Do you love curling up to read a good book?
Wanna be my friend on Goodreads?
After years of slacking on the “reading train,” I finally got back on and have been reading a bit more recently. I hopped back on the book-reading band wagon after I set a goal in 2014 to read 12 books (one per month). I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes because you blow through books like crazy. But that’s not my game. Now that I’ve found more books that interest me, become a frequent visitor to the library, and have a few resources to find new books to read, I’ve got a long list in Goodreads on my Want To Read list.
I read mostly non fiction and prefer books that will challenge my brain, make me think or help me learn something new. I apparently like self-help books (based on the list below), and I really like behavioral science books that apply interesting scientific concepts to everyday life.
On that note, here’s what I’ve been reading lately. I’ll forewarn you that I don’t feel obligated to finish a book that doesn’t interest me. With a long wish list and limited time, I’m quick to judge and move on. I get all my books from the library (both audio and physical), so it’s no financial loss for me if I get a book and don’t read it. Having that guilt-free option is actually the most important of the many reasons I’m a “library-only” gal.
Let’s dig in:
Yes Please by Amy Poehler | I loved this book, and I found myself laughing out loud many times. I’ve talked to a few people who didn’t love it. I read Tiny Fey’s Bossypants which I thought was alright. I started reading Lena Dunham’s I’m Not That Kind of Girl and quickly sent that packing. So I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this option. However, I really liked it a lot, and I think it’s because I listened to the audio book. So much of comedy is in the delivery. Poehler narrated the book herself, which gave her every opportunity to ensure perfect tones, inflections and pauses.
She made a few really great points like her motto about women “Good for her, not for me.” I firmly agree with this! So often, women (or people really) judge each other based on their own experiences and biases. This seems to be particularly prevalent in the stay-at-home vs. working mom arena. In many cases, we’d do ourselves and each other a favor to step back and acknowledge that something can be good for one person and not for another. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but it’s an idea that certainly can’t seem to stick in enough people’s heads.
More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena B. Miller | Although stating the obvious, my life and that of the Amish are slightly different. The author drew many conclusions about why Amish children seem to be happier and more well-behaved. On occasion, I found myself cringing about how my children misbehave in situations these Amish children seem behave so well. Overall, I appreciated and didn’t disagree with the points the author made but many just don’t apply well to a faster-paced life like mine.
Spoiler Alert: The biggest commonality I took away from the book was the importance of spending dedicated and quality time with our children. Sitting next to them while scrolling through Instagram or eating dinner with the television in the background sends the message that our children aren’t the first priority. Many of the outbursts and tantrums we see in our children probably are screams for attention and calls to put down our laptops, phones, and other distractions. With more-closely knit family and social structures, Amish children don’t feel a shortage of attention and importance. To a certain extent, I’m guilty as charged, and I’ve been focusing on spending more quality time with my children when we’re together. I think she’s right…
When to Rob a Bank … by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner | I read 86 pages. Then I promptly sent it back to the library. The book isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not what I felt like reading at the time it landed on my book shelf. The book contains a compilation of blog posts from the authors, the duo who wrote Freakonomics (which I loved). Had I read each of these brief articles as blog posts in their original form, I think I might have been more engaged. But curling up in a chair late at night (when I normally read) to read a bunch of disjointed commentaries left me feeling like what I was reading didn’t really have a point. Truth-be-told, the authors didn’t intend the book to have a point. I’m not faulting them for writing uninteresting essays, just noting that I passed on finishing because I wasn’t feelin’ it.
Although this book wasn’t my favorite, I do love the Freakonomics podcast. In fact, he has one of my very favorite podcasts, which I included in my list of 10 Fascinating Podcast Episodes Inquisitive Minds Love post.
168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam | Although I don’t think everyone has the flexibility she does to manage her schedule (she’s a writer and freelancer and works from home), this book did help shed some light on just how much time I have in a week. More importantly, I spent some time tracking my time usage and found out how much time I was wasting…
The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner | A quick and easy read I finished in about a week, the book isn’t bad. She offers some good reminders about ways we can take more control over our schedule and find time for ourselves. I didn’t find anything too revolutionary, however. The author has a day job, a family, and a blog. She then wrote this book on top of all that. Thus, she does appear to know how to juggle quite a few responsibilities. But I didn’t finish the book feeling like I’d garnered any groundbreaking new ideas about how to find a few minutes for myself.
In fairness to the author, I have already read a few other books on this topic, including 168 hours, reviewed above. I have also written some of my own blog posts about it like Make Early Mornings Work For You and Find Your Happiness with the List of 100 Dreams. Maybe I’ve already been down the path she encourages women to explore, so I wasn’t pursuing the same journey her target audience has yet to blaze.
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey | Without sinking too deep into complex science and scientific language, this book delves into how the brain works and why that matters to us in our everyday lives. It fascinated me! Several times while reading the book, I stopped to share with M interesting facts or conclusions that grabbed me. I love reading about science and how it impacts our lives, so I’m always a sucker for these types of books.
Spoiler Alert: Many traditional thoughts about how we help our brain function best aren’t actually true. Our brain is very busy and, the author argues, works best when it’s functioning in more complex and varied environments (not the highly focused, narrow-minded tunnels we may traditionally consider helpful to our brain). Our brains are insanely powerful, and there are so many things we can do in our everyday lives to help them do their magic better! I’ve never read a book twice. This might be the first one I ever come back to.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin | I listened to this on audio book finishing it in a week full of long commutes to and from training for work. While I’m not sure she offers any earth-shattering ideas, she provides some clarity and language for experiences and feelings we maybe couldn’t previously describe. She also explains how certain people are inherently different. Many of us, and certainly myself, journey through life expecting others to be and think and act like us. I don’t mean we all should be exactly the same. But she describes and categorizes some of the distinct differences in how people view and experience life that many of us probably never realized. After all, how would we know that others have different internal “guiding lights” unless we are told?
If you enjoy a little self-help (or self-reflection), I suspect you’ll like this book. It’s so popular, you may have already read it. If so, let me know what you thought.
Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin | Although focused on her life at home, it’s not so different in tone and feel from Better Than Before. If you like one, I anticipate you’ll appreciate the other as well.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | I don’t read a lot of fiction, as you can tell from my list, so this book feels a bit out of place. But I picked it up after Janssen from Everyday Reading recommended it. The story highlights a budding romance that develops out of an IT employee reading emails for violations of company policy. He develops a keen interest in one of the employees based on reading her emails. The rest you’ll have to read to find out. I really liked it, and it wasn’t hard to get through.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? I’d also love to hear any recommendations of awesome books that have been on your bookshelf lately.
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