Books of 2018
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Now is the time to reflect on the year that has come to a close and to set goals for the coming year. Originally in 2018, I just wanted to read 52 books like I normally do. Then, when I had definitely surpassed that goal, I decided I wanted to reach 100 books. Then my goal became 104 - because why not double my original goal. But I managed to beat even that.
The Happiness Project - 5 Stars. Hands down, this is my favorite book. I finished reading it on January 1st, and it set a perfect tone for my year. It is the book I recommend to EVERYONE. It is the perfect combination of a memoir and a personal development book (two genres I have grown to love!). It will inspire and encourage you to take a look at the small changes you can make in your life to become happier! Since reading The Happiness Project, I have fallen in love with Gretchen Rubin and have consumed pretty much all of her content. I have read all her books, binged all her podcasts, am enrolled in both of her courses and have even preordered her next book - Inner Order Outer Calm - coming this March!
A Red Herring without Mustard - 3 Stars. This is one of the mysteries from the Flavia de Luce series. They tell the story of a young girl who loves chemistry and solves mysteries. If that intrigues you, you’d likely enjoy the series. If not… then meh.
Better than Before - 5 Stars. Again, Gretchen Rubin has changed my life. If you’ve ever struggled to make form a habit (or wondered why everyone else finds it so hard because for you it is oh-so-easy) then you need to read this book. It is a great book that will help you stick to your New Years Resolutions, or not if that isn’t your thing.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - 5 Stars. Since I have an organizing business, the fact that I love this book shouldn’t be too surprising. It is a good stepping stone into evaluating what you have and creating a home that you love. If that’s something you desire, I’d recommend this book. I especially recommend reading the book before you binge Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, Tidying Up.
Happier at Home - 4 Stars. Another great book by Gretchen Rubin. It is similar to the Happiness Project but she deals primarily with themes centering around the home (clearly). It is a good read, but not quite as good as the Happiness Project, so definitely read that book first.
Speaking from Among the Bones - 3 Stars. Another Flavia de Luce book. As you can tell from the rating it was nothing more special than the others.
Turtles All the Way Down - 4 Stars. If you had asked me, I would have sworn I read this book in September or something, so more proof that 2018 went by incredibly fast. It was a good book, particularly in the way it dealt with mental health issues. If you want an idea of what living with anxiety is like, I would recommend this book. It was also my first foray into John Green literature. I love his Crash Course videos (they are pretty much the reason I was able to graduate from college), but I was apprehensive about venturing into his novels. But if the rest of them reflect a similar style, I’ll probably read a couple more. Except for the Fault in Our Stars. I have no interest in that book.
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - 3 Stars. I think there is a common theme here in the Flavia de Luce novels. They were engaging, but if I weren’t a finisher, I would probably have stopped working my way through the series around book 3.
Why We Get Fat - 3 Stars. I read this book because it was one that Gretchen Rubin recommended. She credits it with having caused a lightning bolt moment in her life and starting her on a low carb diet that has lasted for years. It was a decent book but extremely science heavy, and that made it a bit difficult to get through. I tried the diet for about a month, but the book didn’t send any lightning my way and so I decided that I wasn’t ready for the low carb lifestyle shift.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - 4 Stars. This one got a slightly higher rating, although now I’m trying to remember why… Oh! I looked it up and it was likely because Flavia solved this mystery in Canada, as opposed to at her home in England. This was a nice change of pace from being mentally stuck at Buckshaw, no matter how grand it might be. But since I didn’t even remember initially what the story was about, I’m thinking this maybe ought to be demoted to 3 Stars.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - 3 Stars. This novel was enjoyable, as far as Flavia de Luce novels go. And it involves a cat - I’m a big cat fan.
Thrive - 2 Stars. I’m not entirely sure why this Arianna Huffington book did not intrigue me more, but it didn’t. She is a truly inspiring person, but this book found it’s way to the bottom of my mental list of personal development books.
The Sleep Revolution - 3 Stars. Another by Arianna Huffington that discusses the importance of sleep. This book was decent, but I would probably give it 2 stars now because I read a better book on sleep later in the year.
The Reason for God - 4 Stars. This book had been sitting around my house forever, but I finally read it. A good book discussing the existence of God. Timothy Keller is often lauded as a modern C.S. Lewis. However, in all honesty, I find Mr. Keller’s writing to be much easier to understand, both in general and more particularly from the perspective of those not familiar with the Christian faith.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses - 2 Stars. This was the community read for our library in 2018. I can remember the story but I don’t feel like it is worth repeating here. And I’m not sure I’m going to read the community read for 2019 so that has to tell you something.
