Category Archives: Recommended Books

Download 1000s of free books–no Kindle needed!

Did you know that Amazon has thousands of free or cheap books that you can download? They are Kindle eBooks, but you do not need to have a Kindle! I tell book lovers this all the time because it’s such a great resource for readers. Amazon lets you download their Kindle reader for free on your computer and you can access all the same books as someone with a Kindle. It’s not a trial. It is an actual program that you get for free and can use as much as you want.

Amazon has thousands of classic books for free. There are also thousands of newer free books on all kinds of topics. Authors who are trying to get exposure will often give away books for free or for very low prices. I have downloaded kids books, science books, math books, self-help books, biographies, novels, cookbooks, home-improvement books and more. I go through every few days and look at the top “sellers” on the free book list to see if any sound good. Here’s a link to the top 100 Free Kindle Books. I have discovered some really enjoyable books this way. I also put normally-priced books on my wish list so I can watch to see if they go cheaper or free, (which is not unusual.)

Of course, even if you aren’t waiting for a bargain, or you want to read a book immediately, you can pay full price and read it right away. I love that feature! Last night I decided to download Fifty Shades of Gray to see what all the fuss was about. I paid $2.99 and had it in under a minute.

So if one night you decide you want to read a book immediately and your library doesn’t have it or the book store is closed, remember you can download the Kindle program for free and get the book you want right away!

Make sure your actions match your words and thoughts

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One) by Brian Koslow
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)
I have this book by my bed and I read a little of it some nights before I go to sleep. It’s not a get rich quick scheme or anything like that. It just offers key qualities that you need to develop to become successful. Even if you don’t want or expect to become a millionaire, they are good characteristics to have. There are 365 short paragraphs with key ideas, so it’s a really good book for reading just a little at a time. I was flipping through the book tonight and just skipping around and realized I really like this quote: “Integrity requires consistency between your public statements and your private thoughts.” (From day 2.)

I like this quote and I’ve seen similar quotes before. But it’s true! Yes, we have to adapt to different situations–I wouldn’t talk to my boss like I’d talk to my best friend, but we should always be the same person through and through. If our thoughts don’t match our public behavior, something is wrong. Do we not really hold the values we think we do? If so, maybe we need to re-evaluate and realize what we really believe. Or perhaps we aren’t living up to the values we do hold. In that case, we need to work on being more true to ourselves.

We can’t shine and become our best selves if we aren’t being true to ourselves!


Building your confidence to sell to yourself and others as well

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s A Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I have been slowly re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “A Year of Growing Rich.” I try to read a chapter each night before bed to inspire myself to be more successful. Each chapter is short, (and there are 52 chapters that are meant to be read and practiced one per week.) Napoleon Hill is considered a classic author for helping people inspire themselves. His better known book is “Think and Grow Rich.” I have read so many people swear that the book helped them get rich and I know that positive thinking can change one’s life, so I am reading it and telling myself that I WILL grow more successful in life–be it in my career, my relationships or any other area. This book is all about personal power, motivation and finding success!

Tonight’s chapter gave me a good idea and it reminds me of at least one other article I’ve read. It is Week 26–Sell to Yourself.

In this chapter, Hill has two main points. One, if you appear to be successful already, clients will be more likely to trust you and two, if you do something to boost your ego and feel more important, you will project that feeling to people around you. Now, he specifically warns that this idea isn’t about being fake or manipulative, but to quote him, it is to help people “deceive their own egos in order to relieve them of the fear and poverty complexes by which so many people are bound.” (I underlined that section in my book!)

In Hill’s example, one very successful salesman keeps a top-quality set of golf clubs in his car so that his clients see it and think he must really being doing well in life…and must really be good at his job, thus trustworthy. In another example, a salesman wears a very expensive diamond ring that helps him feel more powerful and to project that image. As Hill points out, not everyone will need the same “boost.” Some men might feel silly with a giant diamond ring, but the point is, the illusion of success gives them the ego boost to feel more successful and BE more successful. I guess it’s no different from a woman getting a nice manicure or putting on her sexiest shoes. When we feel good, we project that to the world around us.

Here’s that article I mentioned earlier, (the one that this book chapter made me think of:) “Why Do Poor People ‘Waste’ Money on Luxury Goods?”

I don’t want to open a huge debate about that entire article, but there is one important thing that I really took away from it. I’ll quote the line “there was a price we had to pay to signal to gatekeepers that we were worthy of engaging. It meant dressing well and speaking well.”

