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Books to Read and Things to Watch While You Hibernate This Winter

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Books to read this winter

Cabin fever may not be here yet, but with the holidays wrapped, it probably will be soon. When you’re stuck inside and at your wit’s end, mix it up with these book, TV and movie recommendations straight from Stenzel therapists.


Rita Rippentrop

Read: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

If you’re not familiar with Brené Brown, this is a great first read! In Daring Greatly, she invites us all to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly and to courageously engage in our lives. I’ve shared her ‘Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto’ with parents. Here’s a great line from the manifesto: “You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.”

Watch: This Is Us (NBC/Hulu)

This series reflects many relationship challenges and connections throughout the life cycle: addiction, adoption, race, grief, trauma, remarriage. The character development is engaging as well, and it leaves you in suspense from one episode to the next.


Kyle McCordic

Read: Building Better Humans by Dave and Lisa Davoust

A comprehensive parenting book with qualities all parents will appreciate: it’s short, sweet and to the point!

Watch: 30 Rock (Hulu)30 rock tv show

A really fun sitcom that always has me laughing non-stop. Tina Fey’s self-deprecating style (which is all too relatable) helps me feel good about myself.


Deepak Santhiraj

Read: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

This book is a reflective and emotional thriller that suspends the reader in each season of the main characters’ journey as a family within the Montana landscape. Beyond the intrigue of fishing and the wilderness entourage of game animals and civilian strife, this storyline has me captivated with the author’s sense of self-expression through literature, spirituality and nature themes all woven together into one harmonious narrative. I also recommend Long Way Home (Laskin), War & Peace (Tolstoy), and Crime & Punishment (Doestoevsky), all of which carry similar themes.

Watch: McFarland USA (buy or rent) mcfarland-usa-show

One of my favorite contemporary films is McFarland USA. This powerful movie carries inspiration and illumines courage as it follows different high school students in central California, all of whom find hope and experience transcendence through their mutual desire for running as well as embracing realistic expectations in their adolescent passage into adulthood. This film is a family-friendly experience that accounts how to persevere with grit and overcome life’s obstacles.



Spencer Morris

Watch: Inside Out (buy or rent)

Shows the importance of emotions and how expressing them is something kids, and adults, need to learn or relearn throughout life.


Grant Stenzel

Watch: Shawshank Redemption

This movie is about staying hopeful and working a little everyday to improve your situation.ragamuffin-gospel

Read: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Such a neat concept. If Jesus were here today, Manning argues He wouldn’t hang out with the people you’d expect. The disciples were young and goofy, not perfect and religious. Jesus’s heart was with those people, and his anger was always directed at authority, hypocrisy and religious judgment. A couple quotes from Manning (1934-2013) that I love:

“God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to him.”

 “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”