Making Sense of God - 4 Stars. Another good book on the existence of God. Although this book was written after the Reason for God, it seemed to me to be the prequel. For those not even willing to consider the existence of God, much less the potential reasons for that existence, this is a good starting place.
The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place - 3 Stars. I could keep writing about these Flavia de Luce novels, but I’d rather not.
The Four Tendencies - 4 Stars. A good follow up to Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, and a short and easy read. If you have an interest in personalities, or quizzes like MBTI and the Enneagram, you need to read this book.
More than a Carpenter - 4 Stars. A short introduction to Christ and the Christian faith. The acclaim this book has received speaks for itself.
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast - 3 Stars. This book inspired me to make better use of my morning time, to great success. While I definitely don’t get up at 4, or even at 6 like many people in this book, I have a plan and ensure that my morning is full of things that are productive and that make me excited for each morning.
Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering - 4 Stars. If you consider yourself to be in a tough part of your life, I would recommend picking up this book. It will give you peace, and if you let it, hope. And if you aren’t in a valley right now, you likely will be eventually, and this book might help you feel better prepared to deal with your pain or the pain of someone you love.
The Princess Bride - 3 Stars. I tried to remember reading this book, but then I realized the reason it didn’t stand out was that it was literally like listening to the movie. The movie is just as good and it’s a lot of fun. So really, you can just watch the movie.
Belief - 2 Stars. This book was a collection of essays. Most were confusing and they were not drawn together with a common enough theme. The essays by Os Guinness and Madeleine L'Engle were by far the best and presented some new ideas. However, they were good on their own merit, not because they were included in this book.
168 Hours - 4 Stars. Laura Vanderkam does a very impressive job on all of her books, but this is one of the best. It helped me to make a shift in my own mind and showed me that I really do have time for everything that I want to do if I look at my life, not as days, but based on all the hours that make up the week. And what did I want to do and make a priority thanks to my new perspective? Reading of course.
Godforsaken - 4 Stars. Godforsaken was intriguing. I was raised in a Christian home and have been a Christian for most of my life. But this book presented some fascinating explanations about the goodness of God that I have never heard before. Whether or not you’re a Christian, the science and discussion in this book should not be missed.
The Devil’s Delusion - 2 Stars. This book had an interesting premise but was difficult to get through. The language was very intellectual to the point of distraction, making it not very accessible.
Whose Body? - 3 Stars. The one benefit of reading Belief was that it introduced me to Dorothy L. Sayers. As an avid Agatha Christie devote, It was wonderful to find another wonderful female, British mystery writer. This story wasn’t one of her best, but it was enjoyable!
Time for Truth - 2 Stars. Time for Truth is a short book written by Os Guinness. I picked it up because his interesting essay in Belief was taken from this book. But the selected essay was the best part, the rest of the book was well written but not particularly engaging.
Strong Poison - 4 Stars. A better, more enjoyable Dorothy L. Sayers novel. It is what true British mystery novels are made of! Think Sherlock Holmes…
The $100 Startup - 4 Stars. As someone who was beginning to think about launching a business, I enjoyed the ideas, tips, and tricks for building a startup. The stories in the book were also very encouraging. Although looking back, I’m not entirely sure how the $100 worked in. I definitely spent more than $100, but the idea of doing it on a budget and limiting your risk is a wise one.
The End of Alzheimer’s - 2 Stars. I read this book mostly because I felt it related to my dad’s work as an elder law attorney. I wanted to see if it was something he should read. While the research was interesting and encouraging, and the proposed protocol does seem to be doing good for many people, it was another difficult book. It was very heavy in scientific explanations, but if that is your thing - go for it!
Fool’s Talk - 2 Stars. Another book by Os Guinness. I was still trying to capture the enjoyment and interest that I had found in his essay, but alas, this book did not fulfill that for me either.
The Little Book of Hygge - 2 Stars. I’m not sure why I ranked this book so low. In hindsight, it was a cute, short book about large sweaters, lit candles, and warmhearted people. If you want more information, the By the Book podcast did two episodes on it. But really, in that length of time, you could just read it yourself.
Cat’s Cradle - 3 Stars. I went on a little Kurt Vonnegut kick. I adore Slaughterhouse-Five, so I wanted to read some of his other work. Unfortunately, while Slaughterhouse-Five will remain one of my favorite books, this one will never reach that level.
Gaudy Night - 3 Stars. I enjoyed this Dorothy L. Sayers book, but I remember it being a little hard to follow. It was likely because I was listening via audiobook and that often complicates things. A good mystery, but not my favorite of hers.
