Books I Read This Week 2019 – 52

Like last year, I’m trying to put all the 2019 books here so I can start fresh next week. 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.

Love’s Executioner (3 stars): I had heard about this book in a different book and was so excited that I went off an immediately bought it with my audible account. But, as soon as I checked some of the reviews, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it after all. It looked like the author (therapist) was misogynistic, unlikeable, and judgmental. I considered putting it down before I even began.

But I am glad I didn’t.

These stories were very interesting and unique and showed me the variety of lives/conundrums/problems people have in the world and I loved how the “cases” didn’t always get resolved and even when they did, it sometimes wasn’t really due to his help. One of the lessons I took away was that things can be really not what they seem and when people come to tell you their story, it’s fully filtered through their interpretation of truth. Not the truth itself. I knew this already but there were some acute examples of this.

It was interesting to see how the therapist was thinking and how and where and when he chose to take action. How frustrated, flawed and wrong he could be. I really appreciated the vulnerability. Even if he was judgmental, most people are and they are just never willing to admit it. Maybe because I’d read the reviews, I was expecting it.

In the end it was a very interesting and unusual book and I am glad I read it. I can’t say I loved it but I learned from it.

Night of Miracles (4 stars): I just love Elizabeth Berg. Her stories are smooth balms for my soul, they make me feel better about humankind, they make me smile and feel grateful and hopeful all at once. It’s not that it’s all pink bubbles in her stories, sad things happen, people make mistakes, people can be judgmental or real. But it’s that they are all redeemable. They all mean well and come together and grow and learn and support each other. They surprise you in the most beautiful ways. It restores your faith in humanity. This week, it was exactly what I needed.

The Year of No Nonsense (3.5 stars): I have a lot of thoughts about this book. First thing I will say is that I generally try to read a book without reading the reviews. Sometimes, in the middle of the book, I’ll go and see what others wrote. In this case, I was a bit surprised at the unequivocal positive reviews. This is a good book, but in my opinion the reviews feel a bit slanted. I am pointing this out because it might be that I am reacting to this as I sit down to write mine and I am moving to the middle a bit more to course correct. So please take this with a grain of salt.

I like the premise of this book and how she focuses on your digging deeper to get to the crux of the matter instead of fixing the surface issues or the outcomes of the actual problem.

“Paradox is a very helpful tool for me, which is why I mention it here. We are not required to be black-and-white about our lives—we can be all the colors of the rainbow and every shade in between.”

One of the things I loved most about this book was how honest it was and how it didn’t make things sound simple as some of the books can.

“During my Year of No Nonsense, I learned that seeing what is and what was is a fundamental requirement for change.”

A very hard distinction at times.

“My job (as a parent) is to be a support for my children. The children are not here to fulfill my needs. They are not here to reflect my own “greatness” (or lack thereof). I am here to support them in their journey of growing up—not dictate how their journey goes.”

This resonated with me so much. I don’t usually worry about this but I do see it creeping in now and then and I love the way she put it. I am here to support them in their journey. So well put.

“But as a starting point, we might want to take Numbers like body weight and social media followers and put them in the box where they belong—a box of data points that can be charted, not a box of soul points that describe who we are.”

So much to unpack in this one, too. We anchor on numbers cause they are easy. I do a lot of rock climbing now and it has numbers and levels and I was telling my husband the other day how I wish the routes had no numbers so I couldn’t have any preconceived ideas of which routes I could and couldn’t do. Then I’d have to try each and I’d probably learn so much more. Numbers can help but they can also hinder so much.

“Stepping into beliefs, therefore, can be powerful or destructive. So when a belief has a negative or destructive power, like “you will never be a runner,” true Grit and growth happen when we question or challenge that belief.”

I’ve written and thought about this concept a lot. Identity can help or get in the way of how we move forward so much. And shifting one’s own identity can be so hard.

“The challenge is to Live each day as the best version of yourself. To make room for your own light and Purpose for your Life. To do the best you can and accept that you are doing so; to assume the Other People are doing the best they can, too—if not because it’s the right thing to do, then because at least they won’t drive you crazy.”

In the last week, I’ve been reminding myself to do this again and again and again. It totally works. It helps keep your sanity and it reminds you to focus on what you can change (your thoughts and actions) and the truth (which you never fully know so just assume the best because it’s so much more uplifting.)

So there was a lot of gold in this book, a lot of food for thought, a lot of honesty. I will say that there was also some repetition and the last 30% took me forever to get through and I was so tired of the word nonsense by then. It was too overused and I was feeling annoyed. There were a lot of ideas I’d already read before or seen but it was woven well together. I also felt like I could have used more help with guidance around getting to the root issue myself. Finding my true nonsense. Because much of the book makes the case for it (sold. i believe i need to get to the real heart of the matter before I can change things.) and then she talked about now that i know it what do i do (Except I still wasn’t sure I knew mine. Sometimes the cause and outcome can be so intertwined and I just felt lost.) I would have loved some examples of how others (along with her) peeled that onion.

As with most good books that are about working on yourself, nothing changes unless I do the work. This book was a good reminder that it’s possible and it highlighted the value of calling yourself on your own bullshit if you’d like to make positive change in your life. I will take what works for me and leave the rest. There was enough gold in here to keep me thinking, moving and focused.

With thanks to netgalley and hachette books for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Anyone (3 stars): Ok so as an avid reader, I know there’s a time to read a book and a time when I am just not in the right place for a book. I am going to assume that’s what happened with this one. Everyone loved this book. Even people who didn’t like Soule’s first book loved this one. I actually really liked his first book. And I didn’t hate this one at all but I didn’t love it. There was too much going on and I was having to suspend my disbelief more and more and more and at some point I just didn’t even care. It felt too over the top. Too convoluted. Too many twists on top of twists. If you’re in the right mood, I can see you totally might love this one. For me, it came at the wrong time.

When We Were Vikings (3 stars): “Everyone is a hero in their own lives,” he said. “That’s by default. But I wanted you to see that sometimes the world thinks something is not possible, but it turns out that they can be wrong. Even fancy scientists can be wrong.”

“Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists,” I said.

I dislike it when a book is compared to other books I’ve read and loved. Especially when it turns out that the comparisons aren’t accurate. This book is compared to The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I think it’s like neither.

This is the story of Zelda, who has fetal alcohol syndrome and is living with her brother Gert. She’s a huge fan of Vikings and rules. The book is her quest to try to save her brother. It is a heart-warming book but it also has a lot of very serious topics and trigger warnings.

For some reason, I thought it would be a sweet, cute book. It is not.

It’s a touching book but it is serious. It has violence, it has parts that made me angry and parts that made me sad and also parts that made me hopeful. But the whole time, the hardest part was to get past the expectation that this book would be lighter than it actually was. So I want to set the expectations right in case you’re like me. This is not a light and fluffy book. It threw me off that there are a lot of quirky parts to this story and the characters come off a bit like quirky and yet the subject matter is so so serious and the topics covered are also very serious and not at all quirky. I guess this is where it tried to be like Silver Linings Playbook but I didn’t feel like it hit the mark as solidly.

It did gave me a lot to think about and I am glad I read it.

with gratitude to Gallery/Scout press and netgalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (4 stars): Maxwell closed his eyes and thought of nothing and everything, all at once, just as Saul had taught him, as if he were walking through a dark labyrinth, the center of which was bathed in moonlight, or, like his missing father, sailing through an endless dark blue sea toward something unknown. Then he opened his eyes and began to read.

This is one of the most unusual books I’ve read in a while. The whole time I was reading it, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I wasn’t fully sure what was happening or where the story was going. And even after finishing the book, I am not fully sure how I feel about it. I want to make sure to mention that this is not a “plot” driven book. Not much happens in this book. Actually that’s not true. A lot happens in this book, but it’s like you get to know each character and their life story and how they get to be where they are and who they are so there is a lot happening but none of it is a single plot the story follows. The only plot is really that Saul finds Adana’s book and wants to return it to her son as his grandfather requested. That’s the actual plot. The rest is really the story of each of the characters. There are a lot of historical events and politics in this book surrounding the lives of each of the characters.

Some parts where more interesting to me than others and I loved the writing throughout but I didn’t fall in love with the book until I read how Maxwell and Saul’s grandfather meet. That section was by far my very favorite of the book.

In the end I loved my time with this unusual story.

But no matter how much we think we know, we end up knowing so little of our parents and even less of our grandparents, most lives are forgotten as soon as they’ve occurred.

with gratitude to netgalley and Hanover Square Press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Good Neighborhood (4 stars): “Valerie understood that while her son did and always would hold her heart in his hands, the fact of being a parent was that her son’s heart was and must be reserved for someone else.”

There’s so much to say about this book. So much I liked and so much I didn’t like. I thought a lot about how I should rate it and what it meant to me. I read this book in one sitting, and found myself attached to most of the characters and caring deeply about where it was going even as I knew it was going to be a train wreck of a book. Even as I knew I was being manipulated as a reader. I still couldn’t put it down. The writing was beautiful and compelling and I decided it deserved a high rating just for that.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Some of it felt completely unnecessary. I felt the author went more stereotypical and villain that I would have liked for some of the characters. It oversimplified the story and didn’t do justice to the complexity of racial issues and how they are there even when the person isn’t a totally disgusting person. There were hints of that as the neighborhood reacted to everything and there were some glimpses of that but overall I think the book made things too black and white and too preachy. My biggest beef was with Brad. There was just nothing redeemable about him in the book. There were glimpses to how nice he was being to Lily but it just wasn’t enough. Also I felt like the ending felt a bit rushed and didn’t really feel true to character, especially with Julia.

I did fall in love with Valerie and Xavier though and this book broke my heart in all the ways it was meant to.

with gratitude to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

The Murmur of Bees (4.5 stars): I loved this book from the very beginning. This beautiful story of a family that adopt the little baby, Simonopio, who is disfigured and surrounded by bees. This boy that saves the family again and again. The story of love, loss, brotherhood, sacrifice, and family. It reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom I adore. If you like long, well-written family sagas with a historical backdrop and wonderful, memorable and well-developed characters, you will love this book.

