Top Classic Books [That I've Never Read]


Inspired by the “book you should have read in high school” category from the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge, I am starting a list of classics that I almost don’t want to admit publicly that I’ve never read. How can I call myself a book lover and never have read these?! This list includes titles such as…

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • 1984
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Tale of Two Cities
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • The Iliad / Odyssey
  • Moby Dick
  • Call of the Wild

There are actually a lot more, sadly, but this is a list in progress, which I will add to, no doubt, for years to come. I have read quite a few modern books recently, which I fully intend to continue doing, but I also don’t want to neglect the classics that I have somehow managed to live 28 years without reading. After all, they’re classics for a reason, right?!

What about you? What classics still wait in your to-read list? Any titles I should add to mine? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Into – June 2015 Edition

Wow, the last 4 weeks have FLOWN by! I can hardly believe it’s already time for another “What I’m Into” update. As usual, I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

Things I Love:

The duck pond in gorgeous Lithia Park, downtown Ashland

The duck pond in gorgeous Lithia Park, downtown Ashland

Ashland, Oregon. I spent 3/4 of June in this lovely little town, and I love it more than ever. I grew up visiting Ashland every summer to spend time with our beloved Oma & Opa, and over the years, Ashland has taken on a magical quality for me that is part real charm and part childhood nostalgia. I will never be able to get enough of it. This visit included lots of stops at Zoey’s for ice cream and many hours at two favorite coffee shops, Mix (including homemade ice cream and the most delicious pastries ever) and Noble Coffee Roasting (their lattes are some of the best I’ve ever tasted).

Fantastic latte at Noble Coffee Roasters.

Fantastic latte at Noble Coffee Roasters.

Oregon coast. We took a day trip from Ashland to celebrate my hubby’s birthday and explore the Oregon coast, something I’ve always wanted to do. I knew it would be beautiful, but it was even more stunning than I had imagined. I would love to spend more time along the coast in the future!


Somewhere along the picturesque Oregon coast…

Duolingo. After we returned from our trip to Europe, I made a pact with myself: I won’t go back to Paris until I can speak decent conversational French. We certainly survived on minimal (okay, almost non-existent) French for this trip, but it would make things more pleasant if we didn’t have to stumble through communication. I first heard about Duolingo from Tsh, and I do think it’s an excellent method of study. I have the app on my iPhone, and I love it. It even gets pretty addictive after awhile!

My new Instagram account. As I slowly focus more on my writing, I set up a new Instagram account! You can find me at ‘jennarhermle‘. I hope to write more soon on the subject of why I love Instagram so much lately.



I finished The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter and loved it, although I have to give a slight content caution before wholeheartedly recommending it. Mostly, it just reinforced all the things I loved about Paris and made for some wistful reflections and dreams of returning.

I borrowed If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland off my Opa’s shelves, a title that has been on my to-read list forever, and I read it in two sittings. It’s the sort of book that I can’t even completely formulate my thoughts on after one reading – it will require another slow reading, with lots of highlighting and note-taking, if I know myself. Loved it.

My sis and I breezed through the used bookstore downtown this week, and… I’ll admit that I added yet a few more titles to my reading list. How can I resist shelves upon shelves of bargain-priced books?!


After hearing rave reviews from several friends, and especially now that it became available on Netflix, I finally jumped into Parenthood. I’m just into season 2, and I love it so far. It’s honest, heartwarming, and genuinely hilarious.

Austin also got me started watching Chuck with him, which I am thoroughly enjoying. The characters are quirky, endearing, and make me laugh so hard sometimes. We just finished season 2, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.


My sister has always been my go-to person when I want to listen to new music. I’m bored, I tell her. What are you listening to? She knows me so well that she can tell me exactly what I should listen to, and I love having a built-in music adviser. Most recently, she has me listening (finally) to the new Mumford & Sons album, “Wilder Mind.” I love Mumford & Sons, but I was not a huge fan of the announcement that they were going electronic on their new album, and I hadn’t yet gotten myself over the “hump” of how different they sound. Now that I’ve overcome the “shock” of the new sound, though, I will freely admit that it’s a fabulous album.


