Books I Read: May

Books I Read: May

Full disclosure: Technically both of these books were not completed until the calendar month of June but whatever, I make the rules. After April I had a harder time getting back into my reading routine. I had a couple of books to take to St. George on vacation, but my hold for the Bon’s Book Club book for June came up (Americanah) and Bon had texted us that we should get started ASAP because it’s quite long and kind of slow-going but good. So instead I took Americanah, and though I spent my whole vacation reading I *still* didn’t finish. I feel like that should give me some pass.

NOW. I need to give a quick disclaimer for this post. These books are not for everyone and if you’re someone who will get uncomfortable with things that are ~intimate or ~offensive then just go ahead and skip it. Both books I read were SO GOOD but SO SENSITIVE. I debated back and forth about even putting them in my book review post, just because they’re the kind of books I would definitely recommend – but probably only in person to specific people that I knew well enough. I am not going to get super personal about myself, but I am going to describe these books and what I liked about them. It may not be the kind of thing you want to read or think about me reading, and I understand that entirely. Just skip this one and come back Tuesday – I’ll be talking about Cravings – the Chrissy Teigen cookbook – and sharing the great recipes we’ve tried. It’ll be fun and totally PG.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*%&

Life changing magic of not giving a f

A hilarious and helpful parody of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this book’s tagline promises to teach you “how to stop spending time you don’t have, with people you don’t like, doing things you don’t want to do.” She goes through all the categories of things you should give a (care) about, how to not give a (care) about them, and why you should be giving fewer (cares).

This is kind of part of this big movement I’ve been going through lately where I’m really analyzing why I do things and trying to do things more because I want to and not because I’m being reactive to others. I also think part of my HOME 2017 goal hinges on my ability to be happy with what *I* want and not living up to past versions or expectations of Danica. This book wasn’t groundbreaking or paradigm shifting by any means, but I definitely liked it and it’s super quick. I listened to it on audiobook (which, yikes, I had to hear the f-word like 3,000 times) but it only took a couple of days and was easy to follow.

Good

  • She mimics the style and setup of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I liked a lot actually. It’s a parody, but not a cruel or critical parody.
  • She’s funny. I really like her sense of humor and relatability.
  • She tackles lots of common areas of (cares) that affect all people – strangers, events, work, friends, and family. There were a lot of examples and anecdotes that were helpful in illustrating her points.
  • Quick. Like I said above, I listened to this in like 3 days just getting ready, doing chores, and driving around.
  • She does a really good job of sharing the principle that a little bit of awkwardness or discomfort or even anger right now can save an untold amount of stress and (cares) down the road. I am so conflict-averse that I usually think “oh I can just deal… that’ll be easier/better/less harmful.” But then a year down the road the thing is still bugging me, or I realize I set a precedent for something I don’t want.
  • The idea of balancing honesty and politeness as the situation calls for was helpful. I know I just need to be more honest with people, rather than always trying so hard to be polite and well-liked all the time.

Less Good

  • So. Many. F-words. Like 1 per sentence average. I wish there was like a censored audiobook version that I could have listened to, because it was kind of crazy.
  • I don’t feel like she got specific enough – maybe most people read it for the humor part. She seems to focus a lot on the humor, less on actual scripts or ideas for giving fewer (cares).
  • She somewhat transparently does not give a (care) about family. That whole section was one I was the most interested in – family can be the hardest to deal with when it comes to stuff you do not want to do. It felt like she was just like “Eff those guys! Eff Great Aunt Sarah AND her heirlooms!” And it was a little funny, but never really got that practical. She even said “sometimes you need to give some (cares) you don’t want to give for family, just minimize it.” but never really explained that?
  • She declares pretty early on that this method will help you be respected but not an a-hole. However, it still felt like most of her ideas would leave you looking a little bit like an a-hole. And I know, I know. You aren’t suppose to care what people think but it also seemed like most of her methods completely disregarded other people.

Come As You Are

come as you are book review

Emily Nagoski tackles myth after myth after myth about female sexuality and the brain in this New York Times bestseller. She talks about the way the female brain works, and debunks the idea that women’s sexuality is just Men’s Sexuality Lite. Although it is primarily focused on the female sexual response, her work also focuses on the way we see our bodies and process our feelings outside of intimacy. 

