Hello, blog world!
Today I thought I would start up my weekly book review series again. A while back I was in the habit of sharing a book I’m into lately. Then I stopped reading so it was kind of hard to keep posting reviews. But this year I decided to start reading consistently again. I make time to read every day, but a few times a week I manage to carve out a few minutes at bedtime to snuggle down with a good book. Usually “book” means my Kindle reader, but I’ve been trying to go back to the paper book thing lately. While I like the convenience and instant gratification of the Kindle, there’s something about a paper book that has that sort of tactile satisfaction to it, you know?
Anyway, here’s the latest from my library (note, links are non-affiliate Amazon links, just in case you were curious and wanted to check something out):
Self Improvement stuff:
“Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin
My unauthoritative rating: 3.5 out of 5
In “Better than Before,” Rubin sets out to figure out how people make or break habits. Why is it so hard to start a habit you really want to do, or break one that is detrimental to you? Why is it sometimes so easy to wake up one day and say, “I’m going to do this now” and actually DO it, whereas other habits take forever to take hold and eventually drop off? While this book was a good, fun read, it wasn’t one that I would call well-researched. The book was mostly Rubin’s self musings about how she sees the world based on her “research,” which from what I could tell, was mostly gathered from talking to friends and crowdsourcing from her blog. It’s interesting, but not really scientific. However I did get a lot from it by reflecting on my own tendencies and habits, which was helpful. I would recommend it if you’re curious about how others think and take to habits, but if you are more of the “show me the data” science-y type you might want to pass.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
My unauthoritative rating: 3.5 out of 5
This book is exactly what you think it is. And then again it’s not. I mean, it’s definitely a book about how to clean and organize your home. But in a distinct Japanese style and form, Kondo goes beyond “here is how you should organize your sock drawer” to encouraging you to treat your possessions with respect, almost in an anthropomorphized way. While I sort of have a difficult time saying to my purse “thank you for working hard and serving me today” when I put it away in the closet, I do agree and adore the attitude that you honor your things by taking care of them, and that your things should bring you joy so you should not keep things that do not bring joy into your life. This book will help that spark of a cleaning revolution within and make you super motivated to have a clutter-free and peaceful home.
My unauthoritative rating: 4 out of 5
Drew Manning was sort of a big deal when this book came out a few years ago. He was the super fit personal trainer that wanted to take an honest look at what his overweight clients go through via a drastic method – to purposely gain a significant amount of weight then lose it all. This book was a bit more musings than storytelling in my opinion, but I loved Manning’s vulnerability and honest observations in his journey. If you’re a sucker for a good “transformation” story, this one is great since it goes through not only the physical transformation of Manning getting his body “back,” but the emotional transformation of viewing life from the other side and never being able to think the same way again. Plus, he just seems like a likable guy. I follow him on Instagram, too. His handle is @fit2fat2fit, and he posts some pretty inspiring/introspective stuff.
“The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom” by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig
My unauthoritative rating: 5 out of 5
So, you guys probably know by now that I’ve totally drank the Whole30 (real-food, no added sugars) kool-aid and have an unrequited girl crush on Melissa Hartwig. So it’s a no brainer that I’m all about this book. However, in the interest of at least attempting to appear slightly unbiased, I’ll pretend that I just picked this book up and am totally not sold on the Whole30 thing. Which is impossible so why don’t I just talk about what I like about it.
Having done a couple Whole30s, this book is a great resource even if you’ve done it before. It goes through the program rules, timeline of what you can expect, lots and lots of Q and A, and even suggestions for common pitfalls and special circumstances (how to navigate a party or social event, doing a Whole30 vegetarian-style, etc.). My absolute favorite part is the kitchen basics section. Most intro level cookbooks feature a “here’s what you need for a decent kitchen” section, but they go beyond what brand of cutting board to use in how to make simple, basic food. Like fried eggs. And grilled chicken. And homemade mayo. Okay, except for the mayo I thought I knew how to do all this. But do you? DO you? All I have to say is my confidence in the kitchen (when I choose to be in the kitchen) has totally improved since I brushed up on these basic cooking skills and I thought I was a pretty good cook before. Oh, and there are also recipes and suggested meal plans. Tons of them. Even though I don’t always eat Whole30 (hey, it’s not a Whole365), I am a superfan and totally would push this harder on people if it wasn’t so annoying to have someone push unwelcome diet recommendations.
Indulgent Young Adult Fiction stuff, sorely needed before my brain exploded with all of that other “serious” stuff:
“Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard
My unauthoritative rating: 3 out of 5
I stumbled across this book in a search for another dystopian young romance novel that is the hallmark of Young Adult fiction these days. In this story, a girl lives in a world where humans are separated into classes based on their blood: “red” bloods are normal humans, and “silver” bloods have magical powers. And their blood is actually silver-colored. I think like liquid mercury. Anyway, the protagonist red-blooded Mare is forced into the elite Silver society through an unfortunate chain of events and must play the part of a lost Silver princess. Rebellion, espionage, battles, romance, and political power plays all in one story. While I found the dialogue to be rather dry and unimaginative, the story itself is quite gripping. I am eager for the sequel to come out next year (darn it! Such a long time …).
“The Selection” by Kiera Cass
My unauthoritative rating (so far): 4 out of 5
I just started this one, and I’m already hooked. If “The Hunger Games” took place on the set of “The Bachelor”, then this story would probably happen. I’ll probably plow through this book next weekend.
That’s what’s been in my library for the past few months. Maybe you’ll be inspired for your next good book!
Go make it a great day (of reading)!