What are you into this month?! Let me know in the comments!

My summer reading list (so far!)

After reading about Anne’s summer reading list at Modern Mrs. Darcy this week, I thought it might be fun to share the titles that are currently on my own to-read list for this summer! Some are new to me, some are re-reads, and some are old favorites that I’m excited to revisit. Enjoy!


Blackout-Connie-WillisBlackout by Connie Willis

It’s no secret that Connie Willis is one of my very favorite modern authors. In fact, if I could choose one modern author whose sheer storytelling power has inspired me the most in my own writing, I would probably pick Connie. Yes, she’s really that good. If you haven’t read her before, I highly recommend starting with To Say Nothing of the Dog (I’ll admit that it took me two tries to really “get into” this one, but once I did… it is a sheer delight!) and then, if you’re anything like me, obsessing over the rest of her witty and deeply profound stories. I won’t even attempt to deny that this one is especially moving to me since our recent trip to Europe, when I turned into a blubbering, emotional mess sitting in St. Paul’s cathedral, which figures prominently in both Blackout and the gripping sequel, All Clear.



The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

We’re all at least mildly familiar with the story – it was, after all, something of a worldwide phenomenon – but did you know that the tale of Phantom began with a novel? Not only that, but it’s a fantastic read. I haven’t read it since high school, but our recent trip to Paris and actually visiting the Palais Garnier peaked my interest in reading it again.







The Story Within by Laura Oliver – I try to always be reading a book on writing, and this was a favorite from my 2014 reading. I’m picking up new things this time, which I always count as the mark of a true classic.




The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong – a childhood favorite, and my pick for the childhood favorite category for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton – Does it count as a re-read if I only made it through a third of the book the first time? Oops. I know this is a classic for a reason, and I’m determined to get through it this year.

“New” Reads: (Titles I have not read before)

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – I know. I don’t know how I’ve not read it yet either! I actually picked up my copy in a thrift store last year (score!), and I just haven’t dug into it yet.

Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford - I’ve made several false starts on this one over the years as well, and I’ve realized recently that I need some practicing with reading something more challenging. This one fits the bill perfectly.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss – I know I cannot call myself an English nerd without reading this one! It comes with the very highest of recommendations, and I can’t wait to read it.

The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle – I adore Madeleine L’Engle, and I have made it a life goal to read every single book she ever wrote. This is book 3 in the “Crosswicks Journal” series, and I can’t wait to savor every word.

Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship by Scott Donaldson – This one was another thrift store find that looked intriguing, although I don’t know anything else about it. Obviously the subject matter interests me, though!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Another classic that I can’t believe I’ve never read!

Neither Here nor There and In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson – My dear friend Melissa recommended Bryson to me last year, and I am currently thoroughly enjoying his A Walk in the WoodsI can’t wait to enjoy these two, which are sitting and waiting on my shelf!

Finally, not yet released yet, but will be this year! The Lake House by Kate Morton (who is rapidly becoming my new author crush) and Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman (because, obviously, she’s my favorite and I’m pre-ordering this one!).

I know this list is ambitious to say the least, but realistically, it will probably carry me through the fall as well – my favorite reading season! What do you have on your summer reading list?! Tell me in the comments! 

What I’m Into – May 2015 Edition

Well. Although I have a spotty track record thus far, I hope to make this a monthly feature, in which I will share what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise captivated by in the past month. As in January, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer, who is the host of a monthly “What I’m Into” linkup.

Things I Love

My birthday presents from my hubby:

1) My DeLonghi espresso machine. Coffee has become my latest hobby recently – most particularly, finding the perfect espresso and trying to teach myself how to pour decent latte art. My man knows me well, although I may also have dropped hints about this one. I have used this little machine just about every single day since it arrived on our doorstep, and I love it so much. I might even have to write about it in more detail at a later date.

