Summer Spirituality Series

Summer time and the living is easy- unless you’re a teacher.  I’m not going to get into all the silliness about “having summers off” because teachers all know that’s a myth, as do their families and friends.  However, with some time away from the classroom, most of my teacher friends and I are working on our professional development hours, curriculum and lesson design and generally plotting how to have the best school year ever.

For me, the greatest gift of summer is a chance to do all the reading I didn’t get time for during the school year.  So in addition to catching up on YA fiction, I have been trying to cram in as much spiritual reading as I can, and I thought it would be fun to do a series of book reviews for the next few weeks.

A few things in the spirit of full disclosure: I have read or used all the books I will be reviewing, but maybe not exactly this summer.  Also, all these books were either purchased by me or given to me as gifts- I am not making any money from authors or publishers from reviewing them.  Also, the rating system I will use is one that my sisters and I use: popcorn.  If a book is an easy, kick off your sandals and read at the beach book, it will be a 5 popcorn read.  If it is a book that will challenge you (think the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila or Saint John Paul II) it will be a 1 popcorn read.  To avoid people thinking a 1 popcorn read is a bad book, I will use stars to indicate how helpful the book was to me spiritually.

First book to review: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. 

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One of the priests at our parish gave me copies of this book to give to my 8th grade students before they graduated.  Because I don’t like to give students books I haven’t read, I really quickly read it in 3 days before our end of year retreat.  It was a nice easy read with action points at the end of each short chapter.  I had read other Matthew Kelly books before and some I have found helpful and others I have not.  This one was helpful and also especially good for my 8th graders.

Kelly’s basic premise is that most of us want to be happy, but don’t know how to.  He argues that often we actively resist what will really make us happy, which is knowing God’s will and following it.  At points the book was a little repetitive, but that made it a good teaching method for teenagers.  I liked the short chapters and the things to do at the end of each one.  I think this may have been part of his Best Lent Ever program because there were 39 chapters.

I came away with some great concrete ways to be happier, and I also felt this was a great message for my students.  Kelly’s ministry seeks to provide low cost spiritual reading to anyone who wants it, so it is also a very affordable book.

Popcorn level: 5- easy, quick, but still meaningful.

Stars: 4- I definitely got some great tips out of this book, but I felt that it repeated some of the concepts from his other books.