Books of August 2019
I kept with the increase in novels this month for summer. And in keeping with the topic of the Happiness Project Experience theme for the month, I also read a lot about money.
Plus, I managed to catch up on all of my podcasts again! When I had that sudden rush of audiobooks from the library (I had about 8 checked out at one time) I gave up trying to listen to podcasts altogether! If podcast episodes were books I would have read hundreds this month, but since they aren’t, I only got through about 15… books that is.
Where the Crawdads Sing - 3 Stars. I’ve seen this book topping bestseller lists for months. I was excited when I finally got it from the library and could see what all the hype was about! It might be my high expectations, but I really didn’t enjoy the book that much. It’s a coming of age story, a mystery, a romance, and an ode to nature all at once - but the story didn’t resonate with me and Kya, the main character, didn’t really connect with me either. Plenty of people think it’s the best book of the year, and even though I disagree, I’m sure that the majority is a majority for a reason!
All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership - 3 Stars. I was curious to read this book and learn more about how parenting and household responsibilities are divided in our modern world. If that’s what you’re also interested in - this book will tell you just that. It is full of statistics, studies, and anecdotes from interviews. The downside is that there are few ideas on how to improve the current situation and the book doesn't provide much hope... beyond the probability that future generations will be better off.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters - 3 Stars. I had no idea there was so much thought that could be put into hosting a party or even just a dinner at your house. This book goes into everything from setting an intention for your event, to who you should invite and why, to where to host it (a morgue, anyone?). The ideas behind the book were very interesting, even if they didn’t seem to be backed by much, if any, research. On the whole, I try to live an intentional life. But at some point, I think that being overly intentional can keep you from actually living. I’m not sure if this book is on that line or just past it.
The Latte Factor: Why You Don't Have to Be Rich to Live Rich - 2 Stars. Many people consider money to be a difficult and dense topic. This short book, told in parable-ish form, makes the topic simple and easy to understand. Almost too easy. It covers three of the most basic rules of personal finance/investing and spends a very long time explaining compound interest. I admit that I read a lot, but even I have a hard time believing that these are things most people don’t know. At one point the heroine of the story asks, “why doesn’t everyone know this stuff?” And I’d hate to tell her, but I think most people probably do.
The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take control of your finances, manage your spending, and de-stress your money for good - 2 Stars. If you aren’t very in-tune with your money or spending, this book would be a helpful restart to assist you in evaluating your spending and finances. For anyone else with a budget or who has a good handle on what they spend - you can probably skip it.
How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any - 2 Stars. I expected to like this book. As a young entrepreneur (pretty shortly) out of college, I live a comfortable life but I wouldn’t say I have an overabundance of money. I wanted to learn new tips for how to manage that money and make more of it. If I’m being totally honest, I will tell you DON’T read this book. That’s something that I don’t often say, but this book rubbed me totally the wrong way. The author has a really awful money-mindset and if the other money books have taught me anything - that won’t get you anywhere. The few tidbits of moderately acceptable advice can be found in other places. Read this book at your own risk.
Tapping Into Wealth: How Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Can Help You Clear the Path to Making More Money - 3 Stars. What did I tell you - a LOT of money books this month. This book was interesting, both as a concept and as my first real introduction to tapping. I’m not really to the point in my mental growth and personal development where this book helped me on the level I know it could, so it is definitely one that I plan to revisit in the future. Even though I know the ideas will (and probably already has a little bit) help, I found the actual writing to be a bit boring and repetitive.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All - 4 Stars. I’ve never really considered myself a super creative person until I read this book. It redefines creativity and gives specific ideas on how to spark it. Most of the ideas and examples were be centered on creativity in product development. And I loved those stories. They were probably my favorite part of the book. However, I do wish that there were a few more examples of creative confidence in action applied to different areas.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - 3 Stars.I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. It tells the story of a middle-aged woman who has experienced great personal trauma finally learning how to open up thanks to the usual stuff - love, friendship, and professional help. The book is well written, but the plot is pretty predictable. As each plotline is introduced, it’s pretty clear where it will end up. There is one twist at the end, but even that wasn’t super surprising. Still, it’s a sweet story and a semi-rare reminder that romantic love isn’t everything.
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day - 3 Stars. This book has lots of conventional time-management and productivity tips compiled and presented in a cohesive manner. From that perspective, it’s a good book. On the other hand, it tries to combine all of these to present a revolutionary and transformative way to live your life and make time for what you want - but it really doesn’t.
Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself - 3 Stars. This book by Mike Michalowicz is another primer for small business entrepreneurs. The guide to implementing systems is helpful, but not revolutionary. As someone in the process of getting things up and running in my business, I found some of the ideas to be helpful. However, the majority of the suggestions are for someone with several employees who are running a full-time business. Since I have neither at the moment, I can’t apply some of the suggestions. I do plan to revisit the book in the future when I can implement more of the strategies.
How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don't - 2 Stars. I did not know what I was getting into this book - and I had quite a few surprises this month. What I thought was a personal development book that just might help me not be scared when I’m home alone and think I will be murdered by some guy with an ax, is actually a memoir by a comedian and former Cosmopolitan editor. As a personal story, it is tragic and painful. But on the whole, the stories feel disjointed, sad, and almost annoying - it gives the impression that the author empathizes with people who have had similar struggles to her while demeaning those who haven’t to say that they don’t really know what pain is. Basically, I wish that this book had been about what I expected.
Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns - 4 Stars. Since I'm someone who loved the first Devil Wears Prada book (and the movie), it's not too surprising that I loved this sequel even more. I loved seeing the character development from the first book, the twists, and the happy(er than the first book) ending.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich - 5 Stars. Hands down - this is the best money book I’ve ever read. Even if you consider yourself to be pretty well versed in personal finance, I promise this book will teach you something. Ramit Sethi tells it like it is (I’m looking at you Bank of America and Wells Fargo) and gives very practical, tangible advice. There are jokes and to-do lists, two things that guarantee pretty much any book is good.
Lord Edgware Dies - 3 Stars. You didn’t expect me to go the whole month without a good dose of Agatha Christie, did you? It had all the typical stuff… but it also had more characters than usual, so I got a bit lost at times. Some of the mystery tactics were ones that I hadn’t seen her use before - so I was surprised, even if not necessarily by the story.
Crazy Rich Asians - 3 Stars.I enjoyed this look into a culture and class I don’t know that much about. The imagery in the book is beautiful - almost over the top, but I definitely think that is the point. There are also so many characters in this book that it was a bit difficult to follow at times. I think I would have preferred if it just stuck to the main characters, but I get the point of that strategy too. This book is well written, but not quite as high on the uniqueness scale as I had hoped.
While I enjoyed lots of August's books, the best news of this month was that I figured out how to juggle podcasts and audiobooks… I won’t get behind on either - at least not often anymore!
Until next time,