Reading Relapse

Remember how I said I was going to read less? I reduced my reading goal so I could free up time to create more of my own content?

Welp, you are only as sick as your secrets so I am here to tell you I relapsed this weekend. I finished three books I had going, and started and finished 3 more. Over a span of 4 days. It is a disease. I am powerless.

In my defense, this was not all my fault.

  1. I was traveling so I just had to do the Read and Return thing. It is not a flight without a R&R book.
  2. The reason for the trip was to help my dad and sister pack up my mother’s things, which I knew would be emotional so I wanted more books to comfort me instead of forcing productivity on the plane.
  3. When I arrived I saw my sister was finishing a book that I had requested from the library MONTHS ago. She finished it shortly after we arrived so I had an opportunity to snatch it and read before she flew home.
  4. We finished early and had time for about an hour at the pool on the last day. I can’t go to the pool without a book – I am not a monster!

But alas, I am here to come clean with a recap of what took me off the clean and narrow path.

Books I Finished

I had three books in progress that I knocked out over the weekend.

Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

My dad bought this, and we are passing it around the family. It is a mix of neuroscience that bounced off my brain at times and practical advice that you can incorporate into your life. Much of his advice is part of the Sustainable You program as well!

The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum

I really want to be a Robert Ludlum fan, but this is strike 2. And it took 650 pages to get to strike 2 (I cannot even remember what strike 1 was). His books are massive deep dives into foreign policy, weapons, overlapping timelines that don’t need to be there, and poorly written romance scenes. I can’t believe I carried this around the airport. I should have thrown it in the pool when I finished.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

This was a book I read on my Kindle after getting an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from Netgalley. This was gut wrenching at times, eye opening all throughout. You cannot understand what privilege means unless you hear – and listen to – what others walk through to know their story.

Books I Started and Finished

Next there were three books that I started and finished over the course of the 4 days.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel

While I will always pick up a book about World War II, I loved this point of view and combination of stories – forgers, book lovers, resisters. All from an airport Read and Return! What is not to like?

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Super quick read from multiple narrators. I called the twists but really enjoyed getting there. It was extra fun because my sister finished reading it the day before so I was commenting as I read and we were able to have our own little book club discussion during our visit.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

OK, not the best choice for a trip spent cleaning out my late Mother’s things, but when the hold comes up at the library you roll with it, right?! This was a super fast read (only 137 pages), filled with frank, practical advice, encouragement, and anecdotes about getting rid of crap now. Between this book and the weekend spent purging 154 reusable shopping bags and 77 bath towels, I came home and scheduled an appointment with a local consignment store.


Your Turn

What are you reading right now?

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By |2021-06-22T08:03:34-04:00June 22nd, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Girl He Used to Know – Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: 3 stars (would go to 3.5 if Goodreads allowed)

Cliff Notes: This was a fun, quick little read.

Full Summary: Part of what was fun for me with this book is that I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The main character goes to school at U of I around the time when I was there. I recognized several of the places mentioned.

I also related to how awkward Annika is. I tend to lean towards awkward myself! I have never been diagnosed with autism, and honestly I don’t even think we needed to go there in this book. I read somewhere that we are all on the spectrum. In my opinion, leaving out the diagnosis would have been more compelling because it would have been more relatable. It would have made her “weirdness” all of our “weirdness.”

The Girl He Used to Know - Tracey Garvis Graves
By |2019-12-12T19:15:31-05:00September 17th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Dream Daughter – Diane Chamberlain

Rating: 4 stars


Full Summary: Time travel always seems like a great idea to me. I mean… Outlander, amIright?! After I read the first Outlander book, I started to learn more about herbal medicine so I am ready. There is a little ring of stones at the top of my neighborhood. Let me tell you – there are times I drive by after a long day at work or a trying “discussion” with the kids and just gaze longingly at them…

Anywho. This. Book. People! I would have rated it 5 stars because I liked the characters and the plot really zipped along without getting bogged down in the science of time travel. The sister was a bit whiney at times, but I guess if my sister vanished into thin air with a return date of TBD, I may be a bit off also. But I rated it 4 stars because as you know, I CANNOT abide by happy endings.

The Dream Daughter - Diane Chamberlain
By |2019-12-12T19:17:52-05:00September 2nd, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth – Sarah Smarsh

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: So many social justice issues in this memoir. While hiking with our dogs during the days I was reading this book, I found myself shouting at Bixby and his friend about some of these concerns.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Sarah Smarsh

Full Summary: I never put details in my reviews about what the book is about because seriously – just Google it or read the back of the book to find out what it’s about. But I am including the book details from Smarsh’s website because I think we get bogged down in terms like “Social Justice” and turned off by tag-lines like “Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.” Honestly, I am not even sure I am using the term “social justice” correctly. Read this summary don’t get outraged – I triple dog dare you. Then read the book, and YOU explain where they could have “just done XYZ to get out of the situation.”