The Prodigal God - 3 Stars. A short book by Timothy Keller, offering a unique look at the Prodigal Son story. Anyone who grew up in the church might enjoy this short book as a little refresher, but it will unlikely present anything new.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind - 2 Stars. This has been lauded as one of the best personal finance books on countless blogs and podcasts, but I have to say, I don’t see the attraction. I had a lot of fun chanting the mantras in the car with my little brother (who thought they were hilarious, btw), but the lessons weren’t anything that stuck with me, and I really didn’t implement them. However, it was a good(ish) introduction into visualization and mantras, which came up several times in my 2018 reading.
Jailbird - 2 Stars. Again, Kurt Vonnegut. I love him, and his writing style, but neither the story nor any major life lessons stuck with me. Okay if you want a fun read, but Slaughterhouse-Five is still my Vonnegut go-to.
Over-Dressed - 2 Stars. This was an interesting book about the “fast fashion” industry - think H&M and Forever 21. I was intrigued by this idea, and the approach of the book was interesting. It launched me into a deeper internal discussion on what clothing pieces I am willing to invest in, and whether I can justify continued shopping at “fast fashion” retailers. One of the potential downfalls of his books is that it didn’t seem to come to a conclusion. I felt like the author understood the impact this industry has on the people who make it possible, but at the end of the day, said that it is a cheap option and people will continue to use it so - oh well? In hindsight though, I can see the wisdom of this approach, making me come to my own conclusion. It definitely made me think, and now that I have an expanded knowledge-base, I can no longer claim ignorance for my shopping and clothing choices.
The More of Less - 3 Stars. This was a good introductory book to minimalism, and appreciating what we already have. If you want a simple introduction to these ideas and an easy read, I would recommend it.
The Royal We - 4 Stars. The Royal We was probably the best novel I read all year. It was just weeks before my summer vacation to England (which I may blog about at a later date), but it was fun to read a story loosely based on the royal family. It only continued to fuel my obsession with them. If you love romance and the royals, here you go.
Furiously Happy - 5 Stars. This is another one of my favorite books. I cannot say enough good about it. It handles mental illness in a very real and raw but hilarious way. I have never laughed so hard listening to a book, or watching a movie, or even watching a YouTube video for that matter. Not only that, but it opened my eyes and heart to see how other people struggle with mental illness, and helped me better understand how to love them where they are.
The Alchemist - 2 Stars. After two really great books, I had to have a mediocre one. I understand that this book is a classic, but I have to say, I didn’t really enjoy it. I finished it because it was short but my overall verdict was - meh.
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age - 2 Stars. This book was a yawn. I thought I had gotten How to Win Friends and Influence People, not its modern equivalent, however when I realized my mistake I decided to read it anyway.
Bonhoeffer - 2 Stars. During my freshman year of high school I did a speech about Bonhoeffer, written largely with information from this book. But even then, I really had not read it, at least not thoroughly. Bonhoeffer is a long book, but a good and thorough memoir. In reading the entire book, I felt like I got a complete grasp of the man that Bonhoeffer was, even more so than I did when I wrote the speech. However, I do not particularly enjoy Eric Metaxas’ writing style, which I’ll share more about later.
The Penderwicks at Last - 3 Stars. I love, love, love the Penderwicks series. Unfortunately, while this last installment was still good, it was my least favorite of the five books. I started the books when I was about 9, the same age(ish) as most of the sisters. In many ways, I felt like I grew up with them. But this fifth book, and the one before it, mainly focused on the younger sisters, whom I never felt as connected with. The best parts of the book were the moments where I got a glimpse of the older sister’s lives, I just wish there had been more of them.
The Stars in Our Eyes - 3 Stars. An interesting book about celebrities, and how we perceive them. That is all I remember. It is interesting to look back from the end of a year and see what - if anything - made some of these books memorable.
Wildflower - 2 Stars. Of all the memoirs I read this year, Drew Barrymore’s was probably my least favorite. I haven’t seen her in anything recently and I didn’t really connect with any of her stories. Beyond that though, I think she is a remarkable woman and she is doing remarkable things.
Side Hustle - 3 Stars. This book helped push me in the right direction as I headed towards starting my organizing business as a side hustle. Interesting, and with practical tips, although not much that couldn’t be found other places.
Big Magic - 3 Stars. Big Magic had a fascinating perspective on creativity that still sticks with me today. It has motivated me to put ideas and dreams into action right away. The more I reflect on it, I’ve found it to be true that creativity really is a gift and we must use it while it is in our possession, or risk losing it.
10% Happier - 2 Stars. This book focused much too long on meditation as being a contributor to happiness, and much too long on Dan Harris’ personal journey. If you want a book on happiness, read The Happiness Project. If you want to read a book period, read The Happiness Project.
