Did you just marry someone in the military? Congrats! Feeling a little culture shock? You're definitely not alone! There are loads of reading lists out there for military spouses, many of which rattle off the same books over and over. Those picks are ok, but we have a few problems with them.
First, they focus on the negative parts of military life, such as deployments and death. Second, they're getting old and outdated, which admittedly happens pretty fast. When I first got married in 2011, the books were about being a military spouse in the 90's, and that was a little helpful, but not a lot, because so much had changed and many acronyms had become meaningless. Likewise, now, there are a bunch of books about being married to a service member in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military does not work the same way now as it did 15 years ago. Third, some of these lists are all about understanding your service member spouse's world, but they don't help YOU! We're all for learning about each branch's heroes, histories, and challenges, but a list of books for military spouses should help the spouses. Some of the books on our list will be specific to the military, but several address key pain points about life in general that tend to be exacerbated by the military lifestyle.
One challenge we encountered when we went to make this list is that we would not recommend the same books to new spouses as we would seasoned spouses. This list is for the new (and probably quite young) military spouse. If you're new to the military community, you might be suffering a little culture shock, homesickness, or loneliness. Even if you're adapting well, you might be struggling to explain it to your family or friends. Read on for our list (in no particular order) of great books to help you embrace your new life.
The links below are affiliate links, so we'll get a small bonus if you use them to order any of these books from Amazon, but we also have a free printable version of this list that you can take to the library!
In pursuit of making great book club kits and generally improving ourselves, we read a LOT of books! We believe that you can get at least a little bit better at just about anything, as long as you keep learning about it and practicing proven techniques. We extend this philosophy to our journeys as parents, too. What if all parents took their parenting as seriously as their career or favorite hobby? To progress at work, people read books, take classes, and seek mentorships. We aren't too proud or self-assured to try these techniques to become better parents, as well.
While we're certainly not perfect, we're definitely seeing results from these efforts. One of our biggest lessons has been that we're constantly planting the seeds for future progress; real changes are rarely immediate, but they're lasting and buildable. That and, parenting is hard! Even when you're doing it right, your kid will still get mad at you. Saying "no" in the cereal aisle when your kid is two might result in a tantrum that makes you wish you'd just ordered everything online. But sticking to your "no" and enduring the tw0-year-old's rage will result in a much more subtle, but accepting, form of dissatisfaction to your "no" in the same scenario a year or two later.
All of this is to say, you've got this! And when you feel like you don't, we have books that can help. Read on for our list of our ten favorite parenting books (in no particular order). These are all of our go-to's when friends ask how we handle things. Use the links in the article to order your own copy from Amazon (we'll get a small referral payout if you do, at no additional cost to you). Bonus: we have a printable pamphlet of all ten titles that you can take with you to the bookstore or library!
In these unusual times many of us are finding ourselves at home a lot more. Whether we’re compelled by the government, just out of places to go, or are volunteering our isolation to protect the vulnerable, we’re all a bit stuck. If you’re not working from home or homeschooling kids (or you are, but need some non-work or kid-related interaction for your sanity), you’re probably looking for something to do. Why not start a book club?
We’ve had great success with our kits being used as virtual book clubs, but awesome as they are, you can do this without our materials, too. We’ll walk you through setting up a virtual book club for your own group. Following these instructions, you’ll see how easy it is to run a club that allows everyone to participate at their leisure and gives you all something to look forward to checking on social media besides the latest virus or shelter in place memes.
1. Pick a book
You probably have a good idea what some of your friends might like to read or re-read. Our kits focus on self-improvement books, but you could pick anything! An old classic or new bestseller, as long as you and a few friends are willing to chat about it, it’s a winner.
2. Make a group
Form a secret group on Facebook. Throw a cute picture of the book you’ll be reading into the banner, and invite all your friends. Anyone who has the energy to participate and willingness to read the book you’ve chosen can accept your invite and find themselves a copy. Many libraries are closing down, but others are offering curbside pickup, and any that offer online resources (like Overdrive/Libby, RBDigital and more) still have those available. Even if you can’t leave your house, chances are good everyone can get their own copy of the book.
3. Brainstorm questions & find content
As the discussion leader, you’ve already selected the book your group will read. Read ahead of everyone else to find topics and themes that tie in. Scan the internet for relevant blogs, articles, and memes. Also, ponder some questions the group could enjoy discussing.
If you’re using one of our big kits, send the Members Only guides in printed booklet or virtual PDF to your members so they can ponder more personal questions as they read the book. They’re beautiful in print or on tablets!
4. Ask (and answer) questions
Ask the group your discussion questions! The best way to do this is to post each question as its own status, or even make it into an attractive graphic that’s easy to spot. Then, everyone can comment with their answers below when they get a chance. The “reply” feature in Facebook’s comment section essentially turns any post into a forum for that single question. It’s surprisingly organized!
Speaking of organized, a good strategy is to schedule your questions and other content ahead of time. This way you can spread it out over several days to keep things fresh for the group, and you won’t forget to post on a day that’s especially demanding. Don’t forget to answer your questions! You don’t have to be the first one to offer an answer every time, but have a response or another way of wording the question at the ready. If you want the feel of an in-person book club, consider using a video call service like Zoom.
If you’re using one of our big or mini kits, you don’t have to brainstorm unique questions! Just post the questions we provide and join the conversation.
5. Repeat with another book!
Finally, when the group has had its fun, consider choosing another title together. Even when you can all see each other in person again. This might be your new favorite way of running a book club, or a temporary measure to stave off boredom and cabin fever. Either way, we hope you’ll give it a try!
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
Let's keep in touch!