I admit, I’m very frugal and usually buy cheaper clothes and shoes, but this article made me think about the image I’m projecting. I’m neat and clean, but do I look like a success? Not really. We might think it’s unfair that this matters, and it is. Why should we have to look richer than we are to be considered for a job? Uggh. But the reality is, even if it’s not reasonable or fair, it does matter. It might be worth the investment to get one really good suit and one designer purse. After reading this article, I went to a thrift store and found a suit jacket from an expensive boutique…with the tags still on it! So you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money, but do be a smart shopper and dress above “your level” to boost your own ego and to show your potential clients or bosses that you are a star!

The Napoleon Hill book is a great way to end the day 🙂

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder is finally published!

Click here to purchase Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

This isn’t necessarily a self-help book, (although I have learned many lessons from Laura’s books,) but this is a very special book! Plus, February 7th was the 148th anniversary of Laura’s birth. (She was born in 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin.) Millions of people have loved the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, (and the same with the show.) They are famous all over the world and I’ve been a huge fan since I was 9 years old. This new book is one I’ve waited for for nearly thirty years! Pioneer Girl was Laura’s first draft and the inspiration for her famous books. She originally wrote one book that was aimed at adults. It did not do well with publishers, so she and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane eventually re-worked into the children’s series that so many of us know and love. Die-hard fans wanted to read Pioneer Girl, though. We wanted to read everything we could! After Laura’s death, Rose donated her papers to the Herbert Hoover library in Iowa, and the only way to get a copy of Pioneer Girl or any of her other original manuscripts was to go there and photo copy each page yourself–paying for their copy machine, or to order it through the mail–paying for the copies plus an extra fee for someone at the library to copy it for you. It got pretty pricey for a pile of copied pages. Even if you did get copies of the pages, you might still long for a published book. Reading a book is so much more rewarding than a pile of papers, don’t you think?

Last year, I read the news that Pioneer Girl was set to be published. FINALLY! This book has been waiting unpublished since the 1930’s, so this is a big deal! I pre-ordered my copy last August and got it about a week ago thanks to high demand. The publishers originally printed 15,000 copies that sold out quickly. They are now on the third printing and people are still waiting for their copies. It’s faster to order one through one of the official Laura sites, but honestly Amazon’s prices are cheaper. I guess it depends on if you want it faster or cheaper. (I chose cheaper. Times are tough and I’ve already been waiting most of my life to read this book….)

It’s well worth the wait and the price! This book is completely annotated with great detail. It’s the size of a college textbook with columns to the side to explain some of the references. You can just read the book as is, or you can reference the notes if something needs more explanation. (A lot of fans are doing both.) The book has a lot of photos and background information. Considering the high price of college textbooks and the fact that this one has just as much information, I think the price is good. If you are a die-hard fan, or you grew up loving the books or the show, this might be a good investment for you. Mine is next to my bed and I pick it up every night before bed. I am so happy that I finally own a copy 🙂

The Pocket Parent book review

The Pocket Parent by Gail Reichlin and Caroline Winkler

Click here to purchase The Pocket Parent

My 3.5 year old has always been a very easy and well-behaved child. (Yay!) But lately, he seems to have started acting more like a toddler. This changes things! So, I’ve been reading up and reviewing parenting books for some ideas. Our biggest challenge these days is trying to get him to do what I say. I don’t want to get stuck yelling and threatening to take toys away all the time, so I needed some new ideas. I actually found this book in the tiny book section at the grocery store! I’d never heard of it, but I flipped through it and it looked pretty helpful, so I bought it.

I really think this is a good reference book! I didn’t read it all the way through. Instead, I just read the chapters that applied to our situation and I’ve gone back to it to read more or review depending on what comes up. It’s very easy to follow, and each chapter is pretty short and simple. If you aren’t a big reader or you don’t want to read a bunch of technical details, this is the book for you. Most of the chapters are under five pages and they are designed to be user-friendly. The main points are highlighted with larger print, examples are in green print and special anecdotes are in their own little boxes.

This book has 379 pages including the index, but it is an easy read if you do want to read it through. If you don’t, you can pick the chapters that work for you, (like I did.) There are a wide variety of topics including: bad words, biting, chores, new baby, lying, mealtime, potty training and more. All of the big things you need to know about are covered! The parenting approach is assertive and respectful. They promote discipline and communication over punishment. The authors don’t go into great detail about child-development, but they do give you some information about why your child thinks and does what they do so you can understand your child’s point of view better.

Overall, I’m finding this book very helpful. I wouldn’t rely on it as my only parenting book, (and my favorite is still The Happiest Toddler on the Block,) but I have this book next to my bed and have been browsing through it every night. It’s a good resource for quick tips.

