Seems as though blogging keeps me accountable to my reading goal! We are pretty close to the mid-point of 2019 (how does this happen so quickly) and I’m feeling pretty good about my reading goal of the year! Here’s my recap from April to the end of June.
13. One Day in December, Josie Silver (love story, fiction)- I checked this out on a whim because I was in between loan requests and had a 3+hour drive one day. I was pleasantly surprised! Love stories really aren’t my thing but this one was read by two British people which automatically made it 1,000 times more charming. A quick read that I quite enjoyed. A
14. On the Come Up, Angie Thomas (fiction, young adult)- Yet another poignant and incredible story by Thomas. Almost as heartbreaking as The Hate U Give and just as eye-opening. (I was finally able to watch The Hate U Give and was sad to see a few things changed from the book [isn’t that how it always goes?] but still an amazing story.) A
15. This Will Only Hurt a Little, Busy Phillips (autobiography)- So, full disclosure, the only TV show I know Phillips from is Freaks and Geeks (RIP). I didn’t watch Dawson’s Creek, Cougar Town, or ER…but I have watched White Chicks (which she wrote)-so going into this I really wasn’t sure what to expect but you know what? It was a good story. A dang good story. I had absolutely no knowledge of her work for women’s rights, her latest talk show, nothing, but I am really glad I read this one. She is funny and tells it ‘how it is’ (such a lame phrase, but true in this respect). Good job, Busy-and happy birthday! A
16. Whiskey in a Teacup, Reese Witherspoon (autobiography? cookbook?)- I like Reese Witherspoon but this book was a tad confusing in audio format. It was very short and mostly supposed to be a cookbook that walks you through her upbringing in the South (bless her heart). It was fun to hear a few stories about her childhood and the Southern conventions that mean so much to Witherspoon but this one is best read with your eyeballs. B
17. The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg (personal development)- I enjoyed the stories Duhigg collected throughout this book, however it was much more a story-telling book than a ‘here are some concrete things you can do to have amazing habits!’ book. Still, it was full of captivating stories and I definitely feel like I learned something from reading it. B
18. Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson (historical non-fiction)- This type of book is not something I actively seek out but it was recommended to me by a couple folks (including my husband). There’s been talks that it will be a movie (?) soon so this seemed like a good time to give it a go-and it did not disappoint! I really enjoyed Larson’s writing style and his ability to weave together the two stories: the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes. Creepy enough to keep my attention, analytical enough that I didn’t have nightmares, win! A
19. How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, Clay Scroggins (personal development)- I had high hopes for this book but it was a disappointment. See my note below about personal development books (this is a #2). D
20. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Lindy West (autobiography)- A friend suggested this one to me and I L-O-V-E-D it! Lindy writes about what it’s like to be a fat woman and all the trials that may come with that. She doesn’t apologize for a damn word (not that she should) and I am grateful to have read this book when I did. I learned more from this book than any of the ‘personal development’ books I read this quarter (maybe ever). The book was also adapted into a TV show for Hulu and I can not wait for the second season to show up! A+,10/10, definitely would recommend to a friend (I have, like 5 of them so far).
21. Get Your Shit Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do so You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No Fucks Given Guide), Sarah Knight (personal development)-I always enjoy learning from someone who curses a lot. Knight has several other books that I’ll read but I didn’t find this particular one as empowering as some of the others I have this year. However, Knight was the first writer in this genre that blatantly said she knows she has privilege and assumes the privilege of her readers! I was so impressed by this statement and I have a lot of respect to her for doing this. B
22. The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin (personal development)- Oh Gretchen Rubin (if you’re not familiar with her, she is responsible for The Happiness Project and the like). Just so everyone knows, I’m a Questioner that leans Obliger. Rubin has not studied human behavior or psychology in any formal sense and based this book totally on her own research (mostly surveys and a lot of observation) but what more can you really do when writing a book on personality traits and assessments? (I’m in the camp that personality tests are super fun (I’m an INFJ, by the way) but much like horoscopes (I’m an Aries, although I heard they recently revised the charts so maybe I’m now a Pisces which has always made more sense to me) they’re not sound science. So, it is what it is. C
23. You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales, Sheila Nevins (essays)- Another one I checked out just for the heck of it and enjoyed. A collection of essays on varying topics of what it’s like to be female from a woman who is a badass (If you don’t know who Sheila Nevins is, look her up!) B
I think I may reach my goal by the end of July! Maybe I’ll shoot for 50 books this year. I will be starting to learn conversational French by audio soon, so that may slow me some-we’re going to Paris in March and I want to be at least somewhat prepared to ask where the closest croissant is…
Before I go, I wanted to share just a little ditty on my takeaways regarding ‘personal development’ books. Look, I’m glad we changed the phrase to personal development from the cringe-worthy ‘self-help’ label but a rose is still a rose and it feels awkward to not put the term in quotes. Anyway-
My note on ‘personal development’ books:
I have now read more than a handful of ‘personal development’ books and they seem to fall into three camps:
- The ‘I went to *insert Ivy League School here* and I’m going to ignore the privileges I have and just tell you that with some ‘elbow grease’ you too can be Bill Gates’ camp. These folks (minus Knight, as I mentioned above) usually have some sound advice, don’t get me wrong, but the lack of insight to the built in privileges drives me up a wall.
- The ‘Through *insert religion* all things are possible’ camp. Hey, if this is your philosophy in life I have nothing but love for you but don’t try to guise your motivation in personal development. These books drip of privilege as well, and I typically return them early.
- The ‘I’m going to curse a lot so this doesn’t feel like a lame ‘self-help’ book’ camp. I tend to like these the most. I also find them to be the most genuine books. The writers tend to not just talk about themselves the entire time and recognize that just because it works for them does not necessarily mean it’s going to work for you. This is very much my own motto when ‘giving advice’ so perhaps that’s why I tend to gravitate toward them.
What’s been your #1 read this year?