April 13, 2016

2016 Reading Round Up, Part One

I use Goodreads to keep track of what I'm reading and what I want to read. At the beginning of every year, Goodreads asks you to compete in their reading challenge by deciding how many books you want to read in the new year, and then they keep track of it for you. I usually average about two books a month, but I'm apparently reading more than usual because I've already read 20 books this year!

M Train
by Patti Smith

This book is so great. I'm a huge fan of Patti Smith's writing. I recently read Just Kids and loved it. M Train is great, but it didn't hook me as much. It's a little more scattered. Still lovely, and the writing is exquisite. Love, love, love Patti Smith.

by Stephen King

I've seen this movie, but had never read the book. Whoa - read the book! For as scary as the movie is, the book is so much scarier. The Annie Wilkes character is portrayed so differently in the book, and the violence and abuse that's so hard to watch in the movie is worse and more graphic in the book. But in a good way! If you're a Stephen King fan and haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl
by Carrie Brownstein

This is an interesting book. I liked it even though I'm not a big Sleater-Kinney fan. My knowledge of Carrie Brownstein stems more from Portlandia. I think this book is probably really powerful to Sleater-Kinney fans because she talks so much about the individual songs, albums, tours, and songwriting. My only minor complaint is that I wish she had used plainer language. She uses big, fancy words and some of them are so obscure it takes you out of the story. Good book though. Glad I read it.

Outliers:  The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell

This is an interesting book. It's outside the scope of what I usually read, and I was not enthralled by it. But it's interesting and a quick read. I may still try his other books. I like his writing style.

Happier At Home:  Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life
by Gretchen Rubin

I liked this book a lot. I haven't read The Happiness Project, so maybe you're supposed to read that one first. I read this book thinking it would help me decide if I want to move, or if I'm just mad at my house. The book doesn't address that, but it's full of interesting points that made me think about my current house and how I could be happier in it, even if I do end up moving. One note: much of this book revolves around her children (and husband), so if, like me, you don't have kids, there's huge parts that won't apply to you.

Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brene Brown

This book is great. It's a good encapsulation of the first two books. Of the three, I like this one the best. I'm going to read Rising Strong next. This one ended oddly for me. The last 'real' chapter is great, but then there's a final chapter on her research process that kind of dampened the emotional reaction I had to the book. Amazing book, definitely read it, but maybe skip the final chapter on her research/writing process.

Year of Yes:  How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
by Shonda Rhimes

Whoa - this book caught me by surprise! I did not expect the Shonda Rhimes memoir to have a profound impact on me, but here we are. This is not a fluff, PR book about saying yes for a year, or how she lost weight. This book is REAL TALK. Real talk about being taken advantage of, toxic friends, female success, feminism, motherhood, and saying yes to saying no. I think this book changed my life. You should read it.

Furiously Happy:  A Funny Book About Horrible Things
by Jenny Lawson

I love Jenny Lawson and think she is doing amazing work by talking openly about mental illness. I also think she is one of the funniest writers out there. This book was a little disjointed for me, but it's ridiculously funny. It's definitely worth the read. And if you ever have the chance to see her at a book signing or author event, she is fantastic live.

Just Kids
by Patti Smith

This is my first Patti Smith book (on waitlist for M Train). I loved this book! It has the components that all of my favorite books have:  coming of age, young love, NYC, and art/music. This book made me cry, which a lot of my favorite books do. Also, Patti Smith? What a national treasure! I had no idea. I really, really loved this book. Highly recommend. Five stars!

The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
by Brene Brown

This is the second Brene Brown book I've read. I read her first book, I Thought It Was Just Me, prior to reading this one. I liked this book, but I'm glad I read the other one first. The other book has more meat to it, and I feel like you need the background of the first book before reading this one. This book reads as more of a how-to guide based on the stuff you learn in the first book. This review is confusing. This book is good, but it will make more sense if you read I Thought It Was Just Me first.

I'm going to assume it's okay to talk about my therapist in a review on a self-help book, so... I did a lot of the exercises in these two books and went over them with my therapist and it was immensely helpful in identifying my shame, my triggers, areas where I'm already resilient, and areas where I could learn to be more resilient. These books go to a whole other level when you talk about them with a good therapist.

Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I liked this book. I never read anything by Ta-Nehisi Coates prior to reading this, and I'm interested in going back and reading his articles in The Atlantic. The way Ta-Nehisi writes is really beautiful. The topic is hard, and the book is hard. In parts, I felt overwhelming sadness, and wanted to cry, and in other parts, I found myself feeling uncomfortable and defensive, which I'm sure is the point. His passage on 9/11 was especially challenging for me. This book forced a point of view on me that I'm grateful for. I think if you really want to support #blacklivesmatter, this is an important book, and an important perspective. And again, it's beautifully written. Highly recommend.

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't):  Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"
by Brene Brown

This was my first Brene Brown book. A therapist friend who's well-read in Brene Brown and has attended some of her workshops and conferences said she hasn't read this one because it's before Brene had her "awakening". I liked the book and learned a lot about where I have shame, how I react to it and how I react to other people's shame. I recommend the book, though maybe I'll change my mind after reading her more recent books.

Everything, Everything
by Nicola Yoon

Whoa, this book! I LOVED it! You can easily read this book in a couple of sittings, which I highly recommend you do. Immediately.

by Rainbow Rowell

So fun and fast to read. I loved all the relationships and characters, but especially Levi. Highly recommend, particularly if you're snowed in and can't leave your house for a few days.

How to Love (Mindfulness Essentials, #3)
by Thich Nhat Hanh

This little book is great! I wish I could remember who told me to pick it up. If you're interested in this kind of thing (love, mindfulness, meditation), highly recommend this book.

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)
by Robert Galbraith

Hooray! I LOVED this book! Definitely my favorite of the three. I really enjoyed getting more of Robin in this book, and the development of the friendship between she and Strike. I would recommend reading this book, even if you haven't read the first two. But you should really read the whole series.

Life Before Man
by Margaret Atwood

This is my first Margaret Atwood book. Wow, what an amazing writer! I liked this weird, 1970's book, but I'm anxious to read some of her more current and better known work.

Yoga:  the Path to Holistic Health
by B.K.S. Iyengar

This is a huge coffee table book, but I'm glad I read it. I've been doing Iyengar yoga for about 2 years now and enjoy it more than any other style of yoga. This book explains the philosophy of Iyengar, as well as each individual pose and what ailment it's good or bad for. It also teaches you how to do a home practice, which I need to start doing. Long book, fascinating read.

Knowing Your Value:  Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth
by Mika Brzezinski

Read this book if for nothing else than the chapter on how to negotiate your salary, raise, etc. The whole book is worth reading, but that chapter is great. It's a short book and well worth the read. Highly recommend for all my career bitches, especially the ones with kids. Great book!

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray #1)
by P.D. James

I forgot to write a review of this book after I read it and now I can't remember what it was about. I gave it 3 stars, so I liked it. Sorry! I will say I've been meaning to read P.D. James for years and will read more of her books now that I've finally started.

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