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened - 2 Stars. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened is another book written by the author of Furiously Happy. Again, it was funny with unique stories, but it was missing the common thread and message that made Furiously Happy so impactful.
How to Win Friends and Influence People - 3 Stars. This book was very similar to its counterpart about the digital age. I didn’t find any of the lessons to stand out in this book either, but it is still a classic.
The 4-Hour Workweek - 3 Stars. While Tim Ferris lives a life that few people would likely want to copy, the idea of a 4-hour workweek intrigues many. I found his ideas interesting, and I have even put some into practice in my own life. However, as I said, many people would never be able to follow his plan or implement his ideas, and frankly - many people wouldn’t want to. In fact, many were diametrically opposed to the ideas I’d just read about in How to Win Friends and Influence People. For example, this book would advise giving people five minutes to discuss something and to cut them off when their time is up. How to Win Friends and Influence People, on the other hand, shared the benefits of building relationships and talking to people for hours to see if they might be right for a position or even to see if you shared values. Two different perspectives and I guess it is up to you to decide which embodies kind of person you want to be.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - 2 Stars. I know this is a very famous, classic book, but I took very little away from it. The most important thing was in terms of viewing the various things we have to do in terms of the four quadrants (important, urgent, not urgent, not important). This has increased my productivity, helped me delegate, and recognize certain things that don’t need to be done at all.
Miracles - 2 Stars. This book contained really fascinating stories about miracles and is pretty convincing proof that they continue to occur, even in the modern age. But Eric Metaxas tends to go into excruciating detail and use intellectual language in a way that is not necessary, especially in a book like Miracles.
The Complete Book of Home Organization - 3 Stars. This was a sweet little book that I found in Costco and fell in love with. It is written at the intersection of organizing and cleaning - so if you need help with either, this book will provide the needed help! It guides you through each area of your home and provides practical tips for each. Even just the idea of it makes my internal organizer happy.
Eat Pray Love - 3 Stars. After reading Big Magic, I loved reading about how Elizabeth Gilbert got to where she is today. This is such a sweet, real story. It encompasses her struggles, her fears, her frustrations, her dreams, and ultimately, her hope for a better and brighter future. It was a good reminder that even in the toughest of times, the best of times may be just around the corner, or they may even be already here.
Stop Walking on Eggshells - 2 Stars. This book about Borderline Personality Disorder opened my eyes to what it was, and how best to relate to those in my life who struggle with it. It is a tough read, emotionally and because it is heavy with scientific facts. However, if you need a primer on BPD, I would recommend Stop Walking on Eggshells.
Not That Kind of Girl - 3 Stars. I’m not sure why I rated this book so highly. Other than Wildflower, it was my first real foray into a Hollywood memoir. It was heavy in sex, and the pain and struggles Lena Dunham shares are tangible. This was another really emotionally taxing book, without the lightheartedness of memoirs yet to come.
The Power of the Actor - 2 Stars. I started this book several years ago, but I count it as a 2018 read because that’s when I finished it. If you’re an actor and you want to become as physically/mentally/emotionally in tune with your character as you can, this book is full of a lot of great examples and exercises. If you ascribe to a different acting method, more power to you. I think you’re a powerful actor no matter how you choose to work on your craft.
Unqualified - 4 Stars. Anna Faris’ book was funny, sweet, and interesting. It was not my favorite memoir, but I enjoyed hearing her story. It is always fascinating to take someone you have seen on screen and find out what their life is like beyond that. I especially hearing about their experiences from their own perspective, not from that of a tabloid. I don’t always agree with people’s decisions, but hearing about them from their own perspective always gives me much more empathy, compassion, and grace - things I can never have too much of.
Accidental Safari - 4 Stars. Unashamed plug, my dad wrote this book and I finally read it. I loved it! And no, it is not just because it is the first book that I am mentioned in, but because it is full of both stories and practical advice. If I was in the later part of my life, I would have easily given this book 5 stars. But if you know someone who is already there (and I’m sure you do), they need this book.
Essentialism - 2 Stars. This book is about focusing on the essential things in life and letting go of the rest - whether that is letting go of the things that you no longer need, quitting an activity or job that doesn’t contribute to happiness, or starting something that will. There you go! I just summarized the whole book for you.
#GirlBoss - 3 Stars. I loved reading this book and hearing the story of a woman building her brand. If that is something that intrigues you - read it. These books inspire and empower me, and make me want to join the ranks of female entrepreneurs who have gone before. They make me want to be a #GirlBoss.
