Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad (& More Sept. Reads)

September Reads

September was a great month for reading! I finished a total of eight books, including my sweet friend Abbie Halberstadt’s new bestseller, Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad. Read on for my impression of each title.

Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad 

My dear friend Abbie Halberstadt’s new book, Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad, examines many of the challenges women face in all their various roles — as wives, mothers, daughters, friends — and offers practical strategies for thriving in the midst of the hard. It urges readers to face whatever trials inevitably come our way with grace and intentionality, recognizing them for the character-refining agents they are.

Abbie is a gifted writer, but what makes this book particularly potent is the fact that it is infused with so much of God’s Word. Get it. Read it. Take its transformative message to heart. Your life will be better — and your burdens will feel lighter — as a result.

80-20 Running

80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald

Although fitness is not a genre I normally gravitate toward, I enjoyed reading Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Running last month.

My husband read an earlier edition of this book some 21 years ago just before he and I ran our first (and only, so far 🙃) marathon. Training for that marathon gave me so much energy that I’m thinking about trying it again…. Maybe.

I’m only about 20% committed to that plan. So I guess a book that encourages me to take it extremely slow and easy for 4 out of 5 runs is exactly what I need. Ha!

The Warden and the Wolf King

We finished the fourth & final book of Andrew Peterson’s masterfully written The Wingfeather Saga last month, although more than one family member got impatient and read ahead.

Gabriel bought a hardbound copy (the set is currently on sale for 45% off) and finished the 512-page finale in a day and a half. His Dad read the last few chapters on his own, as well.

Fortunately, neither let slip any spoilers, other than to tell the rest of us this installment is the best yet. Abby and I read the conclusion together while she was sick and were inclined to agree. I love the way the author wrapped up (almost) all the loose ends by the end of the epilogue.

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

My daughter Bethany recently read Daniel Nayeri’s autobiographical novel Everything Sad is Untrue and raved about it so profusely that the rest of the family had to read it as well.

The book is every bit as good as Beth told us, although it’s difficult to classify. Written from the perspective of a 12-year-old Iranian refugee, it is part myth, part memoir, part history, part cultural commentary.

Named Best of the Year by both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the book won a dozen other prestigious awards as well, which is somewhat surprising considering the fact his mother’s conversion to Christianity plays such a pivotal role in this beautifully spun narrative. 

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

I listened to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser with several of my kids and grandkids. What a sweet story!

When the Venderbeeker children learn their crotchety old landlord has decided not to renew their lease, they concoct a secret plan for convincing him to change his mind.

Things don’t go as smoothly as planned, and their parents eventually discover their scheme, but they do gain a new friend through their efforts.

The kids and I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book and have already begun the next in the series.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

My daughter Abby is taking a creative writing class through our homeschool co-op this fall and was assigned Prince Caspian for that class.

It felt strange to start in the middle of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (Prince Caspian is book 4 of 7), but we were drawn into the story as immediately and completely as the Pevensie siblings were drawn into Narnia when Caspian sounded Susan’s magical horn.

The tale is full of adventure & intrigue as Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy help the young prince fight against his evil and murderous uncle.


Charisma on Command by Charlie Houpert

I forgot to pack a books to read on our Alaska vacation last month, but fortunately the cruise ship had a lending library where I found a dogeared copy of Charlie Houpert’s Charisma on Command. A popular YouTuber, the author shares advice aimed at making readers/viewers more confident and charasmatic: stand up straight, look people in the eyes, speak clearly, smile.

The diffference is that Houpert breaks down these basic bits of advice and analyzes what differentiates a genuine smile from a fakey one, or an engaging amount of eye contact from a creepy gaze, or authoritative tone from an obnoxious one. The book is a little repetitive, but might prove helpful for anyone for whom these traits do not come naturally.

American Poetry to Read Aloud

Subtitled “A Collection of Diverse Poems, American Poetry to Read Aloud by M. B. Price is a short volume of verse written by more than 40 American authors and grouped into four topics: Nature, The Year, Life, and America.

It contains several personal favorites, including “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Allen Guest, “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

But the majority of poems were new to me. Many heartrending verses were written about slavery by abolitionist writers from the 19th century. I found Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s poems about Aunt Chloe particularly moving. 

Make Time for Reading

Do you love to read as much as we do? I’ve gathered all my best resources for bibliophiles onto this page, or you can read more of my book reviews by following this link .

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