Books I Read: February

Books I Read: February

I spent a lot of time in the bathtub trying to forget that I was 10 months pregnant for the first bit of February, so that was helpful for my reading goal. I want to get a bathtub caddy/shelf like this one so it’s easier to read and drink my Diet Coke in there. I also read 100% of Austenland and 80% of The Weight of Silence while holding my sick lil bb in the hospital since I was too stressed to sleep anyway. Silver lining!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reading ebooks on your phone is such an awesome and easy way to read more. We spend SO MUCH TIME scrolling mindlessly through our phones to kill time – why not be reading? It’s 2017, basically every library in the US of A has online functionality so it’s free and quick to download and read ebooks on your phone! Nursing means I spend quite a bit of time just trapped on a couch or bed on my phone, so I place a hard copy book on my headboard for night and morning feedings, then read ebooks on my phone when I nurse throughout the day. Whammy. I almost hit 4 books this month because I am nearly done with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children on ebook as well! Easy peasy.

Essentialism

There is power and success in doing less but better. In a world that says we should do more, do everything, do it all – it’s actually much more productive, fulfilling, and healthy to only do that which is *essential.* Of course this is easier said than done, but once you start figuring out what is essential, eliminating what isn’t, and focusing on the things that matter you will be amazed at the results in your personal, social, and work life. 

My friend Bri posted this book on her instagram and I was instantly intrigued. Y’all know I love a good self help book. This was no exception. In fact, this instantly made the list of awesome self help books that I will recommend to friends and family. It’s the perfect book for anyone of course, but especially people who feel overwhelmed or unsure about why they are just treading water. If you feel like you’re in a rut, or doing too much, or even not doing enough – Essentialism helps you break down your life in a way that allows you to see it with better perspective. Excellent for businesses and careers, but also parenting, religion, and life in general. Love it!

Good

  • Dude is smart. You can tell he’s very educated and informed. He has quotes and anecdotes and studies and examples from all walks of life. But he does it in a way that makes it very relatable and useful.
  • I may be a little biased but I really like that he is LDS! He went to BYU! But crazy enough I didn’t know that until after I read the book. He quotes Henry B Eyring (as a Stanford professor though, not as a General Authority) and mentions the Book of Mormon, but other than that I had no clues that he was LDS. It isn’t a churchy or overly religious book, so don’t worry about that.
  • We all know that we should focus on what matters, but somehow we never seem to realize that not everything can matter to us. This was particularly helpful for me. Yes, I know some things are the most important, but why can’t everything matter at least a little? Well because it expends time, energy, guilt, effort, attention, and more. He illustrates opportunity cost (If I do A then I can’t do B) in a way that clicked for me like never before.
  • He uses a principle called “zero based budgeting” where instead of making adjustments to last year’s budget, you start the budget at zero and justify everything added to the budget. So instead of saying “Ok last year’s budget was $1,000 for this area. We should add $200 to accommodate A, B, & C.” you say “Ok what do we need money for and exactly how much money do we need?” starting from zero. You have to justify every single addition to the budget, rather than just assuming that the original $1,000 is justified. But INSTEAD he applies it to our schedules/efforts. Instead of looking at my schedule and saying “Ok I have 4 hours this week I can give to this new project.” I should start with a blank schedule, then look at each task/obligation/project/goal/etc., determine how much time & effort it deserves (REGARDLESS of how much time & effort it’s currently getting) and then schedule it. This was HUGE for me. To wipe totally clean, start from scratch, and not assume or take anything for granted… I think it’s something we should all do.
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVED the section about how to tell people no and how to weed out existing commitments. I am bad at saying no. Well that’s not true. I’m just really really good at saying yes to everything instantly.  The important thing is to stop saying “yes!” to everything and start working on other strategies like a pause, or a polite referral to someone else. He also says that people respect you way more when you respect yourself and your time, and I totally believe that. I’m working on it.
  • He really believes in the power of rest and rejuvenation. We have to be balanced. We have to get sleep. We have to have limits. Don’t check your email on the weekends! Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night! Take a vacation!
  • The importance of play – I am a very Type A person, as you know. I often don’t value play and creativity. But he shows that part of essentialism is taking time to be creative and playful. He says to think about what you did as a kid that would make the day just fly by. Some kids it was sports or building Legos or computer games. Mine was always reading! Do that thing that you love regularly, because it will make you better.
  • He illustrates that many of us feel like we HAVE to do a certain thing, but when we just don’t do it the world keeps on spinning. He tells the story of a company that always had a big weekly presentation and finally the boss realized “…Why?” and just stopped doing it. No one really noticed or cared, and it freed up a ton of time and effort for more important things. I need to do this more in my life – not everything I do is essential and the sky won’t fall down if I just ~stop.

Less Good

  • A lot of this is very directed at Silicon Valley. Don’t let that stop you or slow you down, because the principles are universal. But much of his work is in management and business, so that’s where the focus goes sometimes.
  • Like most self help books, I felt like I needed to read it in small chunks to process. I wish I had my own copy instead of a library copy so I could highlight and take notes as I went along. I need to start reading these with post-its or flags!

