Books I Read This Week 2019 – 44

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 Simple Wild (4 stars): This is the time of year when I start picking my word of the year for the following year, and this time the word “wild” seems to be the one that’s coming back again and again, so as I looked for books with the word “wild” in their title, I came across this one that looked like it was fun and sweet.

It was a really fast read and it definitely was fun and sweet. It’s light, with some undertones of more serious conversations and some lovely stories about Alaska. It definitely was a delightful read and I can’t wait to read the second in the series.

If You Tame Me (3.5 stars): “Frank remembered all the weird and constantly changing rules from both of his marriages. How sometimes it was okay to touch, sometimes not. Sometimes it was okay to tease, sometimes not. Sometimes it was okay to pressure on past “I’m too tired,” sometimes not. Apparently, the lack of clarity between men and women continued through all eternity.”

What a sweet, lovely story. This is about the 55-year old Audrey who decides to buy an iguana on her birthday. She’s tired of “nice” and wants to buy something that’s not cute. So iguana it is. Her story from there unfolds as she makes new friends at the mall where she works and reconnects with an old college friend and gets to know her next door neighbor, Frank, who has a multitude of parakeets.

This story is about aging, life, love, loneliness, friendship, coming to one’s own, politics and feminism. It’s about Audrey’s experience of life and her bravery at taking chances again and again with friendships, with pets, with love. 

But she didn’t want to hide. Audrey hugged the surprise of that. And she hugged the exuberance of wanting to fling the blanket off, open her arms and her legs to Frank, and shout,”I’m here! You’re here! Let’s do that again!”

with gratitude to edelweiss and Black Rose Writing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Healthy Habits Suck (3 stars): “So, if you’re not 90 percent sure you can accomplish your goal in the time frame you set, then change the goal. Usually I recommend setting just one 90 percent goal at a time, or two at the most. Ifyou try to do too many changes at once, even if each one is a 90 percent goal, you’re probably not meeting the 90 percent rule overall. That’s why I asked you to pick just one healthy habit to work on with this book.”

I’ve read too many books on health and food and exercise and at this point I am not sure I can get more value out of a book. There are some concepts here that were great to remember, like the 90% one above. As well as connecting actions/choices to your values. And talking about the passengers/bus analogy resonated with me. Just because the passengers can ask you to go somewhere else doesn’t mean you have to change your route. 

If you’re like me and have read a lot on this topic, I am not sure this book will give you anything new, but if you’ve only read about diets, I recommend this because it will help you think about how to become meaningfully motivated and move towards a healthier life.

with thanks to netgalley and New Harbinger for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Healthy As F*ck (3 stars): Ok I am going to be in the minority on this one. First of all, I am getting a bit tired of “the must use curse word in title” fad. I have nothing against cursing, I curse often, but really? I don’t understand why it’s necessary in this case. It just feels like a ploy to get attention.

Ok now that I have that done. I have nothing against this book particularly, the author was nice, funny, enthusiastic, down to earth, and relatable. Her advice is sound and makes a ton of sense. Much of it wasn’t new to me. It’s things I’ve read in many, many other books: tie it to your values, make it a habit by anchoring it to some trigger and reward, think proactively, plan for it, give yourself grace.

But here’s the deal, even as she tells you to make something a habit and not a “diet” I feel like it oversimplifies how hard this really is. She tells you not to put food in good vs bad categories but then really tells you not to eat a bunch of stuff. Developing a new habit is hard. Let alone 7 new ones she recommends. I know she knows it’s hard too and this book was very motivating. And there are several ideas I liked: one around not being hungry vs being full and the difference between pleasure and happiness. 

But in the end, besides liking her voice and tone, I didn’t really learn anything all that new from this book. If this area is new to you, I think you will love this book. It’s funny, heartfelt and no-nonsense all at once.

with gratitude to netgalley and Sourcebooks for an early copy in return for an honest review.

Don’t You Forget About Me (3 stars): I read this as I needed a break from another book I was reading that was profound but really depressing. I was quite stressed at work so I started this thinking it would be funny. Which it was. But it was also touching and profound and sweet. I felt the ending was stronger than most of the book. I wish while it was trying to be funny, it also had taken a bit more time developing each character. In the end, it did exactly what I was hoping it would do: got and kept my attention, made me laugh, and managed to also be touching.

If You Were There (3 stars): This is the story of a teenager who meets a girl and falls in love in 1994 when he’s 17. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but it’s about what happens and how his life unfolds in response to the events from that year.

The cover says that this is a true story and it’s clear that the story is written as an homage to his past and his love for the girl. This wasn’t the best writing or dialogue I ever read but it’s clearly a work of love and it made me think about the choices I’ve made in my life, the people who mean the world to me and it made me cheer for the main character. 

I enjoyed the time I spent with this book and wish the author the best of luck. 

with gratitude to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

The Swallows (3 stars): This was a fast read. I am not sure how I feel about it. While I didn’t think it made light of rape culture and the objectification of women, I still felt like there was a lot of serious subject matter here that I am not sure was handled in the way I would have liked. I wasn’t a huge fan of the revenge plot. I don’t know what I would have wanted. As I said, I am still pondering how I felt about it. Your mileage might vary.

The World We Knew (4 stars): I usually choose not to read books about World War II but I am a big fan of Alice Hoffman and her ability to weave magical realism into her stories so I decided to give this one a try. I am so glad I did. This is a heart wrenching story of a mother begging a rabbi to make a golem who can safely escort her daughter to safety. The plot, the style, the writing and the character development are fantastic and the magical realism, in my opinion, only adds to the magic and story of this book and doesn’t take anything away from the seriousness of the subject matter.

Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead (4 stars): This book was one of the more unusual books I’ve read this year, which is quite rare. It’s the first book I’ve read by Olga Tokarczuk so I have nothing to compare it to but this story starts pretty fast paced because of the setup. Someone is found murdered and then Yanina, the main character, is trying to figure out what happened. She is alone and an unusual character herself and has a handful of interesting friends. 

Even though the book starts like a mystery, it is not really about that. It’s about animals and nature and people’s attitudes/ways of treating them. Yanina is very passionate about nature and animals and there are some stunning descriptions in the book. There is also a lot of astrology in the book as well as references to William Blake. 

It’s hard to describe the book but I listened to it on audio and found the audio to be excellent. The atmosphere of this book is unlike anything I’ve read in a long while.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for something different.

Lifescale (4 stars): Life Scaling is a book about revisiting how you’re living your life so you can free up your time and energy to live a life that’s more aligned with your values and be happier and more fulfilled. There are a lot of references to other fantastic books/ideas and several different exercises you can do to help get started. There weren’t too many super-new-to-me ideas in this book but I liked the way it was organized, concise and actionable.

And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another 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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