Note: Bold type below is mine for EMPHASIS so we PAY ATTENTION.

Smarsh was born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, the child of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. In HEARTLAND, she introduces readers to a compelling cast of characters through the generations—grandmothers who act as second mothers, farmers who work themselves to the bone, builders who can’t afford their own homes, children who move from school to school. Smarsh maps her family’s impoverished lives against the destruction of the working class that the Reagan era wrought: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, and wages so stagnant that full time laborers could no longer pay the bills. Readers will learn what Smarsh did: the working poor in America are sold a lie. Working hard in this country probably won’t get you ahead after all.

Now I must climb off my soap box and get to work. Let me leave you with this one gem from the book:

What you don’t transmute, you transmit.

By |2019-12-12T19:18:38-05:00August 29th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace – Rye Barcott

Rating: DNF after about 15%

Cliff Notes: I could see myself coming back to this book someday in a different season of life, but it is not working for me now.

Full Summary: A friend recommended this to me after she read my review of Tattooist of Auschwitz. She said it has her interested in the author’s latest non profit – With Honor.

“He is trying to recruit a new generation of leaders and boy do we need it.”

My friend in her recommendation to me

I agree wholeheartedly that we need it. And Rye Barcott certainly seems like a capable young man. However, my reading life is to fill needs in my life and right now that means an escape. It is not always like that, but right now that is where I am. Yes, I am making this hardship in another country about me, but it is my blog, right?!

I understand that is a selfish way to look at the world, but I am no good to anyone if I run myself into the ground trying to improve the lives of others. I heard someone say that we need to give from our overflow, otherwise what we give may be toxic. Right now I have no overflow so I am trying to take care of that before I can hop on the Save the World Train.

I am leaning into light and fluffy reads, not books about a “troubled youth” who then got a full scholarship to UNC. My “troubled youth” cannot even remember to take pants to football practice. I know we need to let kids fail so they can learn lessons in a “safe” place (forgetting pants now vs. larger stakes later in life), but I just feel like a parenting failure All The Time. And the last thing I want to be reminded of when I am trying to fill that tank and get some overflow to share is those feelings of failure.

It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace Rye Barcott
By |2019-08-18T08:49:14-04:00August 24th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: I am sure there was symbolism that I did not catch (I generally just want to read a good book), but I really could have thrown out the whole 2015 timeline.

Full Summary: It was moving to read about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago from a perspective of me being alive during that time and living only 45 minutes away. I would like to think I would have been like Fiona. This book is definitely one that stayed with me after I finished reading it.

If you ever have a chance to view the AIDS quilt, it is incredibly powerful. I am horrified about the treatment of AIDS patients by family members and health care workers. It made me wonder if there are situations like that today – that we will look back in 30 years and wonder what we were thinking, why we (or maybe I) didn’t stand up for the someone suffering.

The Great Believers  Rebecca Makkai
By |2019-12-12T19:20:08-05:00August 19th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Big Sky – Kate Atkinson

Rating: DNF

Cliff Notes: I am half way through this book, 5 hours. And I have no idea what the hell is happening or who any of these people are. Enough.

Full Summary: I cannot give you a summary because seriously – I have no idea what the heck is going on. I know there was a murder, but no idea how any of it was going to come together or who all the people even were.

Kate Atkinson Big Sky
By |2019-12-12T19:20:28-05:00August 17th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Recursion – Blake Crouch

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: I loved it until I got caught up in the number of lives and the timelines – just like with Dark Matter and the number of Jasons.

Full Summary: I definitely plan on going to this author’s backlist for future TBR choices.

I am married to a Super Nerd and when he saw that I was reading a book called Recursion, he was really excited and impressed. Apparently “recursion” is a nerd topic or theory of something or other. I am not smart enough or really interested at all in what recursion is, but it was funny to watch him think I had turned a nerd corner, then to watch it slide off of his face.

Recursion Blake Crouch
By |2019-12-12T19:20:45-05:00August 15th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: I liked how he talked in this book about the struggles and what he might have changed or identified mistakes.

Full Summary: I had lots of misconceptions about the history of Nike – it seems to always summarized as a overnight sensation story about Bill Boweman, a waffle iron, and his protege named Phil.

Not so much, my friends. This is definitely worth the read.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE Phil Knight
By |2019-12-12T19:21:04-05:00August 13th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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