I know not all of us find reading the best way to relax but at SheReads we encourage you to pick up some books throughout the course of the year and befriend them, grow wiser with them. But remember it is all about quality not quantity.

Maybe you can stretch yourself and read something you would not normally chose. Enter conversation with the author, take notes, reflect and let us know what you think.

Every 6 months we will recommend a different set of books. Mostly by female authors but not only. The first set are books on the subjects of: leadership, importance of community, personality types and practice of simplicity. Every book has two quotes alongside it to give you a better idea of what lies within.

Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier

Properly speaking, this is not a book at all but only a bundle of letters. They were written in pencil a little at a time; they could not have felt formal if they had tried.

There is no ordered sequence in the letters. There is no ordered sequence in the way the trials and temptations and the weary little feelings of illness fling themselves upon us, hurling their forces ruthlessly upon an already weakened front. I found that things written by those who were in pain themselves, or who had passed through pain to peace, like the touch of understanding in a dear human letter, did something that nothing except the words of our eternal Lord could ever do.

Joanna Williamson, A Life Well Placed

We live in the midst of ‘misplaced’ people: misplaced in terms of calling, vision and gifts. They are all around us; looking for a place they can call their own. Dissatisfied with the place they are at and frustrated for not being somewhere else. Grass always looks greener on the other side, right? Wrong. As someone once said, grass is greener when you water it.

This is a story of a life well placed. After journeys to several different countries, and after testing her gifts in several different ways, God led Amy Carmichael to a place where she fitted perfectly in terms of gifts and calling. At first, she did not recognize it. Yet eventually, with gentle surrender, she settled in her promised land, though it was ‘full of giants’. She loved her patch of land, cultivated it and turned it into a valley of springs, both spiritually and physically.

Amy Carmichael was a writer of great calibre. She does not merely tell the stories of people she meets, she speaks on their behalf.

Elane O’Rourke, Dallas Willard Dictionary

Love is not the product of the will’s power. Love is not a strategy for success. Love has the characteristics Paul describes — patience, kindness, joy in the truth, absence of envy — because love is from God, and God has these characteristics. Love is a quality of a Christlike character formed in us as we are re-formed in Christ. It is God’s love that redeems the lost and mends the broken; it is our secure knowledge of God’s love that allows us to do the same. The definition of love is simple, but the characteristics, value, and power of love are rich and complex. It is a decent life’s work just to describe them well; it is an eternal life’s effort to display them.

Definition Love is the will to good. Encouragement and actions on behalf of a person’s good are love, and give life. One who loves promotes the good, or wills the benefit and strength, of the beloved; this is the nature of God. God’s love — God’s wild and constant willing of our good — and our trusting knowledge of it enables our own love of others.

Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation

Perhaps one of the most basic things we need to understand about spiritual transformation is that it is full of mystery. We can be open to it, but we can’t accomplish it for ourselves.

In the end, this is the most hopeful thing any of us can say about spir- itual transformation: I cannot transform myself, or anyone else for that matter. What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual trans- formation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God.

When we are in touch with our deepest longings (instead of being com- pletely distracted by their surface manifestations), a whole different set of choices opens up. Rather than being motivated by guilt and obligation—as in “I really ought to have a quiet time” or “I really should pray more”—we are compelled to seek out ways of living that are congruent with our deepest desires. Sometimes this feels risky, and it often opens up a whole new set of questions, but this is fundamentally what spiritual transformation is all about: choosing a way of life that opens us to the presence of God in the places of our being where our truest desires and deepest longings stir.

