Books of June 2019
June was a good month - just not necessarily when it comes to reading. I’ve gotten so used to getting through a mountain of books each month, but this month was more like a foothill… Regardless, I hope you’ll check out some of the 12 books I did manage to read, others you can push to the bottom of your pile or remove altogether (that’s the other way to make your reading list shrink!).
The Seven Dials Mystery - 3 Stars. This book had a good twist, I would never have seen it coming. Plus this is one of those books where they say things like, “What? That kind of thing only happens in books.” And I love that.
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life - 3 Stars. A book about happiness - that’s where my whole personal development quest started. Like that book, this one was good too. There’s lots of great research and information. The only downside is that it mainly focuses on relating the research to being happier at work, when much of it, I think, could be applied to the rest of your life as well. Maybe the author figured the readers could figure that out themselves. If you’re interested in happiness, start with The Happiness Project, and then read this book.
Daily Rituals: Women at Work - 4 Stars. I love the Daily Rituals books. They fascinate me. Hearing about how famous (and not so famous people) live and work on a daily basis is captivating. I also love hearing about how some people insist that all good writers must write every day, while others say good writers are those who wait for inspiration to strike. Some of the people mentioned in the book insist that real creativity lies in the hours before dawn, while still others claim to find it best after sleeping in until noon. This is a good reminder that there is no one right way to manage your time, work, and art. I did like this book a bit less than its predecessor because most of the women mentioned I’d never heard of and I had no idea who they are. But the reason for that and the issue with it is an entirely different matter.
Murder is Easy - 3 Stars. I have to be honest, this one kept me guessing until the last couple of pages… and that’s really all I’m looking for from a book in this genre. Once again, Agatha Christie is a bit off when it comes to romance, but I’m willing to look past it because this mystery was quite fun.
Small Fry - 3 Stars. I read this book because it is the next book for the Happier podcast book club. And wow, is it a roller coaster. It tells the story of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the first daughter of Steve Jobs and her lifelong desire to have the family she always wanted. Even though Lisa wrote the book as an adult, the pain and struggle are still very raw. My only real issue with the book is that it tends to lean into the vignette style, which makes it choppy at times, and sometimes the sections are so short I’m not even sure why they’re included.
Les Miserables - 3 Stars. This book was my goal. If I read this only book in June I would’ve been happy. Well, I say that, but I might have doubted my reading skills just a bit. Regardless, this is as much of a great story as you will ever hope to read. It is sweet, funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful. The only downside to this book is the heaps of descriptions and other non-necessary sections. I know some people love those parts, but for me, just when I was getting sucked into the story I would suddenly be buried in nonessential information and my attention would wane again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the story. I just wish there was more of the story and less of the other stuff.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos - 2 Stars. I kinda hated this book. Not hated, hated. Not enough to give it 1 star… but close. I tend to love books like this - it is based on a list and it is made up of rules! That’s an Upholder’s dream right there. But I still hated it. To begin with, this is another table of contents book - read that, and you can skip the rest of the book. Each chapter (based on a rule) is unnecessarily long and complicated, and so much discussed in the chapter has nothing to do with the rule in question. And what is there, often has to be squeezed to make it fit with the idea it’s supposed to be about. So basically, skip this book. Unless you want to read the table of contents, and then you can stop there.
Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can't So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life - 4 Stars. I’ve said a lot of things about the cuss-loving, anti-guru writings of Sarah Knight. Not all of her books have struck a chord with me, but this one (for some reason) I loved. There is a more practical aspect to this book than some of the others. And when I had a mini disaster of my own this month, I found myself running it through her process. By the time I was done, I was actually much calmer. Anti-gurus for the win… at least this time.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery - 4 Stars. I’m definitely becoming obsessed with the Enneagram - so expect to see many more books like this in the near future. This book is a great overview. It covers the history, all of the types, wings, tendencies, and so much more. The only downside is that for someone just starting to learn about the Enneagram, this book might feel a bit overwhelming.
Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness - 3 Stars. I’m really not sure why this book didn’t connect with me more. It is a lovely compilation and discussion on the things that contribute the most joy into our lives, and the research behind it. The book does seem a bit disjointed, however, and lacks some practical application - come to think of it, I may just have found the reasons this book didn’t resonate more.
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul - 2 Stars. This is one of the books that Gretchen mentioned in the course material for June in the Happiness Project Experience. She talked about the different play personalities mentioned in this book and I was curious to know more. Unfortunately, that information only makes up about 2% of the book. I might have liked the book more if I went into it looking forward to learning more about the psychological benefits of play - but I didn’t, and so I didn’t. If that interests you, read it but go into it with that expectation.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work - 4 Stars. Just as much I disliked Made to Stick, another book by Chip and Dan Heath, I love this book of theirs. It was fascinating - the right blend of examples, research, and actionable steps. The biggest downside is that there were so many good tips and strategies, I know I won’t remember them all. So if you want help making good decisions about anything from where to go to dinner, to your next career move - this book is for you.
I got a good amount of reading done this month - even if it wasn’t quite up to my usual standards. And I certainly wouldn’t want you to take a look at my podcast app right now, it’s kind of overwhelming and I have no idea where to start… oh well, that is a problem for another day. I have a huge stack of library books right now (why all of your holds seem to become available all at once I’ll never know), so it may be a bit longer before I can tackle that mountain - but I’ll certainly try before the summer is out.
Until next time,