Book bossy and my October reads

I learned of a delightful  little phrase, “book bossy” this month.

It turns out I am book bossy.

Friends, I was quite taken aback because I don’t see this book bossiness as a negative at all; it’s just who I am. I am a person who is passionate about books and reading.

And honestly, I’m only book bossy when I think it may matter to you too. There are some friends I never talk books with; granted, these are probably not my deepest friendships 😉

I am book bossy when I really love a book and want to press it into everyone’s hands (or ears), or because it is universally loved. Or because I know that the person will, in fact, love the book.

So in honour of my book bossiness, these are some books I am decidedly and unashamedly book bossy about:

The happiness project – Gretchen Rubin

Perfect as we go into the new year. I plan to listen to it in January again – it’s just the perfect start to a new year, or even around your birthday.

Boundaries – Cloud/ Townsend

Still the best book on boundaries out there.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

Look on my sidebar. I’ve written many posts and it is truly life-changing.

The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

Listen, read and then if you’re intrigued like I was, take her deep dive course too. Or come coach with me and I will take you through it.

And now, let me show you all the books I read in October, among them the book that taught me about my book bossiness.

I read four fiction and five non-fiction; 0 physical books (!), 6 Kindle and 3 Audible.

My favourite fiction read was the Cathy Kelly – Secrets of a Happy Marriage.

I have three favourite non-fiction reads to talk about. It’s actually a pity of sorts that I read them all in the same month; they each deserve their space in the spotlight.

Off the clock – Laura Vanderkam‘s new release. I enjoyed this book so much and am planning to write a few blogs about it. It’s more philosophical than her previous books, and is my favourite by far.

Dream more – Dolly Parton. This was a short read and I actually listened on audio. It was so fun to hear Dolly singing a verse here and there. I believe that a memoir-ish book needs to make you like the person more than you did before, and this one did. She is utterly delightful and I am so impressed with her work ethic and attitude towards life.

I’d rather be reading – Anne Bogel. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did because (confession!) I don’t usually like books about books as I find them either too cheesy or trying to be too clever. This one was neither. It was relatable and endearing, and I found myself wanting to either wake my husband to share things with him, or Instastory everything and put polls in my stories to talk about it all.

What was your favourite fiction, and non-fiction (if you read – I realise more and more that I’m in the minority with my 40% on average non-fiction reads)?

And more important, are you book bossy?

What makes a good memoir?

Bryant Park, New York City

When people tell me they don’t like to read non-fiction, I get what they mean with business-y or other types of non-fiction.

But I do feel like there’s a beautiful segment of non-fiction that is very overlooked, and that is the memoir.

3 reasons to try a memoir

  1. A good memoir reads like a story, especially if told well, and if you generally read only fiction, this is an easy way to access a genre you usually don’t read in a fun way.
  2. Good memoirs usually have an interesting story and you don’t need to know anything about the author’s life to enjoy it.
  3. If you don’t have a lot of time, get a book on audible, preferably read by the author.

5 favourite memoirs I heartily recommend, especially if you listen on audio

  1. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – Amy Chua
  2. Stories I only tell my friends – Rob Lowe (you don’t need to be a fan – I wasn’t!)
  3. Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Then there’s a subgenre of memoir that I love – it’s one where there’s a project for a certain length of time – and the author then writes a book about it.

3 of my favourite project memoirs are:

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin (I’ve read this one twice and enjoyed it even more 6 years later)

The Year of Living Danishly – Helen Russell

Year of No Sugar – Eve O Schaub

Do you read memoir? What were some of your favourites?

And now, onto my reads for August.

I decided to only read books I wanted to seeing as it was my birthday month and my word of the year is FUN, and it was indeed a lovely, lovely reading month.

Interestingly, when I took photos for Instagram on Tuesday, I noticed that I read 5 non-fiction and only 4 fiction. I have to give a shout-out to The Year of Less, which is exactly the kind of project-based memoir I love. Those 5 non-fiction reads pushed me over my non-fiction reading goal for the year, which was 24. I’ve now read 27 non-fiction this year.

I’m still thinking through all the insights but I will add that I had $55 worth of stuff in a shopping cart, and after finishing this book, I clicked the X and told myself I don’t actually NEED any of those things. YAY Cait Flanders 🙂

My favourite fiction read was The Good House by Ann Leary. I did ask in the book club if people were interested, and there was no reply, so I read it on my own. And now I’m sorry I didn’t push a bit more because this would have made an excellent book club read. So many things to discuss.

What were some great books you read in August?

What are your nos with books

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I only read 7 books in May. That feels like a little and it is the least in any one month I’ve read for a long while. Still, I’ve now read 45 for the year, which is an average of 9 a month, and is not shabby at all.

