Books of October 2019
October was a busy month, but helping out with a show at a local community theater actually gave me a lot of downtime to read. It's not a personal record by any means, but I did manage to finish __books this month.
In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs - 2 Stars. I’ve been working on finishing this book for longer than I care to admit. Both the rating and the length of time it took me to read probably tell you everything you need to know about my feelings for this book. It is full of the wonderful stories of successful women from across all industries and walks of life. However none of the advice I found to be that unique, and the snippets are just too short to make me feel truly connected to any of the women mentioned.
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You - 3 Stars. This book was one I started in September - the Happiness Project Experience month of love. There definitely has been some interesting research developing in the arena of HSPs, particularly as it relates to their relationships with others - both fellow HSPs and non-HSPs. However, there is still much to be done. The overarching message of the book is to recognize whether or not you (and those around you) are HSPs, and from there determine how best to relate to each other. As is the theme of most relationship books - communication is key!
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think - 3 Stars. This book is right at the intersection of food and marketing. All of the food research mentioned in this book is fascinating. However, I don’t agree with a lot of the dieting theories mentioned. From many of the more science-based books that I’ve read, those ideas about gaining weight just simply aren’t true. But if you want some simple, and sometimes ironic, tips on how to shrink your portions and your waistline, this book might just help.
Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He'll Change - 3 Stars. Another roll-over book from September. This definitely isn’t a fun book to read. It is painful, and raw, and real. While I don’t struggle with all of the major issues mentioned in this book, I still find myself caught in some of the same traps and habits. This book was a good reminder not to let myself sink into those patterns, and gives advice for how to move past them.
The Last of August - 3 Stars. For a detective story, very little seemed to happen in this book until the end. In the Charlotte Holmes series, I feel like there is a good deal of jumping around and a lot of assumptions made about what is going on, rather than an actual statement. This makes it hard for me to follow at times. Even the twists managed to be anti-climactic because I had to keep stopping to figure out what was going on. This book also manages to paint all of the main characters in a poor light. Since I wasn’t too attached to the main characters to begin with, that was a bit frustrating. But, I’m glad I stuck with the series, as you’ll soon see.
If Our Bodies Could Talk - 2 Stars. This book basically answers a bunch of questions that people (I’m still not sure who), asked about the human body. Most of which, I did not need to know the answers to (and some of which I wish I didn’t hear about). Even as someone who enjoys learning and remembering obscure facts about things, this book held little interest for me.
The Core 4: Embrace Your Body, Own Your Power - 3 Stars. I read this book because Stephanie Gaudreau was one of the people interviewed as part of the Happiness Project Experience for October. Her book is a combination of recipes, workouts, and narratives, about how to live a healthier life and have more energy (something we all want, right?!). I appreciate her recognizing that it’s tough to do it all and that going through the program would look different for everyone since everyone has different goals and priorities. But, I didn’t feel like the actual program had that much customization (beyond different levels of workouts), which might be a distraction for some people. Regardless, if you’re looking for a wholistic reboot for your health, this could be a good starting place.
The Case for Jamie - 4 Stars. I’m glad I jumped into this third book in the Charlotte Holmes series shortly after finishing the Last of August. This book was much more exciting and I appreciated that it was told from mixed perspectives - both Jamie’s and Charlotte’s. There were several unexpected twists that I loved! This book also managed to balance the slower and faster-paced moments better than its predecessors.
You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You - 3 Stars. A quick easy read that will give you a kick in the pants to pursue your God-given gifts. There isn’t a whole lot of new material, but it is fun to read Jess Connolly’s story. And it’s a good reminder that you are where you are for a reason - so get up and make the most of it.
The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health - 2 Stars. This book was just plain out boring. Since I’ve been struggling with some health issues, I held out hope that this book might reveal some answers - or at least share some good tips. It is super science-heavy and tough to get through, and the advice that is given is not very unique or worth what it takes to get to.
The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships - 3 Stars. This book is basically the sequel to The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, and one that I started as part of September’s focus. It is an interesting look at how the different types relate to each other and how to better understand each other. From that perspective, I think it is a very good book. The downside to it though was that it doesn’t ever really draw the line between the enneagram types in romantic relationships and friendship/coworker/other types of relationships. It is all mixed up and seems to keep jumping back and forth. I know that there is certainly some overlap in these areas, but I think that for the organizational structure of the book and enhanced learning it would have been nice to have at least some separation between these different realms.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert - 4 Stars. I may not be married, but I still can recognize strong marital guidance. I have long been fascinated with John Gottman’s research, although this is the first of his books that I have read. It is wonderful, and I know for many people, life-changing. There is a seamless integration of research, stories, and application. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is married or think that they might possibly be so in the future. I know that I will certainly return to this book and its principles in years to come.
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years - 4 Stars. All my life, Julie Andrews has been an icon. But beyond her amazing roles in movies like Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music, and Princess Diaries, I didn’t know that much about her. Now that I know all about her life, I am even more convinced of the amazing woman that she is. Very few memoirs go into such detail about the pain and struggle of working in Hollywood and being in the spotlight from a young age. Even fewer are written by someone who has safely and successfully emerged from the other side. Julie Andrews wasn’t just a talented singer and actor, she was a remarkable author, mother, wife, and advocate. She’s not perfect, and she admits that, but I think it is still clear that she deserved to be Queen of Genovia.
Everything is Figureoutable - 3 Stars. One of the greatest strengths of any book is in the lessons that you learn. Even in just the couple of days since I finished this book, I have found myself telling those around me (and even my own brain) “everything is figureoutable”! One of the greatest strengths of books like these are the stories of their authors. Marie Forleo is no exception. Her story and the lessons she imparts are fundamentally important. It is a great book on mindset and how to get to where you want to be. So much of the material I have found myself consuming lately has been in this vane, and when I finished this book I was even more motivated to continue.
A Question of Holmes - 4 Stars. While the Charlotte Holmes series may have had a slow start, it had a good end. I loved the smaller scale mystery in this book, unlike the ones that came before. It also wrapped up much of the emotional turmoil from the earlier books, which I appreciated. This story was told from Charlotte’s perspective, and I think that also made me like it more - if only because it was breaking the mold. I found it interesting that more and more of the story is told from her perspective as the books progress. Whether that corresponds to her character’s growth is up to the reader. The one downside is the relationship aspect of this book. Charlotte and Jamie seem to have swung wildly back and forth in their relationship status in the series so far. In this book, they seem to settle into being together - something that I actually really enjoyed. Their reactions were sweet and it helped to illustrate how far they have come. The fact that by the end of the book and even the end of the epilogue they are no longer together, and it sounds like they will stay that way, is irritating and frustrating. Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic. Regardless, I did enjoy this book and am sad that this series has come to an end.
Hallowe'en Party - 3 Stars. I still have quite a few books from the library I need to get through but decided to read this one instead because I didn't want to have to wait until next Halloween! While this book was her typical style and nothing too out of the ordinary (except that I guessed the ending!), I have decided that a fun Agatha Christie mystery is what I should read at the end of every October - because that’s probably as Halloween-y as I’ll ever get.
Getting through some of these books was difficult - almost painful. I haven’t quite reached the point where I stop reading a book once I’ve started. I’ve only done that to one book in recent memory - Leaves of Grass. I tried to listen to it and could not make myself actually pay attention. So I guess I know that if I truly couldn’t stand a book, I would stop. That also may be why I have never rated a book 1 star - even if I really didn’t like it.
Oh well, the ability to stop a book that I don’t like is something that I’m working toward. If you have any advice on how to shift that mindset - I’d love to hear it.
Until next time,