Apeirogon (5 stars): “I will tell it until the day I die, and it will never change, but it will keep on putting a tiny crack in the wall until the day I die.”

Column McCann is an incredible writer. This book has a format that will appeal to some and put off others. It worked for me. The book is the story of two men, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who both have lost daughters. They come together to help spread peace.

“I tried to hide it from my fellow prisoners but something in me changed—or maybe it hadn’t, but something was coming from a new direction, maybe I had just found something that was there all along.”

The book travels back and forth in time, in and out of fiction and non fiction, it stops in the middle of a scene and then picks it up pages later. It repeats bits and pieces. It has not just a purpose and a story but also a rhythm.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re trying to draw water from the ocean with a spoon, but peace is a fact.”

And it breaks every little part of your heart. It shows how awful we humans can be. It shows how awful we humans are. How we treat each other. In many parts, I was reminded of the Brene Brown quote about how we try to make people “other” and “not human” so we can hate them or hurt them and how when we get to know them as fellow humans, it becomes so much harder to write them off, to harm them.

“We need to learn how to share this land, otherwise we will be sharing it in our graves.”

I had never heard of the story of Rami and Bassam. It was eye opening, heartening and of course completely heartbreaking. I do not wish this type of loss on my worst enemy and I have unbounded respect for their ability to take such profound loss and turn it into an opportunity to broker peace. To still be able to love and not let the hate take over.

“Bassam clicks his tongue and half-smiles. A familiar and hopeless gesture: they can travel together anywhere in the world, but not these few miles.”

The day to day lives of people living in the West Bank are shared in detail in this story. Once you read it, it becomes impossible to un-know it. It becomes impossible to not let it get to you.

“The only interesting thing is to live.”

Everything about this book worked for me. I was blown away by it. By all the facts. By all the back and forth. By the terrible tragedies. By the senseless deaths. By the tireless fight for peace. By the incredible writing of Colum McCann.

With gratitude to netgalley and Random House for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Observational Sketching (4 stars): I really enjoyed this observational sketching book. I liked the different styles of the different sketchers and the deep research about how each ordinary piece that they sketched is actually manufactured. The book has a simple but relatively comprehensive tutorial on how to sketch basic objects, focusing on perspective, shapes and breaking things down. It then proceeds to give examples of sketches done for each simple object from multiple perspectives.

It’s not really an instructional book and it’s not pure eye candy either. I’d say it sits somewhere in the middle. There is a lot of detail in each sketch, showing the smallest pieces of each item.

If you’re interested in sketching, especially everyday ordinary objects, you will like this one.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Oona Out of Order (4.5 stars): I loved this book.

I loved the idea of the plot, I loved the way the writer executed it, I loved the characters, I loved how it came together and fell apart and came together again. I loved how you thought you knew what was coming and then you were wrong but not shocked in a way that made you angry at the author. I loved how Oona was so far from perfect and yet I felt protective of her and rooted for her.

I read this book in one sitting. It made me happy and it was the perfect book for my 400th book of the year. Now I’m going to have to go read her other book, too.

Thank you netgalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Hidden Places (4 stars): I am rating this book high most especially because it gave me a handful of places that are now in my bucket list to visit. Especially the caves in Belize, a beautiful park in Canada, a canyon in Arizona, a town in Peru, and an incredible forest in Germany.

The first few stories here were depressing and not all that interesting to me. The author gives you the history of each location and how it got to stay hidden or how it was uncovered. Most of the places have devastating histories and I was getting sad just reading it. But then she started talking about the kind of places that I was hoping to find in a book like this. Wonders of the world that are still untouched and hard to get to but then once you get there, it’s beautiful wilderness. Just reading about these places made me smile and yearn.

My biggest complaint about the book is the drawings. While they are okay and I usually love art, in this case, I found myself craving photos. I ended up looking up each of the places on the internet so I could see what they really looked like. Way more magical than the drawings. I wish the author would have chosen to couple the words with photos instead.

thank you to Quarto Publishing Group and netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Patron Saints of Nothing (4 stars): I loved this powerful YA book about Jay whose cousin in the Philippines has just died and he decides to take a trip there to figure out what happened and “see his family.” The story has the backdrop of the President Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines and is not your typical tale. This story is as layered and rich as its characters are and breaks your heart as it enrages you. Life is complicated, so are the choices we make and this book doesn’t simplify them one bit.

Separation Anxiety (3.5 stars): “Being a child’s primary focus is temporary, fleeting; I knew that the aperture was closing, that the light on me would eventually dim and I’d be replaced with friends.”

I have mixed feelings about this book. The story has a lot of absurd parts which I think was always the intention. It’s about a mom who’s wearing the family dog in a baby sling, after all. But that’s not all of it. There are more moments like this where you’re like really? what made the author pick that choice?

“All I feel is loneliness—every cell in my body and brain is empty and devoid of what’s supposed to connect me to the rest of the world—and to Gary—and I am full of a strange new grief, that of a nonjoiner who suddenly sees what they’ve been missing out on all these years: community, connection, the quiet comfort of others.”

But then there are such resonant moments. Moments where I felt like she was speaking directly to me, directly to experiences I’ve had, feelings I carry, and grief I have. I would have to take a break and be in the moment, and experience someone reflecting my truth so eloquently.

“No one cares how weird your life is, Judy. Or all the ways you think it’s failed you,” Gary says. “Your mother’s gone. No one sees the bird on your head except you.”

So many of us hang on to experiences and feelings (especially of inadequacy long after the source is gone.)

‘Loss has made you afraid of life, but you have to stay open. Porous. You have to let all the available light—all the tiny shards of joy—still flow through you.” She closes her eyes. “Who knows what beauty the rest of the way will bring.”’

I love the image of tiny shards of joy flowing through me. I love love love that image so much.

“I feel all the available light—all the life—all the tiny shards of joy and sadness and grief and love—flow through me, the chimera of the past finally giving way to the reality of the present: we are who we are; we are doing our best; it will all work out. It is a choice—to accept, to believe, to remain—and I am choosing all of it now.”

This book is full of beautiful moment. Beautiful thoughts, truths, grief and absurdity of life. I think in the end, though, I felt like it tried too hard. It was a bit too absurd. Just shy of what I would have called a really good read.

with gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

It’s Not Always Depression (4 stars): “When we judge others for what and how much they feel, it says more about our capacity to handle the emotions of others.”

I had an exceptionally bad year in 2018. In May, I experienced a distinct shift in emotional state and fell deeper and deeper into what looked awfully like a depression. I don’t know if it was depression or not but I do know it made living my life considerably harder. It took thirteen months for the curtain to lift and for me to feel some light again.

So when I saw this book at the library, I wanted to see what I could learn. And I am glad I did. This book uses the Change Triangle and talks about the importance of feeling your feelings.

There are:
– 7 core emotions: fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, excitement, and sexual excitement
– inhibitory emotions: anxiety, shame, guilt
– defenses: all the ways in which you try not to feel emotions
– openhearted self: calm, curious, connected, compassionate, confidant, courageous, clear.

The book focuses on going through the triangle to identify which of the 7 core emotions you’re actually feeling so you can feel it and then move to openhearted self. She talks about the importance of not just noticing the core emotion, but naming it, feeling it, staying with the sensation of it, all the way to the end of it, create fantasies to counter it (or things it evokes.) so that it can help you move to the openhearted state of the authentic self.

Sounds easy but of course like all worthwhile things, it is not. And yet it’s simple.

Glad I read this one.

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 402 reads for the year. Here’s to a great 2020.

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.

Books Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 404 books.

  • My favorite read of the year was: A Woman is no Man
  • My favorite YA read of the year was: The Poet X
  • My favorite graphic novel read of the year was: Good Talk
  • My favorite non-fiction read of the year was: Invisible Women
  • My favorite SciFi read of the year was: This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • My favorite Fantasy read of the year was: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  • Here are all my five star rated books from this year:
    • Noble Heart: A Self-Guided Retreat on Befriending Your Obstacles
    • Everything My Mother Taught Me
    • Inward
    • Normal People
    • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
    • In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)
    • Living Beautifully: An Inspirational Journal
    • Becoming
    • The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2)
    • Where To Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World
    • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
    • Plainsong (Plainsong, #1)
    • A Woman Is No Man
    • An Uncommon Atlas
    • The Art of Visual Notetaking
    • The Poet X
    • The Wisdom of Anxiety
    • Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
    • Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
    • Apeirogon: A Novel
    • It’s a Numberful World: How Math Is Hiding Everywhere
    • Painting Masterclass
    • Olive, Again
    • Limitless Mind
    • The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse
    • Welcoming the Unwelcome
    • Things My Son Needs to Know About the World
    • This Song Will Save Your Life
    • There You Are
    • This Is How You Lose the Time War

And here are all my reads from 2019 in order. You can find all the reviews here and my drawings with reviews on instagram here.