Here’s the haul:

 

Non-fiction: Fiction 2:5

Physical: Audible: Kindle 3:1:3

Notable reads

  • Both non-fiction (I probably should write about those)
  • Something in common – Roisin Meaney

Something in common was a gorgeous, gorgeous book and I devoured it in a day and a bit. It’s very typically Irish fiction (not much is rosy and “perfect”, but is all very real, with a sense of hope and warmth woven through the pages).

If you haven’t yet tried the author, I always recommend The Daisy Picker but this one will be my new favourite to recommend. In fact, get whichever you like – I love them all 🙂

 

Book club mention

We read Behold the Dreamers in book club and I rated it 4 on Goodreads, but that’s a 3.75 pushed up to a 4. I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.

Have you read it? What did you think?

And now for the bookish discussion:

Anne Bogel interviewed Laura Vanderkam on the What should I read next podcast early this year.

It’s one of my favourite interviews primarily because of how well Laura knows the type of books that work for her and those that don’t.

I was so impressed by her self-awareness that I’ve started keeping track of the type of things that I don’t want to read about:

  • Abuse of children
  • Slavery
  • Suffering
  • People in mental hospitals
  • Historical fiction, esp. war settings.
  • Most blog to book titles (blogs and books are very different writing styles and most bloggers should not be writing books)
  • Fan memoir (where you can only follow along and appreciate the book if you’re a fan of what that person has done)
  • Most multi-generational books (exceptions are Maeve Binchy novels like Tara Road)
  • Weak protagonists – the person doesn’t have to be likeable, but they need to have something interesting – I need to care about them in some way)
  • Too much weirdness (Where’d you go, Bernadette and one of this month’s reads, The Time of my Life)
  • Too many viewpoints/ characters (I feel like I’m unable to care about them all…)
  • Titles described as “laugh-out-loud romantic fiction” (I usually don’t find them funny at all, and there’s usually gratuitous s*x
  • Nicholas Sparks 😉
  • Young Adult fiction (I can manage about 1 a year)

As Anne Bogel says, some books are not bad; they’re just not for you.

So tell me, what did you read in May? And what do you not want to read?

In April I realised how I prefer to consume my books

Let’s get all the book stats out of the way because there’s something I want to discuss with you.

I had a good reading month in terms of number of books read, but only a few really good ones.

Books read in April

Books read: 10

Non-fiction/ fiction: 3/7

Physical/ Kindle/ Audible *: 4/4/2

*there’s a little story about the one Audible book

I listened to most of Chasing Slow on Audible but I really wasn’t enjoying it at all and I realized that the author might be coming across more whiny due to the narration. So I switched to the Kindle version (I bought the Kindle version on sale first and added $2,99 for the Audible narration) and I actually enjoyed the last 30% much more.

As at end April, I’d read 38 books for the year. My challenge is 80 books.

The little teashop of lost and found – Trisha Ashley

Now let’s talk about how I prefer to read my books.

I have a general rule where I read non-fiction Monday – Thursday, and then I read fiction Friday to Sunday. This is purely for practical purposes so that I actually get enough sleep for work. I have zero discipline when it comes to putting down a book so this is my Upholder way of making sure my life works for me.

So this month, I read two fiction books outside of my rules, in other words, during the week.

The reason is also very interesting to me – I didn’t have any non-fiction books that were calling to me on my physical bookshelf, and I didn’t feel like reading on the Kindle either. Remember one of the reasons I read a lot is that I always have a lot of good books to read. This is why I said in this Instagram post I probably need to declutter this bookshelf because if I don’t feel like reading them, perhaps they should go to someone else.

This is the story of a happy marriage – Ann Patchett

I then picked up fiction because I wanted to read those, but because I can only read a bit before bed every night, it took me probably 5- 6 days to finish a book I usually finish in 2 – 3 days.

And, here’s the thing, when I take that long to read a work of fiction, I just don’t feel like I can immerse myself fully in the story and fully enjoy it.

I don’t mind taking weeks to finish non-fiction because I like thinking through what I’m learning, but I want to dive into fiction and be done with it.

Isn’t that interesting?!

Does whether you read a book over a shorter time affect your enjoyment of that book? Do you have book rules for yourself? (I do realise this is a very “upholder” thing to do) 

So that’s what I learned this month:

  • I need to stick to my rules for the week
  • I need to declutter that bookshelf and have compelling non-fiction (it’s one of my 18 in 2018 goals actually)
  • I need to dive into fiction first thing on a Friday night to be sure I finish by Sunday afternoon 🙂

Did you learn anything new about your reading life this month?

