Booking It (January Update: One Bite at a Time)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. January’s book was One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider.

I love to read. I always have. I was an early reader, starting at about age 4. I don’t remember my parents reading to me. (Sorry, Mom.) But, I do remember my mom taking us to the library often, of my bringing home a dozen books at a time, of my reading through that dozen in no time flat. I remember staying up late at night reading in bed. And Dad popping his head in every few minutes to tell me to turn off the light.

Just one more chapter, Dad.

I’m just going to finish the chapter, Dad.

Just one more page.

I lied. I admit. I totally wasn’t going to stop. No way, no how.

I still love to read. And there have been occasions during my tenure as a mother that I have pulled an all-nighter (or almost) reading an engrossing book. I usually paid for it the next day by being extra tired and cranky. But, in the moment of reading and exploring a different world besides my own, it was totally worth it.


Over the past month, I’ve read a fair amount. I was really sick in December, meaning all I wanted to do was lie around. I treated myself to a handful of books at Christmas time. We went out of town with limited internet.

All of those circumstances have contributed to this wonderful list of books I’ve read over the last month, without pulling an allnighter.

Here’s the latest from my nightstand:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Year

I told you a little about this book at the beginning of the month. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller is a fabulous book. Fabulous. It is the “assigned reading” for March. But hubs grabbed it off my shelf and started reading. And then he coerced me into reading it before it was “time.”

This is a great read, especially if you’re looking for a deeper something to sink your teeth — and your life — into. It is laugh-out-loud funny as well as you-better-have-a-kleenex moving. I was so amazingly surprised.

Thanks to Tsh and Renee for recommending it. I respect them both hugely (is that a word?) and probably would not have read it without their endorsements.

The 100 Thing Challenge

I also picked up The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno, thanks to Patti’s comment during last month’s Booking It. I’d never heard of the book or the blog before. Or if I had, then I forgot. It’s been a hugely thought-provoking book.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, though. A friend looked at it and said, “I don’t want another person lecturing about what to do with my life.” I guess he was under the impression that it was a How-to book. And I guess when you look at the cover, it might make you think that. But really, it’s not about that.

It’s basically one man’s journey to wean himself from stuff. He doesn’t have hard and fast rules about one hundred things. That’s not the point. The point is that life is more than the sum of our stuff. And so, he sets on a journey to whittle down his personal possessions to the bare minimum and see what life is like without stuff.

I have laughed. I have gone, “hmmm….” and I’ve found myself nodding about the stuff that weighs me down in life. It’s helped me see my stuff in a whole new light. I really have been inspired by this book in many ways. Thanks for the rec, Patti!

(There’s a little “language” in the book and some very honest discussion about life experiences, so be forewarned. It didn’t dignificantly detract from the book, but I know that it makes some uncomfortable.)

125x125One Bite at a Time

Our “assigned reading” this month was One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider. I started the book several months back and have slowly been digesting it. You can read my initial impressions here. Let me just say that Tsh drips with wisdom. I wish that when my kids had been 7, 4, and 2, that I would have known all that Tsh has presented in this book. It’s really that good.

Currently, I’m in the 40s, out of 52 Bites. But the beauty of this book is that it isn’t really meant to be read in one sitting. It really is a book to scan and take a bite out of. The projects are practical, yet very doable. And you could totally do one chapter at a time.

Of course, it’s so like me that my brain races ahead and wants to do everything at once.

Oh! A garden! That would be great!

Hey, I might try that no shampoo thing on the kids

Oh, yes, I definitely want to….

Obviously, 52 bites at one time would send me to the loony bin. So, I’m narrowing in on a few, or at least being mindful of them as I go through my day. I already do several of the projects anyway. Like # 39 Create a Daily To Do List. But, it’s still helpful to read what others say about a project, even if it’s one you think you already know. I’m freshly inspired by Tsh’s words and that puts some spring back in my step.