  1. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
  2. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
  3. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
  4. The Library Book
  5. The Art of the Good Life
  6. Uprooted
  7. Plainsong
  8. A Key to Treehouse Living
  9. Talking Across the Divide
  10. Bad Blood
  11. Some Assembly Required
  12. The Happiness Project
  13. Chief Joy Officer
  14. Can You Ever Forgive Me
  15. Juliet the Maniac
  16. Keep Going
  17. Every Heart a Doorway
  18. The Au Pair
  19. The Water Cure
  20. The Widows
  21. Brave, not Perfect
  22. Normal People
  23. The Dreamers
  24. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose
  25. Down Among the Sticks and Bones
  26. If, Then
  27. Talk To Me
  28. A Dangle a Day
  29. Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
  30. white fragility
  31. Have You Seen Luis Velez?
  32. Inheritence
  33. The 4 habits of Joy-filled marriages
  34. The Editor
  35. Journey into yourself
  36. Beneath the Sugar Sky
  37. So Lucky
  38. Our Life in a Day
  39. In an Absent Dream
  40. I Owe you One
  41. recursion
  42. elsey come home
  43. the body is not an apology
  44. the shape of a life
  45. DIY Watercolor Flowers
  46. golden child
  47. lie with me
  48. here and now and then
  49. the lost man
  50. the silent patient
  51. more than words
  52. the fifteen wonders of daniel green
  53. The Plotters
  54. Freefall
  55. The Test
  56. Becoming
  57. The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom
  58. After
  59. 99 percent mine
  60. Digital Minimalism
  61. When You Read This
  62. Liquid Rules
  63. Happy Money
  64. The Organic Painter
  65. Look Closer, Draw Better
  66. Things my son needs to know about the world
  67. On the Come up
  68. The Study of Animal Languages
  69. The Valedictorian of Being Dead
  70. The unwinding of the miracle
  71. The Last Romantics
  72. Early Riser
  73. The Island of Sea Women
  74. An Anonymous Girl
  75. I Think You’re Wrong but I am Listening
  76. Visual Notetaking
  77. The Happiness Diary
  78. Where Reasons End
  79. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
  80. Territory of Light
  81. Unhoneymooners
  82. wingspan
  83. The curious charms of arthur pepper
  84. Brave Love
  85. Girl, Stop Apologizing
  86. Daisy Jones and the Six
  87. Factfulness
  88. The Cassandra
  89. The River
  90. Tangle’s Game
  91. The Secret of Clouds
  92. Be Angry
  93. Shout
  94. Being Creative: Be inspired. Unlock your originality
  95. A Woman is No Man
  96. Riots I have Known
  97. The Perfect Liar
  98. By Invitation Only
  99. The Self-Love Experiment
  100. Creative Selection
  101. American Kingpin
  102. The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color
  103. The Penguin Lessons
  104. Before She Knew Him
  105. You Do you
  106. Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey
  107. When All Is Said
  108. Opposite of Always
  109. The Wildlands
  110. On Being Human
  111. Golden State
  112. If Cats Disappeared from the World
  113. The Night Tiger
  114. Rumi: Unseen Poems
  115. Brand Identity Essentials, Revised and Expanded
  116. Creative Lettering and Beyond: Timeless Calligraphy
  117. Realistic Portraits in Colored Pencil
  118. Hughie Mittman’s Fear of Lawnmowers
  119. Stretched Too Thin
  120. Outer Order, Inner Calm
  121. The Parade
  122. Lot
  123. One True Loves
  124. The Salt Path
  125. The Path Made Clear
  126. Queenie
  127. The Porpoise
  128. Understanding Numbers
  129. An Uncommon Atlas
  130. The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane
  131. Grace After Henry
  132. The Ditch
  133. How to Raise Successful People
  134. The Places That Scare You
  135. My Lovely Wife
  136. Lights All Night Long
  137. The Man in the next Bed
  138. The Other Americans
  139. Juliet’s School of Possibilities
  140. The Billion Dollar Whale
  141. The White Book
  142. Draw Like an Artist
  143. Senlin Ascends
  144. Wolfpack
  145. I Miss you When I Blink
  146. The Poet X
  147. The Dream Peddler
  148. Era of Ignition
  149. Any Ordinary Day
  150. Life is Short Don’t Wait to Dance
  151. Mostly Sunny
  152. Skin
  153. The Memory of Light
  154. Inspection
  155. Only Ever Her
  156. Utopia for Realists
  157. After I Do
  158. There’s a Word for That
  159. Feast Your Eyes
  160. The Weight of a Piano
  161. Maybe Someday
  162. Reasons the Stay Alive
  163. Have More Fun
  164. The Girl He Used to Know
  165. Fifty Things that aren’t my Fault
  166. The Honey Bus
  167. Ask Again, Yes
  168. Miracle Creek
  169. How to Be Yourself
  170. Fumbled
  171. The Mother-in-Law
  172. Walking on the Ceiling
  173. Good Talk
  174. Meet Cute
  175. The F*ck It Diet
  176. The Secret Life
  177. The Bride Test
  178. How to draw and Write with a Fountain Pen
  179. The Algebra of Happiness
  180. The Printed Letter Bookshop
  181. Anywhere, Anytime Art: Illustration
  182. It’s a Numberful World
  183. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  184. When We Left Cuba
  185. Inward
  186. All that you Leave Behind
  187. This Song will Save your Life
  188. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
  189. Exhalation: Stories
  190. The Unpassing
  191. Rules for visiting
  192. Everything is F*cked
  193. Noble Heart
  194. Marriage-ology
  195. The Better Sister
  196. The Invited
  197. With the Fire on High
  198. The Farm
  199. Middlegame
  200. The Wisdom of Anxiety
  201. The Sentence is Death
  202. The seven or Eight deaths of Stella Fortuna
  203. The Flatshare
  204. Stop Doing that SH*t
  205. The Scent Keeper
  206. City of Girls
  207. When We Found Home
  208. The Perfect Date
  209. Boy Meets Depression
  210. Magic for Liars
  211. Fix Her Up
  212. One Strategy
  213. This is Home
  214. The Ruin
  215. Celestial Watercolor
  216. How Not to Die Alone
  217. Own Your Everyday
  218. The Friend Zone
  219. For the Love of Books
  220. The Untethered Soul at Work
  221. The Body in Question
  222. Dawn
  223. Disappearing Earth
  224. Painting Masterclass
  225. Ever After
  226. This is How You Lose the Time War
  227. Red, White, and Royal Blue
  228. A Nearly Normal Family
  229. Tea and Cake with Demons
  230. Drawing Home
  231. Biased
  232. Olive, Again
  233. Evvie Drake Starts Over
  234. Apollo Leadership Lessons
  235. The Islanders
  236. Heads of the Colored People
  237. The Last Book Party
  238. The Huntress
  239. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
  240. The Expectations
  241. What I Wish I knew When I was 20
  242. Player’s Ball
  243. I am her Tribe
  244. The Nickel Boys
  245. State of the Union
  246. Callings
  247. The Wedding Party
  248. The Confession Club
  249. The more or less Definitive Guide to Self Care
  250. The Gifted School
  251. The Lager Queen of Minnesota
  252. The Most Fun We Ever Had
  253. The Dutch House
  254. Notes to Self
  255. Has Anyone Seen the President?
  256. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  257. Searching for Sylvie Lee
  258. Gravity Is the Thing
  259. Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers
  260. Unfu*k Yourself Workbook
  261. Chances Are…
  262. That’s What Frenemies Are For
  263. The Book Charmer
  264. On the Corner of Love and Hate(Hopeless Romantics, #1)
  265. Never Have I Ever
  266. Pretty Guilty Women
  267. The Great Unexpected
  268. Lanny
  269. The Right Swipe(Modern Love, #1)
  270. If You Want to Make God Laugh
  271. The Ten Thousand Doors of January
  272. The Floating Feldmans
  273. Things You Save in a Fire
  274. Turbulence
  275. You’ve Been Volunteered: A Class Mom Novel
  276. We Are All Good People Here
  277. Say Say Say
  278. Because You’re Mine
  279. No Happy Endings
  280. All the Water in the World
  281. The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus into Your Life
  282. The Turn of the Key
  283. A Bend in the Stars
  284. The Testaments
  285. The End of Loneliness
  286. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know
  287. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
  288. Dominicana
  289. The Dearly Beloved
  290. Family of Origin
  291. Read This if You Want to be Great at Drawing People
  292. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
  293. Inspired Artist: Draw Every Little Thing: Learn to draw more than 100 everyday items, from food to fashion
  294. The Grace Year
  295. How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
  296. Nature Tonic: A Year in My Mindful Life
  297. A Mindful Year: 365 Ways to Find Connection and the Sacred in Everyday Life
  298. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse
  299. A Pure Heart
  300. Twice in a Blue Moon
  301. The Whisper Man
  302. Summer Frost
  303. Emergency Skin
  304. Fleishman Is in Trouble
  305. There You Are
  306. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World
  307. Nothing to See Here
  308. The Memory Police
  309. Well Met
  310. Red at the Bone
  311. Little Faith
  312. Broken Man on a Halifax Pier
  313. The Water Dancer
  314. Little Weirds
  315. The Library of Lost and Found
  316. Living Beautifully: An Inspirational Journal
  317. Royal Holiday(The Wedding Date, #4)
  318. The Art of Watercolor Lettering: A Beginner’s Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Modern Calligraphy and Lettered Art
  319. The Chain
  320. Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature
  321. The Future of Another Timeline
  322. The Simple Wild (Wild, #1)
  323. If You Tame Me
  324. Healthy as F*ck: The Habits You Need to Get Lean, Stay Healthy, and Kick Ass at Life
  325. Don’t You Forget About Me
  326. Healthy Habits Suck: How to Get Off the Couch and Live a Healthy Life… Even If You Don’t Want To
  327. If You Were There
  328. The World That We Knew
  329. The Swallows
  330. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  331. Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life
  332. Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)
  333. Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World
  334. A Random Act of Kindness
  335. Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home
  336. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
  337. Midnight at the Blackbird Café
  338. Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
  339. The Weddings
  340. The Lion’s Den
  341. Can You Feel This?
  342. Everything My Mother Taught Me
  343. Zenith Man
  344. Big Dreams, Daily Joys: Get Things Done, Make Space for What Matters, Achieve Your Dreams
  345. Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations
  346. Half-truths and Semi-miracles: A Short Story
  347. Everyone’s a Critic
  348. Worry-Free Living: Let Go of Stress and Live in Peace and Happiness
  349. Universal Methods of Design Expanded and Revised: 125 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions
  350. All This Could Be Yours
  351. Love Poems for Married People
  352. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
  353. Love Lettering
  354. The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution
  355. After the End
  356. The Color of Style
  357. I Will Never See the World Again
  358. The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)
  359. Saving Francesca
  360. Once More We Saw Stars
  361. If Only I Could Tell You
  362. Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
  363. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
  364. The Family Upstairs
  365. A Warning
  366. The Math of Life and Death: 7 Mathematical Principles That Shape Our Lives
  367. The Starless Sea
  368. Where To Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World
  369. Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer, #1)
  370. Verity
  371. Where the Forest Meets the Stars
  372. We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life
  373. Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home
  374. Watercolor the Easy Way: Step-By-Step Tutorials for 50 Beautiful Motifs Including Plants, Flowers, Animals & More
  375. Creative Journaling: A Guide to Over 100 Techniques and Ideas for Amazing Dot Grid, Junk, Mixed Media, and Travel Pages
  376. Whiskey & Ribbons
  377. What if There Is Nothing Wrong With You: A Practice in Reinterpretation
  378. Lost Children Archive
  379. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
  380. Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)
  381. Lawn Boy
  382. Would Like to Meet
  383. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  384. Everyone Knows You Go Home
  385. You Have Arrived at Your Destination
  386. The Dating Charade
  387. Regretting You
  388. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy
  389. Night of Miracles (Mason, #2)
  390. Anyone
  391. The Year of No Nonsense: How a Little Less Bullsh*t Can Change Your Life
  392. When We Were Vikings
  393. A Good Neighborhood
  394. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau: A Novel
  395. The Murmur of Bees
  396. Apeirogon
  397. Observational Sketching
  398. Hidden Places
  399. Oona Out of Order
  400. Patron Saints of Nothing
  401. Seperation Anxiety
  402. It’s not Always Depression
  403. A Keeper
  404. Guests of August