{Marcia reads} How is your phone changing you?

I read a great book in February called, 12 ways your phone is changing you by Tony Reinke. I actually listened to this book on audio while driving to work but you might want to get it on Kindle so you can highlight and make notes.

Yes, it’s one of those where you want to take notes.

This book was great, so full of nuggets and things to think about.

I think the author is a questioner on the Four Tendencies framework.

What I loved is that there was no “this is how it must be done” but lots of facts, research, and questions to make you think about your own habits in each of the 12 areas. It had a very balanced view and is refreshingly full of solid Bible teaching without being preachy.

 

A few questions I wrote down while driving:

  • Are you reading more or less books as a result of you being on social media?
  • Am I a digital busybody or am I genuinely curious?
  • Does my digital art dim glory or reflect His glory? Sometimes we want our glory now instead of waiting for eternal glory.
  • Are we digital narcissists?

I actually feel like I need a re-listen, this time with a notebook in hand 🙂

Ultimately, this book is a call to live a more intentional and purposeful life in the arena of smartphone usage.

If you have a niggle that your phone might be taking over in a number of areas of your life, I’d urge you to give this one a read.

I have spoken before about how we could all be reading more, for instance, if we took just some of our social media time every week and used that time to read.

So this is going to make me think some more about my phone usage.

Where do you feel your phone usage is negatively impacting your life? Are you more anxious? Do you procrastinate on work? Do you default to your phone when your kids are annoying you? 🙂

The book that forever changed how I view nature

 

Books I read in February 2018

February was not the best reading month for me (I read 8 books vs 11 in January) and I know exactly why:

I read 4 fiction and 4 non-fiction.

As much as I enjoy learning from the non-fiction, it does mean that I take longer to read and finish those books.

One of them had chapters that would be 18 minutes long (according to my Kindle) and then it’d take much longer to actually finish. The Kindle is usually really good about estimating my reading speed so this was a bit frustrating for me.

Still, we have a long weekend at the end of this month, which means an extra book for me 🙂

I had two 5* books this month and the first one is the book that has absolutely changed how I look at nature and seasons.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I bought this book on an audible sale late last year after hearing a bit about it on the internet.

I honestly loved this book and can’t wait for a re-read, or re-listen. I have studied science but not botany so the study of plants is not really my thing, and yet she explains things so that everyone gets it.

I loved the way it was structured with short chapters on the science and then longer chapters on the memoir part of it all.

It really was a great read. I bookmarked huge sections on autumn  and falling leaves, which I will definitely listen to soon as the southern hemisphere is now in autumn!

Here are some favourite quotes:

“Looking up, you notice that the leaves at the top of any tree are smaller, on average, than the leaves at the bottom. This allows sunlight to be caught near the base whenever the wind blows and parts the upper branches.”

“My strongest memory of our garden is not how it smelled, or even looked, but how it sounded.”

“It takes a long time to turn into what you’re supposed to be.”

“The very attributes that rendered me a nuisance to all of my previous teachers—my inability to let things go coupled with my tendency to overdo everything—were exactly what my science professors liked to see.”

“The very attributes that rendered me a nuisance to all of my previous teachers—my inability to let things go coupled with my tendency to overdo everything—were exactly what my science professors liked to see.”

As for my favourite fiction book of the month, I again loved reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

This was the very first Liane Moriarty book I read and I’ve caught up with all of them so I’ve started re-reading. At first I read the Kindle version and since I have an older Kindle, I didn’t pick up all the nuances in formatting, which added to my enjoyment of the book this time around.

I thought a lot more about this book reading it this time around, probably because 10 years ago I myself was going through infertility and didn’t know if I’d ever have children. I felt closer to Alice this time because the concept of losing 10 years of my life is rather…frightening!

One of my favourite quotes:

“Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It’s light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But after three children, after a separation and a near-divorce, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best– well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.”

How was your reading month?

What was your favourite book – fiction, non-fiction or both?

PS Here’s how the rest of my month went.

The best book I read in January was….

That’s a serious question for you, dear reader.

What was the best book you read last month?

Before I tell you about the best book I read, I want to check in with you.

Could you take away anything from the two posts I wrote on how to increase your reading this year? If you want to, of course. No-one’s forcing anyone to read.

I just feel compelled to ask because so many people always tell me they want to read more and I’d love to know if those posts were helpful.

Back to this month, which was a great reading month for me.

I finished reading 11 books, 4 of them non-fiction.

Kindle/ Audible/ Physical = 8/1/2

As you can see, I’m working very hard on getting through all my Kindle books.