Back in November when I shared this book the first time, I was working on these three:

#3 – Establish a morning routine

#4 – Establish an evening routine

#18 – Get more sleep

Thankfully, I’ve been successful in working on #3 and #18. While I don’t have them down pat, they are getting easier to pull off on a regular basis. In the coming weeks I’m going to continue working on #4 and adding:

#34 — Drink more water. The suggestions in this chapter, provided by Simple Mom contributor, Lisa Byrne, are brilliant!

#38 — Carve out intentional downtime.

Tsh says to just take one bite at a time, but I’m taking three. I do, after all, have a big mouth.

Have you been Booking It?

Apparently, I’ve got a thing for books with numbers: a million, 100, one, 52. Tune in next month when I review 92 Ways to Skin a Cat. 😉

In the meantime, tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler be sure to tell us what you thought of it and what projects you’re using to simplify your life. You can also buy the book in pdf form.

Tell us in the comments about your recent reads or link up your book review post.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next up: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.

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  1. I haven’t gotten to One Bite At A Time yet, but I want to. Sticking with your numbers theme, my favorite book this month was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This book was oddly moving for a Stephen King book.

  2. That 100 things challenge book looks good. I may have to read it.

    I, too, am slowly digesting One Bite at a Time. I’ve been a Simple Mom reader for a while so some things (meal planning) I’ve already made a habit, more or less, while others, like a focused morning routine, I’m trying to incorporate now. I like that the chapters were short, so that I can always quickly skim back through whatever habit I’m working on at the moment.

  3. I LOVED One Bite at a Time and it was Bookin’ It that got me to actually buy and read it. Thanks, Jessica!

    I need to check out The 100 Thing Challenge. That’s a new one to me, but it sounds up my alley 🙂

    1. So glad you liked it. Apparently, I had to pull both your and Carrie’s legs on that. How did THAT happen? 😉

  4. Oh Jessica, I read one of the first blog posts that Mr. 100 Things wrote about how he cleaned out his stuff. It was so moved by it (the fact that I needed to get my focus off having STUFF), I shared the article on Facebook. You would not believe the FLACK I got for that! People thought I was pushing minimalism as a god, that focusing on not having stuff was just as bad as being controlled by stuff, and it went on and on. There is something about that idea (apparently) that resonates with some (like me) and irritates others (like those who left comments). Even the hubby couldn’t get past the word “minimalist”, even when I tried pointing out that it wasn’t about owning 5 t-shirts and throwing the rest away, as much as it was about paying attention to how you spent your resources. Basically, about practicing Biblical stewardship (not, I don’t believe, what the author was intending, but certainly what I took away from that blog post). Anyway, fast forward a couple of years now and everyone is on the purging, make-it-do-or-do-without bandwagon and I don’t look so crazy anymore for thinking that Mr. 100 Things might actually be on to something. 😉

    1. Well, I really do think that the book itself is mismarketed. Folks think they’re going to be lectured into minimalism. I don’t think that’s what it is, though I know that the “minimalists” were all on that bandwagon. The book describes how much flack he got from people that he wasn’t counting every single book he owned. (He called it ONE library.) Rock on.

  5. P.S. I’m on Chapter 10 of “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years” – I purchaed a real book for me (used) and a unabridged book-on-cd (used) for the hubby to listed to on his way to work. That way we both read it in ways that stick with us and then we discuss it. So far, I’ve got mixed feelings, but it seems to be picking up and yes, I’ve laughed out loud a few times. So far, the whole “story” thing is hitting home.

    1. To those intimidated by Carrie’s comment that it’s taken her 10 chapters for it to “pick up,” the book has 36 chapters! 🙂

  6. So, I’ve heard about the 100 things challenge. I’ve even read about the blog some. I agree it’s interesting but i think i almost live more on the hoarding side. I think now you have inspired me to add it to my to read list. by the way i am very excited about the donald miller book. blue like jazz is one of my favorite books of all time!

  7. I read through the whole One bite at a Time book. I loved almost everyone one of them (despite how hard I try I can’t enjoy maintaining a garden and I kill it off everytime). But I got my husband to agree to working through the book one week at a time this year. We started with the having a weekly meeting with your spouse and the plan is that at each meeting we review a new bite to try out during the week.