I was purposefully planning to read 100 fewer books in 2019 than I did in 2018, I ended up reading 100 more. I am not going to try to guess how 2020 goes. I will just let myself be. I will try to live my life and read as much as I would like.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 51

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.

Would Like to Meet (2.5 stars): This was a cute book but didn’t really leave me with much to remember. I could tell all the smallish twists well before they showed up and the “obvious to everyone but the main character” types of stories aren’t my favorite, so this one did not make the top of my list. I think this has been the year of cute romance which I love seeing but I am learning (just like i did 5-6 years ago for young adult) that sometimes a genre explodes and part of the task, for me, is finding my specific preferences within that explosion. This one wasn’t for me but you might love it.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance (5 stars): I bought this book almost a year ago and it’s been sitting on my audible queue this whole time. I am not sure why I waited this long to actually listen to it. Maybe the name made me worry it would be scary. And I will say that the very beginning of the book was confusing for me. But I stuck with it and I am so so glad I did.

What a marvelous book!

This will definitely be in the top of my lists from this year. What an unusual, rich, and layered book. What great storytelling. What fantastic characters. What creativity. I loved and adored this one.

Everyone Knows You Go Home (4 stars): I’ve read several immigration related novels this year. This one might be near the top of that list. I’ve loved the small amount of magical realism in this book and the way the story weaves together. Even though I sort of figured out the ending (I am not even sure it was trying to be a twist) but I still felt very attached to the story. Especially the one taking place in the past. Isabel and Martin were less interested partly because I felt they (and their love) weren’t as developed. You didn’t get to see as much of their life’s journey. This story is heart-wrenching and shows the sacrifices people make to pass through the borders and the ways in which our decisions and choices can have consequences that last for generations. A beautiful story.

You Have Arrived at your Destination (4 stars): “But our strengths don’t serve us well in every circumstance at every phase of our lives. As we grow and enter new contexts, our longer-term strengths can suddenly hamper our worldly progress, which in turn can create dissonance at home.”

This was the last book in the Forward series that I’d intended to read but put off. I finally sat down to read it and it was a 20-30 minute read. The idea of genetically creating a kid is not new. In fact, the movie Gattaca talked about this more than 20 years ago. The personality angle was newer and I did like it especially around the concept of second and third arcs.

But the part I loved the most was Sam’s reflection about his own life and the lack of perfection in this whole story that’s really about trying to create perfection. There’s so much packed into this little one novella. I enjoyed it a lot.

The Dating Charade (3 stars): I might have read too many romance books this year. By the time I read this one, I was rolling my eyes at the parts where if only the two characters just sat and talked, this whole book wouldn’t exist. I know that a comedy of errors is a genre and it can be fun at times, but maybe I just need a break at this point. This was cute but really not anything I will remember. I know that writing a book is a lot of work and I would never want to brazenly dismiss that work. If romance is your genre, you will likely enjoy this book. I did. Just didn’t find it exceptional.

Regretting You (4 stars): Remember when I said I’d read too many romance novels this year? Nope, that wasn’t the problem. I am not sure why I felt compelled to read this as soon as I saw someone write about how much they loved it. But I saw it was available in kindle unlimited and I checked it out immediately and basically jumped my queue to read it. I started it and read it straight for 3 hours and then snuck pages in while I was waiting at the movies (side point: we saw “Knives Out” which was excellent) and then I stayed up until 1am to read more of this, and then woke up at 5am wanting to just finish the book already which I pretty much did without a break.

I loved this book.

I loved both of the characters (in fact all 4 of the main characters.) I really enjoyed Clara’s voice and felt it was authentic (at least for me) and loved Morgan’s voice too, especially more at the end. I felt connected to all the characters and found myself rooting for them, feeling for them, living their conundrum and really empathizing in general.

loved this one.

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 387 reads for the year. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 50

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.

Lost Children Archive (3 stars): This was an interesting read about a family on a car trip, covering topics like immigration and family dynamics told from two differing perspectives. The story was wonderful in some parts, and less fast moving in other parts. The language was beautiful throughout.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (3 stars): There are rare times when the audio format really kills the book for me. This was one of those. I started and stopped this book 4 different times. That has never happened on any of the 375+ books I’ve read this year so far. The narration was so misaligned with the words/spirit/tone of this story that it kept throwing me off and it made it extremely hard to get into the story. What a bummer.

I persevered anyway, even though I clearly should have just switched to book format. I did love the story and yes it was funny and steamy but at parts it felt like it was steamy or funny just for the sake of it instead of seamlessly fitting into the story or as part of character development. I know most people loved and adored this story so you should listen to them over me. I just had bad luck with this one.

But if you’re going to read it, I highly recommend you don’t pickup the audio!

Catch and Kill (4 stars): I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book. A friend of mine recommended it to me and I started it right away, but within about 5 minutes or so, I could already feel myself getting agitated and I knew this book was going to make me mad and sad and all the other feelings I wasn’t sure I wanted to have this week.

And it did.

I was angry and sad and disappointed. The extents people will go to to cover their misdeeds requires someone just as tenacious and someone who is not going to back down from intimidation and runaround and that’s exactly what Ronan Farrow did. He would not let this story go. He would not let NBC stop him. He kept going and going and going and uncovering more and more and more horrifying truths.

We are lucky there are still a handful of such journalists left in the world. (And a handful of press publications willing to run these stories.) I am very happy I read this and very thankful for Ranan Farrow’s diligence and persistence.

Lawn Boy (3 stars): This was an unusual novel. Unusual in that nothing really happens in this story. It’s the story of a Mexican American boy who is mowing lawns and living with his mom in the beginning and his journey of recurring attempts to make a life for himself. He tries to find something that will help him get out of the cycle he’s in. There are some really interesting parts of the book, mostly around his observations and experiences of the world and how he’s treated. But then there are parts that just feel meaningless and like they are dragging on. Overall, I liked it but didn’t love it.

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 360 reads for the year. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 49

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.

Where to Begin (5 stars): This super, super fast read but it’s full of heart and, for me, it was one of those books that makes me stop in my tracks and think about why I am here and how I want to live my life. I loved Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk and I loved Where to Begin. I am so glad writers like her exist and put their thoughts and feelings out into the world. We are all so much better off thanks to their willingness to do that.

Call Down the Hawk (4 stars): Ever since I read the Shiver series many, many years ago, I’ve been a huge fan of the multi-talented Maggie Stiefvater. She is not just the weaver of the best types of stories but her characters jump out of the page and grab me. They are colorful, rich with personality, and full of life. Ronan was my favorite of all the characters of the Raven Cycle so a series dedicated to Ronan was bound to be awesome. But by the time book four came along, I thought I might be done with the series and the characters.

I was wrong.

The Lynch family are just as awesome as I remembered and this story was crazy and chaotic and awe-inspiring in just the way only Maggie’s books can be. I loved my time with it. I am so grateful that Stiefvater is so prolific and continues to don our world with such colorful characters and weaves the most engaging stories.

Verity (3 stars): I put this book on my to-read list way back in January when everyone was raving about it. I bought it both on audio and on book form and then it sat on my ipad for months and months as other library books came and went, taking priority over this book that I owned. In mid-November I finally decided it was time to read all the books I bought this year so I am finally starting to go through the list, this was at the very top due to all the “OMG” reviews.


I think because I knew there was going to be a giant twist, I kept waiting for it to happen. I was cautious believing anything in the book. The comparisons to Gone Girl made me suspicious of every character the whole time. And when the twist came, it fell so flat for me. I was like “that’s it?!” I also will say I didn’t actually think the writing was great, the book starts with a gratuitously violent scene and it wasn’t at all relevant. The characters aren’t well developed enough so much of what we know about Jeremy is either from the discovered manuscript or from Lowen gushing over him. For me, the characters did not stand on their own.

It was a good story and I am not sad I read it but maybe the hype really ruined it for me. Maybe if I had read it knowing nothing I, too, would have found it to be awesome. A good reminder to not read reviews before reading a novel.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars (4 stars): Like, Verity, this was another book I bought way back in January because of all the hype around it and didn’t read it all year. But, unlike Verity, I loved this book. I thought the characters were well developed, the story was touching and real and beautiful even if you had to suspend disbelief a little bit about how no one came looking for this little girl (which I felt was explained by the end.)

I loved the characters the most. I got attached to each of them for different reasons and the way they were each broken in their own way by something in their past and they were struggling to live their lives and figure out a path forward felt so real. I loved how they came together and helped each other and added meaning to each other’s lives which is exactly what the power of human connection has the potential to be.