Austenland

Jane is unlucky in love but very lucky in fantasy crushes. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy has only grown as boyfriend after boyfriend lets her down. When her great aunt bequeaths her a trip to an Austen-themed vacation resort in her will, Jane decides to take it and finally kick the addiction. When she arrives she encounters the world of which she’s always dreamed, but how much, if any, of it is real? 

I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to read this! Jane Austen? Pride & Prejudice? Feminist Mormon author? Silly & clean romance? Right up my alley. Did you guys know that the Mormon Pride & Prejudice is in my top 5 favorite movies of all time? Embarrassing, I know. So it was no surprise that I loved this book and the movie. It was the perfect light read for the quiet nights awake in the hospital.

Good

  • Just good clean fun. The kind of book you can read for a book club, in pieces on your phone, on vacation, listen to on audiobook in the car or as you clean, just all around safe.
  • I love Jane’s balance. She’s a strong, smart, independent woman. But she’s also a hopeless romantic, a little bit crazy, and desperate for love. We can be both sides of the coin!!!!
  • You know who “Mr. Darcy” is but you still kind of doubt that he’s gonna be “it” for her, which is really fun. All of the men add a great dimension of romance and comedy.
  • The banter and quotes from Austen’s works are just a treat if you love Austen.
  • The movie is a nice complement, although has a few differences. Honestly I kind of wish I’d seen parts of Jennifer Coolidge’s portrayal of Miss Charming before reading so I could have pictured her. She was hilarious and perfect!

Less Good

  • Definitely a little cheesy and obviously super romance-y. Very self-serving but still cute.
  • Mr. Nobley could have used a little more character development in my opinion. They probably all could have.
  • The back-and-forth of “I’m not taking this seriously!” “I am taking this seriously!” often got in the way of the story and confused me. So is she throwing herself into this knowing it’s fake? Or trying to make herself think it’s real? Or looking at it all through cynical eyes? I felt unclear about that a lot of the time.

The Weight of Silence

When two 6 year old girls go missing in the middle of the night from their beds, the lives of everyone in their small community are exposed. Calli is mysteriously mute, and her best friend Petra is her voice. Where are they? Who took them? How are the histories of their parents, siblings, neighbors, teachers, and the police connected to their disappearance? Will they make it back home?

This was the February pick for Bon’s Book Club, and I’ll admit I was not very excited about it. My hormones were crazy last time I had a baby, especially about kids and little girls, so reading a book about two missing and possibly damaged little girls was sure to be a problem for me. Luckily I made myself push through and I ended up really enjoying it. Not a book I would recommend for everyone, but if you liked Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, or other mystery/drama/thrillers then this would be a great one to read!

Good

  • The shifting perspectives of each short chapter make it easy to read quickly or read in short bursts. I would read 1-2 short chapters during a feeding session and then not read it again until the next day or a few days later. Then when I was just killing time in the hospital I was able to just charge on through.
  • Very gripping and suspenseful. Like I just said – when I did have time I was able to read for like an hour straight without getting bored because it just moves really well.
  • The violence and heavy stuff is done tastefully. Descriptive enough, but not the focus.
  • There’s a good mix of characters you like (Calli, Petra, Martin, Fielda), characters you mostly like but also kind of want to smack or suspect (Antonia, Sheriff Louis, Ben), and characters you hate (Griff, his friends, the state investigator).
  • You are guessing right up till the very end.
  • It starts with what seems like a spoiler – one of the girls alive, one presumed dead. It’s slightly comforting but also ominous. But even that isn’t the end of the story, though it’s a good lens to begin reading the book and flashbacks through.
  • Even Griff, the villain, is shown with some dimension which I appreciated. Everyone in the book is multi-dimensional and well-developed in my opinion. The complexities of everyone’s histories and connectedness really makes this story.
  • I was genuinely relieved and happy with the ending for the most part.

Less Good

  • I mean, two girls go missing, there’s a lot of violence and abuse and murder and crime… it’s heavy stuff, even if it’s well done. You can’t un-read some of the darker scenes.
  • I was a little unhappy with the resolution. It made sense, but was so under-explained. They never go into the logistics of ~how that individual actually got into the situation where the crime was committed. There’s also no resolution to that person and the actual crime – I think they mention some sentencing? Just disappointing.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be finishing up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in March, as well as reading Devil in the White City (attempt #2!) and Kids of Appetite. March will see me back at the gym and pushing the stroller outside, so some audiobooks and hard copies on a treadmill will definitely be crushed. We’re also planning on escaping to St. George for a weekend at some point which is basically just 48 hours of reading for me!!! Hopefully I can get in an extra book or two. 🙂 Happy Spring Reading!

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One thought on “Books I Read: February”

  • 3 months ago

    Have you seen the movie Austenland? It’s sooooo freaking hilarious! I didn’t know the author was a Mormon!
    And your first book is one I’m going to put on my to-read list!

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