Ok. I know, guys. I know. This book got RAVE reviews from several people I trust. I have wanted to read it for a while. I would have just read it in private and only shared it with a select few, but at the end of last year Bonnie asked each member of our book club to submit 3 books for our 2017 reads. Then they voted and chose one book from each person, so everyone would end up reading at least one book they really wanted. I submitted my 3 books and included this one, with the caveat that I figured it might be a little too #NSFW. I couldn’t go to the selection meeting, but I was surprised to hear that THIS was the book of mine they chose! Therefore, here I am reviewing it on my public blog. What a whirlwind.

Good

  • The thing I loved the most from this book is her constant assertion that you are normal and you are beautiful. Not that I necessarily thought I was abnormal and ugly, but it’s always a nice thing to hear. It’s a thing I think everyone needs to hear.
  • Science + Humor. She is super smart, but she’s also very internet-y. She explains things in a helpful way that makes it feel like you’re talking to a really smart but really cool grad student who you really want to be your friend.
  • Feel The Feels. She talks a lot about how our comfort and intimacy and happiness can be affected by blocked feelings. You need to feel The Feels. Don’t run when you start to feel sad or angry or upset. Try to sink into the feelings, feel them deeply, address them head on.
  • I learned so much about the Stress Cycle! She relates it to intimacy eventually, but I mostly loved the pages of scientific explanation about how we complete (or don’t) the stress cycle in our lives.  Our biology is designed to encounter the stress cycle when, say, a lion is chasing you. That stress cycle is always completed. Either you get killed or you outrun and make it home safe. Cycle complete. Today our “lions” are 24/7. Stress from work. Stress from family. Stress from expectations. Stress from social media. She talks about the importance of completing our stress cycle however we can. For some it’s exercise, meditation, tv, whatever. It’s just hard in today’s day and age to complete the stress cycle because our lions never sleep, and they kill us slowly.
  • No shame a la Brene Brown. Nagoski is a big believer in avoiding shame and guilt in our views about love and intimacy. I’m a big believer in this. While I didn’t agree with the idea that we should teach our kids to be all free and experimental, I am committed to explaining physical intimacy to my daughters in a way that prevents shame or negative feelings about their bodies. I know it’s a tough thing and a delicate balance but I am dedicated to it.
  • She teaches you how to work through your “garden.” Basically you have this garden and before you were old enough to take care of it, your parents and teachers and religion and tv shows and movies and magazines and peers planted all this stuff in your garden. You may realize that you don’t actually like what’s planted in your garden, like the idea that you as a woman are an object or that you’re not allowed to enjoy intimacy or you’re bad. So you can tear up your garden and replace it with healthier, more comfortable plants for you.
  • There are worksheets, which my lil teacher heart always loves.

Bad

  • The cover.
  • The most annoying part of this book was how frequently she says “we’ll talk about this more in chapter __…”
  • She is not LDS, and none of this book is religious. It’s just science. There are no moral boundaries, and no judgement. I think it’s a good thing. But there’s a lot of talk about forms of intimacy that aren’t kosher for the LDS faith. It’s fine. Just don’t freak out about the word “lesbian.”
  • I’ve got a lot of feelings about her encouragement for “exploration.” For adults, whatever. But she talks about it in terms of children and I didn’t like that at all. I thought it pretty inappropriate, regardless of your religious beliefs. Maybe I’m just a prude. However, I appreciated the opportunity for me to think about my young children and what I will do/not do to eliminate shame but teach them correct principles.

Seriously, guys. I recommend this book. It may not be for you, but if you’re a woman and can read I think you will benefit from it.

 

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One thought on “Books I Read: May”

  • 5 months ago

    Okay I need to read that. Have we talked about the sex podcast I’ve been listening to? Because I LOVE it. And I feel like I have changed so much since listening to it. It’s hosted by a sex therapist and a marriage/family therapist and it’s so interesting and helpful. For some reason this year this whole topic has been SO intriguing to me and I want to read/know everything. Haha kind of weird but whatever. I’m going to put Come As You Are on my list!

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