    This month I also read:
    Sarah’s Key- loved it! did it in one evening
    Heaven is for Real- great story but I’m rather skeptical about it
    Love Wins- still ponering my thoughts on this one.
    And I’m 1/3rd of the way through ‘She’s Gonna Blow’, can’t wait to get to the techniques part.

    I’m hoping that my copy of Money Savings Mom makes it here in time to read for next month. When it didn’t give me a notice of shipment after the preorder was lifted I called Amazon to inquire about it and they sent out all the other books I had ordered but cancelled Money Saving Mom for some reason. So I’ve reordered it and we’ll see what happens

    1. oh! I had no idea Sarah’s Key was based on a book. *adds to must read list* The movie was stunning by the way… I watched it just last week.

      1. haha- I just found out tonight they made a movie of it. I’m off to see if i can get it at the video rental place this weekend.

  8. I started the book last week. Bite 1 was great. I am trying to make a habit of eating my frog first. The frog varies from day to day, but usually it’s making phone calls. I HATE talking on the phone.

    On to Bite 2. I loved the suggestion for setting up separate savings accounts for holidays/gifts, an emergency fund, bi-annual insurance premiums, etc. I think this will be SO much easier than trying to keep things separate mentally in one checking account.

    I saw Modern Mrs. Darcy mention that one chapter is about establishing a skin care routine. I’m desperately in need of that, so I think I’ll skip ahead.

    1. eating my frog is what i’m working on too. right now i’m doing my paperwork in draft for my job when i get there first thing in the morning. i hate it but on the days i follow through and force myself to do it I am SO proud!

  9. I write a lot of books reviews and read a lot of books!! I read one book that was 52 things to do in a year that was really good! Also, that year I read Only Nuns change habits overnight and So long, Status Quo….by Susy Flory. All of which made an impact on me, since I remember them so well! Recently, I have been reading a lot of historical fiction and read an interesting title, the second book in a series by Allison Pittman about polygamy in the early Mormon church. Another interesting one was A Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klaussen, which was very interesting, especially if you are interested in UK during the Regency period.

  10. I just finished “Pontius Pilate” by Paul L. Maier. It was first published in 1968, and the author – a history professor whose father founded a radio ministry show — called it a “documented historical novel” (too much history to be a novel; too many loose ends to be called history). It follows Pontius Pilate’s life and career from his assignment as prefect of Judea, through the crucifixion, and after. I found it really interesting for fixing background and understanding of the Roman politics and culture of the time in my mind.

  11. I’m reading several books this month…

    I’m working my way through One Bite At a Time, albeit rather slowly. eBooks are hard for me; since I don’t have a kindle I have to read them on the laptop or my husband’s Android. Which means trying to read while the kids are running around screaming, coming up behind me pulling my hair, pulling all the dvd’s off the shelf, etc. Or I read on the Android and only get to read while the baby is nursing before bed. Which in a way is nice, a guaranteed 30 minutes of reading time… but ONLY 3o minutes. So it takes a lot longer than normal.

    I just finished The Burning City by Alaya Dawn Johnson- I had picked up the first book of the trilogy at Dollar Tree of all places LOL! I got so into it that I had to order the second one from Amazon. Unfortunately I found out that the author has put the series on hold and may or may not release the 3rd book. Pity because they are GREAT. Fantasy, magic, a little bit of romance… All the names are Hawaiian or Japanese sounding, and the world it is set in is made up entirely of islands.

    Up next on my list is A Renegade’s Guide To God by David Foster. I started reading it over a year ago, and was REALLY into it, but then life went haywire and I put it down for a while. When I went to pick it back up- I couldn’t find it. I’ve found it now and I’m super excited to get back into it.

    For February I’m looking at:
    The Money Saving Mom’s Budget
    & and old book I picked up to make into book art, but screwed up & started reading so now I have to finish it LOL- Leaves of Fortune by Linda Barlow

  12. I’ve been rereading Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram. She’s got some phenomenal ideas on how to save upwards of about $25,000 a year by making simple changes that I’ve definitely been trying to incorporate.