This is not mine - but I want to keep practicing!

This is not mine – but I want to keep practicing!

As a sidenote, I am also in love with my cozy coffee station; anyone who follows me on Instagram would have seen this happy little picture last month:


I have arranged and re-arranged this setup countless times over the last 3 months, and although I don’t feel it’s quite 100% perfect yet, it still delights me every time I look at it, and especially every time I stand there and make a delicious vanilla latte.

2) My Oontz Angle Plus speaker - This fantastic little speaker connects via Bluetooth to my phone or other devices; it fills our entire house, and I love it. I’ve even taken it out on our back patio a few times. It sounds great!

I’m also on a quest to find the best coffee shop in the greater Sacramento area. Thus far, Old Soul and Temple are the top contenders. If anyone has any suggestions to add, please, by all means, let me know in the comments!

Obviously, our trip to Europe last month was my #1 highlight… but I have a lot more to say on that subject very soon, so stay tuned!


I have done tons of reading this spring, but I have to somewhat shamefully admit that my penchant for reading too many books at one time has only become worse. However, I did finish a handful of books in the last several weeks. I’ve started using Goodreads more consistently, so you can follow me to see my thoughts on my reading!

Currently reading:

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Savor by Shauna Niequist
  • The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter
  • Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
  • A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Currently re-reading:

  • Blackout by Connie Willis
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • The Story Within by Laura Oliver


I finally, with much reluctance, finished Gilmore Girls sometime last month… and I don’t think I have ever felt so disappointed by a TV series finale. As a whole, I still love the show, and the re-watch value is superb, so I’m sure I’ll be re-watching favorite episodes for a long time, but after completely falling in love with these characters and with the whole town of Stars Hollow, it was a pretty profound disappointment.

Hubby and I have thoroughly enjoyed both Arrow and Flash this season, especially the cross-over between the two shows. I love how Flash is pretty much the kid brother of Arrow – more lighthearted and quirky, while Arrow handles the deeper, darker drama.


I had a number of friends / bloggers I stalk faithfully follow who pretty much raved about the Serial podcast when it aired last year, but for whatever reason, I never started listening to it. I finally added it to my podcasts app recently… and I listened to all 12 episodes within 3 days. It’s difficult to describe, but think of it as audio journalism – “one story, told week by week,” as host Sarah Koenig says in her introduction. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before, and I have to admit, it was completely addicting. I’m eager to see what season 2 will hold.

I’ve been listening to my soundtracks playlist on Spotify almost exclusively the last several weeks. I’m particularly obsessed with The Theory of Everything and Cinderella soundtracks. LOVE.

What are you loving this spring?! Tell me in the comments!

Weekend Reads

Each weekend, I like to share articles or posts that I consider noteworthy during my week of reading (blogs or otherwise around the web), whether they encourage, challenge, inspire, or just flat-out make me laugh. Sometimes these are “current” links (recently written), and sometimes they’re older articles that I just happened to stumble upon in the past week. I also try to share a little something about the book(s) I’m currently reading. I hope you enjoy!

Around the Web:


The Audacity of Cinderella” by Rebecca Reynolds, from the Rabbit Room – This review perfectly, delightfully summarized exactly why I completely adored the new Cinderella movie. Spot on and made me teary just reading it.

My Favorite Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s” by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy – Makes me wish we had a TJ’s in our town!

In honor of Jonathan Crombie and his tragic death this month, 25 Times Gilbert Blythe Melted Your Heart.

On My Nightstand: 


I recently finished I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and, not surprisingly, adored it. One of the most original and captivating narrators I have ever encountered in fiction.


I also finished The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James last week and, surprisingly, didn’t love it, even though I really, really wanted to. More thoughts on this later!

Currently reading: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider, The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle, and The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier.

