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A roundup of the best books to help you keep your New Year's Resolutions by a professional librarian - #2,4, &8 are going on my night stand!

Must-Reads: 8 Books for a Better 2014

Another January day, another post on how to make 2014 your best year ever.  I’ve been thrilled to see you guys snatching up our eBook, Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: The Quick Start Guide, and the accompanying 38 page planner printable pack but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some of the other great reads out there too.

Today I’ve asked Janssen to stop by with her picks for the best books to help you achieve your 2014 goals – whatever those may be!

As a life-long reader and librarian, a book is always my first stop when I want to know more (okay, Google is usually my first stop, but a book is a close, close second).  If you’re looking for some inspiration and practical advice for reaching your goals in 2014, look no further than the library or the bookstore.

Whether you want to improve your parenting, reduce your carbon footprint, or launch a business, there’s a book to help you out! Here are 8 books in a wide range of categories that have inspired me. And I hope they’ll inspire you to make 2014 the best year yet for you and your family.

If you want to go green

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson – When I heard about this book and how the author, her husband and their two children produced only a single quart of garbage per year, I instantly wanted to know more. While you may not be looking to lighten your footprint quite that much, this has tons and tons of ways to reduce the trash you produce, from grocery shopping to holidays and clothing to yard work.

Even if you only do a handful of them, you’ll have made a big difference. My favorites are the tips for reducing food and food-related waste like packaging. Right there, you could drop your garbage output by about a third.

If you want to whip your finances into shape 

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – My whole family are huge Dave Ramsey fans. He’s not offering a quick fix, but he does promote sound financial principles and ways to make changes TODAY that will get your bank account looking better. When we were paying off our student loans, I would listen to his podcast every day while I exercised to keep me motivated to keep saving and living frugally.

I really love that he makes a list of what order to do things in so you don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged by the fact that you have credit card debt, and college to save for, and a mortgage to pay down, and retirement to put away for. He walks you through step-by-step, so you can do the most important things first and in a way that will keep you feeling motivated. 

If you want to stop fighting picky eating at every meal

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – While I have a lot of goals for myself this year, I only have one goal for each of my children. For my baby, it’s better sleeping. For my toddler, it’s better eating. This book, about a family that moved from North America to rural France for a year, is full of ways to help your children transition from picky, junk-food-eating tyrants to happy, well-fed and adventurous eaters.

I especially appreciated that she talked about ways to make it work in fast-food, snack-obsessed America. I loved this book so much, I included it in my top non-fiction books for parents list here on MPMK last year.

If you’re looking for more time in your day

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam – This book isn’t just useful, it’s totally readable. I think I read half the book outloud to my husband because it was so fascinating. Vanderkam talks in detail about how to cut out time-wasters and things that aren’t bringing you happiness.

I particularly loved the part where she talked about making a list of all the things you want to do, from the wildly improbable to tiny and easy things. Then you start immediately on the small things so you can begin identifying what you really enjoy (versus things you just think you will enjoy. For instance, do you really love camping or do you just like the idea of camping?).

If you want to stop accidentally eating an entire bag of potato chips without noticing

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink – This book is all about the ways that our surroundings make us behave in certain ways, especially when it comes to food.  Did you know restaurants do certain things to keep you from lingering too long? Will you eat more food if you don’t have wrappers or plates or chicken bones in front of you to give you a reminder of how much you’ve already eaten?

Not only is this book fascinating and useful, it’s hilariously funny too. My favorite part of the book is the antique dealer who says that people frequently find dishes they like in his collection and then ask “I love these salad plates; do you have matching dinner plates?” But of course, the “salad plates” ARE the dinner plates – our dinner plates today are just so much bigger than they were 50 years ago, that they look like our salad plates.

If you want to launch a business

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube by Michelle Goodman – Whether you’re working full-time, trying to start something on the side, or just want to get a hobby off the ground, this book is full of useful advice and practical tips for making that happen.

I read this a couple of years ago, and I’m planning to reread it this year. I loved that each chapter ends with a list of things to do, a time period in which to do them, and an order in which to accomplish them. Buy your own copy so you can mark it up – you’ll want to.

If you want to simplify in 2014

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker – Realizing how excessive her life was in many ways, Jen Hatmaker spent seven months paring down some area of her life to seven. One month, she only eats seven foods (and realizes in the process how much food and thinking about food dominates her life). Another month, she only wears seven items of clothing.

Her insights into how stuff can overwhelm and distract from what you really want to focus your life on are hilarious and thought-provoking. While I don’t want to eat only seven foods, 7 motivated me to look more closely at what I’m filling my life with and if it’s really worthy of that space. And it also helped me be more resolved in involving my children in the things that matter to me.

If you want to better understand what your kids are up against in today’s world

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax – I read this book years before I had children (and then I went on to have two girls) and even then it completely absorbed me. Sax discusses five major reasons that so many boys are struggling to transition into successful and independent adulthood, including video games, lack of adult male role models, and increasingly rigorous schooling for  very young children.

As someone who has worked with hundreds of children in elementary school settings, I strongly identified with his concerns that boys are put into kindergarten and expected to act in ways they aren’t developmentally ready for, turning them off to school right from the beginning. And sadly, many of them never recover from those initial bad associations with education. (There is a version for girls too, called Girls on the Edge. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my 2014 reading list).

More Helpful MPMK How-Tos from this month:



P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2016 Printables and our Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit : over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more!

2016 POYEL Printables
Kids Responsibility & Money Management Kit


2) Sign up for our newsletter:

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3) Bookmark our famous Gift Guides for the next time you need the perfect kids' gift! (400+ detailed descriptions including age recommendations)- just click on the photos below

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Janssen is a former librarian and avid reader who is always maxing out her library card. She now stays at home with her two-year-old daughter (with another girl on the way) and blogs about books for readers of all ages, her favorite recipes, and parenting adventures at Everyday Reading.