2020 CMC Reading List
Big changes to The Commandant’s Professional Reading List Program were recently announced. For anyone not in the know, the United States Marine Corps has a professional reading list, packed full of titles that are meant to educate Marines and inculcate them with the Corps’ values. We explained how it typically works in a previous article, but a good deal of that has now shifted, mostly for the better.
We here at Busy Nest News love a reading list, especially a list meant to develop leadership, creativity, and resilience. We believe any org can benefit from developing a reading list for its members. The Commandant’s Reading List has been updated regularly since it was established in 1989, so it’s always been one of our first stops when we’re looking for the next book in our respective self-development journeys. So what are these changes, and why are they a big deal? Doesn’t the list get updated frequently anyway? Read on for my initial analysis of the changes.
Southern Book Club Kit
You must know by now that here at Busy Nest News, we specialize in nonfiction books. All of our kits are based on the best works in self-improvement, leadership, and relationships.
Here's the thing, just because that's our specialty, doesn't mean that's all we read. Ariel and I love a fun fiction book. This summer we read an incredible work of fiction that blew us away! And...we're reluctant to recommend it to people, because it should come with just about every trigger warning known to society, except maybe loud noises. It's the bestselling book, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix and it is DARK. But we couldn't get it out of our heads.
So now, here we are not only recommending this book, but offering you a book club kit to go with it. It's the only one for this title, but it's just like our mini kits. If you're wondering if a Busy Nest News mini kit is right for you, and reading this book won't ruin your day, give this kit a try. It'll give you a great feel for what it's like to use our products.
Oh, yeah. And it's free. This totally free download comes with discussion tips, an ice breaker activity we can't stop chuckling over, and 20 great discussion questions to kick off your meeting. Plus it has a charming 1980s true crime novel-style cover that I'm way too proud of. Bonus: This whole kit works great for traditional or virtual book clubs, because we know about real life. Without further ado, here it is!
10 Great Parenting Books
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!
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth answers one of life's seemingly unanswerable questions, “why do some people succeed while others fail?” What is the elusive secret ingredient? Duckworth reveals that grit, not natural talent, is the largest predictor of success. Grit is passion and sustained persistence in pursuit of a long term goal for the sheer joy of achievement. We like to believe that you either have “it” or you don’t. We cling to natural talent because it lets us off the hook. I haven’t succeeded? Well I must not have “it.” The truth is that we don’t have “it,” yet. It being grit and yet being the key word! Because as Duckworth shows us you can grow grit from both the outside in and the inside out. And, for those of us willing to put in the work, THAT is a comforting thought.
When people think about military training, they usually picture some version of basic training. And why wouldn’t they? The vast majority of military movies spend a large amount of time on the protagonist getting through boot camp. Basic training is a big deal, but the truth is that it’s just the beginning (hence the word "basic"). After boot camp, the training continues in the form of schools, field ops, distance learning classes, and ongoing mentoring. But there’s one type of training that is key for developing leaders that's often overlooked by the casual observer of military life. The great news, though, is that you can use this technique to develop yourself as a leader, as well as other aspiring leaders in your team.
Which book club is right for you?
Full-size versus mini kits
Here at Busy Nest News, we realize that every book club has unique needs. That is why we have many options to choose from including our mini and full-size book club kits.
The Busy Nest News mini book club kit, also known as the “one and done” is an updated version of what we currently consider a typical book club experience. The kit contains discussion questions, tips on how to run a book club, icebreakers, and one group activity. The core of any book club experience is the discussion questions. Our questions are quality. These will not be your run of the mill, “what did you think of x, y, and z?” Our questions will push you to dig into the content and come up with new ideas. They do not assume that you are reading this book because you already agree with what the author has to say. They are developed for those who have come to question and learn. If you are willing, we will help to expand your horizons. Our ice breakers are creative, thought-provoking questions chosen so that even old friends might learn something about each other. The icing on the cake is the group activity. We choose our group activity to maximize engagement and minimize hassle for the discussion leader. Our activity will encourage full group participation with minimal effort on your part.