The Mister Rogers Parenting Book: Helping to Understand Your Child

The Mister Rogers Parenting Book: Helping to Understand Your Child by Fred Rogers

Click here to purchase Mister Rogers’ Parenting Book: Helping To Understand Your Young Child

I’ve always had a good impression of Mister Rogers, and I know he was well-regarded for his ability to understand and work with children, so when I saw this book at a book sale, I purchased it. I’m glad I did! This is a helpful and easy-to-use book. Each chapter focuses on a single topic and is only about four to six pages long. So, you can read the book all the way through, or you can read just the chapters you need. The most important parts are highlighted with larger print, and short examples are set aside in light blue boxes, so the information is broken up and easily accessible. And it’s good information too! The approaches Mister Rogers offers are gentle, but assertive. They are about guiding your child rather than dominating him or her.

Some of the chapters include:

Mealtime, Everyday Rules and Limits, Brothers and Sisters, Using the Toilet, The New Baby and Stepfamilies.

There is a good overview of the topics that parents need the most. The only thing I’d like to see more of is more information about consequences when the child doesn’t obey. The chapters focus on helping children adjust to these various situations, but there isn’t a whole lot about what to do if they misbehave. I suppose the point is, if you follow the ideas, hopefully children will be comfortable and well-adjusted, so bad behavior will be minimal 🙂

Some of the ideas I find the most helpful include: “Choose a few rules that matter most.” The idea is that it’s easier for a child to obey when they aren’t overwhelmed with rules. “When possible, offer choices.” This hint works because toddlers in particular want to feel like they have some independence in their lives so they don’t struggle against their parents’ choices. “Make sure your children have some time away from each other.” This helps children avoid resenting each other. There are many other practical ideas as well, but they all help you guide and discipline your child in a caring manner that helps your child learn to be thoughtful, caring and disciplined as well.

Dealing with Crazy People!

People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle

Click here to purchase People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys

This is a good book filled with lots of useful tips and information for those of us who have to deal with “crazy” people. It is from a Christian point of view and has some religious quotes and influence, although I didn’t think it was too preachy. There were long sections with no religious commentary at all. Most of it is good common sense; however, if you were raised in an abusive home, you might not have learned to have the kind of boundaries and self-respect you need to deal with dysfunctional people. That has been a big problem for me, so the title of this book caught my attention at the book store!

I think the information in this book is essential and very, very helpful. I underlined so many good ideas and realities that I wish I’d known sooner. Such as “The key to controlling our emotions is to manage our thoughts” (page 84.) Bechtle points out that we cannot change crazy people, but we could make ourselves miserable trying to do it. Instead, he points out that we have to change our reactions to crazy people so they no longer have the power to control our emotions. I have a problem with a sociopathic ex-spouse with whom I have not spoken in two years. He still manages to attempt to harass me in any way he possibly can…that doesn’t breach the protective order I have against him. For two years, I have lived with daily harassment or reminders of it as he has tried to destroy all of my friendships and has spread lies about me. I finally said “enough is enough” and decided to completely shut off all information about his wacky behavior. He’s still out there being crazy, but I am not paying attention to it anymore. I am so much happier and my friends tell me they see the difference now that I have peace in my life again. It has allowed me to be far more productive. The author doesn’t specifically address dealing with personality-disordered people, but many of the ideas still apply.

The author recommends tips such as backing away from your emotional response to a crazy person, and instead looking at the situation realistically. Crazy people often manipulate or lie to us in such a convincing manner that we believe them and lose track of reality. It allows them to control us and our emotions. Instead, we need to replace our incorrect thoughts with truth and enforce strong boundaries. This book includes these important ideas and more.

One thing I will say is, even though this book has many level-headed, sensible and helpful ideas, it was not an easy read for me. The text is simple and easy to understand, but it’s not written in an engaging way that made me want to read it straight through. It’s not a fun book to read, but it is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic of dealing with crazy people and protecting yourself. I really think he makes excellent and useful points. Another thing I’ll point out is, this author doesn’t focus much on cutting contact with crazy people. He mostly describes ways to live with that person without letting them control your life, so this book will be helpful for those who can’t get the crazy person out of their lives.

The chapter titles are:

Part 1–Stuck in a Crazy World
1. I’m Okay, You’re Crazy
2. The Problem with Believing We’re Right
3. How Relationships Work

Part 2–Changing Someone Else
4. Stop Yelling at the Toaster Oven
5. The impact of Influence
6. Can I Fire My Family?