Yeonmi Park, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

“On the cold, black night of March 31, 2007, my mother and I scrambled down the steep, rocky bank of the frozen Yalu River that divides North Korea and China. There were patrols above us and below, and guard posts one hundred yards on either side of us manned by soldiers ready to shoot anyone attempting to cross the border. We had no idea what would come next, but we were desperate to get to China, where there might be a chance to survive. I was thirteen years old and weighed only sixty pounds. Just a week earlier, I’d been in a hospital in my hometown of Hyesan along the Chinese border, suffering from a severe intestinal infection that the doctors had mistakenly diagnosed as appendicitis. I was still in terrible pain from the incision, and was so weak I could barely walk. The young North Korean smuggler who was guiding us across the border insisted we had to go that night. He had paid some guards to look the other way, but he couldn’t bribe all the soldiers in the area, so we had to be extremely cautious. I followed him in the darkness…”

Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership

“I also found it disturbing that nearly all leadership and management books are written by men. Yet women are the fastest-growing segment of business owners in this country. USA Today recently reported that soon women will employ more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined. Similarly, nearly 80 percent of all businesses in the United States employ twenty people or less. Clearly, small groups of people led by innovative leaders and managers make up the strength, and hope, of this nation. With the business world changing so rapidly and so drastically, it seemed to me that we need creative and innovative role models now more than ever before.”

“Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership is based on three simple premises:

  1. One person trained twelve human beings who went on to so influence the world that time itself is now recorded as being before (B.C.) or after (A.D.) his existence.
  2. This person worked with a staff that was totally human and not divine… a staff that in spite of illiteracy, questionable backgrounds, fractious feelings, and momentary cowardice went on to accomplish the tasks he trained them to do. They did this for one main reason — to be with him again.
  3. His leadership style was intended to be put to use by any of us.”

Christine D. Pohl, Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us

“Good communities and life-giving giving congregations emerge at the intersection of divine grace and steady human effort.”

“Communities in which we grow and flourish, however, last over time and are built by people who are faithful to one another and committed to a shared purpose. Community life certainly has moments of incredible beauty and intense personal connection, but much of it is daily and ordinary. Our lives are knit together not so much by intense feeling as by shared history, tasks, commitments, stories, and sacrifices. But communities need more than shared history and tasks to endure. A combination of grace, fidelity, and truth makes communities safe enough for people to take the risks that are necessary for growth and transformation.”

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality— the “north and south of temperament,” as one scientist puts it— is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Our place on this continuum influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them… Today introversion and extroversion are two of the most exhaustively researched subjects in personality psychology, arousing the curiosity of hundreds of scientists.”

“Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”

Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life

“There is a hunger abroad in our time, haunting lives and hearts. Like an empty stomach aching beneath the sleek coat of a seemingly well-fed fed creature, it reveals that something is missing from the diet of our rational, secular, and affluent culture. Both within and beyond traditional faith communities, a hunger for spiritual depth and integrity is gaining momentum. For some of us, the hunger is amorphous. Like free-floating anxiety, it lurks just below the surface of consciousness. Perhaps we feel an emptiness ness that leaves us restless for a larger meaning and purpose in life. Perhaps we sense that we are sailing through life in a rudderless ship. Something is missing. Something is out of balance. But it remains nameless. For others of us, the hunger is recognizably spiritual. We know there is a vacuum inside us that will suck up an infinite supply of thrills, goods, and successes without satisfying the human heart. We are aware of needing a transcendent compass.”

“This is a book for beginners, yet the term “beginner” is deceptive and paradoxical. The more we comprehend of the spiritual life and the longer we try faithfully to live it out, the more we grasp how simple and primary its essential patterns are. There is a childlike simplicity to Christian spirituality. In a certain sense we never get past practicing the basics. This makes beginners of us all, a truth that is both humbling and freeing.”

Jan Johnson, Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace

“Why can’t we hold on to the genuine transformation we desire? Because we’re trying to breathe in the oxygen of real life with God without breathing out the daily chaos that chokes out such interaction.”

“However, while simplicity disciplines bring freedom, they also make us feel uncomfortable, especially at first. They reveal the petty things we do to be noticed or to indulge ourselves. We may not have known we were hooked on luxuries, other people’s attention or dressing to impress until we abstained from those things for a while. Then we find we’ve used them to prop ourselves up or push ourselves forward. We begin wondering, Why does it devastate me to think about giving away this item? Why was it so important that I mention that accomplishment? Will I make a decent impression if my clothes don’t make a statement? Disciplines of simplicity help us realize that we don’t yet trust God to help us feel acceptable when we’re not managing what others think of us.”

A book is a gift you can open again and again.

Garrison Keillor