MilSpouses: In Business
Why are so many military spouses turning to entrepreneurship?
Many of you who follow Busy Nest News already know that Ariel and I are military spouses. While our product (awesome book club kits) is unique, our decision to strike out on our own and blaze a trail as entrepreneurs is not. The internet has made it easier than ever for anyone to start a business or cultivate a side hustle. For military spouses, in particular, these opportunities aren’t just nice to have; they’re often essential for family stability, a sense of identity, and maintaining mental health.
That sounds pretty dramatic, but Blue Star Families has the numbers to back this up. In their 2019 survey, 38% of military spouses were not in the labor force (most not by choice). Of the spouses who reported being employed, 77% were underemployed. These numbers are very dramatic compared to the rest of the country. To learn more about why these numbers are the way they are, check out Blue Star Families’ latest survey results here.
With the unique set of challenges that come with developing a career while being married to a service member, it’s no wonder so many MilSpouses choose to start their own businesses. Here are some reasons why entrepreneurship is so attractive to military spouses.
Quarantine and Connection
We, like most everyone else, are stuck at home. When you live with other people, being forced to be in close quarters with each other for an extended period can become frustrating, or a fresh chance to improve your relationships. To make the most of this time, we're trying for the latter. So this week, we're looking at our relationships through the lens of the five love languages.
In case you haven't read Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages," here's a quick rundown. Chapman believes that while everyone expresses love (and craves it to be expressed to them) in their own way, these can all be organized into five groups. Chapman calls these groups the five love languages. The word "language" is really key here, because if someone tried to tell you that they love you in a language you didn't understand (like Arabic or German), you wouldn't receive the message. But, it would be possible for you to learn that other language, and then you would be able to understand the other person's message of love. That's important, because it means that while some of the love languages don't come naturally to us, there's hope that we can learn to give and receive love in them anyway.
So what are the languages themselves? There's Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Gifts. To learn more about each language, your best bet is to read Chapman's books. But to find out which is your primary (or even secondary) love language, take the quiz on Chapman's website!
Ariel and I know that between our two families, every love language is represented. So we have to work on all of them to make sure that we're all feeling appreciated while in quarantine. With small children, Chapman advises to practice all five languages anyway, since they and their preferences are still developing. And while adults have more fixed love needs, in unusual times (quarantine) or during transitional phases (around a big move, or when a baby is born), your needs might temporarily shift. All that is to say, this is the perfect time to take stock of what we and our family members need in order to feel as loved and whole as possible.
You can join us and work on the five love languages in your own home, too! From now until April 8th, 2020, we're giving away our mini kit for "The 5 Love Languages." If you don't already own the book, check out the ebook or audiobook from your local library, or get it from Amazon. You and your partner can read the book and use our discussion questions to connect with each other and the material. If you want to use our kit to do a virtual book club with friends or teammates, check out our article about how to easily run a virtual book club.
How to Run a Virtual Book Club
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!
Book Review: Expecting Better
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Expecting Better, by Emily Oster
It’s been a while since Ariel and I came across a parenting book that we just had to read. When we heard the premise of Expecting Better, by Emily Oster, we knew it bore checking out.
Emily Oster is an economist (as is her husband). In a nutshell, what economists are pros at is analyzing information, evaluating the quality, and synthesizing it into reports to help people in key positions make decisions. In Expecting Better, Oster aims to use her economist skills to breakdown the data around the most common, thorny issues encountered in pregnancy, to help you decide what's best for your family.
Some of the topics tackled include the risks around foods (caffeine, alcohol, lunch meat, sushi), medicines (birth control, pain killers, antidepressants), and exercise. Oster also details risks of and protocols around genetic testing, common pregnancy conditions (such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes), bedrest, and the options available during birth.
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!