Books of January 2019
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You are probably wondering how I can summarize my January books a week before the month ends! But since I’ve already made a good dent in my reading goal, I decided to move onto listening to podcasts for the rest of the month.
My Salinger Year - 3 Stars. I was intrigued by the title of this book since J. D. Salinger is one of my favorite authors. My Salinger Year is a sweet memoir, set in New York, as the city and its industry sits on the brink of the digital age. It is a story about comfort, growth, and being stretched. The book is well written, and if you enjoy J. D. Salinger, you will love this unique glimpse into his life. Beyond that though, not much happens in the story.
This Will Only Hurt a Little - 3 Stars. This is a very gritty memoir. It's a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Busy Phillips. She is another actress that I really have never watched in anything - but that has never stopped me before! A Hollywood memoir? I'm there! Compared to the other books in this genre, Busy Phillips seemed to skip most of the part of her story where she was a starving artist, and while everyone has dryer periods in their careers, she seems to be someone who has been working most of the time. The book ends sadly, however. This strong, talented, and feisty young woman seems almost to have given up, reminding me that sometimes life hurts a little - but sometimes it hurts a lot.
The Murder on the Links - 3 Stars. Writing about all of the books I read last year prompted my desire to jump back into British mystery novels. Agatha Christie is always my go-to and this story did not disappoint. This book had its classic jaw-dropping moment, so if you need a little thrill and a bit of intrigue - The Murder on the Links is a fun and short read.
Nice Is Just a Place in France - 2 Stars. I did not like this book. I choose to view it as a satirical parody of many upper-class women in modern society, and that helped - but only marginally. Regardless, the only thing that I learned from this book is that I am a “nice girl” and proud of it.
Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé - 3 Stars. I appreciated Wellth because it gives a very holistic approach to bettering your life. It is a good reminder that we can’t just focus on our careers to the detriment of our health - or vice-versa. Our goal ought to be to build a better life and if you need some ideas or tips, this book can help.
Rich Bitch - 4 Stars. Hands down, this is the best introduction to finance book that I have read. I was introduced to Nicole on the Wander Wealthy podcast (which is the best introduction to finance podcast), and ever since the interview, I have been dying to read this book. Whether you are a man or woman attempting to take control of your money, this book walks you through a very simple 12 step program (no, not that kind of program) to help you do just that. Nicole shares her story and the lessons that she has learned along the way. It is relatable, practical, and helpful.
The Worry Trick - 3 Stars. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I was curious to discover some tricks to overcome it. My biggest takeaway from this book was the idea of being sarcastic to our worries. For example, if you are worried that you’re going to be late to an important meeting because of traffic, you could tell yourself “well there could also be a flash mob of clowns dancing on the highway, but you don’t have control of either circumstance”. This technique may not always be helpful, but if you can make yourself smile, chances are you'll feel at least a little bit better. I also love the tactic of scheduling time for worry. When I was competing in speech and debate in high school and I would feel myself begin to get nervous, I would often tell myself, "You aren't competing now, so there is nothing to worry about! You can worry when you are at a tournament actually competing." Chances are, by the time I was there I was too busy to be worried, and even if I was - at least I was also anxious in the days and weeks leading up to a competition. Finally, The Worry Trick reminded me that if I tell myself not to think about my worries, that is exactly what I'm going to do.
Off the Clock - 5 Stars. A wonderful book on managing our time and keeping it from managing us. I love the concept of viewing things from the perspective of our past self, present self, and future self. If, for instance, you are supposed to go to a holiday party, but your present self doesn’t want to brave the cold or the traffic, it should remember how your past self looked forward to the party, and how the future self will look back fondly on the memories you are going to make. Similarly, Off the Clock talks about the importance of making special moments. You can think of it this way, when you drive home from work every day for forty years, looking back, all of those trips will blend together into one drive home. However, the one day you had to take a detour and en route saw a huge rainbow is likely to stand out. This has inspired me to do special things - to make time special and therefore memorable. Like the book says, every moment we spend doing something we hate and wishing time would pass faster is wishing away moments of the one life that we have.
Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media - 4 Stars. I’m fascinated by influencers. This book was a great primer on what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of these people and brands. The steps and templates in this book were very actionable. I also loved the insider interviews and tips. I would not venture into the influencer space without a strong desire and having read this book.
Daring Greatly - 3 Stars. I was slightly disappointed in Daring Greatly because Brené Brown repeated many of the exact same stories and examples from several of her other books. However, the message of the book is still important. Being vulnerable relies on us being able to dare greatly. If you struggle with taking that step or know people who do, this book is a stepping stone to overcoming our fear.