Why Not Me? - 3 Stars. A great introduction to Mindy Kaling. Her memoir is funny, like those of many other celebrity stars, but she has the knack of making it truly relatable. Her anxieties, fears, and struggles are the same that all women face. Mindy just has to do it in the spotlight, and she’s willing to share with us that it’s not all that different after all.
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence - 2 Stars. If you would like a cake made out of recipes, light humor, and Amy Sedaris - here you go! It’s everything you want all in one book! If you only like two of the three then - meh, you can skip it.
Think and Grow Rich - 2 Stars. I started this book during the summer and it took me months to finish it. Partly because I had to take it back to the library (and wait to get it back) and partly because I didn’t want to finish it. I must not have the “thing” the book says you must have to understand and implement the advice it contains because that book made me feel nothing but dread.
Girl, Wash Your Face - 4 Stars. There is a lot of controversy about this book out there, but I enjoyed it. It is a sweet book, where a woman becomes vulnerable and shares her struggles. Even if they are not the same things you struggle with, she deserves respect. Ultimately, she wants to help women overcome the lies that they tell themselves and recognize that they are capable, strong, and loved. That is a message that I can get behind.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - 4 Stars. It had been a month or two since I read a good novel, and this was just what I needed. The book is very realistic when it comes to the high school experience, the struggles teenagers face, relationships, and mental illness. It doesn’t whitewash over anything. And it also isn’t just another teen romance, which I at least, greatly appreciated.
Meghan - 3 Stars. Since I haven’t watched Suits, I didn’t know that much about Meghan Markle, before she became Duchess of Sussex. And to be honest, I didn’t know that much about her until I read this book. It gave me a full perspective of her background, life, and achievements pretty much up until her wedding. She is a very accomplished woman, and seems, thus far, to have been a good addition to the royal family. I adore Kate Middleton, but this book helped me find some room in my heart for another impressive woman whom millions look up to.
Grace Not Perfection - 3 Stars. This is like an even more Christian version of Girl, Wash Your Face. A very sweet and inspiring story of a woman entrepreneur if not “doing it all,” then at least “getting most of it done with grace”.
Lean In - 3 Stars. I haven’t really reached the point in life where most of this book applies to me. I am not settled in a career, and even if I were, I do not have kids that would distract me from it. But regardless, the reminder to focusing on whatever activity I am part of at any given time was valuable. And I know the more I practice it now, the easier it will be later.
High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly - 4 Stars. I adore Grace Kelly. She is one of my favorite historical women (something else I will write more about later). This was a very sweet biography about her life, focusing on her time in Hollywood, her connections, and the person that she was. I also appreciated that this book was written by someone who actually met and spoke with Grace himself. This gives him added credibility, especially when compared to some authors I could (and will) mention.
Talking as Fast as I Can - 4 Stars. I have to admit that I read this book before I started watching Gilmore Girls… And in the book Lauren Graham details all of her favorite episodes from all of the seasons (oh, well, I like how it ends - for Lorelai at least). This was a very short and sweet memoir. If you like Lauren Graham or Gilmore Girls - you should definitely read this book.
Where’d You Go Bernadette - 4 Stars. Where’d You Go Bernadette was a very fun novel. First, it’s set in Seattle, which I grew up exploring. It is always fun to hear the places that you love referenced in books. Second, it is also a really brilliant example of an artist’s synchronicities and mental illness. Finally, the format of the book is brilliant. The story is told through journal entries, emails, bills, and letters. Plus, not just any book is able to in seamlessly integrate Antarctica!
Today Will be Different - 3 Stars. Another Maria Semple novel. Again, I really enjoyed the Seattle setting, but I didn’t find the storyline to be as engaging, nor was the format as fun.
Creativity, Inc. - 3 Stars. I love Pixar, although I am not nearly as obsessed as some people I know. Creativity, Inc. gives a great glimpse into Pixar as a company, its founding, and how they have evolved over the years to become the animation powerhouse they are today. There are lessons for anyone trying to build a network of trust and hard work within their company.
The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room: And How To Keep It That Way - 3 Stars. This organizing book does a fantastic job of blending organization and style. It is filled with great photographs, although they don’t always seem to correspond to the idea being presented. And there is likely nothing in this book you can’t find in a few articles on the internet. Regardless, it can provide some necessary information and motivation, and some eye candy from the beautiful photos!
The Power of Habit - 4 Stars. Ever since reading Better than Before, I have become obsessed with habit change. Better than Before would be my top recommendation with The Power of Habit as a close second. The Power of Habit goes much more into the science and ideas behind habit formation, rather than specific plans to help you alter your behavior. So choose your read accordingly - or read both!
