Recommended Books

Books I Read in February

It’s the last day of the month which means that it’s time for an update of the books I’ve read this month. February was a good book month. I actually finished more than my goal of 3 books. This month I finished four books (though one of them only partially counts, explanation below).


Once again, I’ve included links to the books on Amazon so if they sound like something you would like to read, you can easily go and buy them. I’m legally obligated to tell you that if you do, I will receive a tiny commission. If you want to buy any of these, help a sister out and help pay for some of my website expenses as you enjoy a great book.


The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzaro


This one only partially counts in my mind because I’ve actually been reading parts of this book since last summer. A group of “young people” (i.e. people under 40) who are on staff at the church I work at have been reading this book together. We would read one chapter at a time and then gather for a discussion with our senior pastor. We finally finished the book at the very beginning of February.


I LOVE this book. Honestly, not every piece applied to me since I’m not in a huge leadership role. Despite that, every chapter had some new amazing life lesson in it, even for people who aren’t “leaders.” The basic premise of the book is that if you want to do well in any leadership position (or really in life in general), your inner life has to be in good order. You can’t be a good leader on the outside if you’re not healthy on the inside.


The book has lots of great suggestions about how to make yourself more emotionally healthy. Self-awareness is a big piece of that, including awareness of how your family of origin effects how you see the world (both positively and negatively). The other major piece of a healthy inner life is having regular communion with God. The author has a lot of great suggestions to help you do that in a sustainable way. Lots of great ideas and lots of practical tips.


Scazero has a couple of other books too. I think Emotionally Healthy Spirituality might be more appropriate for a broader audience (I haven’t actually read that one, but it’s now on my to-read list). I have read The Emotionally Healthy Church and really liked that and would recommend it as well.



Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This was the second Fitzgerald novel that I got for Christmas. I actually forgot how much I liked this particular novel. I read it once maybe two or three years ago and I think I enjoyed it more the second time. This might have something to do with the fact that the first time I read it, I did so on some website that just had the whole text of the book on one page. This time I actually had a real book. Regardless, I enjoyed the read.


This book is about a bunch of people who could use some emotional health in their life. The story is set in the 1920s (like every other Fitzgerald novel). A young up and coming American actress, Rosemary, meets a group of Americans while on vacation in France. One member of this group is Dick Diver and his wife Nicole. They’re both very fashionable people and have a crazy social circle around them.


Rosemary and Dick end up falling in love. Then Rosemary leaves the Divers after a weird incident where it is discovered that not everything is quite right with Nicole. Then the book switches from Rosemary’s point of view to Dick’s. The reader is taken back in time to when Dick and Nicole met and the unusual circumstances surrounding that. Then the story skips forward, to what happened to Dick and Nicole after Rosemary went back to the US.


Once again, a pretty depressing tale, but for some reason I like Fitzgerald novels. I’m still not sure why. Regardless, the story in this one is interesting, though I feel like the ending is a bit-anti-climatic.


A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I bought this book last winter and for some reason never read it until this month. I read Scary Close last year around this time and for some reason had the impression after reading that book that this one might not be very good. No idea where I got that impression, but regardless, I’ve put off reading this book for a whole year because of that only to find that this might be my favorite Donald Miller book.


The premise of this book is that some producers came to Donald Miller and wanted to make his first book, Blue Like Jazz, into a movie (which PS I’ve seen and is actually pretty good). As the three of them were working together on the script for the movie, Donald Miller discovers that his life is pretty boring by looking at the elements of a story. He starts to realize that the story of his life is dull because he tries to avoid all the things that make a good story: struggle, pain, tragedy, messy relationships.


The book details some of the crazy things that Miller does while trying to write a better story including biking across the country, reconnecting with the father who abandoned him, hiking mountains South America, and starting his own non-profit organization. It’s a great book because it’s inspirational, but also really intriguing. I literally read this book in one day because I couldn’t put it down and wanted to know what would happen next


I think this book is a great reminder that we all have that same choice. We can try to protect ourselves from every discomfort and have a boring story or we can go out there, take some risks, make some messes, and have a great story. Apparently, I need to live more life because it seems like I’ve been reading a lot recently about being brave and making mistakes and how life only happens when we do those things.


Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il by Michael Malice

My husband likes to listen to the Joe Rogan podcast and occasionally I listen with him when we go on road trips and such. That’s where I first heard of Michael Malice and this book. He and Joe Rogan talked about life in North Korea and all kinds of random stuff.


Then a couple of months later, I heard Michael again on the Glenn Beck Show podcast which I listen to on a regular basis.  After that, I put the book on my to-read list. I finally bought it a couple of weeks ago.


The book is really interesting. It’s told (as you would guess) from the standpoint of Kim Jong Il. The story begins with his birth (which he remembers perfectly) and proceeds on through his whole rise to power in North Korea. The whole story is based on propaganda and other published materials from North Korea.


It’s really crazy stuff. Kim Jong Il, starting in kindergarten, is always correcting people. He always knows best. He improves every art form, every kind of architecture, everything really. That anyone could claim that that’s true is absolutely amazing. The book is pretty funny too.


I really liked the book, but I have two complaints/things I would warn you of in advanced. 1) The book is self published and I’ve found a bunch of grammatical errors. 2) I don’t know the history of some of the events mentioned in the book well enough to know the difference between the hyperbole/propaganda of Kim Jong Il and what’s actually true. I had to look some stuff up while I was reading. This was educational, but a bit distracting when trying to read a book. It’s a fascinating read though and I learned a lot reading it.



Those are my reads for February. You can follow #ashleighreads2018 on Instagram if you want know what book I’ve just finished . Also, if you have any book recommendations, feel free to share them below. I’m always looking for another great book!


Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

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  1. I love A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (and really anything else by Donald Miller) and the Emotionally Healthy Church! Such good and challenging selections and a great way to continue growing and learning this year!

    1. Ashleigh Rich

      Donald Miller is so great! I just started reading his most recent book Building a Storybrand. Excited to learn more from him. Got to keep reading and learning to keep growing!

      1. You should also check out Scary Close. He gets really honest about relationships and his journey to be authentic.

        1. Ashleigh Rich

          I actually got that book for Christmas last year and read it. It was really good!

  2. iz

    Ooh, I’ve been wanting to read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Didn’t realise there were books on that for leaders and church too. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Ashleigh Rich

    Yes! Peter Scazarro is quite the prolific writer! Everything I’ve ever read by him has been great and so full of wisdom. Thanks for reading!

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