If you’ve been putting it off like me, maybe it’s time to pick it up. I loved this touching, sweet story.

We Are the Luckiest (4 stars): “And here is the thing we must know about our things if we are ever going to survive them: We believe we can bury them, when the truth is, they’re burying us. They will always bury us, eventually.”

I don’t drink.

I never really have. I don’t like the taste of alcohol and I don’t like the idea of losing control and not remembering what I said or did. I also don’t like the way it makes me feel in my body. It’s never been a struggle to not drink for me since I dislike it enough. So alcohol isn’t my thing.

But I have my own list of things. And while my list is not full of things that cause me to black out and not remember chunks of my life, its full of things that are mine and that need to be acknowledged and conquered because they are burying me.

“Not because I was committed to forever, but because I finally realized the future was built on a bunch of nows, and that was it.”

While I was reading this beautifully written, raw, and honest novel, a part of me was thinking, “Well my ‘flaws’, my ‘addictions’ are nowhere near that bad. they don’t harm anyone. they don’t make it so I can’t live my day to day life. They are harmless compared to all this.”

Which is the way we fool ourselves, isn’t it? Life isn’t a comparison game. It’s not about whose stories are the most awful, or who really deserves the biggest shame. It’s not even about the stories we hold on to so that we can stay in the places we are, the places that don’t serve us but are so hard to walk away from. I am not as bad as that, so I can keep doing what I do to numb my feelings, my life, my nows.

“It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to take everything you have. It’s supposed to take longer than you want and to change you, completely. This often won’t feel good when it’s happening, but nothing worth having ever does.”

When you are high functioning in your day-to-day life, it’s easy to write off these ‘things’ that get in the way, because they are not ‘really’ getting in the way after all. They aren’t causing harm to others and why does it matter if it’s not hurting anyone else?

“But you can decide—by no longer allowing the circumstances of your life to victimize you—that none of it owns you anymore. You can say, Now, I know better. Now, I know different. I am not helpless anymore. And then you can go about doing the hard work of healing. This is the singular, hard truth I come up against every day: I am the only one responsible for my experience.”

And the fact is, life is not about other people. Even if it might seem so. Other people can’t break me, and other people can’t make me. I have to show up, I have to put in the work, and I have to build the life I want for myself.

Even though this book was about McKowen’s journey with alcohol and going sober, it’s about so much more than that. It’s a reminder that if we want life to be a certain way, we don’t get to run away from things. That the only way out is through. That our lives are our own and we get to decide how they go. That it’s hard work to build the life you want. It’s excruciating work. But then you get to have the biggest gift of all: the life you choose.

“To have a direct experience of life. To know its depths completely. To be enraptured in the mystery. To be the hero of my own great adventure.”

This is the kind of book that reminds you that the work of life is always hard and always, always worth it.

With huge gratitude to the author, New World Library and edelweiss for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Whiskey and Ribbons (4 stars): I enjoyed this sweet story. The characters are well developed, and I found myself rooting for each of them at different parts of the story. It’s heartbreaking, honest, and a perfect read for a cozy winter day. Even though the reader knows what’s going to happen, the three characters telling their stories all weave in and out together and each have their own beautiful storyline. If you like quiet, poignant, and character-driven stories, you will love this one.

Belonging (3 stars): This was a complicated book for me to read. I am not sure how I missed it but I had no idea what the book was about until I started it. And once I started, I wanted to keep going. The format of this book is really interesting and in my opinion makes it a lot more engaging. I generally avoid reading works around WWII so I am not sure what compelled me to keep reading this, but I am glad I did. I liked the honesty Krug displays as she grapples with her family’s history and as she tries to figure out their role during the war. Alas, I am not sure I could move into the space of empathy mostly due to my own background but it’s still important to have books like this and I am glad I spent time with it.

Watercolor the Easy Way (4 stars): I love watercolors and I love making small sketches with watercolors so this book is my happy place. If you’ve never ever touched watercolors before or if you’ve dabbled a little but haven’t really done much, this is the book for you.

The author starts with a few very simple watercolor tips and tricks, some color theory and then it’s all about the specific tutorials. She has a drawing you can copy for each motif and then walks you through how she’s coloring it both highlighting the specific colors she uses, and showing which steps she does first and how she layers.

There are a wide range of motifs: a lot of beautiful flowers, some fun animals, and ordinary things like bikes and food, etc. This is a great book for you to sit with and try a handful of examples at a time. It’s simple, rewarding, quick and enjoyable.

huge thanks to netgalley and Better Day Books for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Creative Journaling (4 stars): This fun book has many different examples of dot journaling, junk journaling, mixed media journaling and travel journaling. You also can mix up each of the techniques she mentions and the best part is that most of them are simple and relatively easy to recreate. Sometimes books like these have the potential to be eye candy where they are super stunning but impossible to recreate (which is also fine if that’s all you’re looking for.) whereas in this book, I felt there were layouts that were really pretty and also really doable. For me, that’s my happy place. If you’re into any of these types of journaling, I’d recommend you give this book a try.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

What if there’s Nothing Wrong with You? (3 stars): “Now I ask you: what if there IS nothing wrong with you? Think about this question for a moment. For now, I’m not saying there ISN’T, simply asking what if there isn’t? How could that realization change your relationship with yourself? How could it change your relationship with others? Would you have more confidence and courage to do something you are secretly passionate about?”

I loved the idea of this book. The concept behind practicing the idea that there’s nothing wrong with me sounds really powerful to me. I understand that this might not be a thing for everyone but it most decidedly is for me which is why i bought this book after reading about it in a different book. And it’s not a bad book. It’s just that it’s small and doesn’t really have enough depth for me. Maybe that’s really because like most things, I have to put in the work and be willing to do what it takes. It reminded me of Byron Katie’s The Work a bit but I felt that was so much more powerful for me and it’s closer to what I guess I was seeking.

It was still good to read because I enjoy reminders that I have to keep these questions front and center.

And here’s the most amazing, all too true, Ram Dass quote from the book:
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight … And you look at the tree and you allow it. … You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – Ram Dass

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 360 reads for the year. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 48

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.

If Only I Could Tell You (3 stars): This book covers many, many serious and heavy subjects and it’s about what secrets do to a family. How what we think we know about others (even our closest family members) can determine the course of our whole life and can also be completely wrong. As I was reading this, I felt like the author couldn’t decide whether this should be a serious book or more of a light one. There are a long list of very serious subject matter in this book including suicide, serious illness, miscarriage, and it covers deeply broken relationships between husband and wife and daughter-parent and siblings and yet, there topics aren’t really handled at depth (maybe in an effort not to have the book become too heavy?) which left me a bit unsatisfied. I still enjoyed reading the story quite a bit.

Permission to Feel (4 stars): “But the trigger is inside us, not out there. We have to take responsibility for our actions rather than shift the blame elsewhere. It may not have felt like a choice, but it surely was—we decide how we’ll respond to life’s provocations.”

I find it interesting that so many people are unhappy with the title of this book. The way I interpreted it was that if we really own the feelings we have, name them, and let ourselves feel them, we can then decide how to respond to them. To be able to get to the place of responding it’s really important to actually feel your feelings. Lack of awareness, lack of naming, are, in my opinion, all ways in which we don’t always give ourselves permission or space to feel the feelings. Maybe I misinterpreted what the title was trying to say but alas this interpretation made the title totally make sense for me.

I’ve seen Marc Brackett live before when he visited the elementary school my kids attended at the time, I’ve sent my kids to SEL-heavy schools all the way from elementary to high school. I believe strongly in Marc’s assertion that a high EQ is going to be crucial to one’s success in life. So I was already a primed audience for this book.

And it didn’t disappoint. I think the parts where the book shines are where the author shares his own journey and experiences. I wish there were more of that. I like the RULER framework: recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating. I’ve found journaling can really help me with the first three and I am constantly working on the latter two. 

It was painful to read the chapter on emotions at home and understanding how much of my learning comes from my own history and how much I am impacting my children’s story. I am grateful that there are opportunities to course-correct but I also am reminded how much more I have to work on this in my home (and in my work!) 

Even if the title makes you uncomfortable, or maybe especially then, I would recommend this read. IMHO, emotions are there whether we acknowledge them or not and they have the capacity to wreak havoc when we don’t.

thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae (3.5 stars): I liked this sweet novel about a girl who gets a heart transplant and is learning how to live on her own, make her own decisions, choose her path. Her relationship with her mom is the heart of this novel, in my opinion. Her grief, her hope, her resolve, her gratitude, and her learning how to navigate life are all the highlight of this sweet novel.

The Family Upstairs (3 stars): I didn’t read all the reviews of this book until after I was done. I am not sure if that would have deterred me from reading it but it probably would have helped me get a sneak peek into how totally messed up the plot is. I loved the way the seemingly unrelated characters came together in this super twisted story. It was a great little escape if you’re looking for a quick, fast-paced read that has twists and turns as long as you don’t mind the relatively creepy subject matter.

A Warning (3 stars): Not even sure why I read this. There was nothing new here and while it was a short, quick read, it towed the line between trying to be preachy, sensationalist, and informative. For me, it ended up being none of them and mostly just a waste of time. 

The Starless Sea (3 stars): I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was to read this book. The Night Circus was one of my favorite reads (and an amazing listen) and I was beyond excited that the author had a new book coming. Alas, this one didn’t end up working as well for me. So much so that I took a long break to see if I would get into it more if I walked away for a bit. 

There are many, many fantastic and glowing reviews of this book so I know that your experience might be very different. The language and writing are beautiful, the characters are interesting, and this author just knows how to weave stories together. While I didn’t love this particular one, I will continue to read anything Erin Morgenstern writes for as long as she continues to write.

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 360 reads for the year. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 47

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.

