picture of book Acne: A Memoir (by Laura Chinn)

Can Our Emotions Cause or Cure Acne?

The other day I was walking around in downtown Abilene, and outside of one of the stores was a table of books. As any librarian and/or book lover would do, I paused to glance over the titles. Only one book really caught my eye:

Acne: A Memoir

I loved the simple design of the cover, light pink with varying sizes of red dots sprinkled all over it. It seemed like a no-brainer for me – I love memoirs, I love reading… I don’t love acne, but unfortunately it has had quite an impact on me and my story.

I scanned the book for a price, and suddenly saw a sign that said “Free books: Limit 1 per customer.” Free book??? Even better.

I had no idea what this book was really going to be like, but when I came to this paragraph on the second page, I knew I was going to like it:

“After genocide, nuclear war, famine, slavery, and child abuse, acne is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person. Okay, fine, maybe cancer is worse, and probably a bunch of other stuff, but acne is bad, really bad, and if you haven’t lived though it then… honestly, go f*** yourself.”

— Laura Chinn (p. 2)

I laughed out loud when I read that last part! It was so honest and real. If you’ve never had bad acne, you will think these sentiments are crazy exaggerations. If you have struggled with bad acne, you’ll know that during your lowest points of dealing with red spots all over your face, you literally do feel like this sometimes.

My experience with acne is something that deeply affected me, more than I ever knew until I really started doing some reflecting upon the experience in my 30’s. It affected my body image (I stopped thinking I was pretty, and in fact, was convinced that because of acne scarring I could never be beautiful again), my idea of my own self-worth (I questioned why anyone would want to be friends with someone as ugly as me), and my mental and physical health (I had a few years of extreme dieting when I was trying to find the perfect diet to “cure” my acne, and instead ended up losing so much weight that my period stopped).

Acne is no joke.

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book covers

Erica’s Favorite Reads – 2021

I hope the post title isn’t misleading: these are the top books I read in 2021, not just books that were published in 2021. I wasn’t quite sure how to convey that concisely in my title.

I generally gravitate towards nonfiction and self-help books – I have been on a big personal growth kick for like the past 5 years! However, this year I tried to challenge myself to read some fiction this as well, thanks to some recommendations from one of my best friends.

I read about 30 books total this year, which is a number I’m proud of. (Honestly, no matter what your number is, you can be proud of it!) I use Goodreads to keep track of everything I’ve read. You can find me on there if you want to see my entire reading list for 2021.

Two years ago I published a post of my favorite books for 2019, but I never posted my list for 2020. As I was trying to figure out why, I realized (with the help of Goodreads stats) that I read far fewer books in 2020 (hello pandemic!) Obviously we all had a lot going on in 2020… I’m glad to have been privileged to have time to be a more avid reader this year.

The Great Sex Rescue book

The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended
Nonfiction, Marriage, Christian

This book is the only book I have ever taken time to write a review for on Goodreads because I thought it was so good! I want to write an entire post on this book alone, but for now, I’ll share what I wrote on Goodreads:

I found this book to be very validating to my experiences. It was nice to be able to have it be so well articulated by someone. I appreciate how the authors took a critical look at what many other Christian books on marriage and sex are saying, and spelled out how certain messages could actually be harmful to women, and not even really what the Bible intended. I wish this book had been written years ago before I had gotten married, I wish it had been around when I started dating. I think it offers one of the healthiest perspectives on Christian marriage and sex I’ve read in a long time.

Frientimacy book

Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness
Nonfiction, Relationships, Psychology

I am not even finished with this book, but it has already made it to my list of top books for 2021! I am reading this with a coworker, and each week we read a chapter and then discuss it. This book takes a look at friendships and describes our basic need for being fully known and loved for who we are. It gives suggestions for ways to “close the intimacy gap” with friends by determining what areas of your relationship you need to invest in. The author states that each relationship needs 3 elements to be mutually shared in order to have a deep level of friendship: positivity, consistency, and vulnerability.

My one qualm with this book is that it is solely about female friendships – which I think is a shame because men need healthy friendships too, and I’m sure it would be off-putting to many men to read it when it is so geared towards women. However, many of the principles can be easily adapted for other types of relationships, and honestly it is really good information. If you’re a psychology nerd like me, you will find this book interesting!

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Book Recommendation – ‘Eight Dates’ by John Gottman

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today I’d like to share a book with you that my husband and I finished reading through together a few weeks ago – Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John and Julie Gottman.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone married or in a serious relationship – it doesn’t matter if you are newlyweds or have been married for a long time, you should check out this book! My husband and I have been married 11 years, and we found the book to be a great way to foster meaningful and intentional conversations about our relationship.

The book is organized into eight sections. The idea is that for each section you’ll read the chapter and answer some reflection questions on your own, then later go out on a date with your significant other to discuss your answers together. Your goal for the conversation is to listen to your partner, validate what they say, and ultimately “build respect, empathy, and a profound understanding of each other” (p. 5).

Ironically, since we read through this book in the middle of the pandemic, we did not “go out” for any of our dates. We had all of ours at home after we put our 4-year-old to bed. Even if you’re stuck at home, you can find ways to make the dates fun (cook a special meal or dessert, dress up in fancy clothes, sit outside in the backyard… be creative!)

The topics addressed in the eight sections include:

  • trust and commitment
  • conflict
  • sex
  • money
  • family
  • fun and adventure
  • spirituality
  • goals and dreams

There were so many things I loved about this book:

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