Part 3–Changing Yourself
7. Why Can’t Everyone Be Like Me
8. The Energy of Emotions
9. Seven Keys to Unlocking Healthy Relationships
10. Key #1–See Yourself Realistically
11. Key #2–Take Yourself Lightly
12. Key #3–Don’t Sweat the Wrong Stuff
13. Key #4–Don’t Rush Growth
14. Key #5–Live Through the Lens of Kindness
15. Key #6–Base Your Choices on Integrity, Not Convenience
16. Key #7–Go the Distance in Relationships

Part 4–Changing Your Environment
17. Prioritize Your Relationships
18. No Guarantees
19. When to Leave

Part 5–Putting It into Practice
20. Giving Up on Getting Straight A’s
21. You Can’t Steer a Parked Car
22. Your Relationship Survival Kit
23. It’s Worth the Effort

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice From the Battlefield book review

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin
Click here to purchase Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield

This book is the follow-up to a book I reviewed earlier called Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle. In the first book, the author briefly told her story of getting involved with and being married to a narcissist, then detailed her attempts to protect her daughters from his abusive and reckless behavior. In this book, she includes a short review of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and gives an overview of her story, then addresses a variety of topics that are related to custody and visitation battles with a narcissist. In each section, she asks a question or offers a situation, then describes how the narcissist will probably act. She tells her story of what happened in her case, then lists answers that came from other moms in similar positions. The replies often describe how their respective narcissists behaved or they answer questions. This format actually confused me at first, because if there was an explanation in the preface, I didn’t see it. I did not initially understand why there was a list of answers after each question or where they came from! So if you read this book, be aware that not all of the answers are from the author. That part really threw me off.

Once I got past that and figured out what was going on with the format, I was relieved and discouraged to read many stories of narcissists who behave the same way my narcissistic ex-spouse behaved. I was relieved to read reminders that I am not alone in what I experienced and that eventually, the truth usually wins, but I was also discouraged because I read what terrible things narcissists are capable of. I already know from experience, but just when I think a narcissist can’t get worse…they do. So, read this book knowing that it might scare you, but also recognize the reality that it is possible to survive a battle with a narcissist!

Here are the chapter/section titles:
Dating a Narcissist
Married to a Narcissist
Divorcing a Narcissist:

Leaving with Children
Finding an Attorney
Going Pro Se
Tactical Moves
Courtroom Anxiety
Mere Exposure Effect
Muddy Water
Discovery Process
Witness Declarations
Custody Evaluations
Child Welfare Services
Psychological Evaluations
Minor’s Counsel
Appealing Decisions
Child Support

Narc Decoder

Sheltering the Children
Breaking the Cycle

Life Beyond NPD:

Finding (Real) Love
The Narcissist’s New Love
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Personal Growth and Healing
Going Public

Family Court Reform
OMB Stories of Hope

Lasting Lessons:

Narcissists do not care about their children. They care about controlling their ex-spouses and avoiding child-support.
Narcissists will charm the officials who are supposed to protect your children the same way they charmed you. Be armed with the facts and know that you may be in for a hurricane of the narcissist’s lies.

Getting noticed at work–working better and not harder

A few years ago, I noticed a frustrating phenomenon in my jobs. I was consistently the hardest worker, I won achievement and performance awards, and I got great reviews…but people with less experience and smaller results were promoted to management positions ahead of me. Why was that? Isn’t doing the best work the way to get to the top? Sadly, it isn’t. In fact, I think sometimes that being the best is a sure way to get stuck in one place! I got to talking with a girl who was a bit younger than me, who went to the same university and had a less challenging degree with less experience, and yet made far more money. I told her about my problem and asked her if she had any tips. She did! She encouraged me to promote myself more and make sure my bosses saw my achievements. At first, I thought this was weird. Why would I show them the obvious? But, I am open to learning from others, so I tried promoting myself a bit. I was in the habit of alerting managers and supervisors when things went wrong at work or if I noticed things that needed improvement, but that wasn’t getting me anywhere. So one day, I sent an e-mail to the director instead. She was excited by what I had to say! Within a few weeks, she had invited me to go on a business trip to a sister-company to share my views and experiences. Soon, I was invited to go out to lunch with the vice-president of the company thanks to my performance…and the fact that the director had noticed me. But, she had noticed me because I put myself out there. It was quite a lesson learned!

I was re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “A Year of Growing Rich” recently and one of the chapters reminded me of that lesson I’d learned. In Hill’s book, chapter 14 emphasizes showmanship and getting noticed. He uses an example of an employee who works hard and gives much of his own time, but watches less devoted employees get promoted ahead of him. (Hmmm…sounds familiar!) Hill recommends exactly what my peer had recommended. He says that we need to recognize others and let them see us, but in a sincere manner rather than just showing off. I know from first-hand experience that it works!

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

Some inspiring quotes from Henry David Thoreau

Summer Sunrise in natural Spruce Forest

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”–Henry David Thoreau from Walden




“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”–Thoreau






“Not till we are completely lost or turned around… do we begin to find ourselves.”–Thoreau

« Older Entries Recent Entries »