Love Lettering (4 stars): I really enjoyed my time with this sweet story. The blurb tells you most of the plot of the book. Meg’s a letterer and Reid and his wife-to-be are her clients. A year later, Reid finds her and asks about the message she’d hidden in their wedding announcements. 

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot since there is a bit of a twist towards the end of the book (which I guessed somehow) but this isn’t a mystery novel so it’s not really about the plot. The characters are fun and each uniquely interesting and the main character was developed enough to make the story enjoyable for me. In many romances, the characters seem to be cardboard versions of themselves, with the author not feeling the need to develop the characters fully in favor of developing the romance/electricity. In this novel, I felt both of the characters were developed enough that they felt real to me. Even the secondary characters like Meg’s roommate, the client Lark, and the women at the store were all fun additions to the story without seeming completely one-dimensional.

I love lettering and I love numbers so the extra layers of Meg’s job and Reid’s job were an added bonus for me. If romance is your genre, I am pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one.

thank you to netgalley and Kensington Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

ps: this book also has the honor of being my 100th netgalley read this year 🙂

The Man Who Solved the Market (3.5 stars): This was an easy, interesting read. The author states from the very beginning that the ex- and current employees don’t like to talk about the company and Simons didn’t want him to write the book. It’s clear that while there’s a bunch of research, the book, to me, didn’t come alive the way some of the similar books in the genre do. The characters didn’t seem 3-dimensional and the story didn’t have the spark it needed to move from a research project to a compelling book. It didn’t really come alive off the page the way I had hoped it might. The reader is left with some interesting tidbits about Simons and Renaissance but not the real essence of what made them tick. Still found it to be quite readable and enjoyed my time with it.

After the End (4 stars): I put off reading this book for a long time because I was worried that the plot would make me too sad. And it really did. Deciding whether to pull the plug on your child’s life support would easily wreck any parent, let alone when the two parents disagree. These types of experiences strain a marriage so much and that’s partially the focus of this story. Many people wrote in the reviews that they didn’t like the second half of the novel where the narrative splits in half and you get a Sliding Doors like experience of finding out how each choice would have turned out. 

But I loved it. 

I didn’t necessarily find each of the narratives super-engaging but what I loved was the way it highlighted how there’s no “right” choice in this scenario and how regardless of what path they had chosen, their relationship would still have taken the intolerable tax of losing a child. To me, this demonstrated how impossible the choice was. It was a great example of showing and not telling.

The Color of Style (3 stars): I’ll be really honest here, I hate shopping. I would have never picked this book up if it weren’t for a work friend who said she had a meeting with Zyla and raved about him. In fact, I am absolutely sure he’s fantastic in person. The problem, in my opinion, is that his unique and very personal talent is hard to translate into a book. Finding these very unique colors that will suit you perfectly is something that requires a really keen eye for subtle differences. It’s hard for an ordinary person to do it, in my opinion. I loved much of the advice here and found myself wishing that I had already had a personal appointment and knew my colors so I could read this book and figure out how to start turning over my closet. It does have good tips for people who don’t like shopping and how to build it out slowly. As with most things, there’s no easy magic bullet here, you can’t replace a personal experience with a book. It was still enjoyable to read.

I Will Never See the World Again (3.5 stars): I was born and raised in Turkey so when my childhood friend who lives in London recommended I read this book, I added it to my list. It took several more months for it to come to the United States but I finally got it from the library this week. Like Dawn, the author of this book is also in jail. Unlike Dawn, this is a non-fiction novel and not stories. 

I don’t know enough about the politics and truth behind so much of what happened during the coup and this particular author’s part (or lack thereof) in it. So I can’t really speak to that, but I can say that this book is powerful and full of beautiful imagery and gives you a glimpse of how inconsistent and nonsensical the legal process (or lack thereof) can be.

I am glad I read it.

The Bromance Book Club (4 stars): This book was super fun. After several heavy reads, I needed something light and quick. I didn’t really know what the plot was but it looked like it would be exactly what I needed and it totally was. I read the whole book in one breath. I loved the characters and the playful plot. I saw a review that said this was a feminist romance, I am not sure I’d qualify it that way but there are strong female characters in it which can sometimes be not common in a romance. It also was awesome that this is about romance within a marriage which is definitely rare. That last bit is what moved it from a 3.5 to a 4 star for me!

Saving Francesca (4 stars): And I hear nothing because it’s like the volume button has been turned down on our lives and nobody has anything to say anymore.

It took me a while to get into this novel. I had added this to my to-read list a while back and checked and rechecked it out of the library before I finally settled down to read it. Once I got about 30% of the way in, I didn’t want to do anything but keep reading this book. I thought about the characters the whole time and really wanted to know how the story turned out. 

The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, “We’re pregnant.” I want to go around the neighborhood saying, “We’re depressed.” If my mum can’t get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it’s eating us alive.

The story had a lot of flaws, in my opinion. the secondary characters weren’t well developed. The dad seemed a bit more cartoonish for most of the novel (except some fantastic sections) and while I felt like the descriptions of depression and its impact on the family were very realistic, acute and palpable in this novel, I felt like the ending and the story behind Francesca’s mom’s journey of how she got there was a bit cleaner than I would have liked. All this is messy and I wished the book had not resolved as much. Even though I also think that definitely does happen (it did to me.) I still wish it was a bit messier.

All in all, this was still a great book. The teenagers in the book were honestly portrayed and were richly developed. I loved reading it.

Once More We Saw Stars (3.5 stars): It was really interesting to read this book after I read After the End which was a fictional novel based on a true event that happened to the author. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to read two novels around a kid dying in one week. The nonsensical nature of the death of their daughter makes this story so very heart-wrenching and such a terrible reminder that life is precarious and can change on you in a moment. The pain and heartache of this couple is so acute and so hard to read. 

And yet it’s also hopeful in so many ways. The couple stays together through this horrible experience that usually breaks most marriages. They have another baby and continue to honor their daughter and her memory. 

It broke my heart but I am glad I read it.

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 360 reads for the year. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 46

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.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts (3 stars): As many other reviews also said, this story starts strong and then just fizzles. The premise is quite intriguing and I liked all of the characters a lot, too, especially Dex who was a pleasure to read. All in all, the story didn’t finish as strong as it started and I think it could have been a third shorter while still staying strong. I still enjoyed my time with it.

Everything My Mother Taught Me (5 stars): Alice Hoffman was the whole reason I requested the Inheritance series from netgalley. I’ve been a fan of Hoffman and her wonderful writing. This story did not disappoint. 

Adeline’s dad dies when she’s twelve and her mom accepts a job looking after two lighthouses. Her mom is selfish, unkind and is pretty much looking out for number one. This is the story of all the havoc she causes when she enters the lives of the three families living at the lighthouses and the impact it has on Adeline and the story of Adeline’s redemption. Mothers and daughters are always complicated and it’s just so in this powerful story.

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. “A collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones.”

Can You Feel This? by Julie Orringer
Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman
The Lion’s Den by Anthony Marra 
Zenith Man by Jennifer Haigh
The Weddings by Alexander Chee

Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Weddings (3.5 stars): This one wasn’t my favorite of the series, but I did enjoy it quite a bit especially all the little details around weddings and the pressure they put on the attendees and how the dynamics of what it means to attend a wedding as a gay couple has changed. It was interesting to read.

The main character goes back and forth in time giving glimpses to his history with the groom and glimpses into the struggles around finding your identity, your belonging and being unclear about where you stand with a person and then the awkwardness of being at their wedding (such a special occasion) after not having seen them for years and years. There’s so much packed into a short story. 

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Lion’s Den (3.5 stars): “Honesty comes in an infinite variety, none crueler than a teenager’s tedium.”

This story of a father-son relationship. A boy who’s father took an action that put his whole family’s life in jeopardy and forever changed the rest of his teenage son’s life. A father who is both famous and infamous. Who’s both revered and reviled. A family who didn’t make the choice but was thrust into the consequences. 

“I’d forgotten conversations with Jimmy Massaro are spectator sports. He has an uncanny ability to speak to himself even while looking you in the eye.”

This is a story about this boy coming back to be with his dad as he dies. The story of what it means to forgive, to turn one’s life into a story, to have your whole identity wrapped up in something that was never even your choice. The consequences of ego. Does time heal wounds? So many questions in such a short story. 

“The good news is that adolescence is a disorder whose physical effects are invariably treated by time. Emotionally and psychologically, it is, for some, incurable.”

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Zenith Man (4 stars): “Harold Pardee was as close to a stationary object as a person could possibly be.”

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I liked this story a lot and it stayed with me after I finished it. This is the story of Harold’s wife whom he finds dead one morning and due to her recluse nature, no one has ever met her (except one person) and knew about her existence. There is a lot of suspicion around her death but how can Harold prove he didn’t kill someone whom no one even knew existed? It’s a weird but still intriguing premise.

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Can You Feel This? (5 stars): As a mother, this was one of the stories I enjoyed the most. I could feel all the hesitation, excitement, joy, anxiety, worry, frustration the main character had and the helplessness around trying to nurse your baby and not being able to. There were so many moments in this story that I loved, the best friend who comes in and takes charge, the cleaning lady who ends up being the only one who can actually help, the lactation consultant who is harsh and unhelpful. On and on, so many real characters that stay with you long after you’re done. A powerful short story. This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Big Dreams, Daily Joys (4 stars): I’m a huge goal-setter and have at times followed Elise on different online platforms. I was excited to read her book on goal setting/getting things done and it did not disappoint. I liked how clear she was with some of the concepts:

“There are three reasons why you don’t get your to-do list items accomplished: lack of time, lack of communication, or lack of interest.” 

Yep and it’s helpful to know which is in which state so I can be clear so that I know what I need to do to move them to a different state.

Even though she quotes the idea from someone else, I loved the idea of looking at my life as an inbox and seeing what’s noise and what’s spam and what I actually signed up for. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the signal to noise ratio in several areas of my work, no reason I can’t think the same way about my life as a whole.

“The fact that you made something you didn’t love today doesn’t matter when you have to make something again tomorrow. This is the power of daily creative projects. You can’t dwell because you have to keep going.”

