Books of March 2019
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I seem to have been able to stay pretty consistent with my monthly reading - approximately 15-20 books a month. This has allowed me to set two additional reading goals for the year.
First, once I reach my 100 book goal, I will read Les Misérables. I have had that book sitting around for years and never felt prepared to reach the summit. Once my initial goal is met, I’ll set aside a month to reading that book. I don’t think it will take me a whole month, but I will give myself that grace just in case.
Second, I want to take December to reread all of my favorite books. These will be books that I have loved for years or that I have a 5-star rating in the three years I have kept track. When I am trying to meet my goal and make progress against my endless book list, I often don’t take time to enjoy books that have brought me so much happiness in the past. I also look forward to sharing them with you and I hope they will bring you a smile or a new idea.
But since both of those goals are contingent upon reading 100 books, I should probably show my progress towards that end for this month. Who knows, maybe one of these books will make you laugh or think too.
Wishful Drinking - 2 Stars. I was thoroughly enchanted by Carrie Fischer last month so I jumped straight into another of her famous works. This book was both a bit darker and a bit less enjoyable. I do appreciate, however, how open and honest Carrie Fischer is about her struggles. Not everyone would be, and it is truly admirable.
Atomic Habits - 4 Stars. If it isn’t clear already, I’m pretty obsessed with habits. I enjoyed this perspective on how to find and form habits. It isn’t as detailed and specific as Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before though. It also doesn’t do as good of a job acknowledging that everyone forms habits differently and that people don’t approach things the same way. However, I still give it 4 stars because pretty much nothing beats Gretchen Rubin’s books anyway.
Year of Yes - 3 Stars. I’d heard great things about this book from friends and the By the Book podcast. I enjoyed hearing Shonda Rhimes’ story, one that I was not familiar with. She is a fantastic writer, which is made quite clear by the fact that she basically owns Thursday night television. I was a bit worried going into the book about the idea of saying YES to everything. Even though I am an Upholder and can take a step back when I need to, I definitely still have a people-pleasing streak. I say yes often, so even just the idea of saying it more sounded exhausting. But I read it anyway - and I did say yes. Yes to things that scared me, yes to stepping out of my comfort zone, yes to engaging with new people and new situations. But what I appreciated most about this book was that it also encouraged me to say yes to myself, which sometimes meant saying no to other things. I stood firm and protected my time and my energy when opportunities or people began to ask for too much. This book inspired me to say yes to saying yes, and I think I’m going to keep doing so.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing - 2 Stars. John Green has always been my favorite Green brother (shhh, don’t tell Hank). But I still owe much of my education to Hank, so I felt obligated to read his book. It is extremely well written, and I would expect no less. The plot itself is just quite odd, definitely not what I was expecting when I started. I also did not enjoy the main character, April May. She totally rubbed me the wrong way. She was not very nice, used those around her, and (I felt) experienced very little personal growth throughout the book. Probably because of my obsession with that last topic, her flat character arc is really what irritated me most about this book.
A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life - 2 Stars. I’m all for recycling, upcycling, and buying less. I want to be a person who buys for life - or at least as close to it as I can. This book is a primer and an introduction into how to do just that. It also discusses how the production and advertising industries have degenerated to make and sell the products that exist today. The book even recommends specific less-throwaway brands depending on what you might need to purchase. It is helpful and informative, but extremely detailed and long-winded. The same amount of information could be conveyed much more succinctly, but if you don’t necessarily mind using up the extra trees, the length of the book should be no object.
The ABC Murders - 2 Stars. I love Agatha Christie, and maybe that's genetic because while I was on vacation with my mom, we consumed a lot of her books. This was good, everything I’ve come to expect. But it lacked the punch at the end which is usually my favorite part.
Mrs. McGinty’s Dead - 3 Stars. This was a great mystery. It definitely had the punch. My mom and I spent a long time discussing and thinking through the mystery. Yet, we were still thoroughly surprised at the end - which is exactly why I read these books.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - 2 Stars. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book. I was familiar with Hyperbole and a Half in a vague sort of way. If you like the style of the blog, then I have no doubt you would also enjoy this book. If you like funny personal stories and odd cartoon strips, then you would also likely enjoy this book. A fun short read, nothing too dense - except for the slightly satirical existential dread throughout.
4:50 from Paddington - 2 Stars. I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely more of a Hercule Poirot person than a Miss Marple person. I disliked this book even more because Miss Marple was so uninvolved in the mystery itself, even if she did solve it in the end. I love Paddington, but this book did not support the extension of that admiration.
Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career - 3 Stars. This is a great guide to taking charge in the business world - whether you work for yourself or someone else (or both like me!). I definitely recommend this book if you want to learn how to make progress in your career. It is exceedingly detailed and can help you with everything from getting a raise to getting venture capital. Nicole Lapin isn’t just your girl in the money space - but the business one as well.
Outer Order Inner Calm - 4 Stars. This book is by Gretchen Rubin and I’m a professional organizer, I pretty much have to love it. It arrived while I was on vacation, so even though I traveled back across the country, worked a full work day, and was running on 3 hours of sleep, I sat down when I got home and read the whole thing. It was exactly what I needed. Outer Order Inner Calm is a short, snappy read packed full of tips, tricks, and advice. Having read pretty much everything Gretchen has ever written and listened to all of her podcasts, most of the contents of the book was familiar to me. But rather than being a turn-off, I appreciated this even more. It is a little book of Gretchen-isms and I know I will look to it frequently in the future for direction and inspiration.
Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People - 3 Stars. Bob Goff is a fantastic writer. He takes even the toughest social subjects and theological issues and distills them with clarity and humor. If you want an image of Christ’s love and, similarly, how Christians ought to live out that love, this book is a great example.
Scrappy Little Nobody - 3 Stars. I don’t remember where I heard it, but somehow, somewhere, I heard that Gretchen Rubin thought Anna Kendrick was an Upholder. After reading her book, I absolutely agree. Her book is sweet and sassy, exactly what I’ve come to expect from this genre. It was this Upholder connection, however, that drew me in the most.
To the Lighthouse - 2 Stars. I I don’t remember where I heard it, but somehow, somewhere, I heard that Gretchen Rubin thought Anna Kendrick was an Upholder. After reading her book, I absolutely agree. Her book is sweet and sassy, exactly what I’ve come to expect from this genre. It was the connection with a fellow Upholder, however, that drew me in the most.
Present over Perfect - 2 Stars. This book reminded me of one that I read last month, in that it was merely a conglomeration of ideas from other self-help books, although this one had a dollop of Christianity on top. The story that is shared is deep and personal, one that I know many women resonate with. Shauna Niequist, the author, is clearly (sorry to jump back into the Four Tendencies again) an Obliger. I empathize with her struggles but it is not one that I can clearly relate to. Also, I have yet to reach the same point in my life that she has, so I struggled to connect on that level as well. It is a well-written book with tidbits of knowledge, but beyond the story, the subject matter has been covered elsewhere.
Girl, Stop Apologizing - 4 Stars. There tend to be two very divided camps when it comes to Rachel Hollis and her books. I tend to be on the side who loves her. Rachel is a strong and powerful woman who has built a fantastic company while keeping her family as her ultimate priority. She integrates stories into her writing seamlessly and is very passionate about her message. But what ultimately made me view this book so highly is its practical and actionable information. It doesn’t just sell nice ideas such as “be more confident,” it gives actual stepping stones to achieving your goals and dreams. Plus, after reading this second book of Rachel’s, I am quite sure that she is a fellow Upholder as well (sorry, I promise, last time I mention it) so that only helped to deepen my affection for this book as well.
13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do - 4 Stars. After reading this book can I say that I am a mentally strong woman? Nope. Absolutely not. However, this book helped me to identify areas that I know I need to work on and provided some vital tools to help me do just that. Before I even finished it, I was able to put some of the ideas into practice. And for me, the biggest lesson was just becoming more aware of the 13 things I shouldn’t be doing so that I can identify them in my life and recognize when I should be thinking or doing something else. If you feel like you are the Mr. Incredible of mental strength than you can probably afford to skip this book. Everyone else cannot.
Uncommon Type - 2 Stars. Tom Hanks is a very talented actor, and after reading this collection of short stories, I can conclude that he is also a very talented author. Plus it was particularly fun to listen to this audiobook and hear Woody, the infamous cowboy from my childhood, reading to me. All of the short stories were well written and almost all ended with significant questions left unanswered. I guess that is the case of most short stories, and probably why I don’t read many of them. Several of the stories were more engaging than the rest, several others I found hard to follow and uninteresting. It was kind of a mixed bag, but if you’re a fan of short stories, jump in.
Option B - 4 Stars. After reading 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do, I already knew I had a long way to go to increase my mental strength and resilience. This book doubled that. It is an incredible book. The stories, statistics, and life-lessons are woven together seamlessly. I cried several times, and the people who know me well can tell you, that is very rare. If you have gone through a significant loss in your life, I have no doubt this book would help you immensely. If there is any chance you will go through a significant loss in the future (which is all of you, I’m sorry to say, unless you are a robot), then you also need to read this book.
The Front Nine - 2 Stars. I read this short book because it was briefly mentioned in one of the Gretchen Rubin courses that I am currently working on. It had some good ideas, but it was too deeply entrenched in the golf metaphor. I also wasn’t entirely sure of the application for most of the ideas because there were very few examples. I wouldn’t seek to read this book again, and that may or may not be partially related to my feelings about golf.
The Home Edit - 4 Stars. Since had to wait forever for this book to finally ship (I’m glaring at you, Barnes & Noble), I read it in one sitting. It is no surprise that I love this book. It is full of practical tips and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS photos. Plus, it was written by two of my favorite people. They don’t have any idea I exist, but Clea and Joanna inspire me - both in business and as the women that they are. Between the amazing pictures, tidbits of humor, and organizing tips, it is impossible to go wrong with this book.
Made to Stick - 3 Stars. As far as business books go, this one was pretty enjoyable. It is a bit long for the content that it conveys, but it also is very memorable - which is good since it’s trying to teach how to be memorable. I will definitely keep these principles in mind as I move forward on my business journey, and the kidney story - they’re right, you could never forget the kidney story.
I decided to stop at 22 books… that certainly seems like a decent number for a month to me, and if I don’t make myself stop sometimes I can run myself into the ground (that has to do with something that Upholders tend to do called tightening - this was the characteristic that 100% confirmed for me that I’m an Upholder. Yes, I know I promised I wouldn’t bring this up again. Yes, I did anyway. And no, I’m not sorry). I’ll spend the rest of the month listening to podcasts and picking out books for next month - I already have quite a few in mind that I cannot wait to dive into.
In summary, March had some fun books, ones that I will definitely refer back to in the future. Others, I probably won’t even think about again.
Until next time,