Curly Girl - 2 Stars. I have surrendered my blow-dryer and straightener (most days) and am in the process of embracing the curly girl method. Many people don’t know - but I have curly hair that I've suppressed for most of my life. I was introduced to this book about 6 years ago, but I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. I’m still not sure I’m ready for it - but I’m doing it anyway. Taking care of my curly hair may be the resolution this year that scares me most (just kidding… mostly). Thankfully this book gives very specific and actionable tips. So while that is helpful, on the whole, the book is kind of boring. But if you have curly hair (or suppressed curly hair), it is worth a read.
WorkParty: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams - 4 Stars: I love hearing the stories of powerful women and how they got to where they are. Jaclyn Johnson is incredibly open about her story, trials, and adventures. It is amazing to see where she is now. Reading this book inspired me to go and build a network of other strong female entrepreneurs (something I’ve been thinking doing about for a while). And now I’m also planning to go to the Create & Cultivate pop up event in Austin in March and I COULD NOT be more excited.
Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media - 3 Stars. This book was named on countless book lists for female entrepreneurs - so of course, I had to read it. Compared to many similar books that I have read in the last year, this one does not particularly stand out. Leave Your Mark differs from many books geared toward entrepreneurs because Aliza Licht doesn’t start a business. She works incredibly hard to make her way in the fashion world, but she does so for companies and brands that are already well established. I can see, however, how it falls into the entrepreneurship category. Aliza was incredibly innovative in all the positions she held over the years, creating new roles and creating a unique Twitter presence for her brand. If you consider yourself to be a female entrepreneur or are interested in the fashion industry - this book is worth a read. If you don’t fall into either category, then you can skip it.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - 2 Stars. I know many people who love this book, and I know many more who are put off by the title alone. If the title causes you to hesitate, I will save you time and deliberation - don’t read this book. However, it provides an interesting perspective on priorities and the personal development industry (which I definitely do not agree with). What stood out in this book was the story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who continued to fight WWII until 1972. He was in the Philippine jungle and refused to believe that the war was over. This man made an incredible sacrifice and he did so because he believed in his country and what Japan stood for. The book then draws a parallel to our own lives and calls us to consider what we value and how that influences our decisions.
The Champagne Diet - 3 Stars. I really love Cara Alwill Leyba. I decided to indulge and went on a short binge - reading three of her books in a row. Cara is a really fun author. She is sweet, authentic, and empowering. I picture her as a little cheerleader, pushing women to identify and pursue their goals - and to do so fabulously. This book details Cara’s health journey, how she bounced from diet to diet, until she finally settled on eating for her health and not her weight. I love that concept and it is something I’ve continued to think about ever since I read the book. I have also put down (and picked up) particular foods because I want to consume things that are good for my body and will make me feel great (and fabulous). Cara also deals with the weight issue in modern society, something that is not talked about enough - at least, not in the right ways.
Sparkle: The Girl's Guide to Living a Deliciously Dazzling, Wildly Effervescent, Kick-Ass Life - 4 Stars. If you want a boost in motivation, some girl talk on holistic wellness, or some motivation - this is a really enjoyable book. It’s a super short read, but it is a lot like the book Wellth that I read earlier this month - just a more feminine version.
Fearless & Fabulous - 3 Stars. This book didn’t stand out to me as much as the other two books did. It centered much more on manifestation and visualization, the second of which I have come to appreciate. Regardless, it is another book by Cara Alwill Leyba, so I pretty much have to like it.
Death on the Nile - 3 Stars. When I read mystery novels, I try not to figure out who the murderer is. I prefer to be carried along by the story and be shocked at the end when the killer is revealed - or at least that is what I tell myself. While that is partly true, I also don’t try to solve the mystery because I’m immeasurably bad at figuring stuff like that out. Some people can tell from the introduction who the murderer will be, but I’m not one of those people. However, I figured it out with this book! It was fun to feel like Nancy Drew, but for my continued enjoyment and for the sake of my pride, I shall put down my magnifying glass and return to merely reading mysteries - not trying to solving them. The biggest weakness to this book (and many other Agatha Christie novels) is the sheer number of characters and having to keep them all straight, but other than that Death on the Nile is a pleasant read set in an exotic place.
I read some great books in January and some… meh ones. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go catch up on my podcasts. I am dreadfully behind.
Until next time,