Yes! This is exactly why I love working on daily projects. It takes my ruminating self out of the equation. I can’t spend too much time overthinking it. I do it today, I move on because I have to do it again tomorrow. This is how I treat my daily drawing for insta: some days I love it and other days it’s a disaster, either way I move on. 

I also loved the five-year plan. I’ve never made one and five years still seems too much to me at this stage of my life, but three doesn’t seem undoable and I think it would still be hugely valuable so I am planning on taking some time with it.

All in all, if you’re a planner and doer and like having projects, I recommend this pretty and inspiring book.

Payoff (4 stars): “As people feel connected, challenged, and get more recognition for their efforts, the total amount of motivation, joy, and output for everyone grows much larger.”

I don’t think it’s possible for Dan Ariely to write a book that’s anything but fascinating. His areas of study are so interesting, so relevant and his work is always so thought-provoking. This short book is no exception. This book focuses on motivation. How we’re motivated, why we’re motivated that way and what’s the best way to motivate your employees. As always, the answers are not intuitive. The strongest motivators are trust, acknowledgement, goodwill, long-term focus, and creating meaningful things, legacy, etc. This is a short book to read and yet impactful, my favorite kind of nonfiction.

Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles (4 stars): This tiny short story is really just an appetizer of Anne Tyler but I am such a fan that I’ll take appetizers. I know she has a new book coming out in 2020 as well thankfully! This is the story of Susanna who has a gift for healing people, or does she? My favorite thing about Tyler’s stories is her ordinary characters that you fall in love with and root for and journey alongside. I can’t wait for her new novel. If you’re like me and will enjoy any sampling of Tyler, you’ll love this.

Worry-Free Living (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this book. While I really enjoyed the topics of each of the essays and really loved the lessons and thought-provoking perspective, the writing itself felt really choppy and off to me. I am not sure if this is a translation and was just poorly translated or if the author’s style is choppy like this. But either way it made it harder for me to connect with the text.

Here’s an example:

“With that said, if you want to avoid divorce, my advice for you is to offer your partner praise.” 

If this said something like, “regular and genuine praise fuels a marriage and helps foster love,” etc. I’d totally be feeling positively encouraged to do so. And yet this phrasing makes me anxious and worried that I better do what he says or I might not be able to avoid divorce. For a book about worry-free living, it’s making me worry!

I understand it’s not intended this way (or I hope not!) but because there are many examples like this, it’s hard for me to connect with the content as much as I’d like to. 

With gratitude to netgalley and IRH press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Everyone’s A Critic (4 stars): This was a funny, ironic little story bashing both critics and mass-reviewers (in my opinion.) In fact, I feel like Weiner had fun with a bunch of different concepts in this short story. It’s about the changing face of literary criticism, about critics themselves, about the changing ownership and perspective of publishing and how to cater to new audiences. It’s about revenge, too. But most of all it read to me like Weiner was just having fun writing it. I had a lot of fun reading it.

Universal Methods of Design (4 stars): If you’re interested in design and design methodology this is a fantastic resource. With 125 research methods, it’s absolutely a comprehensive reference with short explanations and clear examples of each method to ensure you can see the application of each method. I really enjoyed my time with this book and as someone who works closely with the User Experience and User Experience Research teams, I feel like I understand some of the methodology so much more clearly now. with gratitude to netgalley and quarto publishing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

All This Could be Yours (3.5 stars): Attenberg’s novel was painful to read. I find her to be a good writer and her characters always seem real, albeit so different from me that it’s a bit hard for me to connect with them. I still find myself enjoying her writing, her characters and her stories because they feel honest and real. I might not connect with the characters’ choices or actions but I connect with their pain and suffering and frustrations etc because I can almost acutely feel it come off the page. This novel was no different. At its center the toxic Victor and the pain that toxicity caused to everything and everyone around it. How we carry our scars around with us for a long time and how this type of damage can pass from generation to generation. It’s painful and observant and sad and anger-inducing. Which is why it feels so real.

Love Poems for Married People (4 stars): I loved, loved this little book of poems. They are funny, so-well-observed, and so sweetly genuine. I connected with some much more than others, of course, but as a whole I felt it was deeply delightful. Many of these are laugh-out-loud funny, several are really sweet and the very last one is an homage to his wife. I guarantee you will enjoy at least one poem in this set.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (5 stars): This was up there as one of my favorite non-fiction reads of this year (Invisible Women is going to hold the top spot there). It was honest, interesting, funny at parts, sad at others and just a fascinating book to read mostly because it wasn’t too shy to talk about the parts that most people choose not to share, the ugly, the hidden, the parts of our life that make us look less than great that we wish we could sweep under some rug. There are a handful of patients and Lori’s own story of her seeing a therapist. There are details but no names, it’s not sensationalized but more tender, open and imperfect. I appreciated her therapist insights, her peek into the thinking of a therapist when you’re a patient, and her experience with getting her own therapy. The story is compellingly told and I found myself wanting to keep listening, not out of morbid curiosity (as this could have easily become) but out of genuine care.

And there we go, a lot of reading this week, due to many short reads. 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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 45

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.

Ninth House (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this book. I have read and enjoyed other Bardugo books before so I was looking forward to her first adult novel. I’ve also been on the Yale campus several times so I thought it would be fun to read a book about the houses. And it was. The descriptions were fun and interesting. The plot was somewhat interesting too and some of the characters were as well. But overall, the book felt too long to me. Too much going on, the story felt like it went on and on and on and at some point, I lost interest. Even though I did finish it, I think it could have been a much tighter and more interesting story at two thirds of its length. Not sorry I read it, but didn’t love this one.

Welcoming the Unwelcome (5 stars): “Only by learning to fully embrace all aspects of ourselves–even the most seemingly negative elements of our minds and hearts–will we learn to fully embrace others. Only by discovering the basic goodness in both our lotus and our mud, will we come to see the basic goodness of all living things.”

I love Pema Chödrön. There’s something about the way she writes that speaks exactly to me. Her way of communicating with compassion, kindness and vulnerability speak to me and make me feel both less alone and more hopeful. This book is full of reminders that failure is an opportunity for growth and that we don’t have to let life’s events get to us. We can observe, “as if you’re the sky, allowing all the clouds to pass through you, not rejecting anything that arises in that space,” as Trungpa Rinpoche says.

I need to read books by Pema at least monthly so I can remember some of the down to earth and profound thoughts in her books. They are the exact perspective check I need in my life.

Invisible Women (5 stars): This excellent, excellent book made me so mad that I had to take breaks between reading it. It was recommended to me by a work friend and it was a compelling read from the very first page. I can go on and on about all the statistics this book quotes and the studies it cites. I can go on and on about the ways in which this book quotes how the world is not a safe or just place for women. How women are overlooked again and again.

The information in the book is very very wide ranging from crash test dummies, to voice recognition software, airline seats, medical research, bathrooms, safety, accounting of work hours, and on and on. It’s not possible to read this book and not admit that the way women and their existence (their contributions) is not accounted for in the data we collect and thus in the world we live in. Even saying erased would assume it existed at some point but it doesn’t even exist. No one is collecting it. No one is acknowledging it. There is no accounting for it so thus it will never be possible to make change based on the data since the data doesn’t even exist.

I am feeling angry just writing this review. I cannot overstate the importance of reading this book.

A Random Act of Kindness (4 stars): I received this book way back in March and for some reason thought it wasn’t going to be good so I kept putting it off and not reading it.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I finally sat down to clear all my queue before the year is over and within 20 pages, I didn’t want to stop reading this lovely story. I loved the wide array of characters, each of whom were interesting on their own. I loved the beautiful clothing descriptions. I loved the dynamics between the characters, none of them were simple and while it was a sweet, romantic book, it also felt like I got close to each of the characters a little bit.

Sometimes I read a sweet novel and am left with an empty after taste, this felt more like a satisfying meal. It made me smile, and even laugh at parts, and I loved the happy ending that I knew was coming.

If you like to curl up with cozy, sweet, romance stories, you will enjoy this one. I did.

with gratitude to netgalley and avon books for an early copy that i clearly should have read much sooner.

Thirst (4 stars): I read this whole book in one sitting. Heather’s journey to be the fastest hiker of the Pacific Crest Trail was inspiring to read. The best part of this book was the descriptions of all the little moments on the trail. The people she met, the ways in which she pushed through and kept going despite the insanity of what she was doing.

But what I really loved, and craved more of, was her back story. How she got from being a non-athletic teen to this amazing journey. The book hints at the little bits here and there but there isn’t enough of it, in my opinion. The book goes back and forth between feeling like you’re experiencing it alongside her to feeling on the outside and for me, the former moments are the best parts.

Loved reading this.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe (4 stars): What a lovely, lovely book. This is a sweet book about a girl whose grandmother passes away so she goes back to her mom’s hometown to run and then eventually close up the cafe her grandmother used to run. There’s a bit of magic in there as the pies they bake at the diner cause people to get messages from the dead people in their lives. But it’s a really small part of the story and adds whimsy to the story. Even though the end was predictable, I enjoyed each of the characters and spending a few hours in the small town. It’s a lovely, cozy story for the rainy fall days.

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.

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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 43

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.

Little Weirds (no rating): “In the last light of a long day, I sit on a chair on my porch and watch the sky drain colors down and out and I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just mine, now.”

I am loath to ever give a book a low number of stars, especially a memoir. Books are so much work and come from a place deep in one’s soul. And who am I to judge that? And at the same time, there are books that connect with me and books that don’t. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the book, or me. It just means that at this juncture of our lives, in this moment, this book and I are not connecting. And instead of attaching a bad rating to that, I decided to give it no rating.

“I was pleased that she made sure. Because in making sure, Kathleen gave me the opportunity to say out loud to another person that I would like my old dog to have flowers stuck to his face, and when I said it out loud—that yes, I would like that—I knew it was true. Then I admired myself. What’s more, I felt tenderness about my personality and my choices for delight. I said who I was, on my land.”