Currently re-reading: Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist (highlighter working overtime on this re-read!), The Story Within by Laura Oliver, and The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (my pick for the “book from your childhood” category for the MMD Reading Challenge).

Lessons in Trust

On several occasions recently, I have found myself in a situation where I have had two options: fling a fit, or trust God’s sovereignty. I made plans, lined up my ducks in a row, did everything in my power to ensure that I made the right and best decision—and then the whole Jenga tower of a situation collapsed all around me, and I could barely see the remnants of my “perfect” plan, now scattered around me. Suddenly, I had no control whatsoever over the situation, and I found myself back at square one with a lousy attitude about it. You might think that after the first time, I would have learned my lesson, but no–this has happened multiple times over the last 6 weeks.

After yet another carefully-built plan shattered recently, I found myself in a place of angry frustration again, but then, another detail fell into place with such breathtaking, inspiring perfection that I suddenly realized something critical. Oh. I haven’t been trusting God’s sovereignty at all. Instead of surrendering my carefully crafted but obviously flawed plans and allowing God to work, I was all too quick to respond in frustration and complaining, and had I carried on that way, I might have completely missed what happened next. Instead of zapping me with some perspective, though (which, let’s face it, would have been exactly what I deserved), God instead orchestrated the details for a backup plan that would fall into place and mock me to my face with the sheer reality of how much better it was than my original plan. Oh. God is sovereign. Wow, I had forgotten that.

How many times will I miss these opportunities to trust and instead make them reasons to throw a tantrum? When will I remember that God’s sovereignty is absolute? He doesn’t merely have the “big” and “important” details of the universe in the palm of His hand; He cares about the “small” and “insignificant” moments of my life as well; in fact, sometimes those small moments can become the most profound opportunities to trust His perfect plan. When I inevitably fail to trust Him, though, I am so grateful that He doesn’t punish me with a cosmic spanking. Instead, He quietly molds the situation into something far better than I could have ever imagined, which then reminds me with a jolt how much He cares for me.

Have you seen God’s sovereignty in new ways recently? Tell me about it in the comments!

Life as Inspiration

In case you’ve missed it, I haven’t exactly updated my blog faithfully recently. Part of it has to do with my current schedule, being completely overloaded at work, and always having a zillion things on my mind – but part of it has to do with fear, both rational and irrational.

When I look at my post count for the last month, I feel fear in many different forms: fear that I’ll never have inspiration to blog again, fear that this will just become one more blog that I’ve started and then ultimately abandoned, fear that no one will read anymore because I never post anymore. But then when I sit down to try to actually write a post to add to that post count, I feel more fear: fear that my words don’t matter, fear that no one is reading anyway, fear that I’ll never do this blogging thing right – whatever “right” means!

Tonight, though, I choose to ignore the fears. I choose to ignore the nagging doubts that tell me I’ll never have “good” inspiration to blog again. I choose to ignore the idea that every post has to be perfect before I can share it. I choose to ignore.


After some helpful and timely encouragement from my husband, we walked around the corner to one of our town’s “fancy” grocery stores for their Friday night wine and cheese tasting. Our shadows had already lengthened, but the sun was still shining when we left our house, and I breathed in the fresh air, grateful for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy the world.

We walked into Nugget and saw the regulars already gathered around the tables in the cafeteria, greeting one another and talking and laughing amongst themselves. One older man, a sharp-witted white-haired fellow probably in his 70′s, greeted us and introduced himself as he made his rounds, even though we had met him before and knew his name was Jack. “I’m buying tonight!” He grinned at us. “So get whatever you like!” He clapped Austin on the shoulder as if they’re old friends and winked at me before he walked away to the next table.

I swirled my wine glass, sniffed the fragrant red blend that ended up being my favorite of the night – bold and strong, Austin declared, but not spicy. “It’s… grapey!” he finally exclaimed. We tasted two types of cheese, one paired with the white wines and one with the reds, and I love experiencing the way the flavors bounce around the palette, complementing each other in such delicious ways. I crushed the soft cheese in my mouth, enjoying the crumbling texture and amazed at how a tiny piece skewered with a toothpick could explode with such flavor on my tastebuds.