Talk Like TED - 2 Stars. Having done quite a bit of public speaking in my life, I was curious to see what I could do to become TED-worthy. The tips were practical and interesting. If you want to do a TED presentation at some time in the future, this would be a good book to read to help direct your preparation. Since I am out of the public speaking arena, at least for the time being, I didn’t find the advice to be particularly applicable to me - hence the rating.
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo - 3 Stars. I really have never seen Amy Schumer in anything, but her book was another Hollywood memoir. She seems to be a powerful woman and has made a really impressive life for herself. But looking back, this book doesn’t stand out from many of the other memoirs that I read so maybe… skip it?
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - 3 Stars. Mindy Kaling - the queen of relateableness. I think I enjoyed Why Not Me? a bit more, but this one was great too. Hey! I just realized both of her titles are questions. I wonder if that is because as we become adults there are so many questions we have to figure out the answers to, and we no longer can just ask the adults because all of a sudden - we are the adults!
Grace Kelly: The Secret Life of a Princess - 3 Stars. Another book about the beloved Grace Kelly, but written in a much less loving manner. As far as I can gather, the author had not personally met Grace and gave considerably too much weight to tabloids and various stories that had been made up about her. He seemed to have been taken by the image Grace often portrayed, as a cold woman, rather than by who she actually was. I did appreciate however that the book spent more time on her life after she became Her Serene Highness.
Body by Science - 3 Stars. A very, extremely science heavy book about high-intensity training. The book made me a firm believer in the method, but it is extremely tough to get to that point through all of the material.
The Financial Diet - 4 Stars. I loved this book. It was sweet and fun and had illustrations and was well put together. It doesn’t focus really on the idea of being on “a financial diet” like I had thought. But if you want a primer on being an adult and tips on how to manage your money in all areas of your life, The Financial Diet is perfect.
The Price of Everything - 2 Stars. The premise of this book was interesting. It was supposed to answer questions like - why do we value some things more than others? and are prices merely arbitrary? But to be honest, I don’t remember any of the answers.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - 2 Stars. Trust me, I’m going to complain about sappy teen romances later on, but this book irritated me because it tried so hard NOT to be a sappy teen romance. It was continually saying things like “now I don’t fall for her”, “I don’t want you to think this is a book where I fall in love with the girl”, or even “this isn’t a teen romance book”. Beyond that, Greg (the “me” in the title), continually repeats that he is not learning anything, that his time with Rachel (the “dying girl” in the title) really didn’t teach him anything, and that he hasn’t grown in any real way through his experiences. Rather than thinking that the book was trendy and different, I felt it was boring and pointless. In trying so hard not to fall into the common stereotypes, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl landed somewhere else entirely. Somewhere that I’m not entirely sure that I want to go.
Whiskey in a Teacup - 4 Stars. Reese Witherspoon’s memoir of sorts, but with lots of pictures and LOTS of recipes. If you read this book, be sure to read it - don’t listen to it on audiobook. You do not want to miss the beautiful pictures in between her sweet, heartwarming tips and stories.
Rising Strong - 5 Stars. My introduction to Brené Brown and I cannot say enough. Out of all her books of that I have read since then, this is my favorite. It is a great primer on her idea of vulnerability. But what really changed my life was her challenge to verbalize the stories that we tell ourselves. When we do that, we undermine all that is holding us back in our careers, relationships, and goals.
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning - 4 Stars. This book was written by a sweet, Swedish old woman. While I haven’t reached a point in my life where death cleaning would be necessary, it is a still a fun book that presents a new perspective on clearing clutter. While she may throw an inadvertent dig towards my side hustle (professional organizing) it is still a really great short read.
One Click - 2 Stars. I had mixed feelings about Jeff Bezos before I read this book about Amazon, and I still have them even though I have finished it. If the rise of Amazon intrigues you, you’d probably like this book, if not - skip it.
The Highly Sensitive Person - 2 Stars. When I discovered the idea of HSPs, I immediately knew that I fit the bill. I watched a bunch of videos about it though, so I suspect that by the time I got to the book, I knew about most of what is out there for HSPs. Thus, I did not find the book very fascinating. But if you think you might be an HSP, read the book and find out!
The Confidence Code - 4 Stars. I read this book because it was recommended by Julia Engel and I absolutely adore her. It discusses the confidence gap between men and women, and actions that women can take to break through what is holding them back. It was a great combination of science and personal development.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls - 2 Stars. I read David Sedaris because, well, I have heard so much about David Sedaris. And now that I’ve read him, I can say I probably won’t read him again. I may read one more of his books and to give him another chance but I didn’t find Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (which doesn’t really have that much about diabetes or owls) very interesting or funny.
