Books I Read This Week 2019 – 15

This was an okay week, nothing too terrible and one really good book. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

The Opposite of Always (3 stars): I’ve been thinking about this book since I finished it. I was thinking about it even as I was listening to it because I felt annoyed almost immediately and I couldn’t put my finger on what was annoying me. I kept losing my focus and I knew the reviews were solid but I just couldn’t feel the story.

The gist of this story resides in Jack’s trips back to the beginning of their story so that he can live different permutations and figure out what he’s supposed to do and why he keeps getting sent back in time. Parts of it reminded me Lauren Oliver‘s Before I Fall which is one of my favorite YA novels and maybe that’s why I didn’t feel as interested in the plot this time because I felt like I’d already read a novel like this. (And that one resonated more with me for very different reasons.)

Having said all that, I liked the characters but wished they were developed more. I liked the diversity and that it was not the focal point. I liked the writing at parts. And I liked the friendship and the parents in some sections, too.

In the end I would have liked a story that was a bit deeper, I felt like there was a lot there and the author could have gone one click deeper and made the characters and this story much richer. I still enjoyed it and felt both happy and satisfied when I finished it.

The Wildlands (3.5 stars):  I loved the beginning and the ending of this book. I know you can always read the blurbs so I am loath to regurgitate the plot here, but in just a few words this book is about 4 siblings who survive but are orphaned after a category 5 tornado. (Their mom had already passed away at childbirth.) Three girls and a boy. The brother soon disappears and comes back after an eco-terrorism bombing. He comes back to take the youngest sibling and the story splits between the two on the run and the two that stay behind.

I loved both Darlene and Cora who are definitely the most developed characters in the story. I struggled a bit more with Vincent and I feel Jane was quite under-devopled though I liked the little bits of her we got.

I love the way the story wrapped up. I loved that it was real and not a Hollywood version of life. I also loved the writing, it was so visual, so poetic. A joy to read.

I’ll be honest, I checked this book out in the past but didn’t feel like reading it. I work in Silicon Valley, use Apple products and have worked with Apple before, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a book about Apple in my spare time, but someone at work told me this is one of his favorite books and when people tell me that, I usually read the book.

This book is a very fast read. I started and finished it today. It’s about the design process, like the title says, but the two areas the writer has worked the most in is browsers (which I’ve worked on as well so it was fascinating to me) and the keyboard for the iphone and later ipad. The storytelling is excellent and keeps you engaged the entire time.

If these types of stories fascinate you, I am confident you will enjoy this book.

On Being Human (4 stars): There’s so much I want to say about this book that I don’t really know where to begin. I had never heard of Jen Pastiloff before I picked up this book. I picked it because the title (and the cover) spoke to me.

This book is mostly a memoir of the author as she goes through her life’s journey and then there are many sections that could be qualified as self-help through the realizations she’s sharing along the way. But the whole time it’s about her and it’s not lecturing you as if she knows what’s right for you. So in that way, it’s not really self-help 🙂

The book starts when the author is really young and loses her dad at a young age which has a profound impact on her life. The family then moves back an forth from California to New Jersey a few times and then she moves to the Los Angeles area and is a waitress there for a long long time before she finds yoga and love and herself and starts running retreats all over the world.

The writing is honest, raw, introspective, unvarnished in the most beautiful way. At times it pained me to read how she was self-destructing so much and to read her pain. But then I was also cheering for her and I took so much of the journey along with her because the writing is so real and you come to care for her so much.

There was much I underlined here, here are just a few:

The idea was this: I can give this away, this love, I do not have to keep it here in the dark, I can give it away and create more, even if I don’t remember what it feels like to be loved. I can create it.

I loved this. The giving it away and creating more.

This was a moment my sister lived with me where we were truly happy so I tacked it on the wall above my desk to remind me that nothing is ever one thing, that although there were moments where we hated each other and couldn’t stand living together, there were also times like this.

This is so true. I feel this so much of the time, especially with people I love.

Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss.

