book (so far) is an excellent introduction into the world of family systems psychology, which focuses not only on the problems of each individual within a family, but how dysfunctional family patterns exacerbate those problems. Even for someone like me who has been in and out of therapy for much of her life, I’m still learning quite a bit from this book about how I can be an instrument of peace and healing in my own family.

Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment by Fr. Thomas Dubay: Like all of Fr. Dubay’s books, this one is a spiritual kick in the butt. It’s so easy for us to think we’re following God’s will, when what we’re really following is our own plans and desires wrapped up in spiritual packaging. Fr. Dubay challenges his readers to cultivate humility and poverty of spirit--and to seek the help of a competent spiritual director-- so that they can more readily attend to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Authenticity is not a light read, but it’s worth the effort if you want to grow in your capacity to discern God’s will in your life.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery: Since high school, when I first discovered Anne, I’ve probably read the entire Anne of Green Gables series at least ten times (and my favorites--like Anne of the Island--even more), so I couldn’t resist reading Anne’s House of Dreams during my first month as a newlywed. I’ve always loved this fifth book in the Anne series, but in some ways I felt like I was reading it for the first time; I could relate to Anne and her wifely joy in a new way. Anne’s House of Dreams is also unique among the Anne books because Anne’s rosy outlook on life is challenged for the first time by tragedy. If you’re looking for a fun, easy, yet surprisingly profound novel to chase away the winter doldrums, this is the book for you.

Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year by Joseph Ratzinger: I am unabashedly obsessed with Joseph Ratzinger (aka Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) and his writings. He has done more for my post-graduate intellectual and spiritual development than any other theologian, and there’s rarely a time during the year when I’m not reading something by Ratzinger. The only downside to Co-Workers of the Truth is having to pace myself and only read one meditation per day.

On my list for 2017: Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures by Joseph Ratzinger, The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von Le Fort, Sweetening the Pill: Or, How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control by Holly Grigg-Spall, To Know Christ Jesus by F.J. Sheed, and a slew of novels by Dorothy Sayers.