Girl Code - 4 Stars. This is another one of those motivating girl books. It was a really short read but it reminded me why I want to be an entrepreneur. It was very practical and the stories inspired me to pursue who I want to be.
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office - 2 Stars. This book was pretty boring. Maybe partly because it doesn’t really apply to me and the industry in which I work. Maybe because I don’t like the format of each chapter/section being something that women do wrong. And maybe because, while I realize that there are weaknesses we have as women that sometimes we have to work around, I did not feel like the book adequately discussed women’s strengths. I for one, do not want to merely have to act like a man while wearing women’s clothing.
Robin - 3 Stars. I grew up with Robin Williams. I loved him in Jumanji and died laughing at the Genie every time I watched Aladdin. I remember exactly where I was when a friend texted me that he had died. My heart was broken - for him, for his family, and for all the jokes that would now never be made. But even though I really admired his work, I knew that I didn’t know very much about his story. If you don’t know very much about Robin, this biography is perfect. I cried at least three times while listening to this book - and that is something that doesn’t happen very often!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before - 3 Stars. I can only describe this as a “cute” novel. Lara Jean has crushes on her sister’s ex-boyfriend and a boy from her school who really has only ever been a jerk to her. I wasn’t particularly rooting for any of the main characters. I vastly preferred Lara Jean’s older sister, but she is a very passing character and not in the book enough to make me like it more. The novel vaguely reminded me of the Penderwicks series, which I vastly prefer. I have heard good things about the movie, although I have yet to see it.
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It - 3 Stars. This was an extremely short read. It is basically a commencement address that Lauren Graham once gave. But, true to its purpose, it is inspirational and, true to its author, it is sweet, witty, and funny. If you need a little boost and have forty minutes, I recommend giving it a read.
Sleep Smarter - 4 Stars. If you want a good book to motivate you to sleep better, this is it. It also wraps up at the end with a daily plan to get you better sleep in just two weeks. The science is presented in a very understandable manner and is very informative about something that many people simply don’t know enough about. As for me, I’ll be over here with my grounding mat and my blue light blocking glasses.
Eleanor & Park - 2 Stars. I did not like this book. I found it to be a cliche, modern romance novel. I’m not entirely sure why the two characters fell in love beyond that one was desperate and the other was insecure. I think it is trendy because the ending is a slight cliffhanger and mildly unusual. But beyond just being kind of sappy, the book has a sad plot, two things I don’t really enjoy.
I Know How She Does It - 5 Stars. This is another great book! It was super inspiring and motivational to see the timesheets of high-earning, successful women and how they manage to fit everything in. The advice was interesting and applicable. But really the best part was seeing that the “impossible” is possible - you can work full time, spend hours with your kids, sleep 8 hours a night, pick flowers, do dishes, and go to the zoo! Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but you can do it!
The Year of Less - 4 Stars. If you want inspiration to have a no-buy month or year, this is a great starting point! I am going to have a no-shopping month (or three) later this year. Cait has a great story, and she takes you along on the journey with her.
All the Bright Places - 2 Stars. What can I say, sad and sappy romance novels are what young adults must want these days (and why I will not read the Fault in Our Stars). That’s again what this is, although with a much larger underlying discussion about mental health. I did feel like this book handled those themes appropriately for the most part, but it is not something I would read again.
Bossypants - 3 Stars. If you like Tina Fey, you will love this book. Honestly, even if you don’t like her, this book would give you the opportunity to know her a bit better, and maybe understand her a bit more. I thought this book was light and funny, a good counterbalance to some of the more dense Hollywood memoirs.
You Are a Badass - 3 Stars. This is one of those books that heavily deals with mantras and visualization, neither of which do I have a lot of experience with. But I still appreciated and enjoyed this book. It was empowering and a good reminder that what we want is out there, we just have to go get it.
I’ll Be There for You - 4 Stars. The TV show Friends is one of my favorite things. I have seen every episode at least twice and am on my third or fourth time through (don’t worry, I do other things like work on this blog post while I watch). So when I heard that a new book was coming out about the show, I got it as fast as I could. If you want to hear more of the history behind the show, then read this book. If you want to read some theories about why the show is only continuing to grow in popularity, then read this book. If you like Friends, then read this book. I’ll Be There for You also introduced me to the idea of aspirational normalcy, something that I have since fallen in love with (and will likely write about sometime soon).
Throw out Fifty Things - 2 Stars. As I’ve shared I really, really like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but this book felt like its distant cheap cousin. If you want to read a book about tidying (and in the process throw out way more than fifty things), read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. However, Throw out Fifty Things had an interesting section on ridding ourselves of thoughts and fears that hold us back. I found that idea to be particularly interesting, except it was sort of glossed over. It would be nice to throw out our fear of failure or letting other people down, sure, but is it as easy as throwing expired snacks or cracked mugs into the trashcan? Nope.