  13. I’ve been working my way through One Bite, one project a week, and blogging about it. I’m up to project 13.

    Despite the temptation to skip around I’m going through the book in order, because otherwise I know that I’m likely to leave the harder ones until the end and then quite likely not do them. 🙁

    I’ve got a few other books I’m reading right now, but the one that is most tempting me to stay up late reading it is Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

    1. Well, don’t feel bad if you come across a project you don’t want to do. Some of them are must-do’s (imo) but others might not be a good fit. And I know Tsh would never say you had to do them all. 🙂

      1. I should clarify – the projects I’d otherwise be tempted to skip are the ones I most need to do. 🙂 (Like organizing my photo collection.)

        I know there are a few projects that don’t really apply, and those I’ll skip with no hesitation.

  14. Oh, and I hadn’t heard of the 100 Thing Challenge book, but you’ve got me interested in it so I’m adding it to my library list. Thanks!

    1. I thought it was really interesting. Just make sure that you remember he’s just telling his story.

      1. No worries about that – I just love reading personal narratives, especially ones where people tackle big challenges or work to transform their life. I’ve never felt that that means I need to follow their lead.

  15. Well I am about 75% of the way through 1 bite at a time. I am really enjoying this book and look forward to trying out several (if not all) of the projects that are listed in this book. I hope to do it over then next couple of years instead of the 52 in 52.

    Some of the items listed, like meal planning and list making, I am already doing. Others like getting control of my paper and email clutter….well I know I should do but the procrastinator in me will likely drag my feet on before doing. Finally, some of the projects I am curious to try….like the skin care routine….I might actually give this a try soon.

    I have also been reading just an easy but fun read from Rick Riordan – The Son of Neptune. It is totally geared for an age group years younger then myself, but I have always loved Greek and Roman mythology and so it just is a fun series to read. Basically, it is all about demigods (children of the greek/roman gods) that are chosen to go on an impossible quest. Rick Riordan’s style is done in a way that you can’t put the book down. I always find myself saying…..I will stop after this chapter, and then he ends that chapter with a bit of a cliff hanger and the next thing you know……your saying I need to know what happens next 🙂

    Anyway, if your looking for something that will make you feel like a kid again, it is a good read. This book is the second in the series of “The Heros of Olympus” which is also a spin off from his original series – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (which was made into a movie)

    I look forward to reading The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. I have been a follower of Crystal’s blog for a long time now and can’t wait to dig in!

    1. My kids just started reading one of the Riordan series. They are liking them, too.

  16. I have read “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. I got to it last year, and absolutely loved it. I have often been fascinated by the way characters in movies go through all sorts of hardships but somehow it seems dramatic and exciting and romantic. Yet when I go through a hardship, it is just plain HARD! So I was fascinated to read about Miller ‘editing’ his life to make it interesting enough for a movie. I was not disappointed, I will go back and reread this one again and again.

    I have also just finished “My seventh monsoon”. It is a missionary biography, but of a different kind. Naomi Reed is an Australian physiotherapist who spent 2 terms of service in Nepal. She evaluates the things she went through as a missionary and discusses ‘seasons’ of life in a way that anyone may relate to. I thought it was masterfully written, and hope to read the sequel soon.

    1. Isn’t that the truth… the hardships are really just HARD. They usually don’t have nice theme songs playing in the background, either.

  17. I love this book….I started reading it last fall and am almost finished with it. We have done several of the projects, like coming up with a family mission statement, we are in the process of coming up with goals and I am planning on doing all of the things. I have bought a stack of washrags to use as napkins and am planning on doing away with the paper ones as soon as we use up the Christmas napkins. I love this book and it is an outstanding read.

  18. I am glad you like my suggestion, Jessica. I am reading One Bite at a Time and it is really helping. I am Eating My Frog and have my daily routines down pat. Now I have to limit my time on the computer!!