I snapped a photo of Austin’s wine glass and tasty treats as we sat at our table, and afterward I realized why I wanted to capture that moment. Because the whole outing – the walk, the fresh air, the tasting, the time spent with my husband – had reminded me that when the going gets rough with my writing, this is what I need to do. Throw myself with energy and enthusiasm into LIFE itself – don’t give in to the fear and the sense of uselessness, but embrace the beautiful everyday that is always before me, without fail, and simply keep my eyes open.

If I’m really paying attention, I know the ideas will come.

Weekend Reads

Each weekend, I like to share articles or posts that I consider noteworthy during my week of reading (blogs or otherwise around the web), whether they encourage, challenge, inspire, or just flat-out make me laugh. Sometimes these are “current” links (recently written), and sometimes they’re older articles that I just happened to stumble upon in the past week. I hope you enjoy!

Confessions” by Sarah Bessey – “Pride is a tricky thing, it makes liars out of us. If we don’t ever admit to our stumbles or our failings, our weaknesses and struggles, then how will we know when we’ve found our people?” 

Sometimes the first few sentences of a piece have me arrested immediately, all my defenses broken. This is one of those pieces. I’ve only just recently started reading Sarah, though I’ve known her name for a long time, and I am absolutely falling in love with her writing. Her love for Jesus spills through every word she writes – and seriously, what is there not to love about a Canadian girl who can rock both a nose ring and Ingrid Michaelson glasses and is a self-confessed Whovian? I mean, really.

Here’s What Your Soul Needs You to Know” by Emily Freeman – “Our inner life hums quietly beneath the surface, speaking only to those who make space to listen.” 

The 26 Worst Things That Can Happen to a Book Lover – this made me laugh out loud several times.

Mindfulness in the empty moments” by Carmella Rayone – “I wouldn’t do more, I would simply learn to see. I would see the creative nourishment and mindfulness waiting in the empty minutes of the day. And I would pick up the needles and knit, if only but a few stitches…. I would color slowly across the linen with embroidery floss, just one stem of a flower. I would open the journal, pick up the pencil, and sketch – what did that cloud look like today?

It was less about making room and time, I realized, and more about recognizing the room and time that I already had.”


Enjoy your weekend, friends!
XO Jenna

What I’m Into – January 2015

As we kick off the second month of 2015 (how can it already be almost February?!?), I wanted to share a roundup sort of post touching on some of my favorite things from January. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer, who is the host of a monthly “What I’m Into” linkup. I hope to make this a monthly feature, in which I will share what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise captivated by in the past month.

Things I Love:


Personality tests! I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of personality tests and the unique and complex elements that factor into our personalities as human beings. On something of a whim, I took a personality test that my sister sent to me earlier this month, and I’ve been on a tidal wave of research ever since. I’m decidedly an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs side of things, and a 2 / Helper on the Enneagram.

{I love this post from Anne at the “Modern Mrs. Darcy” blog, with 5 reasons why it’s helpful to know your personality type.}

photo 1

WorkFlowyMy boss shared one of his WorkFlowy lists with me recently so that we could collaborate on a project, and after doing a bit of research, I set up my own account, and within a day, I was using it obsessively. It has become my mobile brain, and I absolutely love it. It has both a desktop and a mobile app version, which sync with one another automatically, and I love the fact that I can pull it up on my computer and then pop open the app on my phone and see all of my changes there as well. With an extremely simple and streamlined design, it’s hard to believe how powerful it really is. It is already saving my sanity, and I know it will continue to do so as I use it more and more effectively.