I didn’t know anything about Jenny Slate before I read this book. I don’t watch the TV show she’s famous for and I had no idea what to expect from this book. It’s a most unusual style. I’d say if you don’t like magical realism, you will have a tough time with this book but I love magical realism and yet I still had a tough time. It’s maybe more on the eclectic/absurd as well as magical realism. 

“I know what I want to hear when I hear myself in this life, and I am feeling very certain that there is absolutely no good reason to ever be disrespectful, no matter how upset you are. I do not need to hear bullying voices ever again and there is no reason to ever do that sort of emotional violence to anyone.”

There were definitely beautiful and resonant moments in it. Thoughts around loneliness, belonging, and kindness. And I will remember these and leave the others.

With gratitude to netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Library of Lost and Found (3.5 stars): I took this book out of the library at least five or six times before I finally sat down and read it. I have no idea why. I think I thought this was going to be much quirkier than it actually was. While the main character was a bit on the unusual side, this story is really a family story. It’s about keeping secrets, it’s about being a wife, it’s about feeling a lack of belonging and it’s about how we find ourselves constantly seeking some lost thing when we have that feeling of not belonging. Or at least, that’s what it was for me. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to.

The Art of Watercolor Lettering (3.5 stars): If one could get good at something by reading books on it, my brush lettering would be incredible by now. I have read so many books on this topic that I could probably get a degree on it if it didn’t mean I had to actually do some. I wasn’t sure what new I was expecting from this book but here’s how it surprised me:

– it’s definitely a beginner book: she breaks down the letters into families so you know how to practice each set. she walks you step by step. She gives many many many practice pages at the end of the book.

– it has both variety and fun: she might have preferences in her tools. but this might be one of the first watercolor books i read that actually mentioned watercolor pencils (which is my favorite medium.) which I loved. She has fun wreath ideas, fun ways to combine paint and use brush pens, etc, too.

– it encourages practice: this was my reminder to self that without actually sitting down and practicing, it’s unlikely I will ever get good at it. To encourage this, she has many different types of practice pages that you can simply trace. 

Overall, if you love the idea of watercolor lettering and you’re a solid beginner, I recommend this one.

Thank you to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rewilding (4 stars): “Go and sit by a babbling brook and focus on the sound of the water. Listen to the sound of the wind. Gaze out over the ocean and listen to the rhythm of the water. Sit by a crackling fire and smell the aroma of smoke of dry pine branches popping as they release the stored light of the sun. Place your palms on warm concrete and feel the stable earth element beneath it supporting you. Ponder a dandelion growing nobly through a crack of concrete. Society may be telling us that we need more, always more, but stop and listen to what the earth and sky are trying to tell us. Take a deep breath and empty your mind as you exhale. Look around and receive the miracle of this moment. You are enough.”

I pick a word of the year each year in an effort to look at life through the lens of that word. My word for 2020 will be “wild” so when I saw this book, I knew it would be a great foray into embracing my word. 

And I was not disappointed.

This book is connecting back with nature in a slow, thoughtful, and mindful way. It has meditations, some history of when we used to be connected to the earth so much more, some recommendations on how to be more ready for being in the wild (like building a fire, etc.) and some really small, easy things you can do to reconnect purposefully. 

People say that what we’re all seeking a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell

More than any one section, what spoke to me is the sentiment of the book and the way it made me feel. As I was reading, I could almost smell, hear and feel the outdoors. I was itching to sink my feet into the earth and feel the breeze on my face. I made several notes of the guidebooks I want to get, survival skills I want to learn, and most importantly to find a way to connect with nature every single day. 

I can already feel the invitation of the wild and the calmness it always creates in me. I look forward to reading this book again and again throughout 2020 as I embrace my word and nature.

with gratitude to netgalley and Sounds True for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Royal Holiday (3.5 stars): Jasmine Guillory books are never not fun. While I thought the last one in the series was not as awesome as the previous ones, I enjoyed this one a lot more. I read the whole book in one sitting, enjoyed both the royal setting and Vivian and Malcolm as characters. It was fun to read a romance story about older characters for a change. I liked the character development, the side plots with the nephew and daughter and just found myself enjoying the story. And how can you go wrong with a holiday theme?

The Chain (3 stars): The reviews of this book scared me. Did I really want to read a book on parents chain kidnapping other parents’ kids? Yikes. I waited for several months before I finally decided yesterday that I was in the mood for something fast paced and crazy. And so I grabbed this one. It was fast paced and it was crazy. I feel the beginning was stronger than the end. It kind of all became not interesting to me by the end but I did like that it fully wrapped up. I think while the execution was pretty good, too, this is one of those books where the plot idea is one you won’t forget.

The Future of Another Timeline (3.5 stars): What an unusual novel. I really enjoyed this story and the way the plot went back and forth. It would have been 100% my cup of tea except for some of the pacing and character development which I felt was too slow and too shallow. The book was too long with too much going on. I know the author did a lot of research and I really enjoyed the real-life connections but even if she had simplified it a bunch it would have made for a very interesting novel without some of the noise. Even with all that, I really enjoyed my time with it and I am very glad I read it.

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.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 42

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.

Nothing to See Here (4 stars): “How else would we protect ourselves?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. How did people protect themselves? How did anyone keep this world from ruining them? I wanted to know. I wanted to know so bad.

The blurb of this book is not typical and I am not sure what drew me to it but I am so glad I read it. Even though this book sounds like it’s about two kids who light on fire, the fire itself is such a small part of the overall story. It’s really about parenting, family, friendship, neglect, and belonging.

“She was holding it in her hands, cupped together. It looked like what love must look like, just barely there, so easy to extinguish.”

I am not usually a fan of dark humor but in this case, I think it was beautifully done and added a tiny bit of lightness into this story which at its core is actually a very sad story. If you’re looking for a funny, clever story about kids who spontaneously burst into flames, this is not your story. 

If you’re looking for a touching story about belonging and family with bits of dark humor sprinkled in about politics and wealth, this is your story.

I loved reading it.

With gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Well Met (3 stars): This was a really fast, sweet read. I could tell what was going to happen from about page 1 so I found parts of the characters behaviors irritating. But if you’re in the mood for a predictably sweet romance without too much heat, this one is perfectly fine.

Little Faith (4 stars): A beautifully told story of a family whose daughter falls in with a church that feels more like a zealot cult. The details in this story are so visual and beautiful. I loved each of the characters, telling this very emotional story in a quiet way. My favorite definitely was Lyle’s best friend and watching the relationship between Lyle and Isaac. Since the story is told from Lyle’s perspective, IMHO we don’t get to see Shiloh’s perspective as much as I wish we did. But the feeling of helplessness and trying so hard to balance the love you have for your daughter while really disagreeing with her choices was so vivid, so visceral that it’s hard not to feel it alongside Lyle. 

I loved all the descriptive writing, the rich character development, and the quiet but strong emotional tug of this story. Really well-done.

Red at the Bone (4 stars): Woodson is the master of the short and poignant novel. She is fantastic at bringing together a cast of characters and telling enough details in just the right way so the characters are now 3-dimensional and you are attached to them. She’s the master of beautiful writing. This particular story was wonderful and I also felt like it spoke to so many issues in such a short space. Feminism, motherhood, racism, love and so so much sadness in one small book. 

I loved finding about each of the backstories of each of the characters and the impact of the one decision one teenager makes on all of their lives. Another wonderful novel by Woodson.

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier (3.5 stars): “I realized there was no such thing as a life without consequences. Every little thing—or big thing—you do in life sends out ripples in the pond that keep getting wider and wider.”

Reading this novel was an interesting journey. The two main characters meet on a Pier on a random night and end up having a meal together. The dialogue is unusual in that it’s almost immediately witty and they are quoting literature/poetry at each other which was amusing and also annoying at the same time. The interesting part is that this doesn’t really continue throughout the novel all that much.

The characters, Ramona and Charles, meet and immediately hit it off and then decide to do an impromptu drive to Charles’ hometown which he hasn’t been to in a long, long time. This starts off a chain of events that add complications to both of the characters’ lives. The issues get serious very quickly and the two characters get enmeshed in each others’ lives. 

While the story was engaging and I kept wanting to read it, I did feel like the emotional intensity required to so heavily and fully invest into another person whom you just met (especially when in the context of some of these very serious issues) was not really clear in the story. It always felt a bit distant. We didn’t get to see the depth in any of the characters and understand their motivation for continuing to get/stay engaged in each others complex lives.

Having said that, I really did enjoy the story and enjoyed some of the secondary characters like Jack and BethAnn and the story continued to be engaging and worthwhile. The writing was engaging and it was a great story about second chances, small towns, people looking out for each other. 

With gratitude to netgalley and Dundurn for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Water Dancer (3 stars): I had a mixed relationship with this book. I loved the writing, the magical realism and the story was very powerful. I wasn’t able to stay fully engaged throughout the story and found certain bits really interesting and other bits didn’t seem as much so I found myself flowing in and out of the story. Overall, I am really glad I read it and the writing alone was worth every minute I spent on it.

Living Beautifully (5 stars): “We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll be more awake in our lives. Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up.”

This beautiful journal is full of meaningful quotes from one of my favorite writers. Her words of wisdom are always so simple and yet so profound. A constant reminder that we are whole just as we are and the goal is not to change who we are.

“Don’t worry about achieving. Don’t worry about perfection. Just be there each moment as best you can.”

The simplest advice/reminder is always the hardest to follow in my opinion and Chodron’s words are just like that: deceptively easy looking.

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”

The idea of befriending who we are already is both so profound and so simple and so, so hard.

“Whether we’re conscious of it or not, the ground is always shifting. Nothing lasts, including us. It’s up to you how to use your life. Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax.”

This journal is full of quotes like this one. If, like me, you need regular reminders of these simple and yet so, so profound words, you will love this journal.

With gratitude to edelweiss and penguin publishing group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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.