For some reason, I had never thought of this, in this way, before. This helps reframe somethings for me.

We can only be where we are.

Obvious maybe but hard to keep remembering this.

I’m worthy to receive.

I loved this because it’s not just about being worthy but about being worthy to receive. Loved this sentiment.

There will always be the one who doesn’t like you, the one who says, No, you should not do this, Yes, you suck. And we always always have two choices: keep going or shut down.

Ain’t that the truth. Who’s going to win? The one?

I have no idea who she is or was or what she’s ever done or might do, but my point is, life’s pretty filled up with all of us walking around telling stories about each other and to each other and about ourselves.

This also made me stop and think. It’s so true that we have our own stories about ourselves, about others, the stories we share. On and on. There’s so much noise. Who knows what the truth is.

Instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. It’s much more interesting.

i loved this idea. hard as it may be to implement.

“No one is going to give me a fucking medal,” I yelled into the phone as if she were the deaf one. “I have to give myself one.” There is was. My whole life I had been waiting for permission, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be acknowledged, chosen, given permission to take up space. All of my life I had been waiting for someone to tell me I was enough.

The lady who left my retreat gave me a gift. She gifted me with the revelation that you have to do all the ard work of loving yourself yourself. In that moment in the kitchen with those ladies and the wine and the chocolate ganache, I finally realized that no one was ever going to save me. No one was ever going to give me permission to be me. I had to do it.

And this. So much this. Not waiting. Giving permission. I have to do it.

If any of this resonates with you, I highly recommend this book, it will stay with me quite a while. I’m grateful for people who share their stories honestly. Even though this author and I have so little in common in our lives/histories, there is still so much I share with her and so much I’ve learned from her journey and her openness.

Thank you to netgalley and duttonbooks for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Golden State (3.5 stars): I’m still thinking about how I feel about this book. I originally picked this book up right when it released. The premise seemed interesting and I thought it would be the kind of book I like. When I first started it, I couldn’t get past the first scene. I couldn’t understand what was going on, the narration was off aggressive, loud and felt invasive and I just decided to put it down.

When I finally picked it back up this week, I just willed myself past that scene and I am super-glad I did. The book got much better for me as soon as I moved past that scene. It was fast paced, enough ambiguity mixed with consistent pace of revelations and good character development.

For me, it fizzled at the end, which is why i eded up with 3.5 stars and not more. I felt like it shifted too drastically and the story wasn’t as interesting, for me. Overall, I am still glad I went back to this one.

If Cats Disappeared from the World (3 stars):  I enjoyed this story especially because it was such a different one. I’ve spent some time reading Japanese authors in the last few years and I enjoy the different rhythm and dialogue and perspective they tend to have.

In this case, some of those elements were there. The plot is unusual and interesting. The characters and some of the dialogue drew me in, especially the parts that had the ex-girlfriend and the cat. I enjoyed reading the backstory of his parents and all of it had the familiar yet unfamiliar sense I get from reading novels that are set in different cultural backgrounds than mine.

At yet, I don’t know if it’s the translation or not but the sentence structure and the word choice left much of this novel stilted for me. It was hard for me to connect to the dying man and the rhythm just felt off. I can’t even really put my finger on what exactly made it hard to really love this novel. This is the kind of story I would usually love. But alas, it fell a bit short in this case.

I wish I could read the original.

The Night Tiger (3.5 stars):  I know I must be in the minority for this book. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read it but then I got it in my library queue and it was Reese’s pick at Audible and I felt like the universe was telling me I should read it.

It took me a while to get into it. The beginning was slow and a bit discombobulated, for me. But then the middle was pretty great. I liked the characters and grew to really care about them, especially Ren. I didn’t like much of the dream sequences but even that didn’t deter me too much.

I felt like by about 3/4ths in, I was ready for it to end. My interest and excitement had waned and it went on much longer than I though necessary. In the end, I am still glad I read it. The characters, the plot, the setting were all unusual, for me, and I appreciate how much I learn from books like that. It just wasn’t as magical as I’d hoped it would be.

And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.

Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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