My favourite non-fiction read and the best book I read in January was The Happiness Project.

I read it on Kindle in 2011 when it first released, but this time I borrowed it from the library (Overdrive – here’s my post explaining how it works) and I ADORED the audible version. I gave it 4* last time around but this time (maybe because of the listening factor) I gave it 5*.

Highly, highly recommend you have a read if you’ve never read it, or even a re-read.

It really is the perfect book to read in the beginning of the year.

I read 4 Irish/ English fiction books this month and it was a glorious time of reading for me.

I think I enjoyed Meet me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell the most, probably because it’s set in a holiday place and I was on holiday at the time of reading. I always enjoy a good summer read when I’m actually on holiday 🙂

But actually I recommend all of the fiction! Let me know if you choose to read something from my list.

So tell me, what was the best book you read this month?

How I read 120 books last year

At our last book club meeting of the year, I mentioned that I’d probably reach about 120 books and the question came:

How on earth do you manage to read so many books?

It’s not rocket science but I thought I’d put it here just to remind myself too.

I set a goal (of 72) for the year

I’m a big goal setter and I honestly believe that without goals life is a lot less exciting 🙂

My reading goal means I need to read 6 books a month, that’s one every week but another two built in somewhere else. Just knowing that I have to get through a book a week means that I have a focus.

Have a good list of books to read

I admit, I took this one too far. At one point I had about 40-odd fiction and 20-odd non-fiction waiting for me.

But… you read a lot when you have a lot to read. If you have only 3 books you want to read, you’re going to drag out those 3 books.

It’s Pareto Principle in action – work expands to fill the time available for it.

I actually proved this in December – I could have read more than 8 but I knew I only needed to get to 8, so I slowed down when I got to 6 books for the month, and spaced out those last 2.

Use Audible or Overdrive for audio books

If you haven’t yet listened to an audible book, leave a note in the comments and I’ll send you my favourite one of all time 🙂

I easily get through one audible book a month, some months two. Truth be told I could get through about 4 audible books if I didn’t listen to as many podcasts as I do. One of my goals is to listen to just one more audible book every month.

For those that say they have a short commute, I have a 6-minute commute to my gym and my dance class, and I use those short distances to listen to essay-type books like Present over Perfect.

Use the library

You are much more likely to try books if there’s a low risk involved, in other words, you don’t have to pay for them. There are some books I dithered over, but when I saw they were available at the library, I had no hesitation in trying them. Granted, I did try books that weren’t for me, but I also found about 3 new-to-me authors, all at the library.

I use my physical library (I’ve been going to this one for 16 years; the librarians knew me waddling in while pregnant, and now they know my kids too) and last year I discovered Overdrive. Overdrive alone helped me read 23 of my 120 books. 

Use all those 5 and 10-minute blocks of time

If D and the kids are upstairs doing bedtime reading and I’m cleaning the kitchen/ packing my lunch, I listen to a book.

If I’m waiting in a queue or at the dentist, I pull out my phone, and read on the Kindle app. Non-fiction works best for these tiny blocks of time for me.

You know that if we all stopped scrolling Facebook or Instagram, we’d instantly be reading a book a week. Just saying.

Read books you really, really want to read

I abandoned 5 books in 2017. This is huge for me 🙂

However, you can read a book you really want to read in half the time of struggling to read something. This is different from books that are a hard read because they’re challenging your thinking (which is good for you!) vs books that are awful that you’re forcing yourself to read.

Also, in this same vein, don’t feel bad about the type of books you read. Granted, romance is not my thing, but if you want to read romance novels and nothing else, you go ahead 🙂

If you’re an Upholder, put “read” on your daily and weekly to-do lists

I started reading dramatically more books when I started adding a simple item – read a book – to my weekend to-do list. It became a fun task for me and was easy to then sit down and relax in the middle of the day, even while there was work to be done.

Surround yourself with readers

I haven’t ever had a problem reading a lot but I know for a lot of the ladies in the book club, just all of us talking about books and our Whatsapp group has pushed/ prodded/ encouraged all of them to read more.

Listen to readerly podcasts like What Should I read Next? and sign up to Modern Mrs Darcy’s blog where they discuss bookish things – it’s sure to keep your reading list full.

Bonus – I asked my husband if he had any tips for my readers and he rattled off 5 tips so quickly before the kids interrupted us that I think I need to do another blog post, just with his tips 🙂

(he is also an upholder but he leans to obliger so it may be more interesting to some of you :))

Now, did you reach your reading goal for 2017?

What did you do that made it happen?

Organising Queen’s best books of 2017

I finished off the year with 120 books read, 40 non-fiction (my highest non-fiction numbers ever!) and 80 fiction.