Braving the Wilderness - 4 Stars. Brené Brown does it again. If you have ever felt alone, struggled to accept yourself, or disagreed with someone you care about, then I would recommend Braving the Wilderness to you. In the modern age, we all find ourselves in the (metaphorical) wilderness more and more. This book will help you to navigate it and realize that maybe, you aren’t as alone as you thought you were.
Yes, Please - 3 Stars. I have to be totally honest, other than one or two episodes of Parks and Recreation (which I didn’t really enjoy… I’m sorry! I’m a Friends girl), I haven’t ever seen Amy Poehler in anything. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying her book! I read a ton of memoirs this year, and I love hearing the Hollywood stories of women who fought their way to where they are today. Especially women who do it with humor, joy, and (most of the time) grace. Amy Poehler is one of those women and her book conveys it perfectly.
You Are a Badass Everyday - 3 Stars. Not as good as You Are a Badass, I literally just finished this short book and nothing really stands out from it to me.
Someday Someday Maybe - 3 Stars. This is a semi-novel and semi-memoir (really just a novel loosely based on her experiences) by Lauren Graham. It is a sweet story of a girl named Franny (after Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, who is an author that I love and which made me love this book even more!). She is living in New York trying to pursue her acting dream as her self-imposed deadline approaches. It is interesting, encouraging, and conveys some important life lessons - sometimes the people we think are boring are the most interesting and sometimes the girls we think we hate are the ones who will help us just when we need them.
Make Your Idea Matter - 2 Stars. I decided to finish off the year with a bunch of short books as you will see. This book is about cultivating ideas for your business, very meh, just the basics, and I didn’t feel like any unique ideas were presented.
Marketing: A Love Story - 2 Stars. Pretty much the exact same as Make Your Idea Matter, but about marketing. If you are into marketing or have researched it at all, there is no need to read this book.
The Fortune Cookie Principle - 2 Stars. Again, the same (these three were all by Bernadette Jiwa). This book discussed how your company have to have a product or service (the cookie) but also the story of your brand (the fortune) to make people really connect with you. This was a unique analogy, but the ideas have been written about in countless books before.
What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend - 2 Stars. A very short read by Laura Vanderkam, interesting, but most of the material was covered in I Know How She Does It, and this book didn’t have the cool time charts.
The Actor’s Life - 4 Stars. Jenna Fischer seems unbelievably sweet. Out of all the Hollywood starlets whose books I have read this year, Jenna Fischer is the one I’d feel most comfortable talking with. She shares her story and seamlessly weaves in expert advice for building a life in Hollywood - if that is your dream. At one time, I considered it to be mine, but listening to an interview with Jenna Fischer (where she about this book) helped me to decide not to pursue acting. She said that if you can imagine doing anything else, then don’t act. And I can, I have may other dreams, some others I can’t imagine not pursuing - so those are the ones I choose.
Dare to Lead - 3 Stars. This was a good summary of the principles from the other Brené Brown books that I have read. However, since I am not currently in a real position of leadership, I didn’t find it to be as personally applicable or actionable. If you lead a team or have any have employees, I highly recommend this book as an action plan for creating an environment of trust and vulnerability.
He’s Just Not That Into You - 3 Stars. This was a short, humorous read debunking the lies that many men in modern society tell women, and also the lies those women tell themselves. Since I have never been in any of the situations described in the book, I was probably able to take it more lightly than others. However, it delivers the truth that many people need to hear in a direct but gentle manner.
The Canterville Ghost - 2 Stars. I love Oscar Wilde (especially the fact that he once dressed up like a cello) and I love Oscar Wilde’s writing. But I was greatly disappointed by the Canterville Ghost. The story was extremely short and I felt it lacked Wilde’s distinctive punch. But oh well, if you need me, I’ll be in the corner endlessly reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.
If you made it this far, I congratulate you. I hope you gained a couple of valuable insights and maybe found a book or two that you want to read. If you have any questions about any of the books, feel free to contact me! Or, feel free to share your opinions in the comments.
In 2019 my goal is to read 100 books! I am on my way (I have finished 6) and look forward to the other 94. I plan to share at the end of every month what I’m reading and what I think. If you have any book suggestions for the new year I would love to hear them!
My reading goal is a little less than what I accomplished in 2018 because I am hoping to stay on top of my podcasts and go back through the archives of some that I am listening to now. I listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts in 2018, and I’m excited to increase that even more next year. I’m sure I’ll write about all my favorite podcasts very soon.
Until next time,