The irunurun app. Like WorkFlowy, this is another app that you can use either in a browser or on your phone, and the account automatically syncs. I’m just getting started using it – hence my fairly pathetic score so far – but I am excited to see how it will help enhance my productivity in coming weeks. I have learned that I desperately need accountability, as I am a terrific starter but a terrible finisher when it comes to setting goals (which apparently is a typical INFJ trait!). Hopefully this app will help me to continue developing good habits in the new year.


The Seven app. I learned about this one while listening to the Art of Simple podcast, and it sounded so completely brilliant that I went and downloaded it immediately. I’ve only done 2 days of workouts so far, but I’m definitely feeling the burn, which tells me two things very emphatically: one, I am dreadfully out of shape, and two, I need this app! Again, the app includes lots of motivational and habit-building features, which I think will help me stay on track. And seriously, if I can’t make time for just 7 minutes a day to work out… something is wrong with my life!



January is traditionally a big reading month for me. Somehow, though, I have only managed to finish one book so far this month, although I hope to finish at least one more over the weekend. That said, here are the books I’m currently reading:

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Is God Listening? Making Prayer a Part of Your Life by Andrew Steinmann
  • Comforts from Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick (in conjunction with my ladies Bible study group, currently studying Romans)
  • Gilead by Marilynne RobinsonRe-Reads:
  • Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card (a delight)
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (this is my 4th year of reading Pressfield to kick off a new year)

I have also discovered and re-discovered some new favorite bloggers in the past 6-8 weeks, and I am now eagerly following Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy, Natalie at Natalie Creates, Sarah Bessey, and Sarah Selecky. I signed up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts last week, and have been thoroughly enjoying them thus far.



When I started to hear rumblings of Gilmore Girls coming to Netflix toward the end of 2014, I knew I would probably finally get sucked in. I had several friends in high school who adored the show, but somehow, I never saw it. I haven’t finished it yet (season 6!), but I know for certain that it will go down in history as one of my all-time favorite shows. Between Rory’s bookishness, the constant banter and sparkling wit, and the all-around delight of the tiny town of Stars Hollow and its quirky and endearing characters, I just can’t get enough. Sidenote: the rewatch value is truly epic, and I laugh harder every time I go back to an episode again. My hubby gave me the full series on DVD for Christmas, because he knows how much I love to rewatch. Good man. <3


I shared last year about my sister getting me hooked on Supernatural, and this year’s midseason cliffhanger was a DOOZY. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that it’s back – and seems to be better than ever so far.


Listening To: 

I recently discovered the OverDrive app, and I am absolutely delighted with it. I’m currently listening to an audiobook version of Mary Poppins and loving every minute.

I fell in love with Alex & Sierra after seeing their adorable audition on The X Factor, and I’ve enjoyed following them ever since. Their version of “Gravity” still blows me away every time:


What are you into lately?! Tell me about it in the comments!

Weekend Reads

Each weekend, I like to share articles or posts that I consider noteworthy during my week of reading (blogs or otherwise around the web), whether they encourage, challenge, inspire, or just flat-out make me laugh. Sometimes these are “current” links (recently written), and sometimes they’re older articles that I just happened to stumble upon in the past week. I hope you enjoy!

The Wonderful Ache of Beauty (Why We Need Art) by Jeff Goins – I always love Jeff, but every now and then, he bursts out with such penetrating insight that it makes me catch my breath. This is one of those posts.

The Spiritual Discipline of Wearing Better Pants by Emily Freeman – I’m so thankful for writers like Emily who are teaching me how to turn ordinary moments into Gospel-filled, Christ-honoring experiences.

A little Japanese word makes all the difference by Tsh Oxenreider – Goals are overwhelming, but not when seen in light of this little word. This is the only way I have found to truly accomplish goals, and I think most people would agree.

Anne‘s new living room “library” setup has to be the most beautiful, bright, and cheery bookshelves I’ve ever seen. Just looking at these pictures makes me so happy!

Photo Credit: Anne Bogel

Photo Credit: Anne Bogel

Also, her “9 novels to curl up with this winter” list? I want to read

Enjoy your weekend, my dears!