May all things in life be as neat 🙂

It was a really great reading year and I’ll tell you later this month how I vastly exceeded my reading goal for the year (167% of the goal).

But for now, I want to tell you about the best fiction and non-fiction I read in 2017.

Let’s start with non-fiction:

1. The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by [Rubin, Gretchen]

I wrote a bit about it here as it relates to me, an upholder. I’m telling you, upholder tightening is a real thing and I’m thrilled I now have the language to explain the things I do.

No matter your tendency, get this book. It is fabulous. You will learn about yourself and your family. My second biggest reason for loving it so much is understanding my kids better. (Dion and I are both upholders, but one of us leans to Questioner and the other to Obliger)

PS Her previous book, Better than Before, is on sale at the moment. I bought myself another copy because I bought the audible version the first time around.

2. Your Move – the underdog’s guide to building your business – Ramit Sethi

Your Move: The Underdog's Guide to Building Your Business by [Sethi, Ramit]

I love Ramit’s work and I really enjoyed this no-frills book on business.

His blog inspired this post of mine – 3 things I do to help my productivity.

PS you can see all my reviews on my Goodreads profile.

3. Born a Crime: And other stories – Trevor Noah

Born A Crime: And Other Stories by [Noah, Trevor]

Trevor Noah is South African but all I really knew about him (I’m not up to date with pop culture, as you know) was his TV ads for a cell phone provider.

This book was fascinating in all kinds of ways even to me, a South African.

I was educated, entertained, challenged and delighted by his narration of this book. Do yourself a favour and get it. If you’re concerned as I was that this would be too political, it’s not. It does challenge your thinking though.

Honorable mentions: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (one of my favourites ever but it already made my 2015 list!) and Reading People (Anne Bogel)

And now for the fiction:

  1. Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

Product Details

This is the same author who wrote Big Little Lies. I love all her work but I truly was delighted with this one because I loved the characters. I loved it so much I’m planning to re-read it this year, this time on Audible 🙂

2. Every Last One – Anna Quindlen

Every Last One by [Quindlen, Anna]

Oh my gosh, this was such a beautiful book. My first by this author. Such detail to relationships and insights about people – just beautifully written in every way.

This year I read my first book by authors seemingly everyone has read – Anna Quindlen, Anne Tyler (Digging to America) and Maggie O’Farrell

I do want to say I abandoned 5 books this year which is AWESOME for me. This year I want to abandon them quicker.

3. A window opens – Elisabeth Egan

A Window Opens: A Novel by [Egan, Elisabeth]

Another new-to-me author and I loved this book. It was a book about normal life for married women with children and I can’t tell you what exactly I loved but just everything. I could not put it down.

Get it – you’ll be delighted.

Please share your top fiction and non-fiction reads with me.

And feel free to recommend books to me too in the women’s fiction, psychological thriller and memoir range. I’m also looking for a good memoir/ project book like this one.

PS Confession – while putting together this list and searching for links online, I actually bought 5 new books (!)

The Year of Living Danishly – a review

I know many of you are like me in that you love a good project. Even better when someone else does a great project and writes about it, right?

Examples of this genre that I love are The Happiness Project (for a few years after, some of my clients did their own happiness projects which I coached them through, and then I could re-live the book many times over – LOVE!!!), Happier at Home and the one I want to talk about today, The Year of Living Danishly.

In a nutshell, Helen Russell’s husband gets a job in Denmark at Lego (!), they go for the year. Helen is a journalist and during this year, she freelances while doing her Living Danishly project, one focus area each month. The Danes are known to be some of the happiest people in the world so the book explores that too – each person she interviews gets asked for their happiness score on a scale of 1 – 10.

I read the book through Audible and it was fabulous – the narrator is really, really good.

There’s a lot of talk about hygge – one of my favourite topics – because the Danes do this really well.

I wrote about hygge here and here, if you’d like to have a read.

The 10 concepts she explores in the book, and why Danes are so happy are:

  1. Trust more
  2. Live Hygge
  3. Use your body
  4. Address the aesthetics
  5. Streamline your options
  6. Be proud
  7. Value family
  8. Equal respect for equal work (I’d heard some of this research before from “Overwhelmed” – Brigid Schulte, a book I gave 5 stars)
  9. Play
  10. Share

I don’t want to say too much more, except if you’re going to read it, I recommend the audible version if you like a good English accent. However, if you’re not sure about audible, then get the kindle copy.

Hope you enjoy reading.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Which of the 10 do you most resonate with?

PS if you know of other similar project/ memoir-type books, do leave me a comment so I can check them out.

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