I mentioned in my last What I Read post that I’d been exploring the literature on Enneagram typology, and one of the best things to come from that has been my discovery of Constructive Living by David Reynolds. It’s a very short book, and as straightforward as they come, but it’s full of actionable prompts for personal growth based on/inspired by a form of therapy originating in Japan (with strong roots in Zen Buddhism). I found it through an Enneagram-focused blog, which recommended it as a must-read for Type 4s, but I think the takeaways would be relevant to a broader range of people. [Note/Warning: there were a couple of references to homosexuality that I found questionable, which may be due to the fact the book was originally written in the early 80s.]

For fellow parents, I would recommend All Joy, No Fun by Jennifer Senior. It is not — I repeat, it is NOT — a parenting book. You won’t necessarily learn new techniques for dealing with colicky babies or boundaries-pushing toddlers, but you will probably recognize yourself on every page … and laugh or cry depending on the chapter. It’s a book about parenthood: what it means, and what it does to us. After I finished it, I decided that it was going to be the only book I would ever give parents-to-be from now on; and then I changed my mind. I think it’s best appreciated by people who are (already or still) in the thick of it (whether with babies, toddlers, or older kids). One of the most important tools I had as a parent-to-be (maybe the only one, haha!) was my blind optimism. This book is for people on the other side of that optimism, who are probably wondering: now what? Or, perhaps, what next? It reassures parents that their struggles are universal and, most importantly, that they are doing just fine.

Moving on to some good internet reads. The Fashion Law concluded its series on the anti-laws of luxury marketing — you can read Part iii here. They also featured an interesting article about the “politics” of the (U.S.) First Lady’s wardrobe.

This older HuffPost article has a click-baity title (She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink — dun, dun, dun) but is an excellent reminder about the importance of expressing the love and gratitude we feel for our partners in ways that are meaningful to them, not necessarily to us. My husband and I don’t fight very often, but when we do it’s almost always over really dumb, minor sh*t involving household chores. I think the writer’s point that you don’t have to understand *why* something (you think is irrelevant and/or illogical) is important to your spouse; you just have to understand that it’s a question of feeling valued and respected for them, and pick your battles accordingly.

Lastly, I’m stealing this post from Xin’s news round-up because I found it really interesting as well: Refinery29 rounded up a bunch of people and asked them to share their most expensive purchase of 2016. I found the answers fascinating in the variety of both the items bought and the stories/rationalizations behind the purchases. I love reading people’s stories about money, and I often wish it wasn’t such a taboo subject in our society. For what it’s worth, my family’s most expensive purchase of 2016 was a king-size bed frame for our master bedroom (approx. $1,700, paid for with a cash-back credit card, with the total balance cleared each month). Feel free to share your stories in the comments if you’re feeling up to it.

7 Comments on What I Read: Growth & Progress

  1. I’ve never read a parenting book but I follow the Hurrah for Gin facebook page and that gives me a proper good laugh from time to time. The language can be quite coarse but if you can overlook that it’s very funny. I don’t even drink gin and my kids sleep 12-13 hours a night but sometimes these things still ring true for a situation you’ve been in and can look back and laugh at 🙂

  2. Our most expensive “purchase” this year was the catering for our wedding. That was $4600. As far as personal spending goes, I’m a big thrift shopper like you so I normally don’t buy high-ticket items. However, I did drop $110 on a pair of new over the knee boots… which have sat in my closet since I bought them.

  3. I agree with you that money is too taboo. I used to love reading personal finance blogs when people spent most of their time reporting what they spent each week/month and how much they saved. I’m so nosy!

    Our largest expense last year was also a bed! We spent about $750 on a mattress and frame. We’re those weirdos who prefer hard mattresses so IKEA is perfect for us. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the mention! I didn’t want to sound too judgmental when I posted the Refinery 29 piece (though I was a bit aghast about the designer items on credit).

    I was going to share my own biggest expenditures from two of the years I was in school (buying a new MacBook when mine broke down two nights before an exam when I was… already a bit behind on rent knowing that my private sector internship would fix things, money-wise, in a few weeks, for instance), but each thing was so specific to my situation that it would have been hard to explain concisely.

    • I didn’t think you sounded judgmental at all. I try not to be, as well, even though the PF nerd in me sometimes struggles with it 😉 But I’m firmly on the side that people’s discretionary income spending is their own business; different strokes for different folks and all that.

  5. I bought a plane ticket to Chile for $1700, and if the separate flight to Easter Island is counted too then $2500 on plane tickets (trip is in a few months). If it’s just tangible goods, then $480 on an iPhone SE.

  6. My library doesn’t have Constructive Living, but I’ll add it to my reading list. I’ve also been studying more on Ennragram types and recently read The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut, which I would recommend. Based on that